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Barcelona pick pocket advice

Old Jan 13th, 2007, 07:10 AM
  #1  
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Barcelona pick pocket advice

Four of us (2 couples) will be in Barcelona for 3 days in early May. We will be staying at Hotel 1898 on the Ramblas. I have read to avoid the dark streets at night but what about pick pockets during the day? What is the safest way for men to carry a credit card and cash?--money belt. My wife always wears a money belt but this method is not ideal--it's difficult to retrieve euros or credit card. Perhaps a wallet on a rope around the neck? I sure would appreciate some opinions. Thanks
RichardJ is offline  
Old Jan 13th, 2007, 07:20 AM
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Your concerns are legitimate. My family and I lived in Barcelona for six months and have visited several times since. We are aware of at least two unsuccessful pick-pocket attempts perpetrated upon us. I keep my passport in a moneybelt (along with an extra credit card and cash in case my wallet is stolen) and my wallet in my front pocket (and tend to walk with my hand in my pocket). My wife makes sure her purse has the start of the zipper in the front; once it was in the back and someone was tryiing to unzip it. With these precautions, we haven't had a problem.

The danger is when you're standing around - especially on La Rambla - and in the subway (where someone might try to grab a purse and jump out of the car). Also, watch out for anyone offering assistance or asking for assitance as it can be a diversionary tactic.

This may all sound rather dangerous but it really isn't. We are always careful but never worried.
harryt is offline  
Old Jan 13th, 2007, 07:58 AM
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I was 'jostled' in the Metro tunnel at the Maria Cristina Station stop, by two very-amateurish Gypsies: they tried to do a pincers movement on me - I reacted violently. Gypsy-1 came up on my left and I spun around to my right, swinging my outstretched right hand, 'chopping' Gypsy-2 in the throat. They retreated together. Gypsies don't like violence!
They are more likely to try some 'scam' often involving children or even babies.

I leave my passport and valuables in the Hotel (or room) Safe and carry only cash (and maybe a driver's license for ID). I also don't carry it all in one pocket - I spread it out.

"... What is the safest way for men to carry a credit card and cash? ..." My reply would be: Carry them loose, and spread out (i.e., not all in the same pocket).

Been there; done that! I've also been jostled at a Tuna Universitaria concert in Santiago de Compostela by a young man with a 3-year-old toddler. I saw an Italian Pilgrim complaining to Policía that e had been robbed during the Pilgrims' Mass in the Basilica.
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Old Jan 13th, 2007, 12:50 PM
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Maybe no one ever bothers us because DH is over 6 feet tall and I "look Spanish" (whatever that means, but really, people there are always coming up to me and asking me things in Spanish, which I'm trying to learn), but we've never had any trouble anywhere in Europe. We both wear moneybelts (yes, it's a hassel getting money out, but so be it) and "act like you know where you're going and what you're doing" (i.e. think NYC). Really, it's just a matter of "street smarts", but I wouldn't let this get in my way of enjoying a wonderful city.
artlover is offline  
Old Jan 13th, 2007, 02:14 PM
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Last summer I was in Barcelona for a couple of days. I bought a pair of pants that had several zippered compartments. I put whatever cash and Credit cards I needed for the day in those compartments ( they are in the front of the pants). I did not carry a purse or money belt.I called this my "Barcelona pants". And yes, I used the pants both days I was there.

In the 2 days I was there I heard from at least 3 different tourists their horror stories of being pickpocketed/ mugged.
cruiseluv is offline  
Old Jan 13th, 2007, 02:24 PM
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Our negative experience took place in an outdoor restaurant, when a young man came up and asked if the food was good. We thought he was a waiter, but when he quickly disappeared around the corner, and my sister saw that her purse was gone, we knew we'd been had!

We've always been quite paranoid about thievery, so it was quite a shock when this happened. Fortunately, my sister had given me her passport and credit card, and I'd put it in my MONEYBELT, so all she lost was a camera.

It was a good digital camera, but still, it could have been worse.

If you don't like removing money or credit card when you make a purchase, you might try keeping them in a front pocket. I have no shame, though. I don't care how inconvenient it is or how tacky it looks. I keep everything in my money belt and drag a card or money out when I pay for something.

The one time I left my extra debit card (which I always bring in case my card gets eaten) and an extra credit card in the hotel safe, I forgot to retrieve them and was long gone when I remembered what I'd done.
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Old Jan 13th, 2007, 03:35 PM
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I carry everything important in the belt, and in a safe place some cash. If I run out of money or need a credit card I go to the ladies room. It is not ideal, but it works.
While in a restaurant or out door cafe be aware of any salesman, shoe polisher, or any one coming to talk to you, either they are mapping the situation or they will make the move themselves....
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Old Jan 13th, 2007, 04:19 PM
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Keep your wallet in a front pocket, never put your backpack down and have a companion watch your back when using an ATM. My well travelled DH had his backpack stolen in the airport security line at 6am when he put it down to take off a jacket...literally a minute and with it went a laptop, camera, blackberry. At least he had his passport but it was a huge hassle. And, this was in the airport with security guards around, very few other travellers at that hour. Amazing.
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Old Jan 13th, 2007, 04:31 PM
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I wear a security wallet around my neck & under my coat.I have never had any trouble.

The last time I was in BCN I was with my girlfriend. She was carrying a backpack. A nice man who worked at the Cathedral MADE her take it off her back & wear it across her chest.
cheribob is offline  
Old Jan 13th, 2007, 04:37 PM
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I bought myself a travel vest ($55, unisex at Magellan's, doesn't look like a photographer's or fisherman's vest) and love it. I didn't have to carry a bag at all. Inner pockets for money, (passports en route), sunglasses, and outer pockets too.
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Old Jan 13th, 2007, 04:41 PM
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Wear a pocket tee shirt under your outer shirt for a credit card and a little cash. Hard to reach a front inside shirt pocket. Then have plastic-coated holy cards (available at any funeral parlor) in every other pocket you have. Be sure to learn how to say"Go with God, my child" in Catalan in case someone hooks a holy card..
BronxGuy is offline  
Old Jan 13th, 2007, 05:13 PM
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I live here in Barcelona and though your concerns are real, you should not worry. Just take a few precautions.

1) carry as little as possible. I would not take any credit cards with me, and no more than 200€ cash (if I am planning on buying something expensive). I cannot imagine any presents costing more than that, and if your meal does, well, you are spending too much (a really good meal for two would cost less than that)

2) be aware. My rule for anywhere in the world is: no streets if I don't see women or children (not counting prostitutes). So, if you only see men, avoid that street.

3) your best bet: keep what is comfortable. If you are used to having a wallet and are aware of it, carry it as you normally do, but without all the stuff you don't need (movie rental cards, business cards, etc, credit cards, etc). A zippered pocket is always good, but as long as you are aware of it and keeping an eye on it, I would not worry.

4) take the metro stairs (not escalators). Theives take the escalators and trap people there. I have never seen anyone get robbed on a stationary staircase, while the escalators happen all the time.

5) don't get drunk. Everyone likes to drink here. I am a little drunk right now. However, if you don't want problems, don't get completely plastered.

6) watch out for the Ramblas hookers. On the Ramblas, particularly at Nou de la Rambla and Ferran, you will find agressive and physical hookers who will actually hug you and try to mess with you in front of a group. Push them away (not down, they can call the police for that) and make sure you still have your wallet.

There are many more. Somewhere there is a "is theft really that bad?" thread where it is all written.

Oh, and as for 1898, I saw a robbery at their terrace (Bar Lobo) the other day. We were at La Merinda (across the tiny plaza) and out of nowhere appeared 4 gypsy (long skirts, long hair in pony tails, babies on hip) women. My friend started saying "robo, robo" which means "robbery, robbery", but not very loud. We were watching and I saw one purse and one jacket stolen without anyone saying anything. It took about 2 minutes for the people to realize they had been robbed and the waiter suggested that they go up the street and check the trash, as the thieves leave the stuff they don't want there. The actual hotel is really safe and nice, but their terrace is a target because it is constantly full of wealthy, unaware patrons.
laclaire is offline  
Old Jan 13th, 2007, 06:07 PM
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My husband has traveled all over the world and only in Barcelona has he been pick-pocketed (he also grew up in Detroit). In other words, he is pretty savvy and knew instantly when it happened. He had just finished a teaching a seminar and stepped on a subway train and neglected to put his money, credit cards, passport, in his money belt and two young women from Bosnia did the "bump" into him and got it. Lesson learned- keep these items in a money belt.
I personally went all over Barcelona by myself for the entire week and never had a problem. My Spanish is pretty good-not sure why, but I never had a problem. So, yes, a money belt and leave valuables in the hotel safe too.
LikeToTravel is offline  
Old Jan 14th, 2007, 02:32 AM
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read the "is Crime really that bad" thread, has a lot of great tips.
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Old Jan 14th, 2007, 08:44 AM
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Wow--all of these comments are helpful but I must admit I am even more anxious.

Is it necessary to "dress up" for dinner? Maybe looking casual in jeans would help us not look like the rich American tourist they like to target.

It's impossible not to look American but we will certainly heed all of the good advice.
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Old Jan 14th, 2007, 11:19 AM
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though appearance has something to do with the problem, it is more about opportunity. You have to understand that in a group of foreigners, the one dressed best might stand out, but the one whose wallet is in their back pocket and practically hanging out is the one who is going to get robbed. I can say that after 3 separate and dynamically diffferent incidents in my history, not one seemed to take into account the fact that I was a young and extremely casual student. It was the fact that 1) my wallet was in my backpack, 2) my purse was breakable and 3) my phone was in plain sight. I have gone out here in diamonds and satin with my decorative clutch purse tight under my arm and had no problems.
laclaire is offline  
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