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Barcelona -- pick pockets and sneak thieves

Barcelona -- pick pockets and sneak thieves

Jun 11th, 2010, 01:34 PM
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Mugged In Barcelona -- Trip Cut Short | Europe Forum | Fodor's ...
80 posts - 50 authors - Last post: Jun 3
My son, who has survived years in New York and months in London unscathed, managed only three days in Barcelona before being held up at ...

The above is one of the Fodor threads about someone being mugged in Barcelona and i believe it contains first-hand accounts of several others


Nov 19, 2008 ... Getting mugged in Barcelona is almost a cliche. Before we left for Spain, a friend warned us about the dangers of the Ramblas or Barri Gòtic ...

Q: Whilst visiting Barcelona I was unfortunatly mugged. I reported it to the police and my insurer, who have mislaid the information. ...

Sep 27, 2009 ... Barcelona is one of the safest European cities in terms of serious crime. However, muggings of tourists involving little or no physical ...

and dozens and dozens of more such reports leads me to believe Barcelona and Madrid are about the same in this regard.
Palenque is offline  
Jun 11th, 2010, 01:38 PM
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danon - you are lucky it seems in view of the spate of other folks who have been victimized - and even you may have benefitted from the many warnings and reports of how rife street crime is in both Madrid and Barcelona and been more vigilent.
and yes wearing expensive jewelry, watches, etc can only increase the odds of being victimized."

Here we go again. .. Both my husband and I have expensive watches, I carry a designer handbag, but no camera around the neck or wallet in the back pocket.
We take public transit and walk around late at night ( well, dinner is at 10:00...) but only on streets where there are many other people.
Just the way we do in Paris or New York .
Thousands of people travel through Spain without a problem...but one ONLY hears stories if something goes wrong.
danon is offline  
Jun 12th, 2010, 03:56 AM
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Yes thousands of people travel to a lot of places, but the ones who report are the ones who are hurt. The fact that spain and Italy has the most cases reported, and not only Fodor's but on every travel related forum, does mean something.

I amd very grateful for these warnings. because i did save my wallet with drivers license, credit cards on the Ramblas because a trick that i had read about was applied to me. If i had not read about it i would never have known. Two young man approached, very handsome, and very local looking (not immigrant types), one kept on whispering something to get my attention and keep it for a while, while the other one started to move towards my back. Realizing the scam, i turned towards my right, they did, i turned more, they did more. My wife started saying, "are you crazy, why are you turning like that" and i managed to say, "honey, i'm just dancing with these guys"

Two years ago, we were in Madrid, and this time two immigrant types fooled the bell boy, in front of our hotel Silken Puerta America, with the same tactic, while i was checking out to go to the airport to fly back to Istanbul. One whispering something and the other one grabbing my wife's large cosmetic case which unfortunately had our tickets, passports, her jewellery, her purse, money, cards, drivers license, and all cosmetics and running away with it.

The police refused to speak English. If you know the hotel, you will know that you cannot see the driveway from the lobby, so the concierge or the front desk never saw anything.
It was too late before our flight to go to th Turkish consulate.

the Spanish passport police did not mind us leaving without any identificatio, but the Turkish passport police arrested us and kept us for three hours for the heinous crime of "entering the country without a valid identity", although they did print copies of our passports from their computers.!!!

So Danon, you were lucky and i admire your conviction, but please understand that you are taking a moral responsibility for anyone who takes you up on your word and goes gallivanting about in Spain and especially in Madrid and Barcelona with expensive watches, jewellery. etc.
otherchelebi is offline  
Jun 12th, 2010, 04:27 AM
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I used depend on luck. I was lucky.

Several years ago I changed my approach. I decided that I'm a tourist and they are professional thieves. Who has the advantage?

I decided that my camera (no camera bag with lenses) would now be carried across my shoulder. While it's possible to cut the strap, grab and run, that would require more effort than they would likely want to do as I almost always have my hand on it.

I also decided that if I had nothing in my pockets they would get nothing.

I keep the equivalent of about $25 in my pocket.

I keep my credit card and a cash reserve in a credit card flat pouch that has my belt looped thru it and hangs inside my pants from my belt. This is used only when I make a credit card purchase and is immediately place back inside and down my pants.

I keep longer term items (passports and reserve cash) in my money belt. This is only accessed back in the hotel room.

Is this perfect? No. My camera still concerns me and I'm temped to somehow chain it to my belt. However, it's always around my neck and across my shoulder and never comes off.

= = = =

We were in Spain 3-4 years ago. The only problem we had was in Madrid and the infamous Rastro. This was after I implemented my new plan.

I had a backpack on with only an umbrella, sweater, etc inside. A few times I noticed that the zipper was slightly open.

Then suddenly there was a bit of a commotion. I quickly moved backward and away when somebody leaned on my leg. I was too late.

About 10 seconds later an older (whatever that is) man walked over to me and said that somebody (sure somebody!!!) pickpocketed me. He returned my empty sunglasses clipon case. All I had in my pockets were a few small bills (down far enough that they didn't reach it), my empty sunglasses case and a street map.

My strategy worked. They got nothing as I had nothing.
Myer is offline  
Jun 12th, 2010, 04:51 AM
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There is a greater police presence now at the Rastro.
Aduchamp1 is offline  
Jun 12th, 2010, 05:14 AM
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"So Danon, you were lucky and i admire your conviction, but please understand that you are taking a moral responsibility for anyone who takes you up on your word and goes gallivanting about in Spain and especially in Madrid and Barcelona with expensive watches, jewellery. etc."

Yup. One wonders who shops at many jewlery shops in Madrid and Barcelona since it is obvious that women and men in Spain don't wear watches, women leave their wedding rings at home , no one walks around caring a wallet, credit cards, or a nice purse. Most Spanish citizens dress in rags to "fool" the pickpockets.
...haven't people notice?
danon is offline  
Jun 12th, 2010, 06:03 AM
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You know, you're probably right. At least for Istanbul.

When we go out wearing our jewellery and watches and designer handbags it is not to touristic places, or to museums, or for just wandering in the streets. And if we did, most people i know would be making fun of us.

We wear them to go to receptions, to nice restaurants, to exhibitions, opera, classical music concerts at special locations, charity balls, weddings and so on.

i have never worn a Breitling or Audemars Piguet on any trip. And the most my wife wore was some simpler Tiffany's jewellery (which was stolen in Madrid) Well, maybe we are not rich enough to afford to have thes type of stuff stolen.
otherchelebi is offline  
Jun 12th, 2010, 08:21 AM
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Danon wrote:
One wonders who shops at many jewlery shops in Madrid and Barcelona since it is obvious that women and men in Spain don't wear watches, women leave their wedding rings at home , no one walks around caring a wallet, credit cards, or a nice purse.

Yeah, but those people don't take the metro. They call a *yellow cab* when they have to go places: http://tinyurl.com/3xd4484

Haven't you noticed them everywhere in Barcelona and Madrid?
Cowboy1968 is offline  
Jun 12th, 2010, 10:01 AM
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Funny Cowboy!

Our friend , a world traveler and an avid photographer, was robbed at the airport in OUR city ( very safe Canadian city) - his camera bag was stolen as he put it on the ground to check in. No place is 100 percent safe,

When we travel , we go to nice restaurants, the opera, concerts and other cultural events - the same as at home.
I have seen Spanish people on the beaches of Barcelona, at Pardo, shopping in the elegant Salamanca district of Madrid . This is where they live. Europeans often visit their local museums ( as well as flee markets).
I am not saying one should not be reasonable careful, that bad things don't happen, but looking over my shoulder all the time is just not for me.
danon is offline  
Jun 12th, 2010, 11:14 AM
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I am sure that barcelona has many nouveau riche, just like other cities around the world.
otherchelebi is offline  
Jun 12th, 2010, 12:16 PM
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Im with you danon. I 'dress' for the city so maybe look more like a local than a tourist. Oversized handbag carried on the shoulder is much more secure than a backpack, carries as much and is more elegant.
Fashionista is offline  
Jun 12th, 2010, 12:58 PM
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We got on the Metro and were immediately separated by 4 young people.
__________________________________________________ ___________
We were in Barcelona in 07 and had the same Metro experience. Fortunately, they weren't able to separate us, but they did surround us. It was obvious what was happening, so I held on tight to my bag and looked at them straight in the eye. Unexpectedly, they got off the next stop. We don't wear our wedding rings, expensive jewelry, expose cameras or anything else and try to not look like tourists. We frequent Europe and that was really the first time I felt threatened. Thankfully, we didn't have any other experience like that the rest of our trip. We were warned before we left which irritated me, but it turned out they were right.
SOCALOC is offline  
Jun 13th, 2010, 07:07 AM
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Thousands of people travel through Spain without a problem...but one ONLY hears stories if something goes wrong>

Nope trying to portray street crime in Barcelona and Madrid as nothing out of the ordinary is simply misinformation and a disservice to folks going there - telling them it's OK to wear their expensive jewelry and watches, etc is just completely absurd.

And 90% of the folks here agree with this.

Yes Danon not everyone will be victimized but many more will here than other places and thus should be warned.

A clerk in the Madrid Tourist Office told some tourists exactly that -'don't wear expensive jewelry, carry openly expensive cameras, etc - I heard her and yet Danon would dispute this Madrid tourist office's lady's advice.

Incroyable - tally incredible.
Palenque is offline  
Aug 7th, 2010, 04:54 PM
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Another one for Barcelona's year-round open season on tourists, but hey, it's still a great place to visit!

From letters to Sydney Morning Herald travel section, 7 August -

"Hit by pickpockets

We found recently that pickpockets are at work in Barcelona. Sitting under a tree in a park we were splattered with bird poo (we thought). Two people rushed up with water and tissues to help clean our shirts and cleaned out our pockets as well.

All told, four people worked the park, one to splatter us, two to clean up and one who pointed out a toilet at the far end of the park so we walked away from them.

But despite that, Barcelona is a great place to visit - friendly, clean, great Metro, and great fish restaurants at the marina."
farrermog is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2010, 02:44 AM
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More happy travels in Spain - from letters Sydney Morning Herald travel section, 21 August -

"On a five-week visit to Spain we were hit three times by pickpockets, in Barcelona and Madrid. Fortunately they were successful only once. The bird poo scam (...August 7) was tried but we had been warned. It is a disgrace that the Spanish police are not more pro-active. If Spain wants our tourist dollars, it must be prepared to take intensive police action in tourist black spots."
farrermog is offline  
Sep 8th, 2010, 12:59 PM
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Just came upon this thread. I've lived in several large cities in the US and Europe, including Barcelona, for extended periods (more than one year) and yes, Barcelona is a magnet for petty thieves, that mostly come from abroad. This is often attributed to the laxness of the law. I know from good sources of people being caught stealing more than fifty times, and released each time on the same day by the judge. So the police presence is not that serious of a threat to thieves, and the police themselves are not happy about the situation. Once again, be vigilant with your belongings, don't look like an innocent lamb, and you will be fine.
Matt is offline  
Sep 8th, 2010, 07:21 PM
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The only time I worry about pickpockets is when Congress is in session. They're big time compared to the poor street urchins that plague some areas of the city.
Robert2533 is offline  
Sep 9th, 2010, 12:53 AM
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To everyone who had a pick pocket experience:

I am sorry to all of you who got robbed in Barcelona.What a beautiful city it is such a shame it has this nasty label. I think the problem here is by law if anything under 400€ was robbed the police cannot do anything about it, they may arrest the thief for a day and let him/her out the next day as if nothing has happened. It is a very big problem here if the police had to catch all the pick pockets and charge them it would be a great cost for them as well. I don't think prisons nor jails would fit, thats why pick pockets can steal small things and get away with it easily. Anything under around 400€ is not considered big enough for a robbery crime.I strongly agree the municipality should do something about it because it has already spread widely! Barcelona was in first place for a survey on European cities and crime mostly related to pick pockets. It angers me so much that such a beautiful place visited by millions of people all year round would have such a label. I know of many tourists, friends and family who cam to visit me and who haven't been robbed but they just felt annoyed every time they wanted to go out they had to take extra measures at all time! every minute, every second which kind of made their vacation a bit overwhelming to them. I hope this problem gets dealt with asap!

Lifestyel Barcelona
lifestylebarcelona03 is offline  
Sep 20th, 2010, 12:00 PM
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I just got back from Barcelona. Knowing I would be exploring on my own, I was concerned, but had no problems. I wore a money belt and purchased a small handbag that goes across the chest, with several zippered compartments. I loved the convenience of using that bag, and will use it more when I travel.

My husband has been on business trips to Barcelona 5x. On his last trip, a man on the trip had his camera stolen, and the next day had his wallet stolen. On this trip, I heard someone's iphone was stolen - she had left it sitting on a restaurant table while she ate.
karens is offline  
Sep 20th, 2010, 05:12 PM
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Its hard to be honest about what kind of person you really are, but if you are a very nervous, even paranoid type, you will see what you fear everywhere, where a less nervous and less paranoid person would see nothing untoward.

I know there are pickpockets and petty thieves all over, and I can understand why they find tourists easy pickings. But I think if you take reasonable precautions, the chance of your becoming a victim are minimal, because there are so many other tourists who take no precautions.

We were in Amsterdam returning to the canal boat where we were staying when a bird crapped on my new coat. As we got on our boat, a young man who appeared to be middle eastern approached me and asked for directions. While I tried to show him where to go with my map (I was an expert, having been there four days) we were standing very close together, which is common in the middle east, but uncomfortable to many Americans. My wife was freaking out, trying to wipe the bird crap off my coat back and get the young man and I farther apart. She later admitted she thought he had thrown the bird crap on me to get a chance to get close. I had to send her into the boat to calm things down, and he and I finished our discussion. My wife is not paranoid, but to this day she thinks there was a crime in process; I don't.

I'm curious what all the people who think carrying a camera will draw thieves think we should do if we want to memorialize our trip with some pictures. I suppose I could leave it in the safe in the apartment and go back and get it every time I want to take a picture. But wouldn't there be a danger that a thief, knowing where the rental apartments are, would lie in wait there, or break in?
clevelandbrown is offline  

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