camera gear and pickpockets in Barcelona

Old Aug 26th, 2011, 05:36 AM
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camera gear and pickpockets in Barcelona

Hi all,

I had posted a similar question along with another post but decided to make this a post in itself because I am somewhat hesitant about using my good camera in Barcelona.

I have been reading a lot about pickpockets and safety of items in Barcelona. I don't scare too easily but I am concerned. I always travel with my Nikon D90 DSLR camera with a fairly big lens and maybe another lens strapped over my arm. I carry my camera on my chest with special gear called a cottoncarrier. The camera basically attaches to a clamp on a vest on my chest. I pull it off to shoot.

My question is do I ditch the camera and just use a point and shoot. I don't really want to do this. My passion is street photography and Barcelona would be such a good subject.

When the the groups of pickpocketers see a camera, a couple holding a map and blue jeans that really does scream TOURIST, HERE I AM COME GET MY STUFF.

Any suggestions or precautions would be helpful.
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Old Aug 26th, 2011, 06:00 AM
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That sounds a lot like me most of the time, although I don't like to carry the extra long lens around when out for the day. It's simply too much weight. One decent short telephoto and a nice wide angle work fine for me. I also carry a point and shoot in my shoulder bag, or in a pocket, and have never felt threatened walking around Barcelona, or any other city, town or village in Spain.

Actually you wouldn't standout in Barcelona, map, blue jeans and all! With somewhere around 10 million visitors a year, a fair number of the those you'll encounter on the street in the tourist areas on any given day will tourist, and there are just not enough pickpockets to go around. Just be aware of your surroundings, don't burden yourself down, and enjoy the city.
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Old Aug 26th, 2011, 06:04 AM
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Read your map ahead of time. Keep a grip on your camera, just like you would anywhere.
Be aware.

Pickpockets are sly. No one is going to jump you and wrestle you to the ground for your camera. Be aware.
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Old Aug 26th, 2011, 06:13 AM
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Pickpockets and scammers generally avoid any physical confrontation. That means that they avoid people who seem likely to spot them. Looking alert is the best protection strategy.

Taking a photograph absorbs some of your attention, which might be a moment that would interest a pickpocket: that's when a travelling companion can be very useful, conveying a sense of alertness to the immediate surrounds while you are focused (intentional pun) on something else.

Forget street photography around Las Ramblas after dark. There are some possibilities of being confronted physically.
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Old Aug 26th, 2011, 06:33 AM
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I think you should go down to the Metro and take pictures of those tricky people that are preying on the tourists - at least point the camera at them. They are not hard to spot - they stand at the end of the platforms watching for the vunerable, then block the metro doors and fish in the bags of the unsuspecting.

Actually my opinion is that they are mostly after money - have other posters had cameras snatched?
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Old Aug 26th, 2011, 07:02 AM
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You want to go street shooting in Europe's pickpocket capital....

Not in the Ramblas or parallel alleys if you want anything to develop
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Old Aug 26th, 2011, 07:34 AM
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Actually that sounds like a good project idea, to shoot the pickpockets of Barcelona!
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Old Aug 26th, 2011, 07:35 AM
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There are many ways to spot a tourist including your hair comb, glasses, belts, shoes, your mien, the fact that your strolling through a city without real purpose besides your camera and your upside guide book.

Although I have not seen it in Barcelona, there is the scooter snatch, so do not walk close to the curb.
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Old Aug 26th, 2011, 07:42 AM
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Pickpockets and scammers generally avoid any physical confrontation>

Not so in Barcelona and Madrid where there are many muggings - rare for Europe - what Padraig says is general to Europe as a whole but not Barcelona - there have been lenghty trheads here about more than a few folks who have been mugged - some rather violently. Google Muggings in Barcelona and you will get pages of sites on that.

My friend was mugged in Madrid early on a Sunday morning in front of Atocha train station - she had a day pack on and the thief wanted to get the day pack off her and she wanted to get it off to to give to the mugger because there was not much of value in it - the ensuing struggled left here bloodied in the gutter with bruises all over. This is not an isolated incident and reports of similar things in Barcelona are rife.

Leave any expensive jewels or cameras at home IMO. Barcelona has muggers and not just pickpockets.
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Old Aug 26th, 2011, 08:14 AM
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Mugged In Barcelona -- Trip Cut Short | Europe Forum | Fodor's ...
http://www.fodors.com/.../europe/mug...-cut-short.cfm - CachedSimilar
80 posts - 50 authors - Last post: Mar 9, 2010
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 ...
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Old Aug 26th, 2011, 09:28 AM
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Your camera is a good defensive weapon. Take a picture of the varmints as they approach you. They hate it and will disappear.

A guard in a Barcelona metro station prevented me from taking pictures in there. It's a security issue.
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Old Aug 26th, 2011, 10:05 AM
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There are pickpockets who work the Barcelona Metro for sure. They often work in pairs or threes. They usually PICK POCKETS rather that snatching cameras in my experience.

Las Ramblas...could very well be one of the safer places especially if you remain alert and DON'T carry a lot of money in your obvious pockets. And if you don't go there with your camera you will have missed what is as much a symbol of Barcelona as is anything else.
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Old Aug 26th, 2011, 11:00 AM
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I walked around Barcelona's cathedral behind an American photographer who didn't get his stuff lifted despite doing everything he could to make it easy: open camera bag slung over his shoulder and resting on his butt containing at least two lenses and another body. You can be dumb and lucky, but don't count on it.

I don't think being in Barcelona is a guarantee of being robbed. Take precautions and don't be paranoid.
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Old Aug 26th, 2011, 11:18 AM
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spaarne wrote: "Take a picture of the varmints as they approach you. They hate it and will disappear."

Are you sure that it won't motivate them to make the camera disappear also? Then you won't have a picture of them to show to the police.
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Old Aug 26th, 2011, 01:05 PM
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barcelona has made it easier at least for victims of crime to report the crimes to police - a new policy lets your hotel desk report the crime so you do not have to go to the police station and join a long queue of crime victims.

And no of course being in Barcelona is not a guarantee of being robbed - but just that in this city your chances are very real - much more than any other city it seems from the spate of reports than any city in Europe other than Madrid.

Robert Reich, former Clinton Secretary of Labour, was not long ago robbed while checking into his flight at the airport - they took his whole briefcase with his passport and all money in it - he had to spend the night at the Embassy.

Chances are you will not be robbed but it is a very real chance here more than other places and muggings, practically unheard of in the rest of Europe are rife here. Again this does not mean you will get mugged.
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Old Aug 26th, 2011, 01:07 PM
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ggings in Barcelona can be reported at your hotel
http://www.lifeincatalonia.com/muggi...be-reported-at... - CachedJun 16, 2011 – Muggings and thefts in Barcelona can now be reported at ...

Keep this time saving tip in mind if you do get mugged or pickpocketed!
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Old Aug 26th, 2011, 02:54 PM
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Why post something about Robert Reich that happened more than 4 years ago? When you heard "not long ago" one would normally assume a few weeks or months, not years.
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Old Aug 26th, 2011, 06:23 PM
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Thank you all for all of your posts. I was so excited about going to Barcelona. All this info has put a damper on my excitement. We will be very careful but to have this in the back of my mind all the time will definetly be an issue with me.

This topic would be a great street photography assignment. I would love to shoot the pickpocketers with the beautiful Barcelona in the background (but how sad that would be).

I live in Philadelphia and have never been afraid to walk down the streets. We have been to Italy and France and never gave this topic a second thought.

I thank you all because you have made me aware of the situation. And I am sure I will get over my hesitations.

My camera is insured and it is just a thing. As long as my physical person is not attacked I will not take it personally.
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Old Aug 26th, 2011, 06:43 PM
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Wishing you the best, Barcelona is very worthy. It's not often the camera that will be missed, it's the photos. Bring small storage units and take care to download them often.

Most of all, look fearless, don't take any guff from anyone. A shop keeper along Las Ramblas tried to scam my husband by telling him I stole something from his shop. I was furious. That poor jerk, ended up begging me to accept his apology. I did after offering to call the police on myself since he said I stole from him. His apology was accepted after everyone left his shop.
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Old Aug 26th, 2011, 06:52 PM
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I don't carry a camera, but after five visits to Barcelona I am totally comfortable in the city. Going again in Oct.
Never had a problem.
Out of millions of visitors to a fantastic city, there are always the same few posters who tend to bring people down ( although they probably have not visited Barcelona in ages, if ever.)
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