First time to Barcelona? Read this!!

Oct 13th, 2010, 02:53 PM
  #1  
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First time to Barcelona? Read this!!

My wife & I just came back from our tour of Europe and I just had to post this to everyone that's planning to go to Barcelona for the first time!

The message is simple - BEWARE OF PICKPOCKETS !!!!!

It's really really extreme in Barcelona !!

Many say Rome is bad but i'm telling you, we felt safe in Rome but even with the money belt, a combination lock on my backpack and carrying our backpacks in front of us at all time, we still felt very unsafe in Barcelona. Maybe it's because we didn't take the Metro while carrying our luggages in Rome so I dare not conclude which city is safer.

Why?

We were targeted 3 times out of 5 days in Barcelona !!!! All 3 times happened in the Metro and we only took the Metro twice !!!!! Both times each of us were pulling a heavy luggage so we were sort of "prime targets".

They came in groups, first time : 3 people, 2nd time: 5-6 people, 3rd time: 6 people.

One of them will suddenly rush in and pretend to carry your luggage for you (to divert your attention) while the other 4-5 (usually surround you) will steal from you. Usually done during last minute (when the subway doors are almost closing or when you're going out of the lift) so you're a bit in a panic. I knew they were trying to steal from me on the 2nd attempt so I shouted at them but they don't give a crap & continued while the other passengers just sit and look.

We managed to foil the 3rd time after we arrived at our destination (2nd time was when we got on the train), as we were walking I realised a group of idle people (pretending to look at the map or talking on a phone, etc.) turned and walked in the same direction as us so we stopped, turned around and stared at all of them. Then all of them looked at us and turned back to where they were before.

My advice: Combination locks are your best bet. If you're carrying a backpack, keep your valuables locked with a combination lock so they have no chance to put their hands in. I don't know if a money belt will do any good because with so many people surrounding you (while the other people don't care), you really don't stand a chance. And if you're really targeted by them, just keep on moving away from all of them and shout!

In our opinion the police could easily go undercover and catch these $#($%[email protected] and turn Barcelona into a safer city but I guess they just don't care.

BUT (A very big BUT)....

Please don't cancel your trip to Barcelona because of this comment !!!!!!

If we put this experience aside, my wife and I really really love Barcelona!!!!! We went to London, Amsterdam, Brussels, Rome, Venice, Florence, Rome & Barcelona and we have to say that Barcelona is our favourite city, and also (in our opinion) the most romantic city amongst all of them. We stayed in Barcelona for 5 days and still felt that it wasn't enough and we really want to go back again!

But of course, i'm sure many others may feel otherwise so my comment above is only based on what we experienced during our trip

Good luck and enjoy!!
bluemocha is offline  
Oct 13th, 2010, 03:52 PM
  #2  
 
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The only time I have ever been pickpocketed was on the Barcelona Metro. I've been back many times since without incident but have always been more careful.
Dukey1 is offline  
Oct 13th, 2010, 05:10 PM
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The ONLY time we saw attempted pick-pocketing when we were in Barcelona was on the Metro. It was the only time we took the metro as we were able to walk or take a bus everywhere else we wanted to go. I think the only reason we took it that afternoon was because we hadn't tried it!

A bunch of kids and young guys came rushing through the doors just before they were closing - they had a couple kids on scooters or bikes, which added to the confusion. My DH keeps a comb in his hip pocket, and he felt someone slip their hand in as they went by. There was only a map in there with the comb, and guy just kind of dropped everything to the floor when he quickly realized it wasn't a valuable.
uhoh_busted is offline  
Oct 13th, 2010, 05:52 PM
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I am starting to feel guilty about not having had a "pickpocket experience" in Barcelona after four visits.

It is not that police "don't care" - they cannot charge them under the existing law. Too bad.
danon is online now  
Oct 13th, 2010, 06:21 PM
  #5  
 
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Thanks for posting bluemocha! I had friends who were scammed 3 times in Rome so I think it is helpful to let folk know just what can happen. Thanks for keeping the post positive at the same time
stormbird is offline  
Oct 13th, 2010, 06:22 PM
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We took the metro about 30 times in 5 days in Barcelona. No pickpockets. Too bad as after 25 days on the road with three kids I was looking forward to drilling someone.
colduphere is offline  
Oct 13th, 2010, 06:37 PM
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we were in Barcelona for 3 days this past May and nobody bothered us. I'm not sure if it was because both my husband and myself had PacSafe bags or the fact that we had our 10 year old daughter with us. and we rode the metro alot both in Barcelona and Madrid.
tobyo is offline  
Oct 13th, 2010, 09:49 PM
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Have been to Barcelona and Rome several times and had no problems or witnessed any. I don't use a money belt just carry a bag or wee pack with a wallet and camera in it as I do when at home. Walked around a lot, used the Metro and just kept my wits about me as usual.
I don't recognise the hysteria about visiting these places and have never heard it from anyone I know.
alihutch is offline  
Oct 14th, 2010, 12:57 AM
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I don't see any "hysteria" here -- except from the irresponsible Barcelona cheering squad.

The fact that you "don't know" anybody who has been picketpocketed in Barcelona doesn't mean you haven't seen these honest reports from ordinary travelers time and time again.

People need responsible information from a message board. People are well advised to take a taxi if they are carrying luggage in Barcelona. They should know the chances they take when riding the Metro.

I know seasonsed travelers and lifelong new yorkers who have been pickpocketed in the Metro . Someone attempted to strong arm my purse away from me in Barcelona.

For those of you who by your own admission don't know anything about this, why try to discredit this information or minimize it or try to sneer at people who post warning for the benefit of others? People can have their expensive trips spoiled if they don't know to take this information seriously.
zeppole is offline  
Oct 14th, 2010, 02:36 AM
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I'm not sneering, I just don't want people to be so scared that something awful will happen. The train from the airport and the underground had many people travelling with luggage.

Yes, you need to keep your wits about you, but my Mum taught me to do that as a child wherever we went to London.

The OP said it was 'REALLY EXTREME' and I'd like to think that I'm allowed to say that that has not been my experience, nor that of my many friends who have taken city breaks there.
alihutch is offline  
Oct 14th, 2010, 03:06 AM
  #11  
 
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This is my story: on my last trip to Barcelona I took my anti-theft purse with me along with extreme awareness of pickpocketing attempts in Barcelona, the worse city by far for this type crime. I wore this purse in FRONT of me at all times and clutched it while riding the metro with my sister. Upon exiting the train my heart stopped as I WAS PICKPOCKETED. Once again, I HAD AN ANTI-THEFT PURSE AND THE PURSE IN FRONT OF ME I WAS HOLDING TO IT TIGHT. The zipper was opened and my wallet was taken. I was left with my passport AND ONE credit card I had placed in a hidden place following read advice. We stopped at THREE police stations all with lines around the corner with people who had been pickpocketed. It was heartbreaking to hear the stories of vacations ruined and items with sentimental value snatched. The attitude of most policemen was of TOTAL indifference, the presence of security guards/police force in Metro stations is NON-EXISTENT. Watching the news that night (I speak Spanish) there was a news caption regarding a new device pickpocketers were using that opens zippers with incredible swiftness and unnoticeably. No doubt it had been used on me that morning.

I visit Barcelona for business reasons with some frequency, but would never, ever, EVER go back to visit for pleasure. A city that REALLY cares would DO A LOT MORE to protect its guests. Barcelona? You can have it.
Viajero2 is offline  
Oct 14th, 2010, 03:14 AM
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In all our travels Barcelona is they only place we have been robbed. On the Metro. An elderly friend of my mom was mugged, had to go to hospital with injuries. She and her husband are also experienced travelers. Friends who live near Barcelona agree that it's one of the worst place in Europe for pickpocketing.

It's still a beautiful city, but these things seem to happen in Barcelona much more than anywhere else in Europe.
Tulips is offline  
Oct 14th, 2010, 03:44 AM
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Well, the methodology you describe, bluemocha, is the same we have witnessed on the Paris Metro.

And friends were robbed under similar circumstances to your, viajero 2, only it was his money belt that was opened and looted.

There is an interesting video on YouTube of a pair of young girls hitting American tourists at the Spanish Steps in Rome.

Thieves target tourists because tourists carry valuables and because tourists won't be around to testify in court even if the bad guys are caught. Would you fly back to Barcelona to testify?

Many people who post here won't leave valuables in hotel safes. Thieves know this. Many people wear waist belts. Thieves know this. These are not casual encounters like druggies breaking into cars for your GPS. The thieves are trained professionals. They go to school to learn this.

For every person who has not been robbed "because I wear a waist belt" there is another who has not been robbed because "I observe the same precautions that I would in a big city at home." It is a kind of confirmation bias. If no one has stripped your pockets or purse or waist belt, you have been lucky.
Ackislander is offline  
Oct 14th, 2010, 07:29 AM
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I don't see any "hysteria" here -- except from the irresponsible Barcelona cheering squad."

it is not hysterical to post one's experience, but neither is
"irresponsible" to post exactly the opposite point of view .
Some people enjoy Barcelona and go back year after year, some prefer other destination .Good.
danon is online now  
Oct 14th, 2010, 08:41 AM
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At this point I think HISTERIA is probably warranted to get Barcelona officials to do something about the rampant crime against their visitors. Geezz, the city is the most NOTORIOUS city in the world for pickpocketing! What a horrendous worldwide reputation! You would think the proud Catalonians would have done more about it by now!

I just think back about the elderly ladies and the nice couple at the station who saved for a year for the nice cruise and how it was taken from them along with monies, CC and passports-- I PRAY FOR KARMA.
Viajero2 is offline  
Oct 17th, 2010, 11:10 AM
  #17  
 
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Just to add my 2 cents worth. Dh & I were in Barcelona a few weeks ago as part of our 3month adventure. Lets just say, we didn't really enjoy it,it was the only place I left my handbag in the hotel, we felt really unsafe. BUT..........our DD came over and met us in Italy for a couple of weeks. She decided to have a side trip and chose Barcelona. Fortunately she was there with her brother inlaw and his friend. They were targeted on the beach by a 'girl' offering massages.

Unfortunately they said yes. So they paid their money and had a massage. Then were asked to pay, dd said she already had, a huge fight followed, police were called when the 'girl' came at my dd with a lump of wood. They spent the afternoon in the police station and the rest of their time pretty much in their hotel room. they had wanted to tour the stadium, but due to the transit strike, couldn't get anywhere. Then they ventured out for a meal and got caught up in the riots.

Barcelona is definately off our list, although dh & I are glad that we got to see it.
aussiedreamer is offline  
Oct 19th, 2010, 03:51 AM
  #18  
 
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This is true, be aware, but enjoy barvcelona, that's a fanatastic city
michael_n is offline  
Oct 19th, 2010, 04:30 AM
  #19  
 
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I left my carmera/purse in the cablecar going to the fort in Barcelona. Amazing...got it back!!! Turned in to the office. Lucky me! Maybe just tourists use the cable cars and are honest. Good things do happen. Don't miss Barcelona, just carry as little as possible with you.
Elainee is offline  
Oct 19th, 2010, 05:06 AM
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We witnessed a pick pocketing attempt on the metro in Barcelona two summers ago. As an elderly couple was getting on the metro, two teenage boys surrounded them. I assumed the teens were helping the elderly couple, until my husband pointed out that the third stayed back with his foot in the door. Sure enough, they were in the woman's purse then hopped out as soon as the doors were closing.

Our good friends were also pick pocketed in Barcelona coming up the escalator after riding the metro. The person at the top of the escalator pretended to drop something, causing a backlog of people trying to exit. My friend felt someone push into him from behind and next thing he knew his wallet was gone.

I think these warnings provide a great service to travelers. I knew to be extra vigilant (everywhere really) and we didn't get fooled by the gold ring scam in Paris (although we were approached 3 times - seems lots of people drop their wedding rings in Paris!)

Even knowing Barcelona is a haven for pick pocketers, I would visit again in a heartbeat. It is a beautiful city and we loved our time there. You just have to be very careful with your valuables when you travel.
Attnymom is offline  

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