Madrid Metros - Be Aware.....

Oct 1st, 2005, 11:44 AM
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Madrid Metros - Be Aware.....

I've traveled to Europe many times in the past and never had any trouble with pickpocketers until my recent trip to Spain.

I was wearing cargo shorts and my wallet was in my front pocket buttoned down and I thought secured. I got on an over crowded Metro car (the Diagonal station) in Madrid. I was shoved against a gypsy woman (with terrible body odor) while one of her accomplices (which I'm assuming was her daughter) ripped open my pocket and took off with my wallet - without me ever noticing. They immediately disembarked the metro car before it even left the metro stop.

I didn't realize I had been pickpocketed until I got off at my metro stop and checked my pockets.

The gypsy women took off with over 240 euros (about $270 US), two credit cards, ATM card, drivers license and a Tumi leather wallet.

In the past I kept my wallet in my backpack. But from this experience I'll be leaving my wallet secure at home and will always keep my money, credit cards, and ATM card secure in my money belt.
ty1onn is offline  
Oct 1st, 2005, 12:12 PM
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Thanks for the warning, ty.

ira is offline  
Oct 1st, 2005, 01:37 PM
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thanks for the warning, Im going to madrid and barcelona in nov and i decided to leave all my values in hotel safe deposit box, just some cash, well hiden credit card and maybe camera in the inner pocket of my jacket.
Ivod is offline  
Oct 1st, 2005, 01:45 PM
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Ivod, I'm sorry but unless that "hidden" pocket is really hidden I'm not sure it will help. PK, I realize I cannot see the actual coat, etc., but these people are VERY clever. I honestly believe the only real ways to prevent this are to having nothing of value in your pockets or to use a moneybelt or have things in a pocket very hidden and with a zipper at the minimum..
It doesn't happen to everybody but, unfortunately, it does happen!
Voyager2006 is offline  
Oct 1st, 2005, 01:54 PM
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Uh-oh. Look out. The PC police will be here shortly to yell at you for accusing a "Gypsy" of pickpocketing. Some people won't be able to read your post and will insist that you have just said "All Gypsies are thieves and have bad body odor". I didn't see that, but I assure you others will read it that way.

Now if you had said "a workman" or "a student with a backpack" or "a teenager" that would have been fine. But some will flame you for identifying the culprit!
Patrick is offline  
Oct 1st, 2005, 01:55 PM
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Mistake nr 1 is to carry a wallet. Mistake nr 2 is to take it out when paying for something. It can either be snatched out of your hand while you're waiting for change, or anyone can see into which pocket the wallet goes back, and help themselves later.

That's true even if you make a purchse in a perfectly respectable store. You're still visible to anyone pretending to be waiting their turn nearby.

So make it a pouch that hangs inside your pants, keep only loose bills and coins in several pockets where there is nothing else of value, and hope for the best. If someone reaches in and gets a bit of loose change, that's not the end of the world, but losing the wallet can seriously mess up your n

WallyKringen is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2005, 04:39 AM
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To the best of my knowledge there's no 'Diagonal' Metro Station-Stop in Madrid. There is one in Barcelona! Could this have happened in Barcelona?

Some of my 'Cargo' shorts have Velcro closures on the cargo pockets.

Something similar happened to me in Santiago de Compostela when I was watching a Tuna Universitaria group performing just outside the Basilica: I felt and heard the Velcro fastener and swung down to close it. There was a young man with a Toddler - he was crouched down pretending to be straightening out the child's clothes. But he was actually trying to get his hand into my cargo pocket.

That same day, an Italian Pilgrim had his pockets picked at Mass, inside the Basilica. He was trying to get help from a Policeman - the Policeman just shrugged his shoulders and said there was nothing he could do.

The group of Italian Pilgrims had flags to identify group members but when they held the flagpoles with both hands they were totally exposed & vulnerable.

Keep your valuables in a money belt! Just keep loose bils and change in your pockets and don't carry anything valuable in Cargo pockets! It's too easy to just slash the pocket with a razor blade (or an x-acto knife).
NEDSIRELAND is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2005, 05:10 AM
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Don't be paranoid about carrying your wallet in a pocket. Just be sensible about it. Keep the wallet as a place to store some petty cash and maybe a credit card or debit card for large purchases. When traveling from Point A to Point B, keep the majority of your personal stuff -- driver's license, large bills, the majority of your credit cards, etc. -- in a money belt. While in a city, keep the money belt in the hotel safe. That's what I did in Naples this summer: used my wallet only for petty cash, kept the big stuff in the hotel safe, and paid attention where I was at all times. I even survived the pickpocket gauntlet that is Napoli Centrale train station (mind you, I watched some little girl run out of the McDonald's there clutching a wallet in her hand, and then a few minutes later returning with her mother to case their next victim). So just be practical, not paranoid.
tdyls is offline  
Oct 5th, 2005, 05:13 AM
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Re: PC Police. When we were in Barcelona last December and were waiting in Plaza de Cataluña for the bus to the airport with three suitcases plus carryons when our daughter decided to look for a postcard across the street. A kindly gentlemen came over to tell us to keep an eye on our bags. (He thought we were being too casual.) And what a difference a few years make because after 11 March, he told us we had to watch out for the ARABS. Having always been warned against and having had a few personal experiences with the GYPIES, I was truly surprised!
holakjs is offline  
Oct 5th, 2005, 05:15 AM
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Can I ask what line, stop, part of the city this incident occurred?
holakjs is offline  
Oct 6th, 2005, 05:00 PM
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This is why Rick Steves sells such great money-belts!
artlover is offline  
Oct 6th, 2005, 05:42 PM
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Sorry about all the silly, extraneous PC police comments. Thank you for the warning. I was nearly pickpocketed at the Callao metro station in Madrid. (For the record, he wasn't a Gypsy or an Arab, but a Spaniard.)
martytravels is offline  
Oct 6th, 2005, 08:20 PM
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Madrid is a mecca for pickpockets. We saw more people pickpocketed in Madrid in a day than I've ever seen total in more than 65 trips to Europe. We also happened to be in a souvenir shop near the Prado when a guy with a huge parka hid a bunch of knives that were on sale under his jacket and attempted to exit the store without paying, and all the store personnel rushed over and pushed him to the ground until the police arrived. Spain, IMO, has a HUGE petty crime problem. I don't like the country much to begin with (and to be fair, I've been there a half-dozen times and tried to give it its fair share), but the petty crime problem is rampant in big cities and just adds to the general sense that the country isn't responding to the problems that mass tourism demands responses to.

I love Spain's history and ruins, but for me the pain in the *ss of dealing with the petty thievery in the major cities just isn't worth it.Plus, I think Madrid suffers rightly from a sad reputation as a major European capital.

I better shut up now. I could go on and on about Spain. I've tried it a bunch of times and I just don't like it. Let's leave it at that.
StCirq is offline  
Oct 9th, 2005, 05:09 PM
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Okay, I do apologize for the unPC comment, but hey that's who did the crime on me....just being honest about it! I could be totally vague and say a Woman and her female accomplices.
Correction on the Madrid Metro stop, it was at the Atocha Station (Metro Stop at the Train Station).
I would never ever carry a wallet with me oversees. And I would suggest carrying any cash, credit card and ATM card in a money belt. I perfer the one that attaches directly to your belt...and I always had a shirt untucked so that it would cover my belt. I do not recommend the money belt that hangs around your neck below your shirt since that is easily visible and can easily be snatched from you. If you do use the money belt that attaches around your waist, please be sure that you have it tucked underneath your pants, shorts, skirt etc. There were a few times where I saw people wearing there money belts outside there clothing attire....hello....that totally defeats the purpose of the safety of a money belt!
StCirq - I totally agree with your comments about Spain!
ty1onn is offline  
Oct 9th, 2005, 05:16 PM
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By the way, I meant to add that I was the 3rd pickpocket victim just from my hotel in Madrid for that day!
Also, not surprisingly, when I filed the police report, the Madrid police didn't even ask when, where, who, and how did the pickpocket incident happen.....since this type of crime happens so frequent.
You would not believe this....a few days after I got home from Spain, I was robbed by gun point in my own garage! And I live in a really nice, I thought!
ty1onn is offline  
Oct 14th, 2005, 11:14 AM
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Thanks for the safety advisory. I will have a money belt, but would have thought my wallet was safe in front pocket . . . seems not much is safe in Spain.
budget4me is offline  
Oct 14th, 2005, 11:21 AM
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here is someone who had a more favorable impression of Spain
elaine is offline  
Oct 26th, 2006, 01:28 PM
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Gosh, the exchange rate was better back then!
missypie is offline  
Oct 26th, 2006, 01:56 PM
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Thinking back on my own travels, and having just watched "The Out-of-Towners" on AMC recently, I wonder if this is the quintessential downbeat thread for any otherwise wonderful destination. I'm a very personal-space conscious person (and much bigger than most of the indigenous peoples I've mingled with), but it isn't enough to be aware when a concerted effort is made to rid you of your pocketed goodies. Just heed the dozens of stories about the ingress/egress on public transit (the "blocked" train door", or my favorite - the "attempted luggage theft") as they mask the efforts of the others onboard who use the sudden crush of bodies to go through your belongings. Other likely hazard areas: museum entrances, train station ticket booths, crowded marketplaces ("un regalo", anyone?), and the balconies on Bourbon Street ;-)

ty1onn - your unfortunate story did bring up a vivid memory of walking with my daughter a couple blocks away from the Plaza Del Sol where a gaggle of hookers was hawking their wares in front of the leather coat stores... as the Madrid police walked by! When I asked what was up, my daughter (who'd been living in Madrid for 8 mo's) shrugged her shoulders and said she didn't know what the police did - she'd only ever seen them run off the rogue street-vendors. She did think that the military guard outside the palace was bad-ass, however, and not to be trifled with.
ronin is offline  

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