Safety in Spain

Jun 5th, 2006, 08:35 AM
  #1  
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Safety in Spain

I am going on my first trip to Spain in September. I have been very excited, reading everything I can and trying to plan what to do. (We will be one week in Alicante area and one week on the Costa del Sol). I have one concern. Every book or web site I read tells me to be very careful as there are lots of muggings, car thefts, pickpockets, purse snatchers, etc. etc. Is this really that common and how concerned for my safety should I be? I will be with my husband and another couple and we will be renting a car to move around. I will be using one of those little pouches that attach to a belt and goes under clothing to carry money, passports,etc. But can I carry a small backpack with daily necessities or am I inviting trouble? Any tips?
Chrissee is offline  
Jun 5th, 2006, 08:41 AM
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There's a;ready an endless thread on this:

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=34707521
Eloise is offline  
Jun 5th, 2006, 08:43 AM
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Carry your backpack closed(I've seen tourist that carry it open !!) as I carry mine here in Spain and don't worry Also, don't leave anything in the car when parked.
Sure there are that kind of things (more in the big cities) but that happens in every place, just take care as you will do at home..and have fun
kenderina is offline  
Jun 5th, 2006, 08:50 AM
  #4  
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The same good advice from kenderina applies if you carry a purse or day bag of some sort, make sure it's closed. I know that seems obvious, but one of my traveling companions was walking around Sevilla with an open purse and later noticed her wallet was missing.
P_M is online now  
Jun 5th, 2006, 09:52 AM
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My relative was violently mugged in Madrid at around 8am on a Sunday morning near Atocha Station. She had a day pack on and the thief tried to grab it off her and she tried to get it off to give it to him since it had nothing of value in it. But she couldn't and the thief couldn't get it off either and she ended up in gutter the thief still trying to get the bag off. Shopkeepers nearby opening their stores stood and did nothing. My sister-in-law got scrapes and bruises and finally lost the bag. But it does happen - i think only in Madrid and Barcelona and perhaps Seville - large cities with lots of drug addicts. The thief was not ethnic Spanish but probably some poor drug addict immigrant. Carry nothing that won't come off easily.
And instead of saying don't worry i say from good experience that you should worry in Madrid or Barcelona - i've talked to several others who were similarly violently mugged - some right in the Plaza Mayor - the main tourist square. I've never heard of this type of violent mugging in any other European city - at least on the wide scale it appears to be in Madrid and Barcelona.
PalQ is offline  
Jun 5th, 2006, 10:14 AM
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PalQ, the OP is talking about Alicante area and then Costa del Sol not Madrid or Barcelona. Big cities are another question (lots of people, lots of tourists, lots of business for thiefs). And believe me.."the wide scale" is not so wide, it exists, but it is not the usual thing (the violent mugging, I mean..more usual is the one you don't even notice).
kenderina is offline  
Jun 5th, 2006, 10:22 AM
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Chrissee- I think this is in reference to the 2 timeshares you guys were thinking about visiting a few months ago. First, I am glad to hear you are going. Second, your questions. Alfas del Pi (where you said you were going) is a very small and safe place, and even Alicante, which is pretty big by Spanish standards, is a safe place to visit. In fact, in the years I have lived and visited there, not once have I been robbed. Nor have any of my friends save one girl who lost her wallet during the festivals. She isn't sure if it was taken or if she dropped it (being drunk makes it a little more iffy whether you will lose your stuff or not). So, I can't imagine there being any danger in the Alicante area.

The Costa del Sol is a little different. I can't remember where you are staying, but I think it is near Marbella, where there are a lot of wealthy tourists and inhabitants. That means that there are the inevitable people who want to steal that money, but that is pretty universal. As for Malaga, there is a lot of petty theft in that city. . . lots of my friends have lost wallets and cell phones while out at night due to inattention and the fact that there are tons of people just waiting for that to happen.

So, be smart and be safe, but you are not inviting anything by carrying a backpack. That said, I advise that you carry very little and don't go flashing around a ton of cash or anything like that.
laclaire is offline  
Jun 5th, 2006, 10:24 AM
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The muggings, car thefts, pickpockets, purse snatchers, etc also exist in other cities such as Paris and Rome and this site is filled with folks going there and not really being overly concerned. Spain is no different.

Use your common sense, too many people check that at the door while on vacation. And be aware of your surroundings. There really isn't much more to it than that. I, too, got one of those pouches that you have.

I wore it once. It was horribly uncomfortable and obvious to anyone I was wearing it. I immediately took it off and never wore it again. No problems. But I took a care as to where my belongings were and we watched out for each other. Just as we would do in any large city, whether it be in Europe or the US.

If you dwell on this - as I did - you will find yourself going crazy. Relax, it's a vacation.
Chele60 is offline  
Jun 5th, 2006, 11:18 AM
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kenderina: yes i overlooked that and these places seem to be much different and i wouldn't worry much there - even though when i was in Alicante there were some suspect types hanging about - but Alicante is again a larger city and the beach areas i'm sure are as safe as any place in Europe. Sorry about the mistake - put angst to rest!
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Jun 5th, 2006, 11:22 AM
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OK, PalQ
kenderina is offline  
Jun 5th, 2006, 12:05 PM
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BTW- I am by no means saying that Alicante is clear of unsavory and very sketchy types, I am just saying that I have never had a criminal run in with any of them. There are some areas of the city that remind me of crime novels I read a while back, particularly in the Arabic quarter East of the Barrio.
laclaire is offline  
Jun 5th, 2006, 03:05 PM
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We just returned from a month traveling all over soutern Spain and we did not encounter any threat of mugging or the other horrors you outline.

I carried my passport and credit cards in the kind of pouch you described and I carried water, a tour book, sun glasses, and so on in a shoulder bag which I wore in a manner so that it could not be easily snatched.

I carry a backpack while hiking in the mountains. In my view, backpacks on city streets are appropriate for school children who don't have lockers, but not for adults. I think a backpack marks a tourist as a possible patsy.

happytrailstoyou is offline  
Jun 5th, 2006, 04:15 PM
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happytrailstoyou, many spanish people carry backpacks, sometimes in the back, sometimes in a shoulder, sporting or leather ones, so it's not at all a thing that marks you as a tourist here. The mark uses to be the open ones showing a big objective from a camera It's really amazing !!
kenderina is offline  
Jun 5th, 2006, 04:27 PM
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On my recent visit I saw many Spaniards carrying smart bags, but none lugging backpacks down city streets.

I sincerely and respectfully disagree that backpacks mark one as a Spaniard or that taking photos marks one as being from some place other than Spain.

I should also note, that few NYC natives wear tank tops when walking down Park Avenue.


happytrailstoyou is offline  
Jun 5th, 2006, 04:37 PM
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I haven't said that marks one as a spaniard and if I've explained myself incorrectly I'm sorry. I'm Spaniard and me and my friends wear backpacks quite usually, I tried to say that with a packback one can be a tourist, but also a local, no way to know. And I haven't said anything about taking photos, only showing a big camera inside the bag that it's so big that the bag can't be closed. Usually, I don't carry such a big equipment to photograph my own place so chances are that it is a tourist, of course it can be a local..but the probabilities are less.
kenderina is offline  
Jun 5th, 2006, 04:46 PM
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I just came back from Spain and had no incidents, but the first time I visited Barcelona, someone tried to wrestle my backpack away from me (I screamed so loud they fled) and a pickpocket got one of my husband's wallets in the Plaza d'Espagna train station.

I put my guidebooks, water, maps, hairbrush etc. in an ordinary plastic bag from the drugstore when I sightsee. In lieu of a "moneybelt," I recently bought a small "wrist" purse from Yazzy that actually hooks over my fingers and hand, and I use it to carry a credit card, a photocpy of my passport and "walkaround" money while sightseeing.

http://tinyurl.com/e6dpk

My passport, and other serious valuables, I leave locked up in a hotel safe.

By the way, muggings and thievery are ALWAYS blamed in Spain on immigrants, even by the police. In Madrid, I was accosted by two Spanish scamsters who pretended they were the police and demanded to see my passport. (I simply walked away toward the nearest crowd.)

Spain has native Spanish thieves, believe me, as does America, Britain and you name it.
nessundorma is offline  
Jun 5th, 2006, 04:50 PM
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PS: In the Barcelona airport, I saw a Spanish woman who had a "backpack" that was really a "chest pack": A triangular leather purse that hung around her neck but was quie high on her chest, and had multiple zippered compartments, easily accessed, to hold her passport, money, etc. It was mostly flat, and I really coveted it! It's always such a nuisance in an airport to keep a tight grip on one's passport and tickets yet to keep showing them repeatedly. She had both her hands free to pull her luggage, or have a drink, etc.

When I got back home, I searched in vain on the Internet for a bag like I had seen on this Spanish woman. No luck yet.
nessundorma is offline  
Jun 5th, 2006, 04:53 PM
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I have traveled extensively in many European countries for the past 30 years, and Spain is the number one place where I am concerned about theft. Every time I've been there I've been witness to pickpockets and worse. I think if you Google "crime Spain" you'll find European crime statistics that will show that it's right up there among the most "dangerous" European countries for that kind of crime.

That said, I live outside Washington, DC, and I'd much rather go jaunting around Madrid at night than I would some parts of DC. And I'd rather be pickpocketed than be the victim of a drive-by shooting, which just isn't going to happen in Spain.

And I really don't think Alicante and the Costa del Sol are exactly the bastions of petty crime that exist in Spain. I think Barcelona is probably the most notorious crime site and probably Madrid a close second.
StCirq is offline  
Jun 5th, 2006, 04:53 PM
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Here's a better picture of the Yazzy bag, and at a cheaper price:

http://tinyurl.com/mqmau
nessundorma is offline  
Jun 5th, 2006, 05:08 PM
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I still think that backpacks belong in the woods and that people who wear them in cities give the impression that they are new to the neighborhood.

Since when did a backpack signal, "I am a Spaniard."

The worst pickpockets I've seen were in Italy--Milan and Florence. Bold, they were.
happytrailstoyou is offline  

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