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Tell Me The Truth -- Barcelona Pickpockets/Scams

Tell Me The Truth -- Barcelona Pickpockets/Scams

Feb 28th, 2013, 12:40 PM
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 1,281
"going in December helped" -you're absolutely correct! The thieves are so ***** clever!They go south to the warmer climates!
chapla is offline  
Feb 28th, 2013, 12:52 PM
Join Date: Jan 2007
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Robert Reich, Clinton's Sec of Labor, was a few years ago robbed while in line checking in for his flight at Barcelona Airport - he lost all his documents and had to go to the American Embassy for replacements before being allowed to fly out. Be careful everywhere in Barcelona!
PalenQ is offline  
Feb 28th, 2013, 04:47 PM
Join Date: Jan 2005
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"..they got an empty glass case which they returned as "found" on the ground."

No doubt hoping for a small reward
worldinabag is offline  
Feb 28th, 2013, 08:28 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 8,827
"Robert Reich, Clinton's Sec of Labor, was a few years ago robbed while in line checking in for his flight at Barcelona Airport" Talk about digging up old news, that was back in 2007, besides, at 4"11", he was an easy target.
Robert2533 is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2013, 09:21 AM
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 14
I can't believe there are people who wouldn't go because of fear of being mugged/pick-pocketed, yes, the statistics are higher in Barcelona, but those things can happen to you anywhere!! Please don't let the negative reports put you off going, it is a truly incredible city. I've been three times and never had any problems. I just ensure to have my bag across my body and not carry around anything of great value. Once you're alert and don't do obviously silly things like leaving your bag on the ground or wide open, or carrying all your valuables in the same place, then you should be fine. Enjoy your trip!!
beccafly is offline  
Mar 3rd, 2013, 01:40 PM
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 1,207
I too was fearful of being a target in Barcelona last summer with my family. We kept all our valuables in moneybelts under our clothing except our camera, which my husband never put down while eating. He held it in his lap or around his neck. In Eixmaple and more residential areas the problem is less severe and close to Las Ramblas, the Magic Fountain, Park Guell, and the Gothic area is where to really be mindful. While on Las Ramblas there are sooo many people everywhere its hard to know what to expect - so if you are really worried leave valuables in the hotel safe except for one credit card and cash. Honestly no restaurants wanted to take credit cards - most wanted cash only. SO if you want just put some cash in your moneybelt and be on your way!!!
We had one of the best trips ever! Barcelona and Spain are amazing and you should go!!!!
MiamiBeachMomma is online now  
Mar 6th, 2013, 07:49 AM
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 36
Best purchase I ever made was a product called "pac safe" I found mine at REI. Every time we went on the metro, my family members found their pockets unbuttoned, unzipped etc. when we departed even tho they never felt a thing. Fortunately, they only got maps because the valuables were in my pacsafe. It has wire cords in the straps so it cannot be cut and security features on all the zippers. The version I purchase was larger than the standard fanny pack. I think they actually advertise it as a purse, but the straps can be rearranged to become a fanny pack for anyone. I loved it because for airplane purposes, it didn't count as a carryon so I felt like I was getting an extra roomy item where the valuable were all stored safely. While it is more expensive than the underclothes products, it is money well spent. I found I used it stateside as well whenever I took a plane or went to a crowded event which required I have money or credit cards with me.
I am heading to Spain in mid-May for a two week vacation and will soon be asking for trip suggestions, but in the meantime MaddieEms thanks the for utube links and suggestions to watch. I will have the folks from my party watch them before we depart as well as forward it to other travelers since I am sure it will always help anyone who travels.
Joestrip is offline  
Mar 6th, 2013, 08:03 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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Pepper spray is probably useless, even if it's legal. Most of the thieves avoid confrontation - they act more like the snatch-and-grab types who targeted my old man or the sneak-and-snatch types who picked off those idiot Teutons ter2000 described.

But it's legal in Spain. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pepper_spray#Europe

It's illegal in the UK, where the only "spray" weapon you can use against far more aggressive (although thankfully somewhat less frequent) petty crooks is a useless gel that is nearly impossible to wash off but has no other deterrent effect.
BigRuss is offline  
Mar 6th, 2013, 08:05 AM
Join Date: Oct 2012
Posts: 1
Barcelona is the best city in the world to see. Always any BIG cities are having the "pickpockets" to be careful about. So in USA what is going to happen, if we are going in the wrong Neighborhood, we all will be happy to be alive! Isn't it???
Keep in your mind How to enjoy your travel....
chudy is offline  
Mar 6th, 2013, 08:50 AM
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 6
Going out without credit cards!? Oh, the lost points that could have been accrued!
lordsakana is offline  
Mar 6th, 2013, 07:08 PM
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 5
My husband and I were there with friends for 4 nights in November 2011 and stayed in a hotel right off Las Ramlas. We walked almost everywhere and had no problems. We take the standard precautions....credit cards in a money belt, very little of value in my purse, etc. Despite the warnings we read, we felt no less safe than any other major city in Europe (or the US for that matter). Barcelona is a beautiful city. The Gaudi architecture is not to be missed.
temuskia is offline  
Mar 6th, 2013, 08:12 PM
Join Date: Oct 2007
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A few years ago in Barcelona we were scammed by the fake police. Here's what they did: First, a well-dressed man approached us carrying a city map and asked directions to (don't remember where). We shared what information we had and he walked away. Then two men dressed in official-looking police clothes arrived, showed us some "identification" in Spanish, and said that the man we had been talking with was known to be spreading fake money and they demanded to "check" our money to see if he had given us some. When we refused to show our money we were threatened that we would have to go to police headquarters if we didn't show them our money. Well, you can guess the rest. DH reluctantly removed the bills from his wallet and watched carefully (we thought) as the "policeman" checked it and counted it. The bills were returned, seemingly intact. In the meantime, they demanded my purse but I hugged it tightly to my body and refused. They finally gave up on me. Then they walked away. When we got to our hotel nearby, DH counted his money and they had managed to make off with one bill, 20 euro I think. In retrospect, we were stupid but at the time, thinking we were dealing with real policemen, we felt we should cooperate. Anyway, we lost only a little money but certainly felt foolish. So, if you're approached by policemen who want to "check" your money, head immediately to the nearest hotel, store, or other populated place and ignore them. And please don't tell me how stupid we were -- we know that!
crckwc1 is offline  
Mar 6th, 2013, 09:07 PM
Join Date: Aug 2007
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" no restaurants wanted to take credit cards... "

I am not sure what type of restaurants you frequented,
never happened to me in six visits to Barcelona.
danon is online now  
Mar 6th, 2013, 11:11 PM
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 5
Barcelona has so much to offer travelers but it is a shame that their law enforcement does not attempt to deter the petty crime. We too have been nearly pickpocketed in Rome, stalked in Istanbul and experienced many other irritations while traveling in Europe. However, it was in Barcelona that my DSLR Nikon was stolen while we were sitting on a sidewalk near a local market. It was placed between us, when one guy approached speaking Spanish-asking if we would take a photo of him with his cell phone. He must have asssumed I spoke no Spanish, but what he was saying didn't make sense. As we turned to gather our backpacks and leave, another guy came up from behind and grabbed it. My husband chased after him, and he finally stopped and set it down in the street-we never figured out why-as he probably would have eventually outrun us. Quite upsetting, especially since no one even seemed to notice the commotion or offer any help. Makes Italy seem tame by comparison.
travel192 is offline  
Apr 10th, 2013, 11:46 AM
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 169
2 yrs ago my hubby & I took a cruise that left from Barcelona, so we spent 2 days there beforehand. We wandered the Ramblas one night, meandered the next day, & our hotel was in what was considered a fringy area of the city. Also, that night we accidentally wandered into the middle of a huge demonstration of y oung peo camping out & demonstrating against the govt. During all of that, no one bothered us & we had no incident. Now, we are New Yorkers-maybe we unconsciously carry ourselves w/ a certain caution and attitude that is second nature, I don't know.
jojoblais is offline  
Apr 10th, 2013, 10:59 PM
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It's the same the world over
Revulgo is offline  
Apr 10th, 2013, 11:56 PM
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 30
I've been to Barcelona three times and stayed for a week each...I've been fortunate to never have had any trouble or incidents like the ones I read just now. Amazing how different each ones experiences are of the same city...my thoughts for any city of travel, one just has to be vigilant at all times and enjoy the flavour of the journey.
traveldelight is offline  
Apr 11th, 2013, 08:13 AM
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Amazing how different each ones experiences are of the same city...my thoughts for any city of travel, one just has to be vigilant at all times and enjoy the flavour of the journey.>

But it can happen to the most vigilant of us - like my relative who has traveled Europe for decades and never ever had any problem because she knows the problem and takes precautions - yet one early Sunday morning in Madrid approaching Atocha train station she was mugged - violently mugged - left bruised and battered - no amount of vigilance can prevent some guy from suddenly running up and knocking some one down. The sad part was that shopkeepers opening the shops just did nothing at all.

I have been in Barcelona and Madrid many times and never had a problem but I would not say it could not happen to me - but it is more likely to happen to someone wearing expensive jewelry, watches, an expensive camera or cell phone in view, etc. Like a staffer at Madrid's tourist office on the main plaza told an American who was wearing some fancy jewelry - she advised her not to wear it but leave it in her hotel safe.
PalenQ is offline  
Apr 11th, 2013, 08:17 AM
Join Date: Jan 2007
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. We take the standard precautions....credit cards in a money belt, very little of value in my purse, etc. Despite the warnings we read, we felt no less safe than any other major city in Europe (or the US for that matter)>

you felt Barcelona was as safe as any city and this was or is simply not true - you deluded yourself - just listen to the many many incidents described here and in other similar threads - Barcelona is not as safe as most European cities - not by a long shot - you were lucky - as are the majority of tourists - not everyone gets victimized - relatively few do but this is much much more than any other city in Europe IMO besides Madrid, plagued by similar problems. And with the Spanish economy going into the tank expect more desperate grabs for anything valuable by the poorest of the poor who it is said are often jobless immigrants who often are drug addicts stealing to pay for their habits - just like drug addicts do in the U S.
PalenQ is offline  
Jul 8th, 2013, 07:11 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 106
Hi everyone. This is the OP. We are back!

Crazy to see that this thread is still going. We spent 4 1/2 days in Barcelona and took many precautions, more so than we did in Paris (I'll get to that in a bit), London, and certain parts of Italy.

In Barcelona, we avoided Las Ramblas to avoid the crowds and mainly because that's not our "thing." Street performers and tourist shops don't interest us. We carried nothing at all. We left our DSLRs in the safe and only had thigh wallets and jackets with inner zippered pockets. We encountered VERY OBVIOUS pickpockets who walk toward you or stand next to you on purpose. We notice that if you actually make eye contact with them and then deliberately walk away, they understand that you are aware and leave you alone. It also helped that it was cold during our stay so the jackets kept alot of stuff out of sight.

We saw the most pickpockets at the bottom of Parc Guell, milling around Sagrada Familia and at the Cathedral.

In Florence, an elderly woman (not in our family but in our cruise tour group) was robbed/mugged. A small group of women (about 3-4) carrying cardboard rectangles walked towards the tour group trying to find a victim. My mom and elderly aunt saw them, made eye contact and deliberately walked out of the way. The women found a "straggler," an older woman at the end of the pack and put up the cardboard boxes so that no one could see what was happening. One thief grabbed at that lady's neck wallet and she screamed, almost falling. My mom saw this happening and SHRIEKED. Men rushed to the old lady's aid and tusseled with the robbers. She would have fallen really bad if they had not caught her. The thieves walked away casually as if nothing had happened.

Paris --- so sad. My husband and I have been there many many many times over the years and we were even engaged there (at Gerard Mulot). This time, the trip was lackluster. There were pickpockets literally everywhere, fake petition signing children, people grabbing at your pockets on the metro, people asking us for food while we sat outside at a cafe. It was rather unpleasant, and we will not be back for a while. We've seen it all there anyway.

The most useful thing we used was a Thigh Wallet. It hangs from a man's belt and you simply flip it inward. It was wide enough for 4 passports and Credit Cards and money. My husband hates money belts so this worked out well.

For my diaper bag stuff, I bought a cheap $10 CLEAR backpack. It's completely clear. It's so funny because I filled it with bottles and diapers. My plan worked. No one ever tried to touch it at all, even when pickpockets were trying to grab our pockets on the metro (we had nothing in them).

I also brought a few safety pins. When I knew I would be distracted (I have kids), I safety pinned both outside pockets so that it would be just a bit harder to get at. There wasn't much in there anyway.

Good luck, have fun & be safe!
MaddieEms is offline  

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