Be Aware!, Barcelona
My husband and I travelled by car from the south of France to Barcelona. As we arrived in Barcelona we had a particularly unpleasant experience which I would not wish on others. Whilst driving into the centre, in a built up, smart, residential area we heard a terrible noise. When we pulled into the side of the road to investigate we found that we had a very flat tyre. A young man pulled up on the pavement beside us on a motor scooter. He motioned away up the street and talked of "mechanico". When we said we didn't understand he pulled away. Whilst my husband started to change the tyre I realised that someone had removed my handbag and my husband's bag from the front and rear seats of the car. We were stood at the side of the car the whole time and did not hear two doors being opened and closed properly. To do this on our car is very difficult as the doors take some closing- but they obviously practice! Whilst we were making arrangments to go to the nearest police station - a car pulled up and asked us if we needed help. They said that they were plain clothes policemen and briefly showed us a badge - when we said that we would report our theft at the police station they drove off quickly. The real police told us that these fake police offering to help were often part of the robbery - checking whether there is anything else worth taking.
When we reported the theft to the police they said that they had 4/5 reports each day at that police station alone - usually targeting British, French or hire cars because they are obviously holidaymakers. They follow visiting cars through the traffic and at traffic lights the chap on the scooter checks what is visible as well as presuming that most women keep their handbags on the floor at their feet when they are passengers in cars. When they decide on a target the man on the scooter has a metal spike fitted to his shoe. He then pulls close to the car whilst at traffic lights and punctures the tyre with the spike. He and the robbers' car then follow the victims waiting for the flat tyre to be noticed. The police told us that this is replacing pickpocketing because so many people use money belts etc. The police said they target the rear tyres opposite the driver’s door, varying it according to the country of origin. People usually pull in with the problem tyre next to the pavement to enable them to change it and this then leaves the passenger side unattended.
In our case it caused us very serious problems as they took our passports, cash and credit cards. It resulted in us having to return to the UK early.
We thought that we were quite "street-wise" and we were prepared with money belts etc, but because we hadn't even got out of the car then we hadn't put them on. Whilst we were in the British Consulate on Monday morning arranging for replacement passports there were other British visitors who had had the same experience.
I genuinely felt a bit at unease in Barcelona at times. I don't know whether it's because I was on my own and because people can see you are not from around there. Initially, I was alerted by a couple of older men in the train from the airport to the city centre decided to sit next to me on a 3-seater bench although there would have been spaces elsewhere and kept oogling everyone's belongings. Luckily there were guards in the train all the time, so I figured that they wouldn't attempt anything. After getting up at the station they followed me to another part of the carriage which made me extremely annoyed, since I had left my place in order to get away from them as quickly as possible. Luckily, they carried on walking as we left the train as I was deliberately being very slow.
I also felt slightly uneasy on the Ramblas. There were just way too many people around and I have heard they've got lots of pickpockets around. I didn't see any or nothing got stolen, but I just felt a bit nervous because there were a lot of people around because it was the Xmas holidays. There were also lots of homeless people and drunks on Plaça de Catalunya.
WARNING!!!! The bus station Estacion del Nord is rife with dodgy looking people and obvious thieves. Do not leave your luggage or anything else unattended. We watched 4 or 5 of these lads mooch around for the entire 20 minutes we spent there, obviously looking into peoples bags, trying to get behind peolples bags and luggage. They always moved rather quickly and obviously hid behind walls and pillars when guards approached. Take care.
Be aware of the path you take going from Las Ramblas to Barrio Gotico. I thought I would take a shortcut with my daughter during our cruise stop down a secluded alleyway from Placa Reial to the Cathedral, and immediately felt I was getting scoped out by 2 guys that were bracketing us. Even more foolishly, I had my daughter on my shoulders, limiting my movement. Once I was aware, and put my daughter down to free up my hands, the two took a pass. Obviously, I could be mistaken, but I would recommend to stay to the crowded streets...there are plenty.
Having read many comments regarding mugging and pickpocketing in Barcelona, I agree with one thing: Spain is not, let's say, South Africa, where even a kid might have a gun and where people normally get killed when they are mugged. However, many tips that other travellers give on how to avoid these things in Barcelona, do not always work. First of all, violent mugging DOES exist in Barcelona, and while a bunch of guys might not be targeted, females or families can be. It will happen no matter where your bag is. I know a girl that was dragged along a busy street by a mugger just outside Rambla because her bag was SAFELY wrapped around her body. With lots of people on the street at the time, nobody attempted to help (so avoiding small, quiet streets didn't help). I know people that had to visit hospitals (to make sure all was OK) after one of these encounters. The best thing to do, is probably try to walk around as a group of at least 4 people and in the evenings don't take ANY bags with you at all, a passport copy, no credit cards and a very little cash (as from previous reports, even a bum bag could be cut off you). If attacked, give the cash away. The amount of people that have been mugged or pickpocketed in Barcelona is overwhelming and police is of no help. Last New Year we haven't seen a single police car in Port Olympic/ Rambla area, only in the morning at around 6.00 am we saw 3 police men... drinking coffee in a coffee shop. So, take ALL the possible precautions and don't think "I am smarter than this, it won't happen to me".
I was in Barcelona just recently, walking home alone one night when I was jumped by 3 guys from behind. Was strangled, knocked out and had my phone and wallet stolen.
This happened near the beach area walking back towards Diagonal Mar.
I'd advise anyone going out there to be very careful when walking alone at night/early hours of the morning.
I know this is probably not common but just thought I'd help make people aware of what can happen.
Other than that, its a great place and had a brilliant time prior to it happening.
I was paying for a ticket for a train, and as I was paying the cashier a women pulled away my suitcase and ran away with it, I managed to chase her just as she was trying to conceal it in her long robes! (africian dress) I janked it out of her hands and she disapeared into the crowd!
What was most surprising was that i was targeted whilst maybe 50 people were queing right behind me.
like other on this site already had experiences with fake police i lost today 1000euros to a fake policeman, he stopped our car showing hes fake id from hes vehicle, he then demanded to see 1st passport then asked about drugs and finally wanted to check our cash for traces of drugs, once we showed him our cash he put the cash in out passport and put the passport him self in to out bag, after this he proceeded very fast to hes car and speeded up, we checked in the bag but the cash was gone, and hes car was far faster then ours no chance in chasing him, as i did not know hes plate number i could not even make a police report
PLEASE be very aware of the thieves operating in Barcelona airpoty . I was aware that this location was well known for it's lowlife thieving clientele , and thought I was being careful . Unfortunately I was wrong , within 15 of arriving one of my bags was stolen while I was waiting at the cash exchage office , I had one bag in my hand the other leaning against my leg , they quickly dipped down and took the one against my leg .
They ( the thieves ) appear to be operaring in largish groups , eight or so b ******s all in a cluster so as to whip the stolen goods away from the poor unsuspecting victim .
If I ever go back to Barcelona I am going to have the bags chained to my wrist , I could not believe the slickness of the theft .
If you fancy sleeping on the floor of the airport ( as I had to ) ignore this , but at your own peril !
My friend's parents were robbed today while staying in a Friendly Rentals apartment in Barcelona. The person who entered appears to have had a key. The company did not apologize for not having changed the locks between guests, and even suggested that it was unreasonable for me to suggest that they should have done so. I am not convinced that it was not an inside job. Their insurance policy will not cover us because we didn't lock the deadbolt (something they never told us was possible, let alone that we should do). Do not rent from them.
Don´t take photographs in Railway stations. I made the mistake of taking a photo of a cool clock in a metro station and almost got arrested. I only got off the hook when I deleted the photo off my camera
The U.K. has gone "Health and Safety" MAD you would never be allowed into a building under construction without the obligitory hard hat and boots. Thank goodness the Cathedral has different rules!! The only danger in visiting the Sagrada Familia while it is still under construction is getting past the many beggars who plague your way to the entrance, and BTW watch your money and other valuables = pick pockets like the Cathedral too.
Just last week a tourist renting a flat from us was stopped on the street and asked for directions. He took out his map to help the fellow out, and was then approached by 2 others who claimed to be police officers and showed some type of id. They insisted that he show them his passport, and then claimed that they had reason to believe he had stolen some credit cards. As confirmation that the cards he had were actually his, they had him type his pin number into their cell phone.
I don't know all they details, and I can't imagine why anyone would type their pin into someone's cell phone--even if they did claim to be the police---but don't fall for the fake police scam!
If you are ever approached by someone claiming to be police, there are several things you can do to protect yourself, yet still allow for the fact that they may indeed be police with a legitimate reason to quesiton you:
--- use their phone, your own phone, or a nearby payphone and dial 112 which is the emergency phone number in Europe for the real police, tell them what is going on and ask them to confirm the identity of the people you are with.
--- insist that you will go to the nearest police station with them (this is just a tactic...never actually leave with some stranger)
--- insist that they summon a MARKED police car.
--- keep an eye out for uniformed police in the area and flag them down
--- insist on entering the nearest establishment (bar, cafe, hotel), and ask the owner or person working there to help you confirm if these are really police.
If this is a scam, they will take off. It they are really police, they should not be offended by any of these tactics.
Just off from furnicular and my bag was dragged/snatched (even though across body)... we are very aware of thieves so do not wear jewellery, expensive watches, carry cameras etc. but it still happens. Staff at nearby museum very helpful and said it was happening on a daily basis...targetting older women. Shame it has put me off returning to Barcelona.
We have just returned from Barcelona where we too had encounterd similar experience with 'plain clothes Police’ (unfortunately we found this site too late)
I was hailed by a smartly dressed individual from a Black Saab who, in accent free English introduced himself as Police Officer, claiming to be following up on a report (Drugs & Firearms related) – unfortunately by this stage I was close enough to the vehicle for the ‘officer’ who was now demanding to see my passport to grab at my coat and attempt to frisk me from the confine of his vehicle… I asked to see his badge again – which was flashed but I got enough time to note that it was suspicious as it held no Photo ID and the Brass Badge was devoid of a serial number.
I offered him my driving licence to inspect from a flip card wallet which he kindly ‘thumbed’ but declined our wallets or passports furthermore I point blank refused to deal with him unless he stepped out of the car – I was then told that I was under arrest and ordered into the vehicle – I told the ‘Officer’ to step out of the car and ‘arrest me’ but all he did was hurl abuse and drive away however ‘not before I took a photo of them’ – some 10 minutes later they returned to ‘arrest me and confiscate the camera’ for taking the photos again, I asked him to ‘step out of the car and take me’ further advising them that MOSSOS (Police) were on route to the scene, then I asked them to smile but they put their foot down and I was left photographing the smoking tyres…. Armed with ‘fingerprints and photos’ I made my way, like 200 other Foreigners (80% of who were English Speakers) that day before me, to the Mossos Offices just off La Rambla; unlike them, we had lost nothing!
Barcelona simply overwhelms all your senses, its citizens are considerate and friendly people – Officers of Mossos are highly professional and dedicated body of Men and Women that selflessly and heroically serve their community… The villains here are the Politicians & the Judiciary.