We were waiting for the 104 bus to Palma Nous one night when two women in their late twenties came over to the bus stop.One of the women bent down to look at the bus timetable in a Miley Cyrus twerking pose.The other woman who was facing us giggled and was (we later learned) signalling to two men who were standing directly behind us.
As I turned my head to speak to my husband,I was shocked to see two men standing so close to our backs, that I immediately stepped forward and slung my shoulder bag around to my front! They were wearing dark sunglasses (it was 11pm!) and as I turned to face the men full on, they quickly walked away and the two women followed. They were obviously working in a gang, but I was shocked at how we could have easily been robbed!! The Miley Cyrus pose was obviously been used as a distraction tactic.
Also, beware of anyone stopping to speak to you and is dragging heavily on a cigarette, as this is a technique used to distract whilst pick pockets work.
Please be very wary when getting the train from the airport into Barcelona Sants station as it appears to be a big pickpocket target. You've just arrived from the airport for your holiday and with your case are obviously a tourist who will have all your valuables on you and are probably distracted, especially if it's your first time to the city, in trying to work out where you're going. As the train was pulling into the station at Sants I was already standing by the door, had been for the whole journey, so turned to face the door ready to get off. As the train pulled in a man behind me started pushing me a bit, I thought he was just impatient to get off and so got off as soon as the door opened, turning to glare at him as I did which turned out to be fortunate as it meant I saw who he was. My friend and I stopped for a moment on the platform as she wanted to take her jacket off so imagine my surprise when we got on the escalator up to the station and in his haste to try and push on behind me the same guy tripped over my suitcase, massively drawing attention to himself and then still tried to push up behind me, even though my case was in the way. Thankfully, having already been pushed off the train by him I immediately became very suspicious and grabbed for my handbag which I realised he had already managed to get partly undone and pulled it as far away from him as possible. When we got to the top of the escalators we let him pass us and watched him go through the ticket barrier and disappear into the station yet somehow again he appeared behind us in a tunnel walking to the metro, we dropped back again by which point I think he realised we were on to him and gave up. Whilst I was fortunate not to lose anything his attempted pickpocketing and sheer persistance in trying scared me and left me totally on edge for the whole trip. As soon as we arrived at our hotel anything valuable went straight in the safe and all we carried was enough cash between us to see us through the day. We then spotted the same guy loitering around the magic fountain whilst the shows were going on, inevitably looking for more people to target. Please just be very careful when getting on the train from the station, it is probably the only time when you have everything on you to lose, passports, a lot of cash, tickets etc.
We spent 5 days in Barcelona and didn't have any problem with pickpockets. However, we don't use backpacks or wander around late at night after having too many beers. The girls "selling" flowers occasionally approached us in the tourist areas, but if we kept walking and held up our hand to indicate "no" without looking at them, they moved on to someone else. We felt perfectly safe walking home from dinner in the Exiample area at 11:30 pm, but probably wouldn't want to be wandering around in the narrow streets in the old quarter late at night when all of the shops were closed. Ditto on the area by the seaport.
After taking the Montjuic cable car one morning, my friend an I decided to take a stroll through one of the parks in the area. There weren't too many people around but we didn't feel threatened. We were walking down a path that was lined with trees on either side. Two other women were walking behind us, they then passed us and walked a few paces ahead of us. Suddenly, there was a loud rustling from the trees and my friend and I were covered head to toe in a brown slime.
The two women turned around saying "oh! A pigeon!" I was immediately suspicious because the 'something spilled on your shirt' has to be one of the oldest tricks in the book; the slime stunk to high heaven (I know bird mess when I see it, and that wasn't it); and I'd only had the slightest glimpse out of the corner of my eye but I think the 'pigeon' was wearing blue jeans! I went on the defensive when these two women started 'helping' in a way that felt like an ambush. Out came the tissues and the water and the "lady, lady, come here I help you." I was carrying a bag and a bottle of water, and when I put the bottle of water down to clean my leg one of the women actually reached out to grab it (obviously thinking or hoping that I'd put my bag down).
They gave up then and walked away. We had to go back to the hotel to clean up properly and wash our clothes. Thankfully they went away empty handed. Unfortunately for us, it spoiled our day. Also, I don't know what exactly the slime was, but it does not wash out and my dress is ruined.
I just wanted to post this tip to let everyone know that these sorts of pickpocket scams and tricks really do happen, and never let your guard down even for a second.
Oh yeah and on the safety side as people are saying, be careful of your stuff. One particular trick they nearly got me with is when they come around a terrace or in a bar putting out little cards asking for money. If your phone is one the table they´ll put the card on your phone and then pick up your phone with the card when they come back to collect it!
I have just been robbed - again! The first time was two months ago in Barceloneta when a man on a bicycle passed by me and turned and ripped the gold necklace from my neck. Then I was distressed by the incident. Unhurt and otherwise okay. I wouldn't leave the apartment for a couple of days.
Tonight, at Passeig de Gracia 12.45am Line 4 Yellow, I had walked along one crowed platform and about to go down some steps and felt something 'strange'. Got on the metro and then realised my handbag was open. My purse was missing. Lost my purse, 80 euros and my UK driving licence. I am working and living here temporarily, back and forth to the UK, and know its useful to have ID on me. Only took cash tonight out and stupidly didn't take a taxi back from night out with friends.
So I know when it happened, albeit didn't 'clock' it at the time. I reported it to the metro guy on duty at Barceloneta station, he was really nice, but couldn't do anything. He referred me to the police and how to make a report.
This time I'm angry with myself. I should have taken a taxi. It would have cost 10 euros, and been safer. I hate the city so much when these things happen. And people I know who live here have had worse experiences, being physically attacked. Even a local barman was beaten up in El Born recently.
The solution? Only take cash with you. If you want to take ID or a bank card, then for a woman, put it in your bra! If you are tired, wearing nice clothes, its late, drunk too much, on your own, a woman etc etc etc take a taxi. Just add it to the budget for the night out.
The city must help the tourists more and bring in full CCTV. Those with nothing to be worried about won't be bothered and will feel safer. The thieves will know they are being watched. With the current crisis, tourists will not come to this city because of this problem, and its just getting worse.
I hate to have to write a warning among the first things I do but this cannot be said enough to tourists visiting Barcelona.
BE AWARE OF PICKPOCKETERS! THEY ARE EVERYWHERE AND THEY ARE LOOKING FOR YOU!
In Barcelona it is not a crime to pickpocket! The Police has to prove that the value of the stolen goods or money exceede 600 Euros to be able to prosecute the picpocketer, if they even get arrested. They say they are going to change the law but there has not been anything so far.
SO THE PICKPOCKETERS WORK WITHOUT DISTRACTION FROM THE POLICE! YOU HAVE TO WATCH IT YOURSELF!
The worst is the yellow (L2) Metro line, and especially the metro station "Paseo de Gracia". They work nearly undisturbed there, no police or guards in sight...
Typically they work in groups of 3 - 4, and 2 distract you while the others pick you clean, quickly.
A typical scenario is in the mechanic escalator when 1 bad guy gets in front of you and 1 or 2 behind you. The one in front pretend to drop his mobile at the top of the stair and "block" the passage and in the general chaos, the others quickly pick everything lose that you have in pockets, bags or whatever.
I have seen this happening several times especially in the staircase from the yellow line. The police and Metro people knows about it but they dont care anymore since they dont get backing from politichians and judges, easier to let the pickpocketers rob some tourists then actually do something about it...
I have confronted pickpocketers at several times when I seen what happend but without any backing its kind of hard to do anything against a group of threathening thiefs.
I think this will only get worse as the economy goes more and more bad here and the police has resigned to the plauge of Barcelona.
Barcelona is my favorite city in Europe, I loved it more than Rome, Paris, Prague, Amsterdam (my hometown) in all the cities I mentioned there are thieves and pickpockets (in Amsterdam not only towards tourist, but locals as well) but Barcelona gets the grand price.
It’s a beautiful city, I've been there this April and Iam planning to return in September, but I must share our story.
At the airport we where picked up by our Israeli tourguide (the arrangement we bought through our Israeli travel agent includes flight, hotel and a ride to the hotel) on the bus we warned us for pickpockets and that they are not like anything you know (gypsy mothers and babies in Rome, Pickpockets dressed like Tourists in Prague…) they can steel your ring from your finger. "Pickpocketing is not a crime, it's a profession"
The bus dropped us off at a main road of the Gothic Quarter, since the bus couldn't enter our Hotel's street. Unfortunately we missed the turn and we found ourselves in a dark alley. Bario Gotico is beautiful, and the hotels there are on a great location, but at night it isn't the safest place to be. We where carrying more luggage than we could actually carry (big mistake) and I was dressed stylish, looking rich (my Aldo bag looked like a real snake leather bag) In my handbag there where my money, camera, Iphone and passports and I was sure I was going to be robbed at this alley. Relieved when we found our hotel and nothing happened, we put our luggage down as we where checking in. While the clerk got us our roomkeys, one of our suitcases was robbed from us! At the hotel lobby! The bag was between our legs, so the criminal was a very skilled thieve. We suspected a Eastern European looking guy who entered the hotel lobby with us and then disappeared. So you are never safe, not even in your hotel!
My advise is to book a big hotel, one who was a bell boy and you can't just walk in. the cute hotels in the Gothic Quarter are an easy target for thieves, they see you walk in, look at you through the big windows, enter and rob you.
I must give my compliments to the Barcelona Police who was very helpful, they advised us to try at the "lost and found" center and to file a complaint. Most police officers don't speak English and will answer you in Spanish or Catalan. The only officer who files reports in English is at the police station not far from the Ramblas daily from 11:00 till 21:00. We came in at 12 and we had to wait 5 hours! (so we had lunch, walked around) this is just to mention how many people get robbed.
Our suitcase- which is a big shopper/ small suitcase got stolen, there was no documentation or money inside (but clothes, 2 camera's, jewelry, cosmetics and medicine) We don't know how, but our bag was found and identified (because of my detailed report at the police station) most things where gone, but the important highly sentimental objects where still in it.. the thieve thought he would find money and credit cards, as our suitcase looked like a big handbag.
Don't dress too smart in Barcelona, and keep your bag close to you. On that day I bought a small bag at H&M, so my white fake snake leather bag could stay in our room and not draw the wrong attention to me. We didn't lose to many vulnerable things (or passports!) and we got it back, so the story has a happy ending, but this event certainly shocked us and I would like to warn other tourists.
At a department store (fnac) on Placa Catalunya I was waiting in line to ask something at the information, as two tourists where returning things. One guy put his backpack on the floor, between his legs, and another guy who stood behind me, put his leg in one strip and started to move the bag towards him. Me and the owner of the bag saw it happening and he span his bag back to him, the thieve disappeared! That's how they rob people, be aware… be aware of suspicious looking people: a few examples I have from experiences in my 3 days in Barcelona are:
1. Hotel lobby thieves
2. Men who enter a woman's store (or a shoe store, but are looking with full interest at women's shoes)
3. Men who wear sunglasses on a not so sunny day (combined with a bagpack)
4. A couple, thieves usually work in couples. As I looked at one of Gaudi's vila's, just after photographing a wall, a young man called me and asked if I wanted him to photograph me next to the wall. With him was a girl in sportive dress. I ignored them and saw they tried to "seduce" other tourists.
5. Don't talk to strangers, don't let anyone show you the way/ask you how to get from A to B, offers you to change money (of you are from outside of Europe)
6. Don’t take pictures in crowded places
7. Leave your Iphones at home or in the hotel save. We heard girls where robbed from their phones, while they where making pics.
And again I must say I loved the city, this event didn't ruin our holiday and we are certainly coming back!
This was my third visit to Barcelona (apart from 2 day trips many years ago) and feel I must warn others of the danders of fake cops. I read a warning about these, after I returned, unfortunately.
A young man stopped to ask us directions to the Gothic Cathedral which was circled on his map. We said we had been and he then put the map on the wall of the park which, of course, made us turn our backs.
Before we knew it, an older man flashed a card and said 'police'. we thought he had caught a robber! He then kept demanding identification, passports, credit cards and money and I then thought he suspected US!
I tried to ask to see his indentification again but he just kep talking and pretending to phone. I showed him a purse with a small amount of money but kept another purse secret. I held on to it and he looked into it and counted what I had before demanding to see more. I just kept denying I had anything more and he eventually walked away with his accomplice!!!
We thought we were being extremely careful, as I had a security bag (Travelon) which has locks but the surpise element took us aback.
STOP FOR NO-ONE!
I was shopping in a store in Barcelona, way on one side of a very wide aisle-- super absorbed in an art book. This is when they get you--when you are distracted and not paying attention! A very well dressed man in a suit passed by, rather closely (considering the aisle was very wide), just very gently bumped me, then with a pat on my arm apologized profusely, and was gone in a flash!
Later, when I had yet one more big nose bleed, I reached in my front pocket for my big, folded over wad of 12 or so kleenex put there for that very purpose... and it was gone! I had been pickpocketed of my wad of kleenex! I am sure it was the well dressed man in the store.
So although I only lost my kleenex (I had to laugh thinking of the pickpocket discovering his big "prize"), it still brought home how easily they can relieve you of your belongings in Barcelona. We saw two women in cafes who had their purses stolen (which had been slung on the backs of chairs).
I had my valuables in a Cut-proof neck bag, worn under my clothes and tucked under my waist band. On the top of my blouse, I had a sweater tied around my waist... so it woudl have been very hard for anyone to get my valuables. I also had a cut proof cord on my camera, worn around my neck, but secured UNDER the sweater tied around my waist. I also changed the memory cards each day, and only had one with me at any time, so I would not lose all my photos if my camera were to get stolen.
Read more: http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/p/m/21cea3/#ixzz1oN3bLrNK
I was in a store in Barcelona, way on one side of a very wide aisle-- super absorbed in an art book. This is when they get you--when you are not paying attention! A very well dressed man in a suit passed by, rather closely (considering the aisle was very wide), just very gently bumped me, then with a pat on my arm apologized profusely.
Later, when I had yet one more nose bleed, I reached in my front pocket for my big, folded over wad of 12 or so kleenex put there for the purpose... and it was gone! I had been pickpocketed of my wad of kleenex! I am sure it was the well dressed man in the store.
So although I only lost my kleenex, it still brought home how easily they can relieve you of your belongings in Barcelona. We saw two women in cafes who had their purses stolen (which had been slung on the backs of chairs).
I had my valuables in a Cut-proof bag, worn under my clothes and tucked under my waist band. On the top of my blouse, I had a sweater tied around my waist... so it woudl have been very hard for anyone to get my valuables.
Like any other major city, you will come across pick-pocketers. Las Ramblas is the place that is notourius for it. The street is so busy with resurants and cafe's with outdoor seating, shops and street artists that there are lots of people in close proximity to you.
I wouldn't say stay away from Las Ramblas at all, as I say, this happens in all busy places, not just Barcelona. I will say be careful:
- Use a handbag with zips and have the openings under your arm at the front so you can see it. Or a handbag with a flap over thye top that you can secure with more than a popper.
- Gents, don't keep your wallets in your back pockets. Keep them in a front pocket and put your hand in that pocket while you are so close to people.
- People say that you won't feel when you've had something stolen because there are so many people on the street.
- Be observent.
- Put all monies/cards away before you leave a shop or move from your seat outside a cafe.
I have walked up and down this street on two separate visits. I havn't had anything stolen, neither have any of the party I've been travelling with.
It's been a long time since I wrote my first review on pickpockets in Barcelona.
Unfortunately, I write to alert about this plague again. I am a local, and I want to denounce the situation I witness everyday in Passeig de Gracia Station, where airport trains have one of their main stops twice every hour.
This station has become pickpockets paradise currently.
I work in an office building in front of the Pau Claris Exit and I see them running upstairs and downstairs all the time.
They always work in couples. A third member works as a watch-out.
They will wait for victims in the Arrival platform (2), and will follow them all the way to the scalators.
Sometimes these mob will even manage to stop the scalators, so passengers will be forced to walk up stairs carrying their big suitcases. They will act fast. Though not violent, they will try to look intimidating.
How to recognise them: they are young men or women with
Eastern look (they all belong to Easter European mafia groups). Always in couples, rather tiny or slim, in casual clothes or sportstwear. Remember the stairs are the critical area, as they tend to be crowded.
Don't let those bas***** ruin your holiday and our tourism industry.
Stay safe, and enjoy your trip to Barcelona.
I feel like I had been violated and my comfort level diminished for feeling safe in this city. It is loaded with pickpockets, and no locals seem to care. I heard of many tourist stories of losing wallets, and even luggage. One group of 10 tourists who were waiting to get on a cruise ship had not yet left their hotel, but the bags were out front. Well, a group of youth ran off with 17 bags, and the hotel seemed used to the event.
I read up on statistics and found that there were well over 1,500,000 known pickpocket thefts in 2009 that is admitted to. Police cannot handle the load, and do not seem to want to tackle the problem. You see no police around anywhere, especially on the subway system where a lot of theft occurs. Basically you are not safe anywhere.
My episode is I felt within 30 seconds that my billfold was gone the first time on the subway, and turned around but the doors were closed and the criminals gone. WE went to the next station and came back for go through trash cans. I found the billfold, less 150 Euro in the third can. The second time I knew I was getting set up immediately after I was "blocked" The a--hole already got my billfold out of my front pocket and coin purse, and was walking off the subway. I grabbed him by his coat and turned him around,; hit him on the arm and back of head. He had the "balls" to argue that it was his jacket and to let go. I said give me my billfold now, then I saw it was dropped on the ground 10 feet away. I let loose of him, and retrieved the billfold before his companions would take it. Needless to say, once loose 4 of them-2 guys and 2 women ran off with me yelling for help and police. Nobody even bothered to look around to see what was happening. Locals are immune to the crime and do not want to get involved.
I am one on many thousands that will not return to this city for good reason.
If you must use a huge bag, keep it as close to your body as possible. Make sure it's closed (zipper closed) and hug it when you're in public places, such as market area, streets and train stations.
I suggest you use a small bag to hold your passport, your keys and other small essential items and a few cash. Don't bring all your money when you're sight-seeing, just to be on the safe side. And keep this small bag close to you.
It was one crowded night in the train station when we heard a lady screaming somebody has gotten her wallet from her bag. Since there were throngs of people there, it was impossible to catch the thief. What I did while touring the beautiful city of Barcelona was I used a small bag for my essentials and had it underneath my coat. So it wasn't obvious that I had a bag since my coat was buttoned up.
Also, I suggest you just carry along a coin purse for your cash, so you don't have to carry bulky wallets (with credit and ATM cards) that are thieves' main targets.