Follow these simple safety tips and you will come away happy from your vacation in Barcelona:
1. DO NOT put your wallets in your back pockets.
2. DO NOT put your wallets in ANY of your jacket pockets.
3. DO put your wallets in your front pants pockets and make sure the pockets are deep enough as to not allow the wallet to easily come out.
4. DO make it a habit of brushing the area of your wallet with your hand once in awhile, this will help you feel more secure and IF you lose your wallet, you will know fairly soon after.
1. DO NOT carry your handbag at your side or towards your back.
2. DO NOT carry a handbag with a long strap, tie knots in the strap to get it tighter to your body.
3. DO NOT set your handbag down ANYWHERE - place it in your lap if sitting down or on the table, in view.
4. DO NOT leave your handbag open when paying for something - ALWAYS close it up.
5. DO try to travel with a handbag with a double closure system (more work for the thief, something they don't want to deal with).
1. DO NOT look lost by staring at a map (especially with suitcases). Try to limit the use of the maps as much as possible - ask store owners if need be.
2. DO NOT gather around in a circle looking at a map, this just screams TOURIST, PLEASE ROB ME!
3. DO NOT allow anyone to come between you and your party. Tighten your grip on your goods if they do.
4. DO NOT believe the "undercover policeman" who has to look at your ID - this is a very common scam where you take your wallet or purse out and they run away with it. If they show ID, look at it VERY carefully.
5. DO NOT stand and watch or participate in any shell games, 3-card monty or any other form of gambling on the street - they are all ploys to get you to part with your money, one way or another. The people cheering you on work together and they usually have lookouts standing nearby (looking for police and tourist actions). If you do not lose your money gambling, they will also be out there pickpocketing the crowd.
6. DO NOT dress like you are in your own country - Americans - no sneakers or t-shirts with sayings on them, unless you are a teen; Italians - dress down, you are not on parade; British - do not wear your football jerseys or England (Scotland, Wales) shirts, etc - you get the idea.
7. DO NOT show the bling -- less jewelry, less likely to get targeted.
8. DO NOT wear a backback with valuables inside - this is a VERY easy target.
9. DO purchase a camera bag that is hard to open from odd angles or is not easy to get the camera out (better a small hassle than a big loss). Or, better yet, buy a cheapo camera for times in La Rambla area.
10. DO make 2 photocopies of your passport, one to be left at home and the other to be carried with you as photo ID, this also lowers the chance of losing important documentation. Yes, many stores will accept the photocopy as ID for credit card purchases.
There are probably more ways to be street smart, but those mentioned above should do you in good stead any time traveling to a highly populated area.
One of the things we were warned about on this trip was to make sure we were aware of our surroundings. Pickpocketing occurs all too often and unfortunately, to the least suspecting of us. It is highly recommended that you only carry what you need to get you past the day. Don't carry extra cash or any of your important travel documents. Leave these with your hotel personnel or in your in-room safe if one is provided.
When walking down the historic streets of Barcelona, especially in the Gothic Quarter, hold your bags close to you, never leave them out of your sight and wallets out of the back pockets. The pickpockets are a smart and resourceful bunch and you have to be two steps ahead of them at all times. The lady in this picture is doing the right thing by holding her purse close to her.
Lastly, I strongly suggest not asking folks to take your picture unless it's a cheap camera you're not afraid to lose. Always have a safe strap keeping your camera very secure to your person.
My mother-in-law was almost pickpocketed one late evening on La Ramblas while we were admiring a street artist make these fantastic extra-terrestrial landscapes. Fortunately, my wife caught the guy unzipping her mother's purse and the guy took off. She lost nothing, but stupidly, my mother-in-law had too many Euro's with her and her passport. Don't fall victim to what would have been a very grave mistake!
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.
There is a big problem about safety, noise and cleanliness in the old town area (Gothic Quarter and El Raval, so both sides of Las Ramblas). The city council had extraordinary meetings and recenntly put in force some new local regulations in order to find solutions to this problem... so it's not paranoia or a personal feeling.
Said that, don't be too much concerned about your personal safety, Barcelona is a pretty safe town if you take care of yourself. Violent crime is really rare. At least in the areas you'll probably move, the problem is petty crime. How to protect yourself?? Just behave as you will probably do at home: you probably would not wander alone and drunk around an area you don't know well, or leave your belongings unattended in a crowded area, or carry a huge amount of money in an accessible pouch... will you? It's amazing how many people behave that way here. Later they wonder why they get in trouble! Of course, I'm not saying that being robbed is your fault, but all we can made the life less easier to criminals. As well, pickpockets do concentrate in the touristiest areas for obvious reasons, so be extra-careful there.
One last remark: we locals usually do not behave in a different way than you probably do at home. We usually just don't pay much attention to strangers as we are on our own business. We don't approach people for no reason, don't call everybody 'my friend' and we DON'T TOUCH strangers. This is especially applicable to Barcelona, where we locals are know as quite 'cold' people (in comparison to Southern Spain). Therefore, suspect if anyone seems to be 'too much' friendly, better to be safe than sorry!
This incident didn't happen to me personally, but it happened to a friend of mine and upset him quite a bit.
He was with his girlfriend travelling up an escaltor in the metro, and just as they got on, three men (who appeared not to be together) got on around them and separated them. One man was in front, my friend came next, the other two men after that, and his girlfriend behind.
As they got to the top, the top man dropped his cigarettes and stooped to pick them up, the men behind collided into my friend and the man in front and everyone got a bit jostled. My friend found it fairly amusing, and was a bit surprised to see the three men stoney faced, and everyone left in separate directions. A while later my friend realised his bum-bag (fanny-pack if you are from the US) had been cut off in the jostle, and that he no longer had it.
Be very careful, there are a lot of these sort of things going on in Barca, although they tend to be petty theft rather than anything with violence involved.
You must be carefull in La Rambla because it can be pretty crowded and for this reason it has become a prime target for pickpockets. You must pay attention to your personal belongings, specially if you're stopped watching at any performance. If you follow some basic safety rules you'll enjoy your stroll around the city!
Debes ser muy cuidadoso en La Rambla porque puede estar muy masificado y, por esta razón, se ha convertido en el primer objetivo de los carteristas. Debes prestar atención a tus objetos personales, principalmente si te has detenido a ver algún espectaculo callejero. Si sigues algunas normas básicas de seguridad disfrutarás mucho más de tu paseo por la ciudad.
Barcelona's one downfall. However, like with most places there are area to avoid. On my first trip, more pubs less clubs considering I was with the other half, there was no trouble at all. On my next trip there 2 of the seven of us who went were mugged, and we foiled two more attempts!
First major danger area was Porto Olimpico, the scene for three of the four aforementioned events. First time was attempted on me. Having had a little too much alcohol, I had to quickly leave the pub, go around the corner and empty out. Not pleasant. What at first seemed like a helpful, concerned local boy patting me on the back whilst I threw up, turned out to be a clever and shameless attempt at my wallet! I looked down to see his hand wrist deep in my pocket! I soon removed his hand, and he casually walked off as if he'd done nothing wrong.
Okay, perhaps that should have been a warning. I had gone home, being in the state I was, and later that very same night, the muggers were more succesfull. As my three mates waited on the steps leading down to the strip of clubs, a cleverly orchestrated snatch was conducted. One seemingly innocent bloke walked past Ben, when he suddenly grabbed and held him, within a flash another bloke had reached in to his pocket and had his wallett containing 200 euros and all his bank cards! Poor Ben was targeted again the very next week, in the same area, and without delving too deep in to what happened, he was more prepared the second time and all sorts of melee ensued.
The other time occurred in LAS RAMBLAS and we didn't even see it happen, and didn't learn the extent of the theft until we returned home to Dorset. James had had his bank card stolen, and in two days the culprits had ran up a £1500 bill! Fortunately this was covered by insurance.
That all sounds rather doom and gloom, and so I guess it's a testament to the city that I still managed to have a marvellous time over there despite all this!
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.
Very normal for 2 non-threatening type older ladies to ask for info on the metro. Careful because the second one is in your purse while the first is talking to you. In the Gothic quarter it's very normal for a guy to run by and grab your purse. It's very hard to catch them.
i witnessed a pickpocket job, at the ramblas. a man running from his victim, screaming that someone?s stollen his wallet.
the richest spanish town, of course they have some poverty as well,
and homeless beging for a couple of cents ( pesetas were the currency in spain by then ) like this men i saw and captured in my camera
...and they will find you. Unfortunately, pickpocketers are growing quickly in Barcelona and they target tourists mostly. Many of them work in groups and while one is distracting you, the other is pickpocketing you.
I just had one of those experiences.
Javi and 2 friends were preacticing for a card tournament a a Pans & Company Restaurant (sandwiches), and I was reading; all the suden a white girl (scotish she said) with a baby came over and asked me if I spoke English (we are now guessing she heard my accent). Then she started to ask me questions about the area, where to find a phone card and such. Meanwhile, her partner sat in the chair behind, oppened my purse and pulled out my wallet and cell phone.
An hour later she left and about 15 minutes later we did, and I realized my wallet wasn´t there. When we called to cancell credit cards and phone line, they had made charges to our account for over 1,000 euros and made phone calls all over the world.
And this with 3 really tall guys right there.
When we went to report to the police station, we ran into 2 different ladies (locals) who had ran into the same couple.
PD-Insurance does not cover this kind of event; they only cover if someone runs out with your purse and there is some kind of violence. We did get our money back from the Credit card charges, but because we have a special insurance for that.
Watch your bags, wallets etc when strolling the ramblas as this is a favourite haunt of pickpockets.
Also take care on the metro, last time I was in the city my friend and I took a trip on the metro and were joined by a young 'loving' couple, they moved behind my friend and when I turned around the man had my friends bag open and was having a good look through!
I gave him a look of disbelief and shook my head at him which was enough thankfully to make him stop and remove his hands without removing her money or camera!
Just please be aware, keep an eye on what is going on around you, I don't want to alarm anyone at all!!!
It's all common sense really!
The front desk man at the hotel told us to keep an eye on our purses and always keep them in front of us, because there are pickpockets around. A money belt is a good idea, since it's worn under your clothes and much harder to steal. Don't carry too much cash on you at once, and don't wear or carry anything valuable.
Tourists are rightly worried about Barcelona's reputation as pickpocket heaven. Here is the low-down.
(1) Any theft under 50,000 of the old Pesetas (around 300 dollars) is not considered a ‘crime’ at all - providing no violence is used. Under Spanish law it is labelled ‘hurto’. This means if the culprit is caught, he (or she) will be released back onto the streets within half an hour of making a statement at the police station. There are old hands in the Gothic Quarter who have been nabbed by the cops up to 200 times without ever serving a day in prison.
(2) There are no fewer than five separate (badly co-ordinated) police forces in the city but you won’t see many cops patrolling the streets. Spain has one of the highest ratios of police per thousand inhabitants of any country in the EU but you would never guess it.
(3) If you are an illegal immigrant, committing petty crime is one way of staying in the country. You can’t be deported if there is a legal case pending against you. This problem is compounded by:
(4) The sloth and inefficiency of the Spanish Justice system. Courts are woefully understaffed, have virtually no computers, fail to cross-reference records, and often take years to hear cases. There have been several instances of murderers set free because the case is time-barred when it finally gets to court. Add to this the poor training given to Spanish judges and idiosyncratic (not to say idiotic) sentencing and you have all the ingredients of a disaster.
All this is well-known to both local criminals and the ones who flood in from abroad, the latter attracted by the rich pickings of Barcelona in the summer and the negligible risks involved.
A map of danger areas is to be found in ‘Barcelona Business’ an English language newspaper (look out for the pink paper on newstands).
The following site has superb diagrammatic photos of how pickpockets work and how to avoid being robbed.
Went on a trip with 12 friends a week ago. Brilliant city and the Catalans are really friendly and hospitable people, but the only let down was the thieves. We had three attempted pickpocketing instances and saw one person on the Rambla's who had been a victim.
One thing I noticed in common was the thieves were really overdressed including really terrible hats a lot of them looked like that would of fitted in well in rubbish band in the mid 90's, I also noticed they work in teams, the pickpockets are usually the character with the naff hat on then the lookouts/spotters look a bit trampy, but be wary their quite well diguised at times. I hate to bring race into this but they were all of North African origin (Algerian, Moroccan, Tunisian)
The tactics I've seen used so far have involved trying to push people towards the door of the metro we shoved the pickpocket away. Taking off a jacket whilst sat down on a chair with their back turned in a cafe and trying to go through a coat pocket at the La Sagrada Familia, someone trying to get close to grab a pair of sunglasses in someones coat.
One odious character who I came quite close to punching was a bloke in his 40's with a really bad set of broken teeth, he will try to sell you drugs whilst your outside a bar having a cigarette. We bumped into him again on the Rambla's when there was three of us, this time he wearing a different cap and coat this time, with five more of his mates for company, this time the atmosphere was more aggressive and very edgy they tried to surround us, after a few stern words they backed off but be very wary of the bottom part of the Rambla's once it get dark this was where we bumped into them.
- My best bit of advice is to firstly enjoy yourself Barcelona is an amazing city, but be vigilant in the tourist area's and on public transport.
- Try to fit in and not look lost, maps, taking photo's of everything, people will be watching for the minute you let your guard down.
- Let people know your alert. Make eye contact with people near you on the metro, in cafe's and bars etc.
- If you think someone is trying to go through your possessions or getting too close to you, don't be afraid to challenge them they are cowards.