We were enjoying a drink in plaza de Santa Ana, quite near Plaza Major. My boyfriend went to the toilet and left his phone on the table as he had been taking photos. I was approached by a girl aged about 12 and a boy aged about 7.
The girl asked me to sponsor her, for something at school, and showed me a form with signatures. The little boy was to my right. I said I didn't understand and no thank you.
They then walked away but didn't ask anyone else for signatures and I thought it was strange. I remember the boy looking back at me. It seems so obvious now but they had taken the phone, probably from underneath the sponsorship form. I just didn't expect such evil children and wasn't on my guard. So be aware....really upsetting and nasty. Also not covered on the travel insurance a 500 quid phone.....so double upsetting......
When I got my Euro before I left home I was given lots of 100 and 50 euro notes. I thought it would be easy to change them when I arrived but wasnt. Even going to train stations and buying tickets and asking if I could change money there was not allowed. One day I went into a Burger King hoping that because it was busy and would have lots of change... I would be able to change my 50 noted. They said no. Then I had to somehow get into my complicated money pouch to get my one and only 20 out to pay for my meal. Much to the amusemnent of other custmers. I could have just used an ATM but as a single female...I didnt want to cause any attention at the machines. So my advice is, if you are going to take your money with you.....get small notes. No 100 and only a few 50's. Or use the ATM's safety and only get out what you need. I never kept my cards in my wallet just incase it got knicked. They were always in my money pouch.
As an aside, I adapted my shoulder bag before I left in the hope of preventing pickpockets....it worked pretty well. So well infact that I struggled to get into it at times. :-) I adjusted the zip so that it was locked by a ring clip, (I had to depress that before it would open) and I created a loop on the back so I could attach the bag to my waistband loop as well as across my shoulder...and then tied a sweatshirt over the top. My camera strap was always attached to the bag as well. I only had one incident when someone made an attempt (that Im aware of). This young guy started walking very close to me while we walked over a bridge. He came very close as he passed me and for some reason I stuck out my elbow near my bag. He brushed past me and walked on. He turned around and winked at me and then took off. It was pretty scary but at the same time I felt good that I had trusted my instincts.
My little precautions may sound over the top....but when you are travelling by yourself you only have yourself looking after you. So anything that helped to kept me safe was a big help.
I am sure this has been said a million times but try to keep a hold of your wallet/purse and put it somewhere safe. I had a small backpack (not at all obvious I thought) and I had my money (not all of it fortunately) in a fanny pack inside. I purposely didn't wear the fanny pack so as not to stick out. But we still got pickpocketed. Believe me you can't feel them doing it. We were looking at a restaurant window and the woman opened the bag and removed the money before I was aware .Then she pretended that she was an innocent bystander who had just picked up my wallet to return to me.I thanked her (idiot!) and by the time I opened it to find the money gone she had run away. she didn't take my visa card or foreign money,or the hotel key.Then a man who saw it all pointed at her and said "Ladrona!" (thief) so I understood what had happened.Just be careful....
in front of Buen Retiro park we were approach by two young boys looking for signatures for a school for the blind...I was alert, thanks to this web site, I noticed a third kid coming up behind my husband reaching for his wallet, which wasn't there. I told them to get lost in spanish and that I would call the cops, the kid says no no you have to give me 20 euros 5 euros for each one of us. Just keep your wallet in a front pocket, don't flash cash, and be alert. that was the only incident. We had a great time in Madrid and are looking forward to returning next year.
Banks are closed on Saturday afternoon and I needed some money for our last night in Madrid. I decided to use a Bank ATM, a different shape to those in Australia and instructions in Spanish which I do not understand.
I inserted my card into a slot and it disappeared. There was nothing I could do, the bank closed at midday, reopens Monday morning and I fly to Athens Sunday.
Luckily my wife has a separate bank account and we had enough money for 7 days on the Greek Islands before our flight home.
Concentrate when using foreign ATM'S, I was talking to a few friends.
I had never faced this before. In Spain we were almost robbed three times. I hope it was just an accident. We always noticed someone's hand in our pocket or took our bag closer, so the thief couldnt have finished what he wanted. Anyways, i wish you safe trip.
My wife and I were staying in central Madrid in 2009. We've visited Puerta del Sol a few times but during one evening there a pickpocket got my wife's purse from her handbag. She was carrying her handbag as normal on her shoulder and I was walking right next to her, but we didn't see or feel anything.
We had a good idea when the theft occurred...
We were in a nightclub on Calle de la Cruz and before we left the venue, my wife checked her handbag and her purse was safely in there. We exited the club and headed south down Calle de la Cruz. Five minutes later when we met Calle de Atocha my wife went to put our camera into her handbag and her purse was GONE! We believe the pickpocket got us on Calle de la Cruz (either inside the nightclub near the exit or outside on the street).
Luckily there was no cash or credit cards inside my wife's purse, so the pickpocket was unlucky that time...ha-ha! Ironically, my wallet was in my back trouser pocket which was unbuttoned with 2 credit cards, a debit card, 300 euros, my driving licence and various other cards. So I was VERY lucky considering that was an easier theft opportunity for the pickpocket!!
The pickpockets in Madrid are very slick and they will rob you blind. Puerta del Sol is the most notorious area for pickpockets as well as the metro subway. The real professionals are Arabian, Cuban, Romanian, South American and African. They will rob you in a second and they also run various pickpocket scams in syndicates. They also strike in hotel lobbies, so watch your wallets, bags, laptops etc when you check-in/check-out at your hotel. Also watch out for groups of young girls and children, as they have very talented thumbs and fingers. The majority of these types of criminals are foreign, including Madrid's prostitutes who come from as far as South America.
If you get robbed in Madrid, you need to go to this police station and file a theft report at address: Calle de Leganitos 19.
My advice to tourists is:
Enjoy Madrid, but be vigilant!
DO NOT carry handbags, wallets or bags or anything of value in your pockets.
Leave all of your valuables at the hotel. If you NEED to carry passports, money, etc on your body
then use a strap-on money holder and wear it around your waist, under your clothes.
THINK! The less you have, the less they can steal from you. If you need to carry valuables then take precautions and do it safely and out of sight of thieves.
LADIES, you are the easier targets with your lovely handbags. I would advise you not to carry them in Madrid, but if you absolutely must carry your handbag, keep it in front of you, in your sight, and with your hand on top of it.
Don't say I didn't warn you.
Good luck and be safe.
We went to a place frequented by tourists near the Prado and my purse was snatched right off of our table. To get the purse, the thief distracted us by knocking his table so it hit our son's head. My recommendation is that you not carry a purse but instead just use a money belt. We love Madrid and will return, but next time will be extremely careful.
Hi, i am going to madid next week to improve my Spanish and take photos of the city. My camera is expensive so i need to take care at all times.People suggest it is unwise to put things in a rucksac on your back, so my only option is to put it round my neck, but that makes me look what I am, a tourist!!! The camera is too bulky to go under my jacket.
What do people think would be the best thing to do apart from leaving it at home.
Traceyspacey on August 8, 2008 wrote:
"This is what happened to my boyfriend and I when we were last in Madrid. We were sitting in a cafe enjoying a cold beer waiting for a friend. My boyfriend had his mobile phone on the table as he was expecting a call. Two children came over and placed a newspaper on the table in front of us. We quickly realised that they were after his phone, we put our hands down on the girl's arm as she was trying to take it. I snatched the phone and they were chased out of the bar by the people that worked there. We will never do that again. "
Greetings from Spain!
I just want you to know that those minors, children or youngsters are NOT Spanish. Most of them are Romanian gypsies or Moroccan legal or ilegal inmigrants. Of course we have our own criminals but they do different kind of things like dealing with cocaine or robbering a bank.
Madrid is safe unless you are NOT wise and DO NOT use a little common sense. So enjoy your stay and don´t be afraid!
This is what happened to my boyfriend and I when we were last in Madrid. We were sitting in a cafe enjoying a cold beer waiting for a friend. My boyfriend had his mobile phone on the table as he was expecting a call. Two children came over and placed a newspaper on the table in front of us. We quickly realised that they were after his phone, we put our hands down on the girl's arm as she was trying to take it. I snatched the phone and they were chased out of the bar by the people that worked there. We will never do that again.
Before I left for Spain, almost every time I'd tell people I was going to Madrid, I'd hear the same warning: Be careful, they've got a lot of pickpockets there. Now after hearing it for the 5th or 6th time, I started thinking that perhaps Madrid wasn't such a safe city after all! But after spending 3 weeks in the city, taking the metro every day and going to all the pickpocket "hot spots" (Puerta del Sol, El Rastro, Atocha station...), I can now say that Madrid is a safe city and that there isn't much to be worried about. I guess the important thing would be not to make yourself an easy target (i.e. taking a picture at the Puerta del Sol with your backpack hanging open, hanging your purse on the back of your chair at Plaza Mayor), but not once in 3 weeks did I feel unsafe or observe something fishy going on. I did hear stories so I did my best to muster up all my street-smart skills, but overall I'd say that your chances of traveling to Madrid without anything bad happening to you are pretty high!
OK, I have just come back from living in Madrid for a year, I was pickpocketed once bur caught over 12 pickpocketers (it became my hobby). So, this is what they do:
1) They wait for tourists at Nuevos Ministerios which is a main line that you have to change on to get the centre from the airport
2) The will get on the tube AFTER you, always look behing you
3) If someone is looking suspicious but looking out of the window away from you, mark my word: they are checking you out in the reflection of the window
4) They also wait at Principe de Vergara which is on the red line (All red line stations are dodgie (Opera, SOL, Sevilla) to name the worst
5) The pickpockets make doorways narrow, one will stand either side so you have to push by them, MAKE SURE YOU HAVE YOUR WALLET IN YOUR HAND
6) All crowded places (beware)
All in all, my biggest recommendation would be to carry you wallet in your inside pocket when on the tube, and zip your coat up.
And dont forget, thieves are always youths, they dress to mix in with people and many are middle aged
There are so many pickpockets here who are super-professional. You WILL not know that your wallet is gone when on the metro. They are really sneaky. I´ve been robbed 3 times in 3 weeks, even when I´ve been cautious.
Do not get on the middle carriages of the train, especially in the rush hour. Beware of your stuff at all times. Pickpocket love the rush hour - morning and night.
Try and carry a dud wallet in one of your pockets.
If you can, avoid Sol, Lavapies and Atocha like the plague.
Don´t expose cameras or guidebooks.
If you do get robbed, you will have to queue up for hours at a police station between Opera and Callao for hours. You take a ticket and wait to be called. They won´t catch the thieves, but they will give you a statement for insurance purposes.
From my own personal experience, Madrid is the WORST city I´ve ever been to for petty crime. Every other person I know has either been robbed or had an attempted robbery on them.
It's pretty much inevitable, in all big cities we have pickpockets! There is no reason to be scared of this, of course, simply have some common sense and everything will be fine! Watch out over your things, especially if you are in the central area of the city, be careful with backpacks since in a crowded place they could take things from it without you even noting! Be alert, but not paranoid!! Also try not to have all your money or valuables in one place, but rather distribute it a little.