Dont think that carrying your handbag under your arm and close to you will stop a pickpocket stealing from you!. My husband and i have just returned from visiting our daughter in Alcala de henares where she is at university. She decided to take us on the metro to the rastro market in Madrid she is very security concieous and would not let me take a handbag so we shared her bag which has two zips and poppers all of which had been used when we got to the market her purse containg cards euros and identification and camera had disappered but all the fastenings had not been tampered with i was puzzeled as to how this had happened on the way to the police station my husband noticed threads hanging from the end of the bag. Her bag had been cut open with a very sharp instument and the contents removed she remembers being jostled on the metro and is sure two men were involved. we used a internet cafe to cancel her cards in minutes. Had we not been with her she would have been stranded in madrid with no money or train ticket.So use a money belt and for an extra security carry some euros inside your clothing in case of emegency. Never think you are safe!
This is more a FYI than a warning. At Madrid Barajas airport, do your best to get rid of anything that can make the machine beep, especially your belt and your cap/hat if you're wearing one. I decided to post this because Mr. Sweden and I were given a rude treatment because (1) he doesn't understand Spanish and was told to take off his cap and belt and (2) the guards didn't allow me to translate for him, listened to my "he doesn't speak Spanish" or spoke to him in English. Sure, we're visiting their country but they should at least have let me help since the line was growing by the minute and this kind of attitude was only a waste of time for everyone.
PLease, be aware of some people in the city.
You should keep an eye on your bags, belongings when visiting the capital as there are some street walkers and poor people that could be behind your things. Specially you should be keep alert in the terraces (summer), some crowdy restaurants, tube, buses... the most.
I'm sure this is listed a million times already, and everyone thinks it will never happen to them - thankfully it only nearly happened to me but still enough of a shock to warn others.
Always keep an eye on your belongings!!
in 2007 there have been numerous reports on so called fake police. These "police people" wear civilian clothes and identify them with a fake badge. There is always two of them. You are asked to give them your valuables. Without that you notice they steal money from your wallet. Dont trust un-uniformed "police men" just insist walking to the police office before identifying or look for a nearby uniformed policemen. this will scare them off.
Especially in public transportation and in crowded places, do hold your handbag tight as there is a great risk of losing it or its contents. There are "stiletto men", who cut the bottom of your handbag and steal the belongings. Also, there are very young pickpockets so be aware of the children as well.
Beware of people especially young men when you are coming out of bars and everyone has had a drop to drink and are a bit merry.
They smile at you, offer a handshake. When you reciprocate they take your right hand pull you a little towards them kick your foot. When you look down the left hand is in and out of your pocket and away with your wallet. Happened to a friend. Horrible thing to say I know but don't shake hands with anyone you don't know in the street and don't keep anything in your back pockets.
Do not let people carrying signs indicating they are handicaped get within arms distance of you when they are begging. Do not be distracted by a person in front of you dropping items on the ground and stopping to pick them up when entering metro, escalators, buses or other public conveyences. While you are distracted by what is happening in front of you someone behind you is picking your pocket. You should only flash large amount of money if you are a stupid American that has more than you need. There are people in this country, like most countries that may think they need it more than you. If you fall victim to one of these scams feel lucky you were not injured other than in the wallet.
I had asked about VT members about the problem of purse snatching, and we had seen one on the day we left Madrid . It happened on a Sunday morning where only a few people are around the metro station area. I walked with my 2 friends with luggage on the way to the Metro Station and we noticed a man was standing near the entrance at around 7:45am. A woman was also carrying lugguage walking behind us in about 7 or 8 meters away. By the time we dragged our luggage down the stairs into the Metro, we heard the woman screaming and came down the stairs with a broken purse handle. We figure she almost got her purse snatched and she reported to the person at the ticket booth. So, if you travel alone, please be very careful and try not to walk around alone in early morning or late night. This kind of problem always happen in the city and as always, we should be caution on safety.
Some shop or restaurant personnel seem to "forget" to return your credit card when paying the bills. This seems to happen far too often to be a pure co-incidence. Maybe some persons are hunting for extra income as credit card companies (e.g. Visa) are paying 100€ fee to shop/restaurant owner when they return forgotten card to company.
When travelling through Spain be alert inside internet cafes and resturants. You want to keep your bags attached to you at all times. My friend lost his backpack with a laptop inside that was next to his leg even though a lot of friends were nearby, no one noticed. I always put the strap through my leg or keep the bag on my lap, never on the backside of the chair or leaning against me.
They will stalk you, 2-4 at a time. Watch for them walking very close to you and keeping you from moving away from them either by slowing down or speeding up. Several of them will cross the street with you and then create a confusion when you reach the sidewalk. That's when they will strike.
They are good at it and you won't notice a thing until you'll find your purse open and your valuables gone.
Keep credit cards, cash and identification in separate places throughtout your body, different pockets or pouches. These women won't hurt you physically, but they will steal you blind.
Especially at places where American tourists feel safe and comfortable. Especially when they recognize a certain brand they are familiar with. Take Starbucks for example- that brand is internationally known, and for tourists, it is recognizble. Like us, we went to a Starbucks in Madrid- and BAM, someone reached INTO my purse and took our travelers checks, debit, and Credit cards. Started using them immediately. And when you are in another country, it is sickening. You have to be smart, and ALWAYS check your things, the miinute you sit down, and get back up, do inventory. Because if you dont, your things could be long gone, and used multiple times. Do not think it cannot happen to you, I didnt. My husband and I are pretty savvy travelers, I never thought someone would reach into my purse that was slung over me. But they did, and I learned.... Be paranoid, because the moment you let your gaurd down, it gives them the advantage.
I was targeted twice on one short journey in the city centre (July 2006). They choose the city centre area because the stops are very close together so they can escape easily. Luckily they didn't get away with anything, but it was very close. I was only alerted because they were pulling out a conference badge on a bright blue ribbon and I saw the colour out of the corner of my eye.
Both attempts involved young men with backpacks. They force you into the corner or against a door by backing their backpack against you. They then put a hand behind them under the rucksack and open zips etc on bags. I was wearing a bum bag (I think US call this a 'fanny pack') turned to the front and they had managed to undo both zipped pockets without me realising on both occasions. They leap out of the train just as the doors close so that they can't be followed. Please make sure you have your eyes on everyone around you and any valuables under close guard. Keep any eye out for other members of your group.
Madrid (like most of Europe) is filled with pickpockets, but doing things like wearing your backpack forwards instead of backwards marks you immediately as a tourist and potential target. I spent four months living in Madrid and never had anything stolen. Ladies, always keep your purse very close to your body: for longer, hip-length bags keep the strap over one shoulder for added security. For smaller, going-out type bags, make sure they are tucked very securely under your arm at all times. When in the Metro, do as the locals - keep your purse in your lap with your hands holding the top of it, and keep larger backpacks/laptops/shopping bags/etc. tucked securely between your feet. Even when standing, try to keep a hand on your purse or bag at all times. Try to avoid wearing a backpack if at all possible, particularly on the Metro (also because a large backpack can be extremely uncomfortable during the crowded rush hours). All of the pickpocketing I heard about during my stay in Madrid was non-violent, and usually consisted of someone being distracted while walking around Sol/Callao/Granvia (the biggest tourist and therefore pickpocketing spots), someone getting drunk or distracted in a bar or discoteca and not paying attention to their things, or someone being careless or distracted in the Metro. It's much more unusual for thieves to use force or to physically alter your belongings in order to steal them (no backpack slashing, no strap cutting...), or (unfortunately) to even be noticed. Use common sense and don't allow yourself to be distracted and you will have a wonderful, safe time in Madrid!