As in most European cities, pickpockets thrive in busy tourist areas and Madrid is no exception. My parents and I were on the metro going to Puerta del Sol and Plaza Mayor. As we were about to get off the Sol station, my father felt someone rubbing his trousers. When we got off the metro, his wallet was gone. We made a police report at the metro police post and were told that there was a pickpocket syndicate working in twos or threes - they are really nimble fingered. We were shown a folder containing photographs of suspected pickpockets and robbers but we were unable to identify the culprits. Be very careful when taking the metro to tourist areas. The best thing to do would be to wear a money belt.
After reading all the tips and warnings on this website, I thought I would still venture to take the subway from the airport to my hotel at Gran Via since it was the cheapest and most efficient way of getting to my hotel. I didn't want to risk being ripped off by cab drivers. I was travelling with my mom and it was very obvious that we were tourists. On our last transfer from Plaza de Espana to Callao, a tall man helped my mom with her small carry-on luggage. He lifted the luggage up and wanted to place it on a luggage rack (but obviously there is no luggage rack on the metro). She was hanging onto the luggage and asking him to put it down. I believe it was at that moment that someone else opened the zipper of my mom's purse, which she had already wore inside her jacket, and took her wallet. They are professional thieves so you have to be very very careful and look after yourself.
In case this happens to you, there is a police station on Calle Leganitos, just off Plaza de Santo Domingo. The police officers do not speak English so you have to make an oral report by calling 902 102 112 and then you can pick up a copy of the police report from the station.
On afterthought, I really regret not taking the taxi from the airport to the hotel. It's a lot less hassle being ripped off by the cab driver. When I left Madrid, the hotel bell boy got a taxi for me. The trip was only 23 Euros!
Watch your stuff carefully.
Some scummy crapbag tried to steal my bag from me on the subway from the airport to town. Police are everywhere but at my hotel at least 3 people were robbed during their stay.
Madrid is safe at all times but there are a lot of thieves on the prowl looking for a prime oportunity.
Most crime in Madrid is not violent, they generally go for easy targets...they tend to strike on the subway right as the doors are closing.
The goon who tried to take my bag did not realize that there was a strap around the bag so he actually dragged me with the bag towards the door..I got a good grip on him but had to let go as the door was almost closed (lucky him).
Be aware of pickpockets on the Plaza Mayor area. I´m a local and I am anoyed of seeing tourist beeing ripped off.
Check out your purse or handbag anytime, they try to pick things from your handbag using a map. If you notice anything wrong and look back, they will pretend they are checking the map. They usually work in 3 people team, one rips you off, the other one chat with the thief and the 3rd is looking for the police in case they appear. They don´t wear bad costumes they even wear clothes pretending they are tourist ! !
One more thing, if you are sitting on an open air table at a cafe avoid the tables closest to open areas, a group of 4 or 5 litle boys from rumania (I have nothing against nice rumanian people, but the fact is those kids are from there) will come along pretending they are playing but they will rip your mobile purse, camera off if you are not aware.
Never leave your handbag hanging on a chair, cause it can dissapear.
Enjoy Madrid, local people are kind and willing to help you.
I am from Madrid and tourist usually aren´t warned about this swindle
Maybe you see on the street 5 or 6 people around a little table, a man behind the table challenges the people around to find a tiny ball under 3 bottle stoppers.
He puts the ball under a stopper and moves quickly the 3 of them, after that he ask someone of the "public" to tell where the ball is.
If you make the big mistake to stop, someone of the "public" will tell you the ball is here or the ball is there, or maybe the man that moves the ball wont do it so fast so you can see where it is.
You will choose the right bottle lid, and then you will win 10 or 20 euros. You will think it´s quite easy and will have another go. If you decide to go away, now it´s too late, they won´t let you go because they will say you won and now have to try to win more.
They will make you bet your own money and you will be ripped of, cause you will never find again the ball. They work in teams of 3 up to 5 people and believe me they will always win.
A good advice: if you just see them gambling and people arround JUST DON´T EVEN STOP.
Madrid has beautiful things to see, don´t waste your time gambling and loosing your money.
The photo is a quite old one I found on internet so you can figure out the scene...
Pickpocketing can be a problem in Madrid, but only if you are dumb about it. You don't need to worry about it any more than if you were in nyc. I never got robbed, but I know people who did, and they were all being stupid. You will only get robbed if you act like a tourist. For the people I know who got pickpocketed, it was all in the first couple of days we were there (We lived there for 4 months). If you know Spanish, speak it whenever you can, especially on public transportation. On the bus and metro, you don't have to obnoxiously hoard your bag. Just make sure you have it gripped and nothing exposed so no one can get at it (that means keeping it closed!). Just be smart. Don't attract attention to yourself (although if you are a tourist, you might not know what this means). Don't leave your bags unattented. COMMON SENSE, PEOPLE.
Other than that, Madrid is a safe city. I never felt in danger.
We had been warned before arriving about pickpockets. When we arrived at the hotel, we left a backpack in the taxi - but he came back with it within 10minutes!!
On the metro on Sunday night, we were going to the bullfights but a lot of locals were going to the parks. My husband had a small wallet which we use as a decoy in the zipped pockets of his cargot pants, and when we got there it was gone! I used a wallet, hanging round my neck under my shirt which I tucked inside my waistband.
As always in any city you are in, please be careful with your purse! A friend was in a cafe and was sitting up at the bar and left her purse below her under her feet. Someone snatched it! No one even saw the guy doing it it was so fast and sneeky!
In Retiro especially but all over, a common pickpocketing scam is for one person to come up to you with a map and ask directions while the other lifts your belongings. I'm not saying don't be helpful but if a local asks you for directions be wary
Please be careful about women with beautiful smile.(Tell the truth, this photo has nothing with any danger :-) but related to??)I saw street vendor just across from atocha station. I decided to buy some baked sweet poteto (they're juicy sweet and cheep!), asked the man in this photo. At that time, my husband was almost robbed by 2 women his wallet when he focused his attention on our conversation. He awore their strange behavior and pretended to chase them. They quickly ran away from him with smile!!!! We stunned at this; to meet thieves and them;running with smile.
Madrid security is high so dont even think about it....there will be a policeman the minute you pull up that handbrake when you park in illegal places......if you have a luxury car they would still tow it away.
Ok ok, I know you have probably heard this 1,357 times before but its important. In Madrid you really have to be careful with pickpockets. (and in the rest of Spain and Europe)
I pass through the Sol area about 3 times a week or more and nothing has happened to me there BUT and I have seen SEVERAL people get pickpocketed, or who were recently pickpocketed. Around the city at least 5 of my friends have been robbed while I was with them, usually on the metro, and my cell phone was taken in the one instant that I wasn´t paying attention. Once on Calle Montera I saw a guy throw a wallet on the ground that he had just taken all the money out of. I even once saw the operation in action, a scraggly looking guy comes pushing his way through a crowd and hands off a wallet to a "business man" in a suit. And I was stupid enough to say something to him but I was just brushed aside. And I realized there was nothing I could do.
So, if you are in an area where there are lots of people just remember that someone is watching you to see if you would be a good target. Don´t be! Wallets, cell phones and cameras are the most common things to "disappear". Keep things secure and pay attention to what is going on around you!
After saying all that, don´t worry too much about your personal safety. Most pickpockets want to get your things without you noticing which is why they pick camera happy tourists who are looking at the buildings and other things. They do this for a living so they are very good. Some may have knives so if they are fighting you for the bag maybe you should let them have it.
Another reason to be careful, to make a police report for a stolen passport so you can get a new one is a PAIN IN THE NECK, Spanish police are the height of bureaucracy, expect to spend a couple of hours there. (near the Prado end of Huertas.)
I don´t mean to scare you, you shouldn´t be afraid to come to Madrid. It is a big city but one of my favorites and definately worth visiting, again and again!!!
Recently visited Madrid for the first time, great city going back again, but like all big cities you need to watch your self. Looking for a restaurant in the evening in the side streets of the Justicia area we were approached by a youth holding a very warn map, asking the way. I ignored him, I’m not nice, but the pathetic “Please help me” in English worked with my wife. While she was trying to explain where the Metro station was (as if you would ask a tourist) very suddenly two larger youths, in leather jackets, appeared from no where claiming they were police and flashing some sort of ID. This was just not right, wrong body language and unconvincing ID. I decided a quick exit was in order and pointed both of us into lights and people. They did not follow. These lads were working some sort of scam, best advice scramble, but to be honest this incident was pleasingly amateurish.
You can easily recognize the many forms of Police in Madrid they have guns…. of varying sizes…they will not let you walk away…. I suggest you are far nicer to those people when considering the walking away option.
In Madrid, there have been increasing incidents of mugging/strangulations. Unfortunately, I learnt it the hard way.... in Plaza Espana on Saturday night.
Avoid dark alleys and dark corners in the parks and even public places after daylight hours.
- Madrid is one of the safest cities in Europe, but you should remember some advices I'll tell you to avoid problems with pickpockets in the city center (the zone of Puerta del Sol in the heart of the city).
- If you have a backpack or a bag don't put it in your shoulders. Just, change its position, so you'll put it in your chest and not in your back. With that, you'll control the zippers and no one will dare to open them. The same will happen with purses and bags. Just hold them in your chest and not in one side or in the back. If you have a wallet, just place it in the front pockets of your jeans or trousers where it's impossible to remove it without notice it.
- Sometimes it's a good idea to look backwards and check who is behind you in a pedestrian crossing stop or in a packed commercial street. In the center, these pickpockets are women that work in groups of three. They form a line so the woman in the middle can steal things from the bags while the other two women are in both sides of the thief to cover her. They are in a telephone booth like if they were speaking to somebody awaiting for the victim to pass near. They mark her or him and follow the victim very close trying to steal him while he's walking or crossing the street.
- If you discover them when turning back or because you feel somebody touching your bag or wallet, they will suddenly look somewhere else and go away.
- It always happens in Puerta del Sol, Carrera de San Jerónimo and maybe in Calle Preciados if it's very crowded (the area between the subway stops of Callao, Sol, Sevilla and Gran Via).
- In Madrid there are no shoot-outs or big things to fear, just by checking your bags and wallets in the places I said before and paying more attention you'll avoid bad experiences. You can walk through the streets at any time and be safer than a baby in his cradle.