Barcelona is the pickpocket capital of the World.
Generally speaking, Barcelona is a safe city to visit, but unfortunately it is the pickpocket capital of the world. Sophisticated and hi-tech pickpockets roam around the streets especially in the city center. Here is a collection of important tips how to avoid and outsmart pickpockets during your stay.
On your arrival pay close attention to your luggage at the train, bus and metro station.
Unfortunately, too many arriving visitors get pickpocketed before they even reach to their hotel rooms. The train, bus and metro stations and the entrances to hotels are hot spots for pickpockets and thieves. Pickpockets love arriving tourists, because they carry all their valuable belongings with them. In a new place, just arriving tourists are usually exposed, tired, confused and a bit disoriented.
Newcomers are marked in front of the ticket sales offices and machines. As you pay for your transport, pickpockets are observing where you keep your purse or wallet.
When you arrive, the best way to avoid pickpockets is to book in advance a transfer to your hotel. Also remember to keep your transport tickets and money in separate places. And don’t forget to take out travel insurance.
Tip: “To avoid unnecessary attention, remove your luggage tag after landing.”
Before you hit the streets.
When you have arrived safely into your hotel room, it’s time to plan some precautionary safety preparations.
Before you go out, leave all your valuables in your hotel room. For example, your laptop is much safer in your room than inside your bag-bag on the streets. Don’t leave your camera or tablet in plain view. Hide your valuable belongings out of sight. If you want more safety, lock your stuff inside the safety box or behind the hotels front desk.
Separate your money. Always make sure to keep your money at least in two different places. If you use more than one credit card, leave the others inside your room. In case your credit card gets stolen or lost, keep a copy of the overseas emergency number of your bank.
If you are planning a “Wild Night” in Barcelona, a great tip is to emulate the dress code of local people. Standing as a tourist out from the crowd, you are an easier prey for the thieves.
Tip: “Spanish law requires you to carry an ID. But a photocopy of your passport or ID card is usually enough.”
Pick pockets and scam merchants often work in groups
Pickpockets hang around in crowded places. They pick up their victims in bars, restaurants, shopping streets and escalators.
When you enter in a crowded place, hold your one hand on top of your bag and protect your mobile phone or wallet with your other hand. The safest place for your bag is against your chest.
Do not give money to beggars. If you do, keep some small change in a separate pocket or purse so that the thieves can’t detect where you hide your real money.
When you sit at the terrace, keep your bag always in front of you or on your lap. If you leave your bag on the ground keep it between your feet or attached in your body. And, when you pay the bill, don’t count your money in front of everybody.
Watch out for distraction and avoid theft scams. Thieves start their scams with a distraction. Sometimes they surprise you asking for directions. Some of them may drop money or a valuable looking item in front of you. Sometimes they ask for a donation to a charity. The only thing what these scoundrels really want is to find out where you hide your money. It’s a bitter irony that the person who distracted the victim often stays to pretend to help them to find the missing item, although they were the one who helped to take it.
Tip: “Only carry the money you really need for the day.”
ATM – Danger Zone
If you have to withdraw money, try to avoid street side ATM’s. It is easy to find an ATM located inside a bank. Before you tip your pin code, check out that no one is lurking behind your shoulders. Remember always to cover your pin number with your hands.
Precautionary Tip: “Set a limit for your card withdraws.”
During the night pickpockets and scoundrels prefer to choose easy victims.
If you really wish to keep your money and belongings safe, don’t use too much alcohol and other mind-numbing drugs. The abuse of alcohol and recreational drugs diminishes your ability to absorb the stimuli from the world around you. During the night, drunken tourists are the first targets of Barcelona’s notorious pickpockets and small-time thieves. You can always find long queues at Barcelona’s police stations where confused and wasted tourists try to fill out a declaration form of lost or stolen belongings.
“If you decide to celebrate without limits, try to avoid street dealers and prostitutes!”
Brothels are illegal in Barcelona since 1956, but the majority of brothels are loosely disguised as “whiskerías” or “clubs”. After the sunset, street prostitutes and dealers come out to offer their services. Most street prostitutes are inoffensive, but others are really pushy… They come close to your skin trying to find your money by touching your “valuable parts”. Sometimes they roam in groups and it is easy to get surrounded and robbed.
The drug dealers on the street corners are shady characters. For your own safety, do not get in contact with them.
Tip: ”Avoid street prostitutes! There are many safe semi-legal clubs specialized in all kinds of sexual pleasure in Barcelona.”
What to do if you get robbed?
Finally, if you lose your wallet, purse or bag, keep calm and a level head. Although you are pissed, please do not get angry. It just makes things more complicated.
It is better to act immediately. Find out and write a list of what was stolen. Go to the nearest police station and file a police report. You need it if you want to get back some refund from your insurance company. In the main police stations they give necessary phone numbers if needed and a telephone to make a call to your credit card agency.
If you lost your passport or ID card contact your airline in order to find out whether they will require a temporary passport for your return flight.
Locations of Police Stations in Barcelona
Main Police Station:
Comisaria de Policia de Barcelona (Ciutat Vella)
Carrer Nou de la Rambla, 76-80
Metro Police Station:
The police station for the passengers is located within the Plaza Catalunya metro station.