Barcelona Blog: How to not get robbed in Barcelona

We want a decent neighbourhood!! A common sight in areas of Barcelona with lots of noise, pickpockets or prostitutes

Barcelona is a wonderful place to live but the downside is, it’s a den of thieves. Barcelona topped the poll as worst city in the world for pickpockets and the sad truth is, I can’t remember the last time I went out and didn’t see someone chasing after a bag thief or plaintively yelling for the police. Here’s how to avoid it happening to you:

1. Get the airport bus

If you fly to Barcelona, take a cab or the bus from the airport. On the train, thieves only have to pay once to spend the whole day rifling through people’s pockets and thefts are common both at Sants station and on the trains. The bus, which costs around 5 euros is a far safer bet.

2. Don’t carry more than you need

Savvy Barcelona residents empty their pockets before a big night out and you should too. Go to the cashpoint during the day and take only the cash you need when you go out at night. Empty your wallet of everything else – credit cards, photos of loved ones, library card, driving license, whatever – and they’ll be a whole lot less to cry about if the worst happens.

Officially, you’re supposed to carry ID at all times in Barcelona but a photocopy of your passport should suffice if you get stopped by the cops. If you’re out shopping, you’ll need ID to pay by credit card: just be sure to keep it tucked away in a money belt.

3. Pickpockets love tourists

Out in the untouristy suburbs, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a pickpocket but around La Rambla they’re ten a penny. Hot spots include: Carrer dels Escudellers (which runs down one side of Plaza Reial and is also known as ‘scally alley’) Plaza George Orwell, Carrer de la Princesa and Carrer dels Carders in the Born, Carrer de Sant Pau in the Raval and of course, La Rambla. None of these places are no-go areas by any means, but if you’re staggering down Escudellers at 6am, you won’t be short of company as you trip over the empty wallets on your way home.

4. Leave your backpack at home

If you must carry a backpack, wear it on your front where you can see it. The best way to not be a target in the first place is to carry a bag that you can wear across your body so it can’t be pulled off your shoulder. Bags that have zips and secret inner pockets are even better. Never put anything of value in outer pockets and if you really have to walk alone at night, keep your hand over the zip and the bag on an unexposed arm (facing the wall rather than the street).

5. Underground, overground

Bag-snatchers love the metro. Gangs work together in groups and are particularly active around the train doors during the evening rush hour and on the touristy green and yellow lines. One popular method known as the ‘tapon’ involves a member of the gang dropping something in front of the victim and then bending down to pick it up. As people back up behind them, accomplices get busy with everyone’s bags.

6. Be terrace smart

Watch the locals on a restaurant terrace. They don’t leave their bag on an empty chair or their phone on the table and neither should you. If you really must take your bag off your shoulder, keep your valuables on your person and the bag strap tied to your chair or between your feet.

Taxi drivers will tell you that all thieves are Moroccan but don’t be fooled: pickpockets are just as likely to be a group of young girls or a frail old lady. Be on your guard for anyone coming to your table and asking for change – there’s a good chance they’re scoping your stuff. Most of Barcelona’s genuine homeless tend to stay in one spot.

7. Cab it

If you’re drunk as a skunk, don’t even think about walking home or taking the metro: get a cab.

8. Blondes don’t have more fun

It’s not just in the bars and clubs that blondes get all the attention, the pickpockets love you too. Nothing screams tourist more than blonde locks and short of dyeing your hair, there’s not a whole lot you can do. Practise your psycho ‘don’t mess with me’ face and avoid making it worse by not jabbering on your phone in your own language, carrying an expensive camera or gawping too long at your map.

9. Lock it up

On the beach, take as little as you can and never leave your stuff unattended. If you’re travelling alone, ask the nearest friendly-looking group to keep an eye on your things if you go swimming or use the lockers at Platja de Bogatell or Barceloneta (the lockers are underneath Passeig del Maritim not far from the big fish in Barceloneta and on the beach at Bogatell).

10. If you luck out

If the worst happens and you do get robbed, check all the nearby bins. Thieves are just after your valuables and will ditch everything else quickly. It’s worth reporting the incident to the police (especially if you have travel insurance) as sometimes things do get handed in. The Guàrdia Urbana station on the Ramblas (no. 43) is open 24 hours but to save time, you can report the loss online and then nip into the police to sign the form within 72 hours.

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14 Comments

Filed under barcelona, blog, Travel articles

14 responses to “Barcelona Blog: How to not get robbed in Barcelona

  1. I have been to Barcelona about 10 times and only once came close to been robbed. I was in the big shopping centre down by the aquarium, in a bag shop and was the only person in the shop, when 2 middle aged ladies, very well dressed, came into the shop and stood right behind me which I found rather strange. Next think I knew, was a tug on my bag but I was quicker than them and called out to my husband who was outside the shop.. the ladies ran off and the 2 shop assts totally ignored the whole thing. That upset me that they showed no concern. Since then I never bring a handbag out with me and so far no probs …on my way back there soon….I love the city

    You just have to be careful same as anywhere even in dublin.

    • youngnatasha

      I love the city too. You’re right, shop assistants and bar staff do seem uninterested and uncaring. I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt in that I think it just happens so often, they can’t even pretend to be surprised anymore.

      And you’re right it can happen anywhere. After 4 years in Barcelona without, touch wood, anything ever happening, I went back to the UK and almost immediately had my suitcase stolen from a train.

  2. Pingback: Barcelona Blog: How to not get robbed in Barcelona « Natasha Young | Cheap Airline Tickets, Blog Abount Latest News From Airlines Worldwide

  3. kr

    Thanks for the great tips, very useful!

  4. Gerard

    Here in Spain we make a difference between a fault and a crime. In case of stealing (what pickpockets do), if the value of the stealed things are under 400 euros it’s just a fault, if it’s over 400€ then it’s a crime. There isn’t a big thing with faults, sometimes, maybe, a fine, but most of times pickpockets can work freely, that’s a pity and I’m ashamed of that.

    I encourage every tourist who’s been pickpocked that even if they have the wallet back, to call the police and report the pickpockets, 1, 5, 20 reports maybe are useless, but 1000 or 2000 it will make a difference and probably policemen, judges and politicians will try to do something.

    • Israel

      From my standpoint the differentiation of Barcelonians between fault and crime is the whole story. Theft is theft even if it is one penny. The uncare behaviour of Barcelona citizens when they witness pickpocketing is the source of the evil.
      Yes I reported to police about the rubbery of my trolley bag that contained a PC but their conduct was something between indifference and partnershipness in the rubbery.
      I did a mistake reporting the rubbery to police, but now I am correcting it by advertising everywhere I can that Barcelona should be deleted from the touring list.

  5. Susan

    I was just in Barcelona and have to disagree with Israel…Barcelona should never be deleted from the touring list.
    I heeded the warnings I read about pick pockets in Barcelona and was lucky this time.
    I feel sorry about his bad luck but sometimes a place is just SO great that you have to overlook the few bad parts.
    Example: I have been going to Mexico for over 30 years and have had a few thefts there. However, I continue to return. I could never scratch Mexico off my list.

  6. Tips are very useful,but one never thinks it will happen with him=)

  7. Pingback: Viajar a La India Diarrea Segura / Viajar a Barcelona, te Roban Seguro | Robbed In Barcelona

  8. ann gyoury

    We had a cruise that left from Barcelona on our return we decided to spend a day and a night there to see a bit of Barcelona We are pensioners and I walk with a stick holding onto my husbands arm. We decided to visit the internet cafe to check emails and I am convinced the person in the shop was working with the thief outside because as we stepped out of the shop a young lad punched me in my neck and at first I was thinking WHY had he hit me but then realised he had stolen both my necklaces precious gifts from my family that I had had for years. That low life scum B*******d changed my life forever I am now too frightened to go anywhere in Spain on my own I have lived In the Benidorm area for 11 years and thought I was clued up but this all happened in less than a second I just wished I had seen these warnings before i went. They ruined what was a trip of a life time into an ever lasting nightmare I hope they rot in hell. All I want to do is go home but of course I cant because I am one of the unlucky ones that bought a home here that I cannot sell.

    • youngnatasha

      So sorry to hear about your experience Ann. Don’t let it spoil your enjoyment of your home in Spain. The only time I’ve been robbed in the last 6 years was when I had my suitcase stolen off a train in the UK. There are good and bad people in both countries. I hope you and your husband only meet good folk from now on.

  9. Fantastic and detailed post. I’m planning a trip to Barcelona at the end of April, so I’m bookmarking this post to re-read before I leave!

  10. Some very good advice here…Thanks for the heads up… Now I know how to safeguard my self in Spain!

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