Is pickpocketing and theft really much worse in Barcelona than other cities?

(37 Posts)
TheDayOfMyDoctor Fri 25-Apr-14 13:44:02

We're going to Barcelona later in the year, and as I've been reading up on things to do etc. online, I keep coming across warnings that tourist theft is particularly bad. I've lived in a number of different cities, so not normally paranoid about such things, but I wondered if we do need to be extra careful while we're there.

Has this been your experience if you visited? I've recently purchased a DSLR camera and was looking forward to getting some good photos, but various websites have warned against having one hung round your neck and keeping it in a (non-camera) bag will mean constantly opening/closing bag to take it out and put it away which could make us more vulnerable I think.

Any top tips for keeping possessions safe and minimising the risk of theft?

MacademiaNut Fri 25-Apr-14 13:46:00

I was warned on arrival by a local I was sitting next to on the plane. I was quite vigilant as I was travelling alone.

Weegiemum Fri 25-Apr-14 13:46:47

We've been to Barca twice, never had any issues. Ds is pestering us to go again, he's a massive footy fan and wants to go to Neucamp.

Loved the city, I'd go back tomorrow!

CorporateRockWhore Fri 25-Apr-14 13:50:10

We went last week, no trouble at all. Only trouble caused by bloody English football fans.

juneau Fri 25-Apr-14 13:58:56

Many European cities with lots of tourists are terrible for pick-pocketing. I've had a wallet stolen in Paris and DH had his passport stolen, DH had his watch stolen in Naples, friend had her passport stolen in Barcelona and two men tried to steal my camera bag in Madrid with a distraction tactic - fortunately I worked out what they were doing in time.

Personally, while travelling to European cities I am very careful. Don't wear expensive jewellery. Carry one bag that you can keep an eye on and which zips up completely across the top. Carry it across your body or tightly under your arm. Be ultra wary around cash machines and very vigilant on public transport, on busy thoroughfares like Las Ramblas, and at major tourist sights. Don't put your bag on the ground at your feet in pavement cafes (keep it on your lap), and always have it in sight. It's a sad fact of modern life, I'm afraid.

Goodwordguide Fri 25-Apr-14 14:01:56

Lived there for five years - pickpocketing is endemic and if you look 'foreign' or like a tourist, it's possible you will be targeted. Saying that, I look v non-Spanish (blonde etc) and never lost anything but always took basic precautions in a way that I don't here in the UK, eg:
-never leave bags, jackets etc on back of seats in public place, don't put your wallet on a cafe table.
-don't put valuables in pockets in rucksacks
-be particularly careful on the metro, at the airport and travelling to and from the airport.
-don't carry everything with you eg, leave your passport, a credit card, some emergency cash where you are staying so if you do lose your wallet, it's not a complete disaster
-just be vigilant - after living there for some time I could spot likely pickpockets a mile away - usually young men 'talking' on a mobile phone, loitering outside popular cafes etc. If you spot them, make eye contact etc and you're less of a target.
-be careful using cash machines - I was occasionallyfollowed after using one.
-when we visit now, I use a money wallet round my neck that I wear inside my top.

Police presence has improved in central BCN so I think the situation is improving - we were there last summer and it felt very safe and we didn't see any trouble. Violent crime is very rare there and it is a fantastic city - have a great holiday!

Finola1step Fri 25-Apr-14 14:04:06

I know quite a few people who have had bits stolen on holiday (handbag, phone etc). Barcelona does unfortunately seem to be the common denominator. I went a few years ago and was fine.

Countessfosco Fri 25-Apr-14 14:04:21

For me yes, but just be extra careful. Been to many cities with no probelms but on Las Ramblas there were two attempts in one evening to grab my handbag. Has not put me off though love the city but I am just especially careful there and also never wear jewellery.

TheDayOfMyDoctor Fri 25-Apr-14 14:06:29

Thanks for all the quick replies! I appreciate all the tips.

Should I leave the DSLR at home and just take a regular camera?

thenightsky Fri 25-Apr-14 14:07:05

Been at least 10 times and never been the victim of crime once. Like the previous poster said, wear a cross body bag that fits snugly under your arm and never take it off if you are sat at a pavement cafe or such.

I also keep my credit card and debt card separate, down the cup of my bra (enormous norks so plenty of room).

msrisotto Fri 25-Apr-14 14:10:11

If you like photography (like I do) then it would be a crime to leave it at home. You can get camera straps threaded with wire so that they can't be cut through.

You might then worry about it being taken from you at knife point. I would be, to counter this though I probably wouldn't take it out at night, only in populated areas etc.

msrisotto Fri 25-Apr-14 14:10:39

Hehe, I keep my cards in my bra sometimes smile

VillaVillekulla Fri 25-Apr-14 14:11:58

I've only been once and someone tried to mug me. A friend went soon afterwards and was pickpocketed. I imagine you get petty crime pretty much everywhere but my experience does make me feel that Barcelona is a bit dodgier than other cities. I'd go again but I'd just be sure to have a cross-body bag and to be really vigilant.

VillaVillekulla Fri 25-Apr-14 14:12:39

PS. I personally won't have a big fancy camera on display.

Goodwordguide Fri 25-Apr-14 14:16:07

The pickpockets are wary of touching you because this counts as a crime ie assault rather than 'just' pickpocketing, which is a misdemeanor for which the police don't prosecute, hence jewellery theft etc is rare (though I would avoid looking too flash) and I've only once seen a thief try to take a bag actually off someone.

Usually it really is bags/wallets/cameras taken off tables etc - I think if you are aware and sensible you will be fine. Just be aware of your personal space in particular - I've seen thieves reading a newspaper or a map very close to a cafe table for example, trying to steal a wallet underneath it.

But really, last year we had a fantastic time and felt completely safe the whole time. We didn't experience any trouble or see any trouble at all (which is great as you feel compelled to intervene and it can all get v unpleasant).

TheDayOfMyDoctor Fri 25-Apr-14 14:35:36

Thanks. I'll look into alternative camera straps msrisotto and will be wary about where I take it out to use it. I do have a decent regular camera too that I can take. We've no flash jewellery and our watches are pretty understated.

I've got a couple of good cross body bags with short leather straps that I can use and I'll have a look at DH's bag options too - he usually carries some kind of messenger bag when we're on holiday.

chipsandpeas Sat 26-Apr-14 15:22:42

i was robbed in barcelona.....although i was drunk and not as vigilent as i normally would have been

it is rife but as long as you take precautions you will be ok

Legologgo Sat 26-Apr-14 15:23:15

Yes. H goes often with work. He thinks it's increasingly seedy

Northernexile Sat 26-Apr-14 15:26:50

I have been about five times and had no trouble at all. IME it's no worse than any other big city.

elQuintoConyo Sat 26-Apr-14 19:48:46

I lived there for five years, still live nearby and go anything up to about 10xyear mostly Ikea and I have never had a problem anywhere with anyone.

Be vigilant, don't be a dick (I'm sure you won't, OP), treat the city as you would London, NY, Rome, Hull etc grin

thenightsky Sat 26-Apr-14 21:48:54

God I love Barcelona. Time for another long weekend there I think.

ginmakesitallok Sat 26-Apr-14 21:51:59

I had my purse nicked out of my bag in the train to Barcelona from Tarragona. I was distracted by getting dd onto a busy train, couple of folk jostled me and as soon as the doors shut I saw my bag was open and purse nicked. Love Barcelona though and will be back next year.

Bunbaker Sun 27-Apr-14 15:00:06

I think if you look wealthy and vulnerable you are bound to be targeted. I would be inclined to leave a large flashy camera at home. I have a Canon SX220 compact digital camera, but it takes excellent photos. It slips easily into a small handbag.

When we went to Italy everyone warned us about the pickpockets (Florence and Venice) so I took a bumbag that I also safety pinned to my clothes (it was 1990 and they were in popular use then). We were lucky and weren't victims, but we did see plenty of evidence of pickpockets targeting people. You need to look vigilant and alert as well.

SooticaTheWitchesCat Sun 27-Apr-14 16:14:34

My mum had her bag stolen in Barcelona, she has never had anything stolen anywhere else in Europe so do be careful but don't let it spoil your holiday.

It's the only place I've ever had my purse stolen from my bag, and ice travelled widely.

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