We, here at SuiteLife, are proud of our sweet home Barcelona. We love to share the beauty and enjoyment of the city with as many people as we can. We are always excited to hear from new Barcelona transplants and tourists alike. As we have mentioned in previous blogs, like 5 True Stories to Help You Avoid Pickpockets, this city is the pickpocket capital of Europe, so it is important to watch out for Barcelona pickpockets scams and Barcelona street scams, while you are reveling in the exquisiteness around you. Our last blog, Barcelona Crime part 1 discussed the top 5 locations to watch out for pickpockets, now we are going to give you more info about Barcelona street scams and what to watch out for.
Here are the top 5 Barcelona street scams.
Over 5 million people visit Barcelona each year. This can create a lot of congestion for streets and walkways in well known spots like Sagrada Familia, Las Ramblas, Passeig de Gracia, Plaza Catalonia, and the beach as well. It is fairly easy to spot tourists in the city, and Barcelona pickpockets know this. They will often times dress as tourists, carry a map, have the camera, the whole nine yards. In this disguise, the thief will enter into a crowd of tourists pretending to take pictures and enjoying the scenes as well. After infiltrating the group, they will enter as many pockets as they can, pilfering anything they can get their hands on. Just because you are in a group, do not think you are safe. Barcelona Pickpockets go after groups because there is usually more confusion and less attention in crowds. Always watch your belongings, no matter where you are or who you are with.
Another trick involves a thief pretending to be a tourist who has just been robbed themselves. They will ask for help and ask for money. Do not give any money!
While enjoying your day in Barcelona, you may be approached by another tourist asking for directions. This person will throw their map in your face asking for help in locating a famous location. During the time you try to help them, you will be swindled by the “tourist’s” partner. The “tourist” is nothing but a distraction to allow their partner to steal your belongings without your knowledge. This is another trick that tries to use people’s kindness against them. Remember that you are a tourist or a visitor, you shouldn’t know where these things are either. Politely excuse yourself from the situation and move on.
These are only a few examples of the tourist trap. Just remember you should be the one asking for directions, and if people are asking you for help and are being relatively pushy about it, they are most often trying to rob you.
Okay, no one likes to get bird poo on their jackets or their shirts. Besides being gross, it leaves stains. To go even further, no one is ever happy when they get a ketchup, coffee, or wine stain either. The point is that we will always stop what we are doing to try to clean the mess. Here lies another Barcelona street scam. A thief will secretly squirt you with a substance and stop you to point out you have bird mess on you, or someone will “accidentally” spill ketchup or wine on you. Next they will offer to clean the mess. They will help you take your jacket off to better reach the stain. In this moment, they will either slip their hand in the pocket while they help you take the jacket off, or simply run off with it. Tip for this trap, never let people help you with something you can do yourself. There is no reason to take your jacket off, and there is no reason to let someone help you do this. Politely refuse the “assistance” and continue moving until you can deal with the “mess” in a comfortable setting such as a bathroom sink.
I’m sure you have seen these guys plenty of times already. The men and women that enter the restaurants and bars trying to sell flowers to couples and drunks. They are actually Barcelona pickpockets: they will place a flower on the table and try to offer the flower to you only then to demand money for this unsolicited gift. When you reach for your money they will try to “help” you get the appropriate amount from your wallet. If the flower seller is not able to reach for any wanted money themselves, they will try to sell this single flower at an outrageous price such as 10 Euros. Do not buy individual flowers or other items from people on the street. If you were not thinking about purchasing something, you probably don’t want it to begin with. Keep your money in your purse or pocket where it belongs.
The over friendly drunk may in fact be Barcelona pickpockets. This trick has plenty of variations but they all have the same theory, if the thief can get close enough and actually touch you then they can steal from you as well. Some famous methods to this trick include the over friendly dancer in the club, the football foot dance, or the lost tourist. All of these tactics involve thieves inside of bars and clubs or outside along the street. When tired drunk patrons begin their exodus from the clubs, they find jovial youth wanting to chat and wanting to play. Often this group of youth will try to play games with the drunk, want to hug, dance the football dance, or put their arms around your shoulder and say they will help you home. This should be something we had learned as children, do not let strangers on the street touch you. They will try to trip you with the soccer dance, or they will try to make you jump. In any of these situations, you give them access to your body and in doing so, it is incredibly easy for them to grab what they please.
This trick is designed for high traffic locations. Basically as you try to move through a crowded street or metro car, it is common to be bumped or pushed by people. Barcelona pickpockets use this; they will work in pairs, while you are bumped by one person another from a different position will use the distraction to enter your purse or pockets.
Children and older women use this strategy in groups in an effort to disorient you and make you feel flustered. While you are bumped by one person, another bolts with your belongings. Do your best to avoid crowded places, and if you are in the middle of the metro or a crowd on Las Ramblas, always keep your hand over your purse or your pockets. It is common to be bumped into when in a crowded area, however the common person does their best to avoid any contact to begin with. Be wary of anyone who is willing to come into contact with you.
I hope you are not scared. I hope you do not think that Barcelona is dangerous. Being aware of your surroundings and of the people around you will save you a lot of stress. It may seem like paranoia, but it is just smart to be wary of strangers wanting to touch you, especially when you are not in your familiar settings. Do what you can to avoid being a target by Barcelona pickpockets. Keep all valuables hidden, or better yet keep them at home. Do not take large amounts of money with you, keep your purse or camera bag closed and secured around your body, do not stop to talk with strangers in highly congested traffic areas, and most important do not let strangers touch you. Use some common sense and be a bit cautious, you can help keep yourself safe and keep your trip positive and memorable.
Take care and be safe
Check out other SuitLife blogs about staying safe in Barcelona