Areas to Be Extra Careful When in Barcelona ~
Ever since you have been buying milk at school your parents continually remind you to watch your pockets and watch your money. You may be older, you are hoping you are wiser, but the same still holds true, even more so here in Barcelona. Violent crime in Barcelona is relatively low, so cheers for that. Unfortunately Barcelona is the European pickpocket capital. During the height of the tourist season (ie. during the summer months) there are approximately 315 reported thefts in Barcelona each day. Anyone who has been mugged or pick pocketed knows the feeling of being left with no money, feeling vulnerable and violated.
Theft in Barcelona is highly lucrative, with small fines and a quick release. The police try to serve and protect the public, but they can only do so much. While certain areas of the city are regarded as high theft locales, the truth is that it can happen on any street, at any time, by anyone. Do not be fooled thinking that thieves have s specific type; the gypsy looking woman, the poorly dressed man on the metro, the group of kids on La Rambla. These criminals take every shape and form, and they can often seem friendly and warm. Here is a list of the top 5 pickpocket locales in Barcelona.
1. The Metro -
A ride on Barcelona’s Metro can provide quick and effortless access to the city at large. It can also provide quick and effortless access to an unsuspecting persons’ effects. Crowded and tight locations are prime hunting grounds for Barcelona pickpockets as they are able to get close, make body contact without anyone thinking twice about it, and an easy escape. Even in seemingly safe surroundings always look around and identify your location as well as the people who are around you. Wear you back pack forward or keep it in your hands. Do not leave it strapped to your back facing away from you as it is effortless for criminals to reach in and grab any desired possession. Keep purses and camera holders tight diagonal around your chest and arms, and always be wary of people bumping or touching you, no matter how close of proximity you are. While people in Barcelona tend to be friendly, people normally do not like touching strangers unless they truly have to. Watch out for people a little too close for comfort.
2. Las Ramblas -
Barcelona’s busiest street and most famous tourist attraction. During the day watch out for pickpockets on the street. As Las Ramblas is incredibly crowded, especially during the summer and weekends it is easy to get pushed and bumped by the passerby’s. While you may feel safe being in the busiest part of the city during the day with so many people around you, it is actually an incredibly easy situation for criminals to get close. The close proximity and constant bumping makes it easier for Barcelona pickpockets to get close and grab hidden items in pockets and purses. You may be busy watching the living statues or looking at flowers along the streets. During this time you are not paying attention to your belongings and are not paying attention to the people bumping into you. Next you notice that your wallet or belongings are gone. Even during the day it is important to pay attention to your surroundings and who is around you. Keep purses closed, place the straps diagonal instead of simply resting on the shoulder. If you are taking pictures keep the camera strapped around your neck or keep it in your bag when not using it.
In the evening Las Ramblas can seem like an entirely different place. It is dark, empty, and seedy. During the evenings the street tends to be the habitation of prostitutes looking for some evening work or a person to steal a few Euros from. Be careful as they can be incredibly pushy and forward. Continue to walk without stopping or making eye contact. They are persistent and will try to make body contact. During this time they will try to relieve you of your belongings. Don’t give them this opportunity. The easiest thing to do here is to walk quickly and avoid any conversation or contact.
3. Beaches -
The beach is a pickpockets paradise as people are always leaving valuables out and often unattended. It is as easy as picking an item up off of a towel. Similar to every other situation, keep valuables like cards, passports, or expensive items at home, or if you have to take them with you keep them properly stowed away and never leave them out. Never leave your blanket or property even for a quick swim. Make sure someone is always watching your belongings.
4. Ciutat Vella -
This is the area of the city right off Las Ramblas beaten path. Ciutat Vella consists of narrow isolated streets that are often dark and empty. During the day it can be fun to walk through these historic pathways, however use extreme caution and judgement when alone at night, especially after drinking. There are many fun Irish pubs and tourist bars in the area, so make sure you never leave alone as this is the perfect scenario for a thief to take advantage.
5. Any bar after a few drinks -
I have first hand experience with this scenario. Barcelona night life is fantastic. Plenty of bars to find your favorite drinks, plenty of good looking people to talk with, plenty of songs to dance to, and plenty of parties to last the whole night through. Similar to Las Ramblas and the Metro, bars and clubs are great grounds for pickpockets as people once again are in incredibly cramped, crowded rooms badly lit with loud noise and plenty of distractions. I hate to sound paranoid and discourage anyone from having fun, but similar to other setting be wary of people touching you. Yes people tend to be more flirty and touchy with drinks and dancing but make sure to be cautious of people touching you out of the blue. If they are grabbing you without even a conversation or dance then be a bit cautious. This is true of any city or scenario, but be careful of taking strangers home. I have friends who had taken people home from the clubs only to wake up missing all of their belongings. I know this may sound cliche, but use common sense; never leave a bar or club alone or with strangers, never take passports, credit cards, cameras, or other valuable items, and always be aware of where you are and who is around you.
Pickpockets and thieves make there living by being fast and unsuspecting. They go after the easiest prey they can. If you stay aware, alert, keep valuables hidden and guarded they will be that much less likely to target you. Even if you are targeted by a thief do your best to avoid body contact with strangers, and avoid conversations with people on the street who appear too close for comfort. If you use these tips while traveling through these famous Barcelona locations then you will be less likely to be targeted by Barcelona pickpockets, and much more likely to enjoy your Barcelona experience,creating nothing but positive memories.
If you have any tips about how to stay safe in Barcelona we would love to hear from you.
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