We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Crime -- again!

Which Barcelona hotels are on sale?
dd/mm/yyyy dd/mm/yyyy
See hotels
barcelona
Level Contributor
254 posts
Save Topic
Crime -- again!

Hi, realise I'm not going to win many new friends, and perhaps ruffle some old laggards and DEs on here - BUT - I have to report, again about street crime.

Little bit of background - lived here 7 years. Came to live here (from the UK) because I loved the place - and still do.

When I first lived here I used to say exactly as others here have said 'Have your wits about you .. Barcelona? No worse than anywhere else etc etc etc blah blah.' BUT, petty crime here IS getting more frequent, and more serious than, say, 3 years ago.

I live in the Eixample - not a hotbed of bag-snatchers and pickpockets - However, I have to report that three weeks ago, our very local bar, just 50 meters away, was broken into and turned over. The following day the local pharmacy (100 meters away) was robbed by three lads armed with a pisto; the very same day our neighbours' apartment, on the 7th floor, was burgled, and in between the number 55 bus, which stops outside our apartment, was held up by a crazy with a knife. And, a local woman got robbed (400 euros) at the ATM across the street.

'Oh, yeah, happens everywhere, just be careful.' Sorry, doesn't wash.

All this happened within a 400 meter radius within four days.

And, today, this very afternoon, (NOT in the Eixample though) two friends visiting from the U.S. (mother and daughter) were robbed on Calle Princesa.

Now, the mother, from Mass. (originally from Maine) is a seasoned international traveller, (travels to Spain twice a year on business and many other countries) very savvy and street smart. The robbers didn't get her bag with money, cards etc (nor her very expensive Nikon camera).

It was a variation on an old dodge. Unseen, someone threw hot coffee at her then a guy stepped forward, seemingly concerned, offering help. 'Up there,up there' he said, pointing to a balcony, offering serviettes to soak up the mess. While distracted, in a split second, his accomplice grabbed the leather (laptop) bag she had just bought (200 euros) as a gift, containing only her scarf and a few other small, gifty items. It was her final few hours in Barcelona. Instead of watching the U.S.A. v England World Cup soccer match (which she was very much looking forward to) she had to waste hours in the comisaria (police station) filing a report. Upside was (and her 17 year old daughter agreed) the police officer she dealt with was a 'real cutey, gorgeous, patient, understanding and just so good looking'. 'I think,' she said.'The police in New York feast on too many doughnuts.'

To her credit she was very sanguine about it, her daughter not so much - the experience has really shaken her trust in other humans - but, she says, 'It was a lesson learned.'

'What lesson is that?' I asked.

'Never trust cute looking guys offering help.'

So, how ever street smart you think you are, please, be extra vigilant while enjoying the sights here. Especially in El Born, Barrio Gotico, Las Ramblas, Plaza de Catalunya, El Raval - and on the airport train, Placa de Espanya metro station, and Line 4 (yellow line) between Barceloneta and Verdaguer.

Barcelona really is a beautiful, beautiful city, with much to offer the curious, the intrepid, the romantic ...

'What a souvenir,' our very local bar owner, still sorting the mess from his break-in, said when I reported the tale of our friends' experience. 'Will they ever come back?'

Edited: 17 July 2010, 17:30
Edmonton, Canada
Level Contributor
52 posts
2 reviews
Save Reply
21. Re: Crime -- again!

Thank you so much for reporting about crimes in Barcelona.

I very much appreciate it as I will be in Barcelona with my 17 year old daughter from July 15 to July 20. I am in my mid-40's and I am concerned about safety. We live in Edmonton. Alberta, Canada.

I believe this forum is certainly the place to discuss these issues as safety is an important aspect most of us tourists care about when going places we are not familiar with.

Thanks again for sharing your experience with the rest of us.

Highland Mills, New...
Level Contributor
269 posts
9 reviews
Save Reply
22. Re: Crime -- again!

I wonder how much the rise in crime correspond to both the really high unemployment rate (the official rate in Spain is 20%) and the presence of the Camorra in Barcelona?

The impact those scum have made in the Naples area is sickening.

chi
Level Contributor
60 posts
17 reviews
Save Reply
23. Re: Crime -- again!

Hello, Just returned from a trip to Barcelona. Had a good time and it's a beautiful city but the pickpocketing issues are out of control. Had three attempts in the same day. One getting on the Metro a girl tried to get into zipped pocket of pants of a friend while the doors were closing. I grabbed her and kept her on the Metro and all she kept saying was I'm poor and proceeded to get off at the next stop. Another time, a man in a soccer (football) jersey kept hanging around us on/off metro, and on the escalator I saw him reaching for my friends bag (a messenger bag worn across the front), so I asked him what he was doing, his response was umm nothing. Lastly, about 11 that night walking to our hotel, right before we reached our hotel's door, two young kids were running right at us from behind, hearing their footsteps, I turned around quickly and they stopped and were dismayed since we were literally at our hotel doors. I had a good time, but the constant vigilance/worry over pickpockets was annoying. It was the first question that every tour guide asked, who was pickpocked yet? I found it insulting that they treated it like a joke. I'm supporting your economy and you think it's funny when tourists get robbed. Come on. I wore a money belt and only had about $50 euro in my messenger bag but my camera was in there and that would have annoyed me more than losing the money. We didn't see any police (besides in cars) out and about. Funny, in Sitges there were police everywhere but not in Barcelona. I don't mind being alert but having to be aware of it every second of every day is exhausting. I thought it was 10x worse than Rome. Would I visit Barcelona again, sure once they get the petty crime under control, but not before.

London
Level Contributor
70 posts
13 reviews
Save Reply
24. Re: Crime -- again!

The petty crime problem in Barcelona certainly is out of control and anyone who says otherwise is turning a blind eye on their walks around the city. I´m fed up with visitors/friends being robbed on their trips over here.

It´s unexplicable that the law isn´t changed to suitably punish the muggers and pickpockets. Brand Barcelona is seriously damaged by crime and the politicians want to sweep it under the carpet. I know so many people who have been mugged here, Catalans and foriegners alike.

Incidently, they have recently installed CCTV on the Ramblas.

Barcelona, Spain
Level Contributor
2,640 posts
Save Reply
25. Re: Crime -- again!

<< It´s unexplicable that the law isn´t changed to suitably punish the muggers and pickpockets >>

how many times have to been said this depend on a spanish law, not on the city council?

tell the governement in madrid about petty crime in a certain city "out of control" and its "brand" being damaged when right now when they have the economy and the unemployment really "out of control"...

the city council is making efforts to get the repeating offenders in jail but even this is not an easy task

Edited: 16 June 2010, 20:44
Edmonton, Canada
Level Contributor
52 posts
2 reviews
Save Reply
26. Re: Crime -- again!

Thank you so much for sharing your experience.

If it weren't for the fact that I had already bought the High Speed train Madrid-Barcelona and the plane ticket Barcelona-Granada I would have skipped Barcleona. I agree with you that if tourists are supporting the local economy then the least thing the local government can do is to make sure police have a presence and deal with it like in Benidorm. a Trip Advisor member reported that in Benidorm it used to be bad but he has gone back this year and there was a major improvement and police were everywhere.

I will be in Barcelona July 15-20 with my 17 year old daughter ( I'm in my mid-40's) and I am very concerned . I will take all my precautions starting with getting a hotel room that has a safe as I don't trust hotel (s) staff as they have a way to unlok suitcases

I hate to be on the look out all the time instead of enjoying my vacation in a more relaxed way.

Thanks again for posting.

Barcelona, Spain
Destination Expert
for Barcelona
Level Contributor
9,242 posts
13 reviews
Save Reply
27. Re: Crime -- again!

Please, do not be over-concerned. Concerned, yes, but not paranoid and not enjoying your holidays!

it makes no sense at all saying "i would have skipped Barcelona" but happily going to Madrid. Do you really think you can "relax" in Madrid without keep an eye on your belongings? Hopefully not, but you can experience first hand that the pickpockets in Madrid are as skilled as the ones in Barcelona!

There was a thread some months ago, a couple complaining they were so concerned in Barcelona (where nothing happened to them), sadly then they went to Madrid and they were 'done' just upon arrival...

If you are so concerned about pickpockets that this will ruin your holidays, better do not travel to any touristy spot in Europe.

My friend who's a tourist guide has a list of "black spots" in Europe where most of his customers have been "done". incidentally, Barcelona is not in the top of his list.

If you assume there is a risk and behave accordingly you will have a great vacation (as, believe or not MILLIONS of tourists have in Barcelona every year!)

BTW, IMHO comparing Barcelona with Benidorm is not fair because are totally different places. Benidorm is big but Barcelona is much bigger and much more complex, it's a totally different scenario.

I'm not denying there is a problem (and I have been victim as well), I'm just saying that it's possible to enjoy your vacation if you take care. I had to do it recently: my wallet was stolen in the U-Bahn in Vienna!

Edited: 17 June 2010, 11:17
Mtwapa, Kenya
Destination Expert
for Barcelona, Newcastle upon Tyne, Bamburi, Mtwapa
Level Contributor
15,388 posts
55 reviews
Save Reply
28. Re: Crime -- again!

Hi,

If petty crime is your criterion, avoid London, Paris, Rome, Naples, Prague, Budapest, etc, etc. On the radio the other day there was a feature on 'distraction crime' in London following a legendary wit, writer and 'national treasue' being relieved of a large amount of cash in the street by the 'ice cream scam' which has apparently become prevalent recently. It and the 'mayonaise scam' are variants on the 'bird poo scam' popular in Barcelona.

I suspect that most of the problems in Benidorm were actually caused by the tourists, it became a very down-market package holiday resort very popular with British tourists (and on the run criminals) intent on cheap holidays, eating fish and chips and drinking lager and British beer all day. Its image got so bad (brand Benidorm?) that it became known as Blackpool with sun, and was being avoided by more upmarket tourists who spend more money, (there is even a comedy program in the UK called Benidorm, about a bunch of social misfits holidaying in an all inclusive hotel). The council launched a big campaign to try and retrieve its reputation, and to reposition it more upmarket. The police were probably there to prevent fights between drunken Brits rather than pickpockets, but then again a paralytic Brit is an easy target for a pickpocket.

At the moment Brand Barcelona cannot be being damaged too much by crime, as over 7 million tourists (including and incredible 2 million cruise passengers) visit every year and it rises year on year.

There is without doubt a problem, but a sense of proportion is needed.

Barcelona, Spain
Destination Expert
for Barcelona, Berlin
Level Contributor
19,531 posts
7 reviews
Save Reply
29. Re: Crime -- again!

Belsaita, just out of interest what are the top three, say, on your friend's list? Is Barcelona one of the three?

Barcelona, Spain
Destination Expert
for Barcelona
Level Contributor
9,242 posts
13 reviews
Save Reply
30. Re: Crime -- again!

Not sure about his "top three"... but no, Barcelona was NOT on his top three. He said that because it's "reputation" probably people is more careful in Barcelona.

We were in Lisboa and it's definitely on his "top three", he said it was the first time he was in Lisboa without having to accompany someone to the police office!! But it was the first time he was there with friends and not with customers and maybe we were more used to travel than his groups.

In my opinion making a "ranking" makes little sense. I got not nice answers here when I once said you only need *one* pickpocket to ruin your day, but I still think the same. The issue is too complex, and it's not only a problem with absolute numbers but with proportion. Places with a HUGE number of incidents may be not "that bad" when you divide them between millions of visitors. But still the problem is there.

So, I can only shack my head on disbelief when I read that some may be so naïve when considering to cancel a trip to Barcelona to stick to "safe" places as Madrid (or Paris, or Lisboa, or London... or... yes... Vienna)