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Crime -- again!

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barcelona
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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
Usa, Japan
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31. Re: Crime -- again!

Reading this and the reactions makes me think that some of you should perhaps stay at home and not go out.

These sorts of crimes can happen anywhere. If you read the BBC link below you will see that similar "tricks" happen everywhere. But have you noticed most comments come from those "tricked" in the UK? You would have thought it was safe there-NO?

…bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/8740984.stm

BCN is a great place but maybe they do not want us?

guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jun/13/barcelona-r…

Mtwapa, Kenya
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for Barcelona, Newcastle upon Tyne, Bamburi, Mtwapa
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32. Re: Crime -- again!

That was the news story referred to in post 28, (Alan Bennett, National treasue) and the Guardian link has already been posted twice on the forum, Lynda has already posted it on the first page of this thread (copied from my posting on the Tourist vs Resident thread)

Edinburgh, United...
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33. Re: Crime -- again!

Hi

Not bashing the city here before I start.

First visit to BCN last week during 9 night stay in Santa Susanna and I had read all about the petty crime so was aware of it prior to visiting.

We were blocked at the tube doors and I kicked away a hand reaching for my pocket, had the weeping tourist come up to us in a square and had 2 young guys who were standing at a doorway make a move behind us in the gothic area (when i turned they made out they were heading for que at patisserie but moved away once they reached the front of que).

By the time we had something to eat at the marina and were walking back up la ramblas to get the train home I was so on edge that I felt I didnt see as much of the city as I wanted without wondering and watching who was around us.

We didnt make it back into the city and would like to go back to see the city properly but if after receiving the above in 1 day you can see why people have bad things to say about it.

London
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34. Re: Crime -- again!

I agree , we have to keep things in proportion and not to come to Barcelona because you´re so concerned about crime does hint at an overly nervous disposition. However, the local politicians do not take it seriously enough because after so many years they should have been able to make some kind of effective pact to have the relevant laws amended. Blaming it on Madrid sounds like a very familiar excuse when there is no proper political willpower to get a job done properly (Spanish politicians are very good at making pacts..).

Barcelona, Spain
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35. Re: Crime -- again!

lolsleo, I'm not "blaming it on Madrid", is just a fact the Spanish law (so, law that applies to all of Spain) does not consider a "crime" the stealing on amounts of less than 400 € (I think, I may be wrong with the figure, not the idea). So, anyone who's catch with your hand in your pocket but it can't be proved he/she has stolen more that this amount will NOT go to jail. Barcelona's city council (and other cities) are trying to get the law amended so repeated offenders can be put in jail. Nowadays, some well known guys are being reported, chased, taken to the comisaria, say hello to the police and get released after a few hours. This is FRUSTRATING for the police, do not expect them being very enthusiastic chasing these guys again. They laugh in the face of the police.

As some here do know, I was living in Madrid for a while. The same concerns were heard there. The citizens of Madrid also blame "it on Madrid" (the central government, not the city council) and this is not really "like a very familiar excuse" in the middle of the Meseta.

I do agree there is no no proper political willpower to get a job done properly. But some of us here are trying to clarify **who** are these politicians. Many here are blaming the city council, when IMHO they are doing a VERY good job, given its limitations. And no, I'm not really a fan of Hereu and his team, I do not like what they are doing in the city in other many aspects. But "al Cesar lo que es del Cesar".

barcelona
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36. Re: Crime -- again!

Hi, re: "does not consider a "crime" the stealing on amounts of less than 400 €"

I'm sure I read in La Vanguardia recently that the amount stolen through pickpocketting and shoplifting is immaterial (which is why in a lot of supermarkets you'll see cans of berberechos (cockles) in security cases) the maximum fine is 400 euros.

Regards.

barcelona
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37. Re: Crime -- again!

Hi, just for information the CCTV cameras on the Ramblas have nothing to do with crime - they were installed to monitor traffic - the Ramblas is now supposed to be only open to taxis, buses, delivery vehicles and residents being picked up or dropped off. Everybody else, if they their number plate is spotted by CCTV, gets notified of a fine in the post.

Regards.

Highland Mills, New...
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38. Re: Crime -- again!

In your opinion should I leave my Digital SLR Camera home?

USA
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39. Re: Crime -- again!

What a shame that people would consider cancelling a trip (or not planning one) to this wonderful city because they fear petty crime. Yes, it is clearly a problem. And yet it still hits small percentage of people. And yes, it is a problem in any busy, touristy city.

We were in Barcelona for 9 glorious days last month and actually saw very little of this. We saw one definite failed incident on the metro. We saw other potential incidents. I think it's important to recognize that once you are looking for petty crime, you may misinterpret events as attempted petty crime. I had a woman approach me wanting to sell me a flower. Was this the beginning of an attempted scam, or a woman trying to sell me a flower? We can't know. I looked her in the eye and gave her a firm but polite no, and that was that.

What we did see, every day, were the police, on foot, walking around. We also saw security on metro platforms and on the trains.

I'm working now on saving for my second trip, hopefully next spring. When I return I will continue to be cautious, without paranoia ruining the trip for me.

Barcelona, Spain
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40. Re: Crime -- again!

haarlson, not sure about the "maximum fine", but I was speaking of a different issue, I checked it and I was right:

- stealing for a value less than 400€ is a "falta" (no idea how to call this in English, offense?) so you only face a fine or (in very rare cases) domiciliary arrest. The maffias actually account the fines as foreseen looses in the business, kind of a "tax" that comes with the business.... Of course their total benefits are much higher.

- stealing for a value over than 400€ is a "delito" (crime?) so you can be facing jail penalties.

- the new proposal allows 4 repeted "faltas" to account as a "delito".

Problem: there is not a registry of all repeated offenders (they say it will be in place in one year... I do not really believe this). plus I think the "faltas" committed before the change in the law most likely can't be considered. So, in fact they have to wait for the criminals to be detained (and judged) 4 times before this change has actually some effect. Provided a criminal is idiot enough to keep operating in the same area after being judged 3 times!

For those who can read Spanish:

elpais.com/articulo/…Tes