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Petty theft in Barcelona - hype or a real problem?

Nashua, New...
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Petty theft in Barcelona - hype or a real problem?

My husband and I are thinking about visiting in early July along with our 14 year old daughter. We're all fairly savvy travelers, and take all of the usual precautions. I am, however, a concerned about one of us being robbed while in Barcelona after everything I've read. Between the TA site and other travel sites (including several hotel reviews on Venere), it seems that a lot of people have been robbed, targeted by pickpocketers, or stopped by phony police officers.

I'm just concerned that by doing things that we normally do on vacation - listen to our iPods, take loads of photos (with nice cameras), and withdraw money from ATMs - we're going to increase our changes of getting robbed.

Basically, I'm trying to convince myself that Barcelona is as safe as any other big city, but I'm having a tough time. I really could use a sanity check as well as advice on any extra precautions that we could take to reduce our chances of getting robbed. Thanks!

Cardiff
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1. Re: Petty theft in Barcelona - hype or a real problem?

Barcelona is the only place in the world I have been robbed! But I was distracted, looking after a child for a friend while he bought a coffee in Starbucks, near La Pedrera. It was right next to a metro entrance, which gave an easy escape route for the theif. Whilst looking for my bag I found two empty handbags in litter bins on one of the nearby main junctions!

But you sound savvy and I'm sure the three of you can watch out for one another. Barcelona is a wonderful city so don't let the misfortune of a few people stop you from visiting.

Dublin Ireland
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2. Re: Petty theft in Barcelona - hype or a real problem?

Hi

I found Barcelona no different than any city. If you demonstrate common sense and don't flash valuable's around and put your camera etc.. out of site when you are not using it you should be fine.

We did see a few dodgy characters when we were there that I assume were on the look out to pick pocket/ bag snatch especially when we were at a market but some of them are obivious and if you keep your eyes peel and always keep a hand on your bag etc.. when in crowds or on public transport you should be fine.

Nashua, New...
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3. Re: Petty theft in Barcelona - hype or a real problem?

Thanks for the sanity check folks. My husband just spoke to a work colleage about her recent trip to Barcelona. She thought it was great and highly recommended it... despite the fact that her purse was stolen.

Sounds like Barcelona would be well worth the trip in spite of the extra dose of vigilance that'll be needed. After all, any place that people rave about even after they've been robbed must be pretty good!

wales united kingdom
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4. Re: Petty theft in Barcelona - hype or a real problem?

We are also going to Barcelona in July but I think I wont be taking a handbag. My sons girlfriend had one day in Barcelona last week with work and got her purse snatched. She is well travelled and lives in London so is used to being carefull. Maybe body belts are the best.

Nottingham, United...
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5. Re: Petty theft in Barcelona - hype or a real problem?

Okay - we weren't robbed or anything but really this is the only city I have felt uncomfortable in safety / security wise, and that was before reading the comments on this forum. We saw some strange things.

Shrewsbury
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6. Re: Petty theft in Barcelona - hype or a real problem?

I won't pretend that there is no crime in Barcelona and from what has been discussed on this forum the police are distressingly disinterested. I've visited the city about 8 or 9 times, often with friends and I've just done a quick calculation (the wonders of Excel).

Between us we have spent at least 173 nights in Barcelona (I underestimated whenI wasn't sure of the length of stay). In that time we've had a somewhat unnerving experience in Raval (see "Manchester Bar" thread) and one friend suffered a half-hearted purse snatch attempt. And that's it, really. We've seen some hookers, a few weasly types selling drugs and some rather pathetic pick-pockets - you can manage that quite quickly in most western cities.

We openly carry cameras/video cameras and we withdraw money from ATMs. We carry rucksacks and keep money in pockets. For myself, I tend to be more alert in Barcelona than I am at home but not much more than when I'm, say in London or Paris. I don't for a minute think that I'm immune against petty crime or too smart for the crooks.

I've had my pocket picked in Amsterdam, a car broken into in Portugal and a bag stolen outside a Turkish airport. I wouldn't let those things put me off returning to any of those places. I accept that I was at least a contributory factor to the Turkish and Dutch incidents - the car break-in was just being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I suppose my advice is that if you really fear this sort of crime, then don't visit Barcelona. If you can't walk the streets without constantly glancing over you shoulder and holding tightly to your wallet, then it's unlikely to be a pleasant experience.

Barcelona, Spain
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7. Re: Petty theft in Barcelona - hype or a real problem?

Unlike Pandachris I can't produce such promising statistics re visitors of ours and theft/pickpocketing; in fact 4 thefts and 2 foiled attempts, 4 on metro, As I've said here before we breathe a sigh of relief when visitors leave and nothing's happened. And we are always emphasising leave most of your cards and cash at home.

Biggest problem was with a friend who had travellers chques as well as lots of cash on him and it also turned out his wife's credit card had the same number as his so once that was blocked ........ He was robbed after having something thrown on his clothes and a well-dressed gentleman offering to help him clean it off. In Carrer Tuset so nowhere near the Ramblas.

I had my wallet stolen in a restaurant in a shopping-centre. I was talking English and "catching up" with a friend and less vigilant than I normally am . That was also outside tourist circit in L'Illa shopping centre. I suspected collusion of staff (and my friend has said this recently too) and others have mentioned this re other incidents. I was lucky as I only had about 40€ in it and two cards (since then I've stuck to one debit.card only) Biggest nuisance for me was renewing residence permit. Obviously visitors carry much more on them normally and have a lot more hassle.

Bags bandolier style, preferably no back-packs and keep your wits about you at all times. But still come!

Switzerland
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8. Re: Petty theft in Barcelona - hype or a real problem?

I was in Barca with my bf for 4 days just recently and walked along La Rambla during the day and at 2am. We just get a close watch on my handbag and made sure no one came 'too close'. We didnt have any problems and I did not feel unsafe at all. I probably would feel different though if I just went with girlfriends and not as comfortable as with my bf.

Aberdeenshire,Scotla...
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9. Re: Petty theft in Barcelona - hype or a real problem?

I saw people being robbed in Parc Guell. One thief secretly squirted some goo on a man's shoulder, then pointed out the "bird poo" to him and helped him clean it up (while pinching his wallet). He then ran off to a car waiting with engine running round the corner.

Friends on a trip recently who hired a car had mobile phones stolen but were lucky not to lose a lot more. Apparently thieves slash a tyre on an obviously hired car while it is stopped at traffic lights in Barcelona. They probably follow the car from the hire company They then follow the car on motorbikes out of town and flag it down to point out the puncture. When the driver opens the boot to get the jack, the theives go off with any boot contents. The police told my friends that this was a common occurrence but didn't seem too bothered about doing anything about it.

Be sure to carry your cash and phone in a neck purse if going to any tourist sites. If you get a puncture it may not have been an accident so keep your eyes open and the car locked.

Nashua, New...
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10. Re: Petty theft in Barcelona - hype or a real problem?

Thanks for everyone's honest input. We're pretty cautious while on vacation anyway, and are mindful of our possessions and surroundings. We always leave extra cash and a credit card in the hotel safe, so the only time we'd have an awful lot to lose would be on the way to and from the hotel. We wouldn't be renting a car, but would rely on the metro and buses. I'd probably skip taking the metro upon arrival and spring for a taxi instead.

We'll have to just weigh everything out and decide whether we'd be too paranoid to have a good time. While we can't avoid every situation where people have been robbed, we might be able to avoid enough of them with a little extra care to still have a great trip.