Pickpocketing in Spain deterred by tourist ‘show’ tactics – how to stay safe abroad | Travel News | Travel


A recent study by Money.co.uk named the Spanish capital Barcelona as one of the “worst places for pickpockets in the world”, with tourist hotspot Las Ramblas becoming the top location for targeted theft. The city’s famous Sagrada Familia was also named in the search. Although pickpockets can be common in these areas, it is essential to be aware of your surroundings and some tactics to deter them.

Jo, who works as the Digital PR Manager of digital embryocame face to face with a pickpocket while on Barcelona’s busy metro system and was able to act quickly to resolve the situation safely.

Although she planned the trip meticulously to ensure that she and her cousin were staying in a safe area, the congested transportation system proved a prime location for the flight.

Speaking to Express.co.uk, she said: “One day we decided to go out and see the famous cathedral in the city.

“I was warned on my way out that Barcelona are known for their pickpockets as a few male friends have had their wallets stolen.

“So I made sure my backpack was always in front of me whenever I was in a large crowd or traveling on public transport.”

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“During the train journey to the cathedral, my cousin was standing on the post in the middle of the carriage, and I was towards the carriage door.”

Jo’s cousin carried a smaller leather bag, containing her phone, purse, and travel ID, although unlike Jo she carried it on her back.

Barely found stops from their destination, Jo noticed a person boarding and standing next to her cousin.

She said: “They looked like a tourist at first sight because they had a backpack and didn’t look suspicious.

“But the next thing I knew they had their jacket on their arm and they were using their other hand to open my cousin my bag.

“I was standing behind them, about a yard from my cousin. I knew I could stop them because the pickpocket didn’t assume we were together.”

While dealing with a pickpocket is something you should be careful of, Jo’s resolve was to “shock” the thief into reconsidering his actions.

She explained: “He played with the wrong woman.

“I yelled at them to make people in the car aware that someone was trying to steal things.”

This caused the thief to instantly drop the bag. She added: “It shocked the pickpocket, and they ran off the train at the next stop.”

While approaching a thief isn’t always safe, calling attention to a pickpocket’s attempt by shouting can make them think twice.

She said: “I went with my instincts in this situation and helped my cousin as I was able to approach the incident safely.

“However, I would be aware of this approach because you never know if these people are carrying weapons.

“Please be careful and be safe. Sometimes you have to be careful where you are and the people around you because you don’t know if they would cause you harm.

“I also reported the incident to the police, so they registered it for suspicious activity.”

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Although the experience was frightening, it taught Jo and her cousin an essential lesson about protecting their property.

She explained: “Considering what happened to my cousin, I think it shocked her because she didn’t think it would happen to her.

“I told her, and now she’s more careful when traveling abroad.

“She would have lost her money, her phone and her ID card, which would have caused huge complications for us to get home.

“I think if you’re traveling abroad to Barcelona or anywhere there are big crowds and possible pickpockets, keep an eye on your stuff and don’t always have things in your hands.”

Travel insurance is also essential. Be sure to choose a policy that provides sufficient coverage for your belongings.

There is normally a limit to the maximum amount payable in total and also other limits for unique items and valuables, so be sure to check the fine print before buying.


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