Quite understandably, pickpockets are one of tourists’ major concerns. Barcelona has the unfortunate fame of being Europe’s pickpocketing capital, and estimations suggest that there are more than 6,000 thefts around the city every day.
However, Barcelona is safe. Violent crime is extremely rare and recent rankings have placed Barcelona as one of the safest cities in the world.
So, you shouldn’t be worried about your own personal safety. However, no one wants to get back home and realise that their phone is gone, so you need to take some caution.
This is the first and fundamental rule. It’s not like you have to be extremely suspicious of everyone around you or you need to act like a cop, but force yourself to keep some situational awareness of your surroundings. If you’re in a group, try not to be distracted and keep a look around the other members, and ask them to keep a look around you as well. If you’re alone, keep your hands in your pockets. Relax, take a seat, but don’t fall asleep.
Try not to act like a tourist
Here is the truth: most locals use public transport every single day , during rush hours, and are never pickpocketed. I myself am a daily user of public transport and have never been robbed.
This is not a coincidence. Pickpockets target tourists specifically, because they tend to be having fun, are usually distracted and carry some money in their wallets.
Whenever you use public transport, try to see and mimic how locals act.
Keep your stuff under control
Don’t put your phone inside your back pocket. Keep your objects next to your hands, and grab your bags at all times. Do not leave handbags on the floor or unattended, even if they’re next to you. When it’s busy, it’s hard to keep visual contact with your belongings, even if you left them closeby.
What to do if you’re robbed
For your own safety, don’t try to look for or run after the person you’re suspicious of. Pickpockets may operate in groups. The first thing you should do is report it to the police and make an official statement. It is unlikely that you’re belongings are retrieved, but if you have any travel insurance, a police report will be a requirement for you to make a claim.
You can attend any police station, namely:
- Mossos d’Esquadra, the Catalan police.
- Guàrdia Urbana, Barcelona local police.
- Policia Nacional, Spanish Nacional Police
- Guardia Civil, Spanish Gendarmerie