If you can’t tell from the title of my post, my phone was pick-pocketed within one week of arriving in Spain. :(
I was walking home from the club with a friend on a Saturday morning, when I realized that the person that had just bumped into me a few minutes ago had actually stolen my phone. Although I thought I had been taking all necessary safety precautions, I was yet another tourist that fell victim to theft in Barcelona. Considering the situation, I would like to talk about a few tactics and prevention techniques to help you avoid ending up in a similar situation.
Deemed by some as the pick-pocketing capital of the world, Barcelona suffers from astronomically high rates of theft. Some point fingers at Spain’s high unemployment rate while others blame the massive overflow of tourists that visit the city every year. Regardless of the cause, no one wants to have their wallet or phone stolen while living in Barca. First things first, there are certain ques to watch out for while moving around the city. Pickpockets often work in groups and use acts of kindness to take advantage of oblivious tourists. Make sure to keep a constant eye on your possessions while traveling though areas with high tourist traffic. If you feel as if someone is looking a bit suspicious, check your pockets once twice and keep your head on a swivel. Once a potential crook realizes your on to them, they most likely will leave you alone and wait for a different victim. In the rare case that you catch a burglar in the act, don’t be afraid to get physical and tell them off. Calling the robber out will draw attention to the situation and we all know that no one likes a pickpocket.
The next important point is how to identify popular scams and tactics that thieves use to trick their prey. While it is amazing way to move around the city in a fast and affordable manner, the subway is a hotbed for pick-pocketing. Whether you are traveling alone or in a group, take note when traveling on the subway. If a group of individuals suddenly surrounds you or cuts you off while trying to move from one train to the next, there may be intention of foul play. A popular way to avoid this trickery is to wear your backpack on the front of your body. Although it may look strange, it’s better than having your laptop stolen. Another popular scam includes the street side flower sales. Although the salespeople may seem extremely friendly, they are just looking for an excuse to get close to you. Once you pull your wallet out, you must be cautious that you keep track of it while exchanging your money for the goods. To prevent your wallet and phone from growing legs, it may be a wise investment to purchase a money belt that you can wear underneath your shirt. While it may be uncomfortable and clumsy to use, it could save you a headache in the long run.
Here is a picture of me displaying the proper “frontpack” form on the subway to protect the valuables in your backpack… sexy!
My intention in writing this post is not to scare you or spread paranoia, but rather a help better prepare you for your own travels and hopefully protect you from suffering a similar fate as I did.