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Pickpockets

Brooklyn, New York
Level Contributor
32 posts
15 reviews
48 helpful votes
Pickpockets

My husband and I are New Yorkers and we think of ourselves as street smart. When we arrived in Madrid in June we took the metro to our hotel near the Atocha train station. My husband had his wallet in his shorts pocket. We were surrounded by a several men on the Metro and one tried tugging at his pocket but luckily the velcro strip made it difficult for them to remove his wallet without him feeling the tugging. They gave him a pat on the back as they left the train empty handed as if to congratulate him for outsmarting them. After that close call we were very vigilant and noticed other people looking us up and down to see where our wallets were located. Needless to say we used our money belts after that. No more wallets.

Zurich, Switzerland
Level Contributor
143 posts
34 reviews
45 helpful votes
1. Re: Pickpockets

I am really sorry to hear what has happened to you but if we post every little burglary happened in New York or elsewhere the webpage would be called crimewatch.....There are many articles about pickpockets who are unfortunately common in all major tourist attractions. I am a foreigner having lived more than 10 years in Madrid and have never seen any pickpockets or similar crimes at all. For once and forever. Yes, there are pickpockets in Spain and elsewhere, with some standard precautions everyone should be fine. Madrid as the rest of Spain is among the savest places globally, especially compared to US cities.

Dunfermline, United...
Level Contributor
14,055 posts
48 reviews
127 helpful votes
2. Re: Pickpockets

Well done for taking the right precautions! Hope it didn't spoil your trip.

Brooklyn, New York
Level Contributor
32 posts
15 reviews
48 helpful votes
3. Re: Pickpockets

The reason I mentioned our experience in Madrid was that I had heard so many stories about the pickpockets in Barcelona that I considered Madrid relatively safe. We had our guard down thinking that we had nothing to worry about until we got to Barcelona. Big Mistake. It didn't ruin our trip. I did see a woman in our hotel crying, I bet she had been pickpocketed. There is a group who targets people with suitcases coming from the airport. It never hurts to remind people to be cautious. I didn't think I needed reminding but I did.

Brooklyn, New York
Level Contributor
32 posts
15 reviews
48 helpful votes
4. Re: Pickpockets

The reason I mentioned our experience in Madrid was that I had heard so many stories about the pickpockets in Barcelona that I considered Madrid relatively safe. We had our guard down thinking that we had nothing to worry about until we got to Barcelona. Big Mistake. It didn't ruin our trip. I did see a woman in our hotel crying, I bet she had been pickpocketed. There is a group who targets people with suitcases coming from the airport. It never hurts to remind people to be cautious. I didn't think I needed reminding but I did.

Barcelona, Spain
Level Contributor
2,640 posts
5. Re: Pickpockets

barcelona, madrid, sevilla... or rome, paris... i would not say one is more 'safe' than other, all are pretty safe and why people on these forums seems to focus in barcelona as it was the crime central of the world is beyond me (and counter-productive as, like chachacheech, some people may think there is nothing to worry in other cities)

i'm glad to hear they did not get anything from you and this did not spoil your trip. you do well warning others

however i'm not sure people were looking you up and down to locate your wallets. we spanish people tend to stare to others, especially when we are bored like on a metro wagon. maybe some of the looks were from criminals, but i'm pretty sure others were just from people who had nothing better to do. if you did not had the incident, maybe you would not noticed these looks.

in any case, better be safe than sorry, and it's so easy to take basic precautions

Colmenar Viejo...
Level Contributor
1,112 posts
39 reviews
21 helpful votes
6. Re: Pickpockets

'we spanish people tend to stare to others'

The problem is gatamaula is that invariably these thieves operating on the system aren't Spanish, far be it from me to state where they're from but let's just say 'elsewhere'. Chachacheech's warning is a valid one although I still believe if you take the correct precautions the Metro is a safe way to travel.

Barcelona, Spain
Level Contributor
2,640 posts
7. Re: Pickpockets

some of them are spanish, many of them from 'elsewhere' and some of those from 'elsewhere' can look 'spanish' to tourist's eyes (and even to locals).

my point was that some 'looks' can be just from normal bored people. in case of truly professional pickpockets you only notice your belongings are gone, you never know who got them, so no way you can see if they look at you or not

Athens, Greece
Level Contributor
1,934 posts
186 reviews
240 helpful votes
8. Re: Pickpockets

Caution is needed in every big city.We have the same problem here where "gangs" .."simories" work the metro mostly and buses by indiviuals.These are mostly legal or illegal immigrants from the former Eastern block countries.I was in Madrid a few years ago..our first trip on the ,metro and a woman tried to pick pocket my friends Mom..an old woman.They were Romanian. When she hear us speak Greek she inmmediately just swearing at us in Greek!!!We were so surprise..she obviously did her rounds in Athens as well! She was working with two other girls and the stituation got so out of hand..(swearing at us) that we told the metro police.They got out of there quick.

The main thing is to blend in with the crowd! Don't look like a tourist and do not dress like one.You will be an easy target cause this is what they look for.

I have been to Barcelona where in front of my eyes 3 people had their bags stolen...carelessness probably..a girl put her handbag down in a busy shop to try on shoes...it was gone before she knew it! Again..they hit the stores as well..especially busy ones.

Just use caution and common sense..and blend in with the locals!

Barcelona, Spain
Level Contributor
2,640 posts
9. Re: Pickpockets

'blending' with the locals you may get less attention, but is not a guarantee. they grab anything easy to reach, local or foreigner!!

myself, my brother, many of my friends have been pickpocketed over he years (this is not a new problem, maybe now is bigger), in different cities of spain, and we look as locals. in all the cases there were other added factors: being too naive, careless, drunk, sleep... these are the points to avoid!!

most tourists will never look like a local, but as far there is nothing easy to grab, the pickpockets will try another one. it makes no sense to 'hide' your camera as said above. and it makes even less sense to become paranoid: apart of spoling your holiday, as more relaxed and confident you look, less of a target you are.

i'd seen so many tourists in the metro embracing their backpacks in front of them like their life depended of it, while looking around with fear... this *is* attracting unwanted attention! the same people with a relaxed attitude, just controlling where his/her backpack is, looking around with confidence, would reduce their probabilities to get robbed in a great extent

10. Re: Pickpockets

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