We have not been to spain or italy since 2006. Pick pockets, etc were an issue then, but there was not 25% unemployment in spain back then. So how much have things changed with respect to crime and travelers?
Carol I have been to PAris and Rome, many times for Paris and twice for Rome, and as you may know they are pickpocket havens too. Visited Spain for first time this summer.
Personally we found Barcelona not quite to our tastes, did feel a bit poorer, BUT we LOVED a small town on the Costa Brava coast that we spent almost a week at and did feel any danger , even of pickpockets in that small town.. so I guess its like anywhere , big cities ,bigger problems. I would go back to Barcelona to give another chance, but maybe only a day or two before I head back out into some smaller places. Last time I was in Rome was 5 years ago, and sure there are/were pickpockets but really it just didn't seem that bad, same old thing, watch yourself in any crowds, and keep stuff you don't want to lose in moneybelt or hotel safe. Crime, as in violent against person crime, heck, I don't consider those half the problem as I do in my own cit sometimes, lol
During October, I spent three weeks traveling in Rome and Sorrento--lots of walking and taking buses and trains (including the jam-packed Circumvesuviana between Naples and Sorrento); I was never the victim of any theft.
Haven't been to Spain, but have enjoyed Paris and Italy numerous times. We must have looked like easy pree, my only bad encounter was 2003, second time to visit Paris, an attempt by a 10 year old male to pickpocket me as I went through metro turnstile and almost falling for old Lady finding gold ring near the Louvre. Kept worrying about Rome, but nothing has ever happened.
James' cherry picked statistics don't really affect the original question. Whether or not things have gotten worse for crime here doens't affect the question of whether it's generally safe for people to travel to Spain or Italy right now. And the answer is YES, it is very safe, overall.
We just got back from Germany, Italy, and Switzerland. While we heard that pick poketing was a problem, we used Rick's advice of money belts, and were able to relax. Our money and passport were safe, and we never really worried about anything else. Just keep you head in the game when you are out there and be aware of your surroundings.
James-great statistics. Do they apply if you are physically intimidating?
'I'm physically intimidating. You can't screw with me.' Goliath to David, 503 BC. 'I'm physically intimidating. You can't screw with me.' Dragon to Saint George, 286 AD.
James, I'd really like to examine those statistics in detail, but the link you gave doesn't work. Do you know another way to get to that page? I can get to the EU website. Do you have a document number? This document gives the % of people by country that feel they live in an area with crime or vandalism (Spain 18%, France 17%, Germany 12%, UK 27%), but it doesn't show the US. In the statistics I found on the EU website, there was a table for "taking something that doesn't belong to you" (robbery), but it was defined as "by force". Pickpocketing was specifically excluded from the data. Incidentally, as far as personal safety (i.e., homicide by firearms per year per 100k population), it's 0.36 for Italy, 0.22 for France, 0.15 for Spain, 0.06 for Germany, 0.04 for UK, and 3.7 for the US. If we had the same rate as UK, we would have 126 firearm homicides per year instead of 11,612.