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Barcelona Escalator Scam

This was a new scam for my husband and I, we are elderly but capable. Leaving the Metro station, we find the escalator (4 stories high, 2 sets of stairs) to get to street level. Halfway up it stops. 2 'gentlemen' assisted us to the 1st platform. A young lady climbs the stopped escalator and gets on the second one in front of us. One of the gentlemen gets on behind my husband. A third of the way up this one stops. The young lady says, "I'll help you to the top" and grabs the top handle of my backpack. I grab the bottom which has a metal bar to keep it from falling over. And up we go! She ran me up the escalator steps. I would not let go. Little did she know I work out stair-climbing. When we got to the top, I said Thank you and took my leave in the shade to wait for my husband. The young lady was visibly angry. They were able to get into my husband's zippered travel bag. Nothing of significant value was taken. For our international travel we climb, on average, 48 flights a month. Next time: we will immediately head down the stairs - no discussion about helping us.

Posted by
1586 posts

We will be extra vigilant. I’m aware of this but a reminder is good.

Posted by
2686 posts

Escalators are a favorite hunting ground of Barcelona pickpockets. This trick is a classic.

Posted by
6033 posts

Yeah, this is one of the most common techniques. Bad news is, there need not be an escalator, stairs work, doorways, turnstiles, any place that someone in front of you can stop, trip, fall, or otherwise cause you to pull up or stop, while the people in back continue forward. A disorientation, change of your attention, a bit of a bump, is all that is needed to pull something out of your bag or pocket.

Posted by
8014 posts

Happens in cities in the US too. I got away and the store security was watching through a security mirror and grabbed the guys.

Posted by
1172 posts

Do they have someone working behind the scenes stopping the escalators? Or they just hand around waiting for it to malfunction?

Posted by
16941 posts

There is usually an emergency stop button at the bottom and the top. Take a look the next time you use an escalator.

Posted by
2547 posts

We will be in Barcelona in October. We usually don’t ride the subways any longer and this just confirms our decision. Thanks for the heads up.

Posted by
1236 posts

Sorry but this is not a reason to abandon the Barcelona metro. It's quick, fast and efficient and quite frankly better than the US big city metros. Keep vigilant, don't carry around a lot of valuables and you'll be fine.

Posted by
2686 posts

The only time someone attempted to pickpocket me in Barcelona was when I was wearing a Hawaiian shirt (an American friend gifted me) on an escalator in the Metro.

I must have looked like a tourist at first, but as soon as I confronted those pickpockets in Catalan they realised I was actually a local, and backed off.

Just keep a low profile and don't attract attention, like carrying around an REI day bag or wearing a "loud" Hawaiian shirt lol!

Posted by
521 posts

I was tried to pickpocket just going up the stairs (not escalator).
I only had a few euros in my wallet and the rest was in my money belt.