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Barcelona- scam after scam

I lived there 1 year and I have seen so many ways how to steal your personal belongings... Just beware:

  • guys selling shawls and scarves on the beach- they unwrap it, present and under the huge material you are watching they grab your phone, bag etc.
  • crowds in the subway- in general everything in subway- performers, beggers- they often work in groups. A pair of strangely clothed people is dancing, while another ,,normal'' person is taking phones of those who pay them too much attention. Or they create artificial crowd and then one of them is using it to accidentally touch your bag/pocket. -asking for an advice- it happened to my friend. She was asked about how to get somewhere, she left her bag on the bench with her friend- they haven't even noticed when the bag was gone. But, imagine, people in the park noticed this thief and showed her where he run away- there was nothing precious in the bag, so he left it in the bin.
  • asking for a dance in clubs- it is sad that guys are using girls in that way... It happened to many of my friends. They were robbed in the club- somehow while dancing the bag ,,run away'' to the back and then they realized phones and purses were gone...
    • asking to sign a petition to help poor children or sth like that- two girls are asking people to sigh a petition, they have also English version, it is supposed to help starving children. In the same time their friend is opening your bag. They look suspicious, I felt nervous atmosphere around. In general, me and my friends were many times abused in that way. I advise being alerted all the time. Especially if someone on the street is poking you, doesn't matter why. It's sad but you can't trust people who surround you :(
Posted by
6 posts

RE: "asking for a dance in clubs". Are you sure those guys were part of the scam? I've asked women to dance in clubs, but I'm not a scammer. Maybe the guys who asked the women to dance are just regular guys, and the thieves were random opportunists who saw an unattended purse.

Posted by
1503 posts

Well the petition girls are all over Europe as are the rest of your scams?

But "many of your friends" left their bags unattended while dancing??? Seriously, they didn't learn? If I walk off and leave my bag the person to blame when it's gone is looking back at me in the mirror. Perhaps your friends should have caught on after person one was robbed?

Posted by
8293 posts

All the scams listed are old hat. Nothing new at all. And they are practiced in all the big European cities, not just Barcelona.

Posted by
1962 posts

Normaldude - Barcelona may be #1 for pickpockets, but that does not mean that pickpockets are not found elsewhere in the world. They didn't all pack up and move to Barcelona.

Posted by
6 posts

Norma - I think the point of the OP is that Barcelona has a very high rate of scams & pickpockets, and the OP was describing some of the scams that are prevalent in Barcelona (even if they're not unique to Barcelona). In other words, if there's 1,000 different scams worldwide, the top 5 scams in Barcelona might be different than the top 5 scams in another city. Each city has a different culture & tendency.

Posted by
6749 posts

Sounds like the typical culture shock cycle long-term expats or students abroad go through. Everything is either wonderful or horrible until they become bi-cultural.

Posted by
46 posts

Kinda sad that when someone posts what they feel is good advice, they get the typical pushback from someone protecting a city or culture. If you do not want to take the advice then don't, but please do not be rude to someone with good intentions.

Posted by
1503 posts

It's also "kind of sad" that we no longer believe we should take responsibility for our own actions.

I leave my bag sitting someplace I am not blaming the city for having pickpockets, I am blaming myself for being an idiot!

(Heck over of TripAdvisor there's a woman trying to sue an airline because she left something on the plane and it wasn't returned, she apparently is blameless LOL!)

Posted by
1962 posts

Rjietkerk: I don't think it's rude to point out that the four scams listed by the OP are not unique to Barcelona. I haven't been everywhere, but these scams have been everywhere I've been.

Posted by
20598 posts

What am I doing wrong? Have been to Barcelona four times over the past 10, maybe 15 years, and haven't lost a thing. Of course, I can say the same thing about all of our visits over many years. Personally I did not perceive Barcelona as being any worse than Rome or Madrid or London. There is a certain amount of lucky involved - I assume -- and we could be hit on the next trip but that is very low on my "concern list." My objection to these kinds of posting is that while they may be well intended as a warning, they are really somewhat bombastic. Pickpockets and pretty theft is a potential problem nearly everywhere but no one is sticking a gun in my ribs either. Barcelona may be a little higher on the list but you don't have to be a victim. Take precautions and relax.

Posted by
926 posts

Geez everyone, be nice! Thanks OP for the information that may prove to be helpful to any new people coming to this forum, or new travelers, for information!

Posted by
440 posts

These things can put people off going to places, not the reports on here but the actual thefts themselves, Police need to sort it out or places reps will soon go down.

Posted by
22 posts

I believe the pickpocket situation is like this in any of a relatively big touristy town. At least in Barcelona there are no violent street attacks!!

Posted by
17642 posts

I haven't been everywhere, but these scams have been everywhere I've been.

I haven't been to Barcelona, but I've spent considerable time in northern Europe, and these scams have been nowhere I've been. It is a cultural thing.

Years ago, I bought a regional pass, to use the next day, from an automat in Germany using my credit card. I didn't know that the machine prints first a card with your receipt, then the ticket. My train was coming, so I grabbed the first printing and ran to my train. Only when I get home did I find that I had the receipt and no ticket. The next day I went through the station again and there was my ticket lying on the ledge next to the automat. It was an open ticket, usable by anyone for travel anywhere, but whoever found it knew it wasn't theirs and left it for whoever bought it.

Posted by
2860 posts

Petty crime is very common in many places and has existed through the centuries.
Pickpockets have been around for a long time. Anybody remember the novels of Charles Dickens?

I’m pretty sure we saw petition signature gatherers in numerous countries, and as far back as 20 or 25 years ago. I don’t like to blame the victim; but why would anyone with half a brain think that signing a petition to help poor children, or against drugs, etc. be a useful thing to do? If you think for a second, you’d have to conclude something not kosher was going on.
My sister-in-law was hit by the spill something on your coat scam around 20 years ago, while on a business trip, in Ft. Lauderdale Florida. If you don’t know this one, the spiller distracts the mark while his confederate steals something.
My point is that no one city or country has a lock on tourist scams

Posted by
22 posts

Yes, Barcelona is very bad for pickpocketing and has been for as long as I can remember. I have only been once and I must say it is a beautiful city and I definitely would go back but you do have to be careful with your bags and be aware of what can happen.

Posted by
2 posts

To those of you who are "wise" or experienced enough to know when a scam has been around for a while...good on ya'. For those of us who've been lucky enough to not run into any particular scam yet, it's quicker to absorb the knowledge/experience imparted without weeding through #thatsoldhat commentary that does not add anything useful to an account of a scam.
As has been noted a good number of times, there are a million types of scams, not everyone can imagine them all, and hearing about how contrived they can be is quite helpful, if not amusing. I've traveled Europe a good number of times and have observed or been the victim or intended target of my share of schemes. I enjoy arming myself with the useful knowledge and experience of others, and I believe its my duty as a fellow traveler to share my experiences and knowledge as well.

Let's make it easier for others to do the same.

Travel safe!

Posted by
12091 posts

If Barcelona has the reputation of being #1 in scams, then there must be something to it in terms of the validity of that accusation or reputation. No wonder I haven't been there. That these scams don't just happen in Barcelona is irrelevant.

Of course, I 've seen the same scams (minus the dance scam, ie how negligent to have that happen) and more in Paris. Never fell for any of them, but then I am hardly accosted, or not at all, esp on the last two trips to Paris. If you were bet that they could take place anywhere in Europe, you lose the bet. Go to Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich , Dresden, Hamburg, what the chances relative to Barcelona of being a victim?

Posted by
22 posts

None of these are NEW scams.... Use common sense no matter where your are. Barcelona is a wonderful city. We spent a month there and never was approached by a scammer - BUT - we are experience travelers...