Pickpockets and safety in Barcelona

I´m happy to start this post by saying that Barcelona is a safe city. A city where you can walk at night or take a cab without having to worry about your safety. Crime is not an issue and you will be able to walk around the tourist areas day and night without major concern. In August 2017, the city was hit by a terrorist attack but that’s unfortunately no different from any other European city.

Taking public transport is also safe at any time of the day. However, saying that Barcelona is a fully safe city would be wrong as there’s a well-known problem with pickpocketing. I have lived many years in Barcelona and it only happened to me once (so far) but being a tourist can make you a target for pickpockets so below are a few tips to avoid them.

Top tips to avoid pickpockets in Barcelona

  • Don´t leave your mobile phone on the table

Nowadays we are connected all the time. Using our phone while enjoying lunch or having a coffee seems the most natural thing in the world. But if you are in a crowded restaurant, and specially in a terrace outside, be aware of your phone. Leaving your phone next to you on the table makes it an easy target for pickpockets. Believe it or not, they are fast.

  • Don’t leave your bag on the floor, on a chair or hanging from a chair

This may seem common sense but having lived abroad myself and in smaller towns, I must say I have done this before. You casually swing your bag on the chair you are sitting on or leave it on the floor next to your feet. Not a good idea in Barcelona. The best option is to keep it always on your lap.

  • Pay extra attention to your belongings when travelling by metro

Main metro stations (such as Catalunya, Sants, Liceu…) and lines get usually crowded and it’s always a good idea to hold your bag close to your body and at sight. Also, if you have your wallet in your pocket, it’s advisable to use the front pocket or an interior one as it’s more difficult to reach. I had once my bag opened when traveling by metro and my purse was suddenly gone. Not a nice experience.

  • Split your cash in two separate places

If you are wearing a good amount of cash, make sure it’s not all in one place. Also, if you are travelling with your partner it is wise to split it between the two of you.

  • Be careful when enjoying Barcelona’s beach

It doesn’t really matter if it’s daytime or night. If you are hanging around a beach in Barcelona make sure to keep an eye to your belongings. If you are with a group and want to take a bath, you’ll better take turns. I would never go swimming and leave my bag, purse, mobile… behind.

  • Do not take part in street games

The title says it all, you should not take part in street games as most of them are anyway a scam and you may as well end up robbed by a pickpocket.

  • Pay extra attention when visiting crowded and touristy areas

Be extra aware when visiting the most crowded areas such as La Rambla, Sagrada Familia or Sants Estació. Just make sure that you have your belongings protected: i.e. place your wallet in the front pocket, make sure your shoulder bag is resting on your front side or wear your rucksack on your front. Simple tricks that will help you avoid pickpockets.

Have you been robbed? What to do next

If, in the worst-case scenario, you discover that your wallet or bag has been stolen this is what you should do next:

  1. Cancel all your credit/debit cards. A quick call to your bank or even a check online from someone else’s phone will do to cancel immediately your cards and have new ones sent at home.
  2. Block your phone. Call your phone company to block your phone so that you won’t get any nasty surprise in the next bill.
  3. Get a temporary/emergency passport. If you are due to travel a few days after your passport was stolen you will need to get an emergency travel document. Most consulates, in Barcelona, will be able to help you arrange for that. You may need a “denuncia” (see next point) to avoid paying a fee for this.
  4. Go to the police. You will need to put a “denuncia” to assess that your belongings have been stolen. It doesn’t mean that you will get anything back but you will need this paper to claim back to your travel insurance and to arrange a temporary passport if this was stolen too.

Comisaria de Policia de Barcelona (Ciutat Vella)

Address: Carrer Nou de la Rambla, 76-80, Barcelona, Spain – Metro: Liceu (Green Line, L3) – Opening times:  24/7


Stay safe in Barcelona

In general terms Barcelona is a safe city. There are no major issues with violence or crime except for pickpockets. You can still avoid them by being extra careful with your belongings, especially when walking around crowded areas.

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