"Robbery stats" Barcelona by BALIK

Barcelona Travel Guide: 9,764 reviews and 22,676 photos

Down on the Ramblas...

Most people agree that Barcelona's Ramblas is a happy hunting ground for pickpockets and other thieves.

Just to put things in context, here is a site providing international crime comparisons. It will be seen that Spain comes very badly out of the per capita comparison of robberies. Bear it in mind the next time you go for a stroll in the city's most frequented tourist areas.

Keep your hands on your camera

I couldn't resist including this information from Phillip Greenspun's photographic essay on Barcelona. It largely corroborates my own experience:

"Here's an excerpt from a 4-star hotel's information guide: "Supervise and control your luggage: DO NOT leave it unattended even for a minute. Be extremely careful with your baggage while paying for your stay." I would have laughed if I'd not recalled that my parents had their carry-on bag stolen, right from the lobby, while checking into a $150/night hotel near La Rambla. Their experience is reflected in the architecture of the Hotel Arts, built for the 1992 Olympics. From the street, the skyscraper looks like a fortress. There is a moat and no visible lobby. If you drive into the interior of the fortress you find a small elevator area and some bellmen. Take the elevator up one floor and you'll find yourself in the lobby.
The officially published city guide cautions people with "handbags, cameras, video cameras, etc." The same guide warns you especially against people offering flowers on the street getting close to you or someone saying that you have a stain on your clothing. The thieves of Barcelona seem to be operating a one-city crusade to recover from English tourists all the treasure lost to the British Navy in four centuries of war (native Barcelonans blame most of the crime on Morocan immigrants, in which case much of the booty would drain out south across the Straits of Gibraltar). Eve and I went to take some pictures in the Parc Guell. Within minutes of our arrival, a pickpocket had opened her purse and taken her wallet. The Old Town, away from La Rambla, is particularly dangerous at night. A lot of restaurants and cafes try to make sure that their patrons still have enough to pay the bill at the end of the night by hiring private security guards to stand out front.

The Dorling Kindersley guide advises keeping cards and money in a belt. The official guide advises leaving your passport with the hotel and carrying a photocopy. If you're concentrating on photography, your chances of being a victim rise to nearly 100 percent. If it is cold enough for a jacket, choose one with a zippered interior pocket and use that for cards and most of your cash. If the weather is hot, get a money belt. Women should not carry anything valuable in a purse. Unless you have an assistant whose only job is to safeguard a camera bag, don't carry extra lenses. One camera. One lens. In your hands at all times. "


Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Nice weather
  • Cons:Thief heaven
  • Last visit to Barcelona: Sep 2004
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Comments (2)

  • BALIK's Profile Photo
    Apr 8, 2007 at 10:19 AM

    Australia is a long way below South Africa. As for Zimbabwe, the data is probably valueless. Mugabe's regime murders and tortures its political opponents on a big scale. Crime reporting in such a country is likely to be a bad joke.

  • K.Knight's Profile Photo
    Dec 16, 2004 at 11:01 PM

    Henrik, interesting stats on your Barcelona page! I find it interesting that Australia is above Zimbabwe and South Africa!


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