Well, not that intimate. Let me correct it, I held fingers with a Barcelona pickpocket.
While Madrid is the capital and largest city of Spain, Barcelona is the capital city of the autonomous community of Catalonia and the country’s 2nd largest city (ok dear friend Wiki, this got me confused so I will leave it like that). What didn’t get me bemused on the other hand is the fact that Barcelona is indeed infamous for being the “Pickpocket Capital of the World”.
Barcelona is one of the most visited cities in the world. Oh my! Tourists are everywhere like ants out of line making the city a perfect nest for a very organized crime in the city known as pickpocketing. Let me share you my story.
Rolex and I were on our way to La Rambla, a tree-lined street in Barcelona stretching about 1.2 km. There are numerous shops and restaurants on each side of the pedestrian lane. It is known also for human statues but oh boy, due to the flow of tourists, it’s hard to identify which one is the human statue and which one is simply human.
Pickpockets thrive in La Rambla for sure but my experience happened in the Metro on the way to La Rambla. When the metro stops by at the station, a surge of passengers enters and pickpockets standby near the door and right with my very own eyes, I saw one guy quickly inserted his fingers inside Rolex’ pocket at the back of his jeans. Since we already know about this scam, Rolex never put any wallet in his pocket. I don’t know what urged me, but I also quickly inserted my fingers inside Rolex’ pocket and in the most unromantic way, I held fingers with a Barcelona pickpocket.
I didn’t know what exactly happened as I can’t completely comprehend Spanish specially when spoken hastily but there was chaos inside the metro. One guy was screaming “there is a pickpocket inside”. It might be part of the drama because upon entering the metro, Rolex was bumped by a “very healthy lady” that he almost touched her boobs. It happened at the same time the guy tried to insert his fingers inside Rolex’ pocket. Just when the metro’s door was about to close, the “very healthy lady”, the guy I held fingers with and other 5 passengers went out of the metro altogether.
The pickpocket incident left me stunned. Finally we arrived in La Rambla with pockets safe and wallet still in one piece.
Here are my 7 tips on how to safeguard your belongings and avoid pickpockets during your holiday:
- Be aware. Research about the place you are going before stepping in the plane and fly.
- Don’t be an easy-boy or easy-girl. Pretend that you are alert and project that presence that you are not an easy target (don’t be “shungak”).
- Travel light not just in you cabin or check-in luggage but even when you are about to roam around the streets of your destination. Don’t bring valuables and bring only ample cash enough for a day’s journey. Leave your passport in the hotel, a photocopy should be fine.
- Avoid backpacks (or else transform it into a “frontpack”) and use bags that are attached to your body such as crossbody bags. Always pay attention to your purses because pickpockets pay more attention on them than you can imagine.
- Don’t put any valauble (cash, credit/debit cards and mobile phones) in your pockets.
- Watch out for theft scams such as the “very health lady”. There are many forms of distraction like someone just coming up to you and saying or doing anything outrageous to get your attention away from possible theft.
- When travelling with a partner or a group, be each other’s lookout.
Remember, pickpockets or any form of theft do not only happen in Barcelona. It is actually everywhere.