Leonie Discovers

Robbed in Barcelona, Spain? Learn pickpockets’ tricks. Helpful tips from a local.


How my mom was robbed

Barcelona was love at the first site for me when as a little girl together with my mom I have discovered it just after the Olympics of 1992. Back then I could not even dream of ever living there. I still remember newly built Barcelona Aquarium and Barcelona Zoo with amazing albino gorilla Snowflake (Copito de Nieve, esp.). I remember taking a picture with my mom near the Columbus Monument. It was summer in the Mediterranean, very warm and humid. I asked for some ice-cream while walking Las Ramblas and Portal del Angel. We spotted an authentic cafe Planelles Donat, that is still there now, reached for the money – not there!!! What a shock! We have been mugged in a foreign country! What to do? We do not speak the language!

Many years later I have moved to Barcelona. I also have been mugged since, but all, yes, every single one of my friends local or expat, have their own story.

How I was robbed

I and my female friend from Finland were having a great night out in Raval Quarter. We started enjoying the drinks in Plaza Real and after a while decided to go to a club, located near Park of Ciutadella area. Our way lied through La Princesa street. This street at daytime is a souvenir shopping location and we expected nothing wrong. But of course, at 1 a.m. two jolly girls, talking loudly in English draw the attention. We saw a street group of Moroccan teenagers, but took no precautions and continued along. A young couple of tourists approached us to asked for directions to their hostel. I took out my phone to google the street. At this time of the gang, boys approached us and stood near me.

He pulled my bad and run away with it into the side street. As I was not exactly sober, I bravely run after him and found out my bag will everything inside just around the corner of the street. The story could have ended here. But I saw the guy walking the street and instead of shutting up and going my way, I start shouting on him. He pushes me, I fall, my bag is stolen for the second time by the same person in one evening. I went again to get him. Didn’t find anything this time. The street vendor called me in and asked me if I want to have my documents back. Then he took my bag out of his jacket and gave to me.

My documents and cards were there, but the rest, including the keys, was gone. He asked me if I wanted to buy my phone back.  At this moment police came, called by my friend. We went to police office to write the declaration. Couple of days later I was invited to a foto recognition. Nobody was found. I lost my phone, 15 eur and a can of coca-cola.

Tip: You do not need to carry your documents around, they could be left at the hotel. You might be asked for an id only when paying with a credit card without a pin number. Payment with credit card is widely accepted in the major retail chains. You might still need cash for the purchases in the smaller shops, family restaurants or taxi.

Popular robbers’ tricks/scams:

Note: Muggers can also be female! Special attention must be drawn to Romanian gypsy ladies and Moroccan teenagers. Nevertheless, please do not generalize, there are a lot of great decent people of above mention origins.

‘The show’

Never mind the season, street shows are happening all the time, especially in the Gothic Quarter, Las Ramblas, Plaza Catalunya, Plaza Espanya, Montjuic and of course along the beach walk in Barceloneta. The tourists are mesmerized by the show, the pick-pockets do their job.

Tip: Keep all your valuable items on your front, rather than back. Hold your purse in your hands, rather than leaving in on the ground or in the child’s buggy.

‘The metro crowd’

You are in a train/metro. Metro map here. The most popular route is L3 Plaza Espanya – Plaza Catalunya – Passeo de Gracia. L1 Plaza Espanya – Urquinaona- Arc de Triomf. You are about to board the train. You feel somebody pushes you. While you/the person apologizes, the mugger pulls your purse. Doors are closing. You are on the leaving train. The mugger is left on the platform.

‘The pigeon poop’

This a legendary Barcelona scam. The scammer spays a white paint on your back/shoulder. The partner in crime points your attention to it. While he/she helps you clean yourself, the other pick-pocketer steals from you.

Useful links:


  • Police (mossos d’esquadra) on-line crime report in English. You can fill it also in Italian, Spanish, French or German here.
  • Call police in Barcelona: 112 or 092. Dial outside of Spain: +34 902 102 112
  • Police offices locations map here.

Tip: There are police stations in El Prat Airport T1 and T2 as well and they are usually much less busy than the city center ones.

More stories here. Be safe and visit beautiful Barcelona!




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