Madrid & Barcelona ~ Is Petty Crime Really That Bad?


Nov 30, 2006
I've studied in Madrid, and been to Barcelona a bunch of times. Fortunately, I've never had any problems, but just be smart about how you carry your belongings and be aware of your surroundings...especially when you're taking public transport (trains, buses). Robbers usually work in pairs, one will distract you somehow with a big noise, or ask you a question, then don't realize til later that you've been pickpocketed (this happened to a friend in Italy). Another friend told me someone reached into her purse and tried to snatch her wallet while they were on the bus - luckily another passenger alerted her before it was too late.

If you're going to use a backpack, carry it in front of you...yes, you might look like a tourist, but people will be less likely to get a hand in the pockets. I'd recommend using a bag with a zip top and hold it close to your body. I wouldn't use a messenger style bag unless the strap is short.

Be careful when you see gypsies with children following or hanging around you. My dad actually caught a child's hand in his pocket when he was in Spain!

Also, I agree with the warnings regarding taxis...they will definitely try to rip you off if they can! Don't go with any taxi drivers that approach you inside the train/bus/airport terminals...they are notorious for overcharging unsuspecting visitors. Go to the designated taxi stops!

Sorry for the lengthy reply..have fun! Espana is so beautiful, fun, and has lots of great shopping!!! The people are really nice too. :smile:


May 4, 2007
I've been to both and not had any problems or see any either.

It's the same as travelling to any town you don't know, be street smart.....keep valuables out of site, walk with confidence and make sure you know where you are going. If you behave like a victim you will be a victim


Just me and my bags
Jun 2, 2006
You just have to be careful and have a look out for things . I nearly had someone pick pocketing my bag on the train but cause i was with a group of friends, one of them noticed! Just hold on to your bags closely! also watch at night as well. Me and my friends (3 girls) were walking on the la ramblas and spanish guys were following us and shouting at us. They even followed us into a bar and tried to sit with us! i found that really scary!


Sylvie Guillem fan
May 10, 2006
Pickpockets and purse snatchers are an issue in any large European city with a population containing poor people.

Last time I was in Paris, a GF lost $200 to a pickpocket. She forgot to zip her purse shut after visiting the ATM.

I always wear an undergarment security wallet when travelling. I keep my passport, c cards, and major cash there. My purse is for lesser cash ($75 or less), lipstick, maps, comb, etc.

I always wear pants + top (not tucked in) when shopping. When at the cash register, it is easy to reach under the top and pull out bills or a cc from the security wallet placed under my pants' waistband.


Feb 10, 2007
Don't know about Spain, although I've heard it's not safe when it comes to belongings, but Italy is getting worse and worse. First time I went, there were rumors of theft, second time, I actually had stuff stolen at a restaurant and a bunch of people from the tour had passports and cc stolen. Obviously, I am not stupid and had nothing in my purse, but my Rimmel eyeliner and some lippie and the purse was a pleather Versace look alike so I think the thieves were mighty impressed. Imagine their disappointment when all they got was a crappy Made in Chine Baby Phat piece of pleather:smile:))


Dec 11, 2006
not been to either city but travelled all over Europe and if there are pickpockets it is around the main tourist places so hold on to your stuff there. I would do that in any big city btw.

as for cabbies ripping you off - as soon as they understand you don't know your way round, that might happen, and pretty much anywhere in the world. so i'd say if you have to go for a long distance, arrange the price in advance. have fun on your trip, and relax, I am sure it will be fine.
Sep 15, 2006
I had been to visit the cathedral Sagrada Familia early in the morning - not many people around, and suddenly found myself surrounded by a hord of gypsy women, coming closer. I had no inclination to part with my belongings, and quickly punched down the smallest of them and made my way off through the gap ... o.k., not very nice, but they didn't follow me but all huddled down around the "colleague", commiserating with her.


Feb 17, 2006
My bro's friends got robbed in broad day light in a park in either Madrid or Barcelona, can't remember which - they (2 guys) got choked from behind to the point of almost passing out, and got everything taken from them. Don't want to scare you with the story as I think what happened to them was an extreme - they might have been carrying expensive cameras, etc. Just make sure you have multiple copies of your passport (if you carry it on you), credit cards and drivers license stored somewhere else like in your suitcase. It was a pain for those guys to get their passports at the embassy without anything.


Oh no she di-int!!
Jun 1, 2006
Good advice all around! I have not been to Spain but took similar precautions when I traveled through Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia and Italy. I did experience a few attempts at adults or kids to try to distract me but I knew the drill and stayed alert but never paranoid. I did carry a backpack (grey prada nylon!) which had buckles on the flap pockets. We were encouraged to have buckles like that or to use extra twist ties to secure zippers. Anything which looked like it would require more effort or time and would therefore discourage someone who wants to steal quickly.

I carried my money separately and in a plain envelope...I didn't want to whip out a wallet or a Thomas Cook currency envelope which would attract attention.

Have a fabulous trip and enjoy the adventure!


Aug 15, 2006
Parc Guel is very lovely....but dang I was out of breath before I reached the top..:sweatdrop:.
Tip: go with a taxi...I took the sub and walked to Parc Güel......after that, I sat on every bench i saw:roflmfao: