How to beat the pick-pockets in Barcelona!

park guell view by runaway jane

I’ve been in Barcelona almost 2 months now, and despite the larger police presence in tourist areas of the city (which I’m pleased to say does seem to be making a difference), Barcelona is still a destination where pick-pocketing and bag snatching is rife! I’ve yet to come across a reliable source of stats, but I genuinely wouldn’t be surprised if this was the pick-pocket capital of the world given how many people I’ve come across who’ve had stuff stolen! With that in mind, I thought it would be a good idea to give you my top tips on avoiding theft in the city:

First off, get a theft-proof bag!

I can’t emphasise enough how important it is to have a bag that is hard to snatch or pick-pocket from! Seriously, this is the most important thing to think about before you come here. I’ve had friends who’ve literally had bags cut off their shoulders. Don’t be that person!

The best recommendation I can give in terms of daypacks is the Pacsafe 25L GII. The main reason is this bag is made with eXomesh slash guards and slash proof straps. It also has an RFIDsafe blocking pocket (which protects personal data on passports and credit cards), dual release security buckle and a smart zipper security. In other words, it’s reeeeaaaallly hard for a pick-pocket to get into this bag and/or for someone to cut the straps or steal your personal data from it.


Main Feature Summary

  • 100% Nylon
  • Imported
  • Zipper closure
  • 12.5″ shoulder drop
  • 20″ high
  • 11.5″ wide
  • eXomesh slashguards and slashproof carrysafe straps
  • RFIDsafe blocking pocket
  • Smart zipper securit
  • Dual release security buckle

To view the latest prices for the PacSafe 25L daypack mentioned above click here >>>

Secondly, be vigilant in the following areas:

barcelona structure on the beach by runaway jane

  1. La Rambla – The main tourist street in Barcelona and where I hear of most people getting robbed. The good news is that there is a strong police presence here now daily on La Rambla, so if someone is trying to take your bag from you, get LOUD and do it fast! A friend of mine managed to stop 2 guys who were punching him and trying to steal his phone here because the police saw him shouting.
  2. The Metro – Anywhere on the metro is a key pick-pocketing area, especially when the trains are busy. In particular though, the main stations along La Rambla (Drassanes, Liceu and Plaza Catalunya) are places you need to be especially vigilant! Also, other main stations such as Passeig de Gracia, Diagonal, Parrallel and Sagrada Familia are places you need to keep more of an eye out too. The good news is that most cases of theft I hear about on the metro are non-violent, i.e. you didn’t even know it was happening when it happened. However, nobody wants their stuff nicked, so be especially vigilant here or on any form of public transport.
  3. The Beach – Barcelona’s beaches are really busy – particularly in summer. Especially if you’re going for a swim, don’t leave your stuff on the beach unattended. This is a prime pick-pocketing spot. A friend of a friend was literally left in nothing but his swimming trunks when someone took everything he left on the beach! Make sure someone is watching your stuff or that your valuables are left back at your hotel or hostel.
  4. Nightclubs – This is probably the other place where I hear of most people getting pick-pocketed. A girl in a previous hostel I was staying in literally had to fight another girl who stole her jacket in a club! And it wasn’t a case of mistaking one coat for another. The person stealing the jackets was literally walking out the door with 10 of them! When she was confronted she refused to give them back and so a fight ensued! I therefore don’t recommend leaving anything in jacket pockets here you can’t afford to lose, and if it’s a nice jacket, I recommend just paying to put it in the cloak room!

And thirdly, make use of your hostel locker or hotel safety deposit box!

There has never been a destination where I’ve felt the urge to tell people this more! Please don’t take your passport out with you in Barcelona unless you really need to! I’ve already met at least 3 people who’ve had to change trip plans in order to wait for their new passport to arrive at the embassy/consulate. It’s a real pain in the arse! Trust me, I know from my experience of having my handbag stolen in Amsterdam (with passport inside). It’s actually worse than having your money stolen because you’re left completely stranded. Additionally, it’s always better to have a spare bank card and some Euros in your locker in the event of your purse or wallet being stolen outside. And if ever there was a destination to get travel insurance for, this is it!

– I don’t want to give people a complex about Barcelona. For the most part I’ve felt pretty relaxed and safe here. Local people have generally been very friendly whenever I’ve approached them for help about anything. The city also seems to be trying a lot harder to remove its image as pick-pocket capital of Europe. There are police everywhere in the tourist district and anytime I’ve seen a slight issue with anything they’ve always been quick to respond. However, there’s still a lot more work to be done and Barcelona is still a major pick-pocket capital despite the efforts that have been made in recent months by the city to eradicate itself of that image. The truth is I’ve met more people in this city who’ve been robbed than I have in any other destination I’ve been to in the world (and that includes cities in North Africa, South America and Eastern Europe!) For a city in Western Europe that’s pretty bad, so hopefully things continue on the up for crime prevention in Barcelona and hopefully these tips will help any travellers coming to Barcelona in the meantime!

3 Responses to “How to beat the pick-pockets in Barcelona!”

  1. Claire says:

    Great tips Jane! I’ll bear them in mind should I go to Barcelona!

  2. I had no bother both times I visited, and I stayed in Paral.lel and was highly reliant on the metro 😉

  3. Katie says:

    Gosh … what a den of thieves … thanks for the heads-up!


Leave a Reply