Security in Barcelona: how to avoid being a victim of crooks and thieves?


Barcelona is considered a relatively safe city, at least safer than New York and some areas of London. However, pickpockets and swindlers are also thriving here and are constantly inventing new schemes of deception. Let’s see what you need to know about security in Barcelona.

Dangerous areas

Disadvantaged areas of Barcelona with crime, where tourists are better off in the dark (and in the light to be on guard), are: Gothic Quarter, Raval, Barceloneta and La Mina.

La Mina

The quarter is located far from the historical center. Many of the beautiful buildings built here have been empty for a long time, as the authorities planned to make major repairs. Illegal African and Asian emigrants began to settle in the empty premises. According to Spanish law, the authorities do not have the right to expel a person to the street, so the emigrants slowly settled in La Mina.

Nowadays, there are many dangers here, for example, small children run and steal from passers-by. The authorities are trying to improve the situation in the area, so they have hung up a lot of cameras here. A patrol car regularly passes through the streets of the neighborhood to keep order. However, tourists are not recommended to visit this place, do not rent a house here.

The Gothic Quarter and Raval

The Gothic Quarter, Barcelona’s dangerous neighborhood, is full of sights, as it used to be the centre of the city. There is also the Cathedral of Barcelona, the Church of Santa Maria and the Museum of Art. During the day, the quarter is full of pickpockets that steal wallets, bags and valuables.

At night, there’s a lot of lechery going on here: transvestites and prostitutes offer their services. They do not stand along the road, brazenly impose their services, picking up dresses, shouting out to passing motorists. Such a sight is not particularly pleasant to a tourist who came to enjoy the Spanish beauties. At night, drug dealers sell drugs in the Gothic Quarter. In the Raval area, the environment is almost the same as in the Gothic Quarter.


Barceloneta has a large number of clubs and casinos. At night, the audience is different, there can be aggressive individuals, so it is better not to walk here. There are also many drug dealers. You can’t leave a car with valuable things in sight, such as a camera or a laptop – they will break a window to steal it. Do not contact strangers, as they may be drug dealers or crooks who steal things from you. Poor emigrants are renting accommodation in the area, so tourists are not advised to settle here.


Thieves and crooks are a great threat to travelers vacationing in Barcelona. They are waiting for their victims on the beach, at the club, at the market, on the streets, almost anywhere. These people are true professionals who are able to “cleanse” a naive tourist so masterly that the latter will not immediately notice the loss.

Pocket thieves prefer to deal with light victims – tourists who look distracted, do not watch things and have a dreamy look. If you look collected, do not wear all the best jewelry and observe the basic precautions, nothing will happen to you.

Pickpockets prefer to work in groups: some people distract the traveler, while at the same time the accomplices masterly deprive the person of all the most valuable things. If you are approached by a group of people who are actively trying to get your attention, leave immediately without engaging in a dialogue.

The most popular place of action of pickpockets is the railway stations. They choose these places for many reasons. The people who are there are most likely travelers. Tourists who find themselves in an unfamiliar place are a little confused and disoriented. At this time, you keep all your belongings with you. When you buy tickets, you will get money out of your wallet. Criminals keep a close eye on your actions, they will remember where you put your wallet.

Pickpockets work masterfully and disappear quickly after the case. You may not even notice that you have been robbed. Usually thieves are busy looking for another victim, not paying attention to what’s going on around them. Examine the people around you, mark suspicious individuals and stay away from them.

Pickpockets’ favourite spot is the main tourist street Las Ramblas. In the evenings, thieves, who appear to be “night butterflies”, operate here.

Pickpockets operate near ATMs, looking for people who withdraw cash.  Don’t cash out in the evening when it’s already dark. Try to use ATMs located in safe places.

If you are not alone, ask the satellite to look around carefully to expose suspicious individuals in the area. Do not leave things unattended on the beach, as the coast is a popular place to steal. A passing cyclist can be a con man who will rip your bag out of your hand.

Types of fraud

Fraudsters have come up with dozens of ways to deceive the gullible tourists in Barcelona. Before the trip is worth reading all the ploys of criminals, so as not to fall for their tricks. Any scam begins with the fact that the crooks are trying to attract your attention. They do it in different ways. If you realize that someone insistently wants to get your attention, go away and do not talk to this person. The following scams are common in Barcelona:

  1. This scam has ten to fifteen people involved. On the street, the presenter puts on a show: he hides a ball under one of the thimbles, starts moving a few thimbles and asks the players to guess where the ball is. Around the presenter is always worth several people, and an interested tourist who is suitable to watch the show, does not even suspect anything. Fraudsters pretend to be ordinary tourists who play this game, make bets, win all the time and go with the money. Some may even come after you. After all, the presenter starts to insist that you place a bet. This is always very insistent, so it can be difficult to give up. Tourists usually bet and lose. If you start to express dissatisfaction, the people standing next to you will convince you that this time you are just unlucky.
  2. Fraudsters who pretend to be cops. A tourist on the street may be approached by law enforcement officials. They will ask you to take your belongings for inspection. In 99 percent of the cases, these people are crooks. Ask them to show their documents and say that you will only provide items for inspection at the nearest police station. If fake law enforcement officers insist too much, call the police immediately.
  3. Bird droppings. A con man will throw a small amount of unpleasant smelling on your shoulder. He will call you out, say you’ve got bird droppings and offer to wipe the unpleasant mass with a handkerchief. At this point, the pickpocket will look through your pockets and take all the most valuable things. This way of cheating gullible tourists is especially popular nowadays.
  4. Sale of jumping figures. On the streets of Barcelona, tourists can see people selling figures jumping in time with music coming from a tape recorder. Travelers are surprised by this miracle and immediately buy an interesting thing. How strong is their frustration when they learn that the figures do not work! In fact, cunning sellers tie the finest wires to the figures, which are connected to the wheel inside the recorder. This is popular deception and very brazen, because the sale takes place right on the street among a large number of people who already know about this deception.
  5. Roses for tourists. A person who sells flowers goes to a couple who walk peacefully through the streets of the city. He offers a man to buy a rose for his girlfriend at a clearly inflated price. If a man starts to refuse, the seller does everything to make him feel uncomfortable and yet bought a flower.
  6. Cheating at the store. When a tourist pays with a card, the cashier pretends to be talking on the phone, although in fact he or she takes a picture of the card in order to use it for personal use.
  7. Bracelet salesmen. A man runs up to a tourist on the street and quickly puts a bracelet on the hand. The disturbed traveller tries to understand the situation, gets distracted and becomes an excellent target for the accomplice of the bracelet seller – in the end the theft is committed.

Thieves can distract tourists in many ways, so you need to be vigilant. Sometimes they pretend to be travelers, open a big map, and ask you for help. Fraudsters may introduce themselves as employees of a social inquiry firm. A common trick is that people in hotel uniforms come to your room. They want to do a room check, and while one looks around and distracts you, the other takes your things away.


  1. Do not carry valuables and documents, leave everything in the hotel safe. Bring only a copy of your passport with you. It is advisable to take only that sum of money which will be useful exactly for a day, large sums of money are not recommended not to lose all the cash in case you become a victim of theft.
  2. Traveling with a backpack on your back is a bad idea. There are situations when tourists were robbed in the metro, taking money and valuables from the backpack located behind. The backpack should only be worn at the front so that it is in sight.
  3. Do not hang your handbag on the back of a chair in a cafe or restaurant. You’re more likely to never see it again. Keep your handbag on your knees. If it is too big, put it on the floor and watch it.You can wrap the straps around something to make it harder for the thief to grab the object and run away.
  4. Don’t keep your wallet in your bag, keep it to yourself.
  5. On the streets of Barcelona, pickpockets are primarily looking for tourists that can be easily stolen. You should try to impress the locals, not an inexperienced tourist. Dress appropriately, don’t walk around the city in shorts, as the Spaniards don’t allow themselves to do so. A man in shorts is a signal to thieves. Do not stand in the middle of the street with a map, as this clearly indicates that you are not a local resident. Go to a cafe, sit at a table, and only then open the map.
  6. You can’t hang a camera around your neck, it could get ripped off. Store small equipment in your inner pocket, and keep a large one in a separate bag over your shoulder. Carry the bag in front of you without putting it on your side.
  7. Don’t visit dangerous areas of Barcelona, don’t move through dark streets, especially alone.
  8. Smartphone should not be left on the table – it will be stolen.

Barcelona is a great city for a wonderful trip. If all precautions are taken, no thief or crook will ruin your vacation.

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