Question

how bad is the handbag snatching

Location

City: Barcelona

Autonomous community: Catalonia

Country: Spain

Answers

Like any big city, pick-pockets might be around.
Barcelona is not as dangerous that you could get attacked any corner - so please don't go around feeling scared: you'll just make yourself more evident and shine as "possible victim".
Most of the time, pick-pockets go for what's easy for them. So in order to prevent bad experiences... just don't put things easy for them. That means:

- The back pocket of your jeans ARE NOT a safe place for your wallet.
- The back of your chair in an outdoors terrace IS NOT the smartest place to hang your bag (have it in your lap, or between your feet where you can feel it all the time.
- In crowded areas, don't wear your backpack in your back: have it in front of you.
- The best travelling handbag has a long stripe that you can cross over (not sure I'm making myself understood: I mean if the bag is hanging on your right side, the stripe should go accross your body and hang from your left shoulder).
- Ladies, a short handled bag that you carry as if it was Little Red Riding Hood basket is cute... but you'll be crying out: "please grab it an run!".
- Don't trust Romanian gypsies. They are professional beggars... and even better thieves!
- Don't even listen to those young dark-skin girls (also Romanian gypsies) who ask you to sign up to support their NGO for handicapped. It's a scam and they'll nick your wallet too if they can. Plus, yes, locals can tell you are a tourist so a real NGO worker would not even bother asking foreigners as they want locals to get engaged in their projects!
- There are some Spanish gypsies that are also pick-pockets: a group of ladies that go around selling carnations. Don't let them approach you: stop them with your hand and say no.
- In the subway, wait for it seating or standing by the wall and wait to be the last to enter the wagon. Sometimes thieves act in groups spotting tourists: a couple get in front of them while 2 more are behind (so you are the "ham" in the sandwich). When the door opens, the two first go in and stop abruptly making you stop or even crash against them... while the ones behind you get your wallet.

So yes, all these things happen. So why am I saying you shouldn't be scared? Because now you know how the bad guys act and you can protect yourself. You've seen it's easy, so just take these common-sense precautions and... relax and enjoy this beautiful city!

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