Guest Post: Red Handed, Red Handle

June 11, 2011
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By Milky.

I’m sick of using the metro. Crowded, smelly and unsafe.

Foto: Carl-Magnus Dumel

First week of May. Green line. Early evening. I enter the train behind a lanky Maghrebi in his chandal uniform. Late 20’s over 6ft tall. Two stops later a French family enter the train. Mama, papa et les enfants.

Lanky Maghrebi makes his move as a I watch him out of the corner of my eye. I scan the carriage. Who on the carriage looks like he can handle himself? I spot a south American guy… he’s also seen the lanky guy. A glance between us. RED HANDED. Lanky slips his hand into Papa’s pocket, I aim a swift kick to lanky’s balls. He doubles up. I hope my South American eye contact buddy is gonna back me up. He does. He stands up and shouts “ladron, ladron!” I grab lanky’s scarf and drag it over the glass partition in the carriage, effectively hanging him there. I then pull the RED HANDLE. Security arrive. I hand over a protesting lanky and my new battle buddy and I shake hands and continue our journey.

Barca vs Man United. 20 mins to kick off. Green line. Four Romany types. Skinny striped tee and his gym buddy with two gypsy chicks enter the train and corral an elderly American couple. The whole carriage tries not to look as the foursome try to grab bags and wallets. Caught RED HANDED. I’m a door away from the action. In front of me a lad stands up. Blue Nikes. Shouts “ladrones, ladrones”. I join in as does the rest of the carriage and I pull the RED HANDLE. Skinny and gym boy don’t like this. We all shout our way off onto the platform. Gym boy thinks he wants a fight. My hooligan eastend accent gives him second thoughts. Driver comes and refuses to act. Skinny, gym and the scraggy twins scarper and then re-enter the same train at the other end of the platform. Driver refuses to call security. I re-enter the train and pull the RED HANDLE again. Driver wants me arrested. Me and blue Nikes leave the station. I get to the bar in time to see the kick-off.

On my way to Sants to catch a train to Valencia. Green line. Paral.lel. Three blonde hipster scando lads get on. Followed by four Romany types. Fat chick pony tail. Fatter chick pony tail. Skinny chick. And Earring lad. Fat Chick attempts to use her bag to cover her hand as she slips it into Blonde hipster scando lad number one’s pocket. Caught RED HANDED. I jump up. Shout “ladrona ladrona”. Grab fat chick by her greasy pony tail and she falls to the floor. I pull the RED HANDLE. Earring lad takes exception to this. A quick snarl from me and slap across the chops with my keys in my fist sends him a message. Suddenly beardy gym-bear passenger joins in. “I saw them too.. hijos de puta”. The four run off. I’ve got earring’s blood on my hand. Scandos tell me it’s the second attempted robbery against them this week. Security arrive. Tell me its the sixth time they have been called today for the same gang. Sants seems quiet. It’s raining.

I am going to buy a scooter.

14 Responses to Guest Post: Red Handed, Red Handle

  1. Mike Kelly on June 12, 2011 at 11:17 am

    how about a poll on the top five most dangerous metro stations?

    • milky on June 16, 2011 at 1:57 pm

      top five most dangerous for the theives or for the public? ;)


      2) JAUME 1 (YELLOW LINE)

      Pull the red handle!

  2. random guy on June 15, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    I’m just a random guy reading this at work because there’s nothing better to do today. This is quite entertaining. Good writing, interesting stories. Bravo, Milky, you are a man of action.

    Wife and I were in Barcelona a few years ago, staying in a decent hotel in Gotico. We were told to be wary of ass monkeys trying to steal our stuff. We took precautions – security wallets under our pants, fake wallets in our pockets, messenger-type bags that could be carried on the hip or in front of the body, etc.

    First night there, I hear some waste of carbon teenager speeding up behind us, so I quickly glance over my shoulder. He stops his bike in a hurry and thinks the better of stealing my wife’s shoulder bag. He’s lucky he didn’t end up in the hospital, I would have kicked him off his bike if he had gotten any closer to us.

    Barcelona’s pickpockets should be lined up on the Rambla for all tourists to kick in the balls at the cost of 1 euro.

  3. as on June 16, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    waow. I want to visit Barcelona but after watching a program about with a section about pickpocketing in Barça and now this I dunno if I should just go to Lisbon instead hehe… I’m very careful with my stuff but this is frightening. There should be indeed a top 5 of the most dangerous places for tourists. I’m from Brussels and I know what places to avoid alone (even though I’m a 26-old man).

  4. Philly on July 12, 2011 at 11:16 pm

    Almost robbed at Sants Estacio – bald guy, wearing a white tee shirt with the word “TEXAS” stocky build, with a skinnier accomplice, black hair. Blocked me in on the subway as I was entering train, bald guy put his arm on the door, blocking me, while other guy walked up behind. Third person, possibly a woman involved.

    I agree re. the kicking of the balls. Lets replace the running of the bulls with that.

    • MK on September 4, 2013 at 8:51 am

      Actually a combination of two in my case – I was approached by entire Romany family – at first in an elevator, but they did nothing at that stage. Then – while boarding westbound green line at Sants – they blocked me on the door as well. I managed to notice an accomplice behind me hold his hand in my pocket. Second later it would’ve been gone…

      I’ve had a huge backback and 30kg bag with me. I could have know I was an easy target…

  5. yehednav on July 15, 2011 at 9:22 pm

    Great writing, Milky. I used to commute on the green line every day, Lesseps to Les Corts (practically the whole damned loop!)and everyday I felt like I had to hunker with my bag on my lap, protectively covering it with my arms. And I’m not a small girl, I’ll smack a brother.
    Anyhow, about four months ago my job changed offices and I work on the FGC line now. What a difference! There are still unsavoury types (a few weeks ago a large Russian man was threatening a small Colombian man who had apparently invaded his personal space by shouting “SOY RUSO!” and pushing him about) but in general I feel a lot better.
    Best advice to travellers – watch your back, look people in the eye and be aware of your personal space at ALL times. A swift kick to the cojones might not hurt, either…

  6. Damien on August 24, 2011 at 7:46 pm

    Milky I personally want to buy you a beer or 6, great work!
    I have customers robbed every week and its killing this city…

    • Rob Daly on August 25, 2011 at 4:44 am

      Damien, would you allow us to distribute brochures (or similar) to your customers to inform them about this problem? Hypothetical question as we have no brochures to speak of, but it’s something we could/would do.

  7. Ron Berry on September 27, 2011 at 4:42 am

    My wife and I board metro train. Large guy steps between us, starts grabbing my wife on the shoulder. I raise my hand and put it on his shoulder to warn him off, then my sixth sense kicks in….look down and see a hand slipping into my pocket from behind!! Little old lady, quite inconspicuous. Push her away, shout “I’m being robbed”. We move away, then start yelling and pointing “These people are pickpockets, call the police!!” Barcelonistas in train pay no attention, keep reading their newspapers. They have only themselves to blame if their city is the worst in the world for pickpockets.

    • Rob Daly on September 27, 2011 at 10:14 am

      Ron, if you want to flesh-out the story a little more (a few more hundred words), I’d be happy to make it a guest post on this blog. Email address at the top of the blog, if you’d like to communicate more.

  8. I.D.J. on October 21, 2011 at 6:05 pm

    Ron, it’s not fair to assume that the rest of the people in the train who did nothing about it were Barcelonians…
    It leaves you with the impression that ALL Barcelonians won’t give a S about people being robbed, and it’s not true.

  9. Janet Joplin on October 21, 2011 at 6:10 pm

    All he needed was one person to do something, and it’s fair to assume there was more than one Barcelonian in the carriage, moreso if they were reading newspapers. I.D.J. stalks the site looking for opportunities to save Barcelona’s online reputation, but does nothing to actually save Barcelona’s reputation…

  10. I.D.J. on October 21, 2011 at 7:39 pm

    don’t get me wrong.
    You can call it stalking… I’m just reading all the articles out of interest (just discovered the site yesterday) and what I’m starting to see is that some people tend to put everybody in the same bag, and as a Barcelonian I think my reaction is normal.
    And, besides assuming that they were all locals… do you really think that Barcelonians are the ones to blame if Barcelona is the worst in the world for pickpockets? I don’t.

    I’m not trying to justify those passengers who did nothing, wherever they came from, I just don’t like reading comments like blaming the locals for what is happening. Locals are victims as well, I’m sure in a much smaller scale compared to tourists. That is what I meant.
    And I’m sorry if my comment annoyed you.

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