As a visitor to Barcelona, how you dress and the accessories you carry may decide whether or not you’ll be robbed.
If you follow the example of the locals (“Barcelonins and Barcelonines”), you’ll give yourself a good chance of not being targetted by pickpockets.
Yes, locals can be victims too, but for the most part (70%+), it’s visitors to the city who are the favourites.
Here’s an example of two visitors who have an above-average chance of being robbed. We explain why below.
1. Nice cameras (two!) and a long lense. One’s definitely a Nikon (see his strap). Robber Thinks: >That’s worth money on the black market!<
2. Guidebook prominent under his arm. Robber Thinks: >You don’t know where you’re going next, do you?<
3. Baseball caps for each, something not usually worn by locals (though oddly often worn by your typical robber). Robber Thinks: >You guys aren’t local!<
4. Is that a map I see in her hand? Robber Thinks: >You’re lost, aren’t you?<
5. This photo was taken in March 2011, it wasn’t yet warm enough for the locals to wear shorts and t-shirt, but tourists always do. Robber Thinks: >You guys are from another climate, right?<
6. That looks like a pretty – and large – bag on her shoulder. There’s a good chance it contains passports, credit cards and cash. Couldn’t these have been left in the hotel where it’s more safe? Robber Thinks: >Nice voluptuous bag!<
7. She’s wearing flip-flops, no problem with that, except that if she’s robbed it gives her zero chance of running after her robber, you just can’t run in flip-flops. To his credit, the guy looks like he can take care of himself, and could certain run comfortably on his shoes of choice. Robber Thinks: >She’s not going to chase me!<
8. We can’t say “Don’t be Asian”, because there’s not a lot you can do about it if you are, but being from Asia in Barcelona give you a better chance of being robbed. Reasons are: you probably have a better camera over your shoulder (the newest technology is available in Asia first); you’ll likely be less suspicious (in Asia there’s less street crime); there’s a chance you have just arrived on a plane from Beijing, Tokyo or Seoul… which means passports, it means money, and it means a smaller chance the crime will be reported (due to language difficulties, and time constraints). Robber Thinks: >I prefer Japanese to locals!<
(See two more tips below the next photo!)
9. The above photo was taken in the summer of 2010, and FC Barcelona wasn’t playing any games that month. Locals rarely wear Barcelona jerseys (and rarely any sporting jerseys), except on the day of a game. This guy can be seen from 200 metres either direction with what he’s wearing. Locals often see tourists – usually blonde haired Scandinavian families with two or three kids – dressed head-to-toe in expensive Barcelona replica kit. This draws attention, it will increase the likelihood that you will be robbed. If you have to wear a football jersey, try wearing an Espanyol jersey, no one ever messes with Espanyol fans! :) Robber Thinks: >Only tourists dress like that.<
10. I do like her hat, no really. But it’s doing her no favours. You won’t see any hats like that around here, unless they’re on the heads of people concerned about losing their fair skin, which no Spanish girl is concerned about. Robber Thinks: >Oh, look, nice hat. Don’t see that often. She mustn’t be local. It looks expensive. Bet she has money. Let’s rob her.<