Exclusive: Barcelona Pickpocket Photos Revealed for the First Time

October 19, 2011
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A “Robbed in Barcelona” exclusive.

A selection of never-before-seen photos of pick-pocketing incidents in Barcelona. These photos were sent to us this week. The photographer has requested anonymity. The photos were taken approximately two years ago in Calle Princesa and around Jaume I metro area.

1. On Carrer Princesa, on the Picasso Museum side. Watch how the two girls with black tops follow their intended victim, the man in the white t-shirt. In the fourth photo… boom, ones reaches for his pocket.

2. In Placa dels Angels, at the junction with Via Laietana and Carrer Jaume, a white hat is used to conceal the hand of the woman in the grey/brown top. The girl with the map further conceals what’s happening. The man in red is of course the target.

3. The following batch comes from the “Thieves of Barcelona” Tumblr site. They were uploaded there, and we were then informed about it, exclusively we’ve been told. We’ve concealed the faces, but we believe they’re not concealed on the Tumblr site

If you have any interesting photos, please consider sending them to us.

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34 Responses to Exclusive: Barcelona Pickpocket Photos Revealed for the First Time

  1. Mider Jacamau on October 19, 2011 at 9:57 am

    First of all, congratulate you about your work.

    A pity the faces are blurred :>.

    And a bit of nitpicking: the correct way to name the streets in Barcelona is “Carrer”. Therefore we will say Carrer Via Laietana, not Calle Via Laietana. It would be correct to say “Calle” if we were talking about Madrid, but that’s not the case.

    Imagine I say Wall Calle o Rue Du Downing. Both are wrong. It’s Wall Street and Downing street. And also there’s not a street called “Calle Jaume”. That street is named Carrer Ferran.

    • Rob Daly on October 19, 2011 at 10:31 am

      A few things:

      1. I respect that Catalan language but I don’t speak it, thus I used “Calle”. I’ll make a better attempt in future. I’ve now gone back and changed the two instances above. I spent two hours compiling this post, but I suppose it’s these things that people notice.
      2. I believe it is Calle Jaume, Google Maps says so, though of course they could be wrong. Ferran is between the Placa Sant Jaume (look Catalan!) and Las Ramblas.
      3. Photos are blurred but there is a link above the blurred faces where we have been told there are non-blurred images.
      4. I sense that you can’t say “Carrer Via…” since “Via” is an alternate way of saying street or road or passage or avenue, just more beautifully.
      5. Interesting that whilst you corrected me for Carrer/Calle you made no observation about me opting for Placa instead of Plaza. :)

      • Me on October 19, 2011 at 1:15 pm

        Hi Rob, in fact Via Laietana is not a Street it’s a “Via” (like Via Augusta) from the Roman times were the Via was like a road part of the Rome Way. Googlemaps works fine but it has a lot of places or streets name mistakes. You can find the actual names of complete Barcelona streets at: w20.bcn.cat/Guiamap/Default_es.aspx.

        Thank you for your work!

      • Mider Jacamau on October 19, 2011 at 2:14 pm

        Im sorry. My message was written before my morning tea ingestion. I’m considerably more grumpy if my blood doesn’t contain at least a decent dose of caffeinated bliss. And less focused. So my nitpicking was not nitpicky enough. Now, having consumed my pint sized Earl Grey tea dose, I am as easy going as a drunk mermaid. But since you corrected my correction I guess you got the message. And again, keep up the good work. Your website is making an impact. And I suggest you to learn a bit of catalan. There are free classes organized by the Consorci of Normalització Linguística. I know that you may think catalan is not useful, but if you plan to live in Barcelona, its a good way to understand the country. And if you already speak castillian, it would be very easy for you to learn.

      • Norma on October 20, 2011 at 5:08 pm

        Dear Rob:
        First of all, thank you for your contribution. Second of all, there was nothing wrong with your initial reaction. Don’t pay attention to the Mider’s anal nitpicking about your use of the word “Calle”. For Chrissakes, how about a little bit of gratitude instead of unsolicited (and erroneous) lectures on the “correct” language of Barcelona?? I’ve lived in Barcelona for seven years and both “calle” AND “carrer” are correct terms. They mean the same thing. In Cataluña, BOTH Spanish and Catalan are official languages. There is not ONLY one correct language, in spite of what Catalan-obsessed people such as Mider say. This is a myth they are trying to perpetrate, and unfortunately, succeeding at it. The Catalan nationalists are doing the same thing that was done when Franco was dictator: imposing their language on the population. The methods are not as brutal but the obnoxiousness and intolerance is the same. It’s a sad sign of the times that someone’s got to distract from the purpose of this website with their totalitarian political agenda. Just so you know: I am Canadian, married to a Spanish-speaking Catalan. There are plenty of Catalans who speak Spanish, especially in Barcelona. And there is no need to learn Catalan in Barcelona if you already know Spanish, except to placate these people who are rude and ungrateful for your help anyway. Cheers and thanks again for the great entry.

    • Rob Daly on October 22, 2011 at 9:20 pm

      Oh Mider, I just thought of something funny… you don’t rename “Downing Street” to Calle Downing, but why do you rename London to Londres? :)

  2. xaviferal on October 19, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    Great job but would have been better than the person who made the picture would have helped

    • Rob Daly on October 19, 2011 at 1:29 pm

      Both pickpocket incidents were abandoned by the thieves once they realised they had been photographed. The act of taking photos so close up in itself became the means to stop the pickpockets.
      In addition the photographer alerted the victims as to what had been in progress and chased the pickpockets out of the area.

    • Raquel on October 20, 2011 at 5:13 pm

      Any other helpful comments, Ungrateful Armchair Quarterback?
      I can’t believe some of the ingrates who read this website. You do the amazing service of documenting robberies in flagrante, and all they can do is chide you for not doing law enforcement as well? Unbelievable.

  3. Enzo on October 19, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    Carrer de Jaume I (Jaume Primer) exists and is the one that continues Carrer Ferran beyond Plaça Sant Jaume down to Via Laietana. That segmnent is not named Ferran (Ferran goes from Les Rambles up to Plaça Sant Jaume but after that is named Jaume I (Jaume The First – It is a King’s name)
    Good job with the pictures and the website.

  4. Tom Thumb on October 19, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    Funny how Mider Jacamau comes in and makes a comment about the three-letter difference between Calle and Carrer, his city is in shit but it’s the spelling that matters. I wonder if the robbers refer to the streets they stalk in Catalan or Spanish?

    • Mider Jacamau on October 19, 2011 at 2:22 pm

      I’ve been following this website since the beginning. And recomending it to my friends. Also sending emails to some newspapers for them to comment about it. I am concerned about thievery in Barcelona because I love my city. But my language and my culture are important to me. And look, sheet and shit have only one letter of difference. Therefore it would be the same to you if a cover you with a sheet or with shit, right?

      And Barcelona is not “in shit”. We have problems like everybody else. And thieves are one of them. That doesn’t mean that Barcelona is not a great place. I think London is great too. I saw the riots on TV. But thay did not change my opinion about it.

      And show more respect fot our language. I show respect for yours. You should do the same or go back to wherever you belong.

      • Tom Thumb on October 20, 2011 at 10:49 am

        Mider, I think you saying “go back to wherever you belong” is unfair.

        I don’t live in Barcelona, so what you have said is not accurate.

        English isn’t my first language, so again you made an inaccuracy there.

        I came to Barcelona with my wife to open a new company, with employment for 40 people. In 24 hours both my wife and I were robbed, in two separate incidents. In the case of my wife, they pulled a knife.

        We did not open the business in Barcelona as I was concerned for the wellbeing of my staff. Therefore, I think I’m qualified to say Barcelona “is in shit”, because criminals on the streets stopped 40 people from getting work there.

        Then… you overlook the problem and finding a solution for it, and focus on how a foreigner spells the word for street; then you tell me (and presumably the writer on this site) that I should “go back to wherever you belong.” Mider… I did go back to where I belong, and I took the 40 jobs with me.

      • Raquel on October 20, 2011 at 5:14 pm

        Mider, you are a douche. Go back to your Massengill bottle where you belong.

      • Victor Cafo on October 23, 2011 at 5:23 pm

        I’m really sorry for having this kind of people as Mider in Barcelona. Good manners is the first thing they should learn, both in Spanish, Catalan or English.
        Sieto mucho tener esta clase de personas como Mider en Barcelona. La buena educación es lo primero que deberían aprender tanto en español como en catalán como en inglés.
        Sento molt tenir aquest tipus de persona com en Mider a Barcelona. La bona educació es el primer que harien d’aprendre tant en espanyol, català o anglès.

    • give me patience on October 22, 2011 at 10:26 am

      Exactly, but this is the ONLY issue bothering indoctrinated people around here, that’s nationalist education for you. In fact the language police around here pays puppets to go round the internet imposing language, never mind that this article is about pickpocketing, that’s neither here nor there, it’s all about nation building… and paid trolls. Who cares mate, in any case we are talking about Spain so get over it! I also love my city, Barcelona, and therefore I respect the suppressed language: Spanish, which happens to have been spoken here since roman Hispania ceased to be roman. So show some respect for my language, pedantic nazionalist, not all catalans are as you, some of us haven’t submitted to linguistic impositions. Ain’t going to be getting into a history or human rights lesson with some fanatic so this is all I have to say about the subject.

      As to the subject of pickpocketing over here, it’s been going on for absolute ages, since tourism started to come to newly made up Barcelona, once it was showcased to the world and sold to Anglo-American investors after the 1992 Olympic games. It’s very interesting to note that pickpocketing and robberies are carried out mainly by organized clans and mafia-like groups who are simply allowed to do so by the authorities, laws were changed so that a mere “slap on the back of the hand” was given as punishment instead of sending thieves to prison, this has sparked justified gossip about the nature of the relationship between the local authorities, well-known nationwide for their tendency to turn everything into mercantile transactions and line their private pockets, and the crime gangs.

  5. David A. on October 19, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    Who cares about the names of the streets? What is most important is that these rodents are removed from every Calle/Carrer or Plaza/Placa in Barcelona. They should be put in preso/carcel. It is disgusting to see these people taking over the streets.

    • Me on October 20, 2011 at 6:31 am

      David (and previous Tom Thumb), everybody cares here about the name of our streets, maybe not in your city or country. It’s about RESPECT. To RESPECT tourist and resident things, to RESPECT the place you visit or live in, etc. Robbers don’t respect anything. We aren’t robbers.

      (by the way the right way is “presò/cárcel” :)

  6. thiefhunter on October 19, 2011 at 4:21 pm

    Over on Thiefhunters in Paradise, I never blur faces (well, once.) There, you can see lots of Barcelona pickpockets and con artists, and hundreds from the rest of the world, too. There’s actually a documentary on pickpockets coming out soon, or just playing now (depending on where you are), made by National Geographic, called “Pickpocket King.” It’s just playing in Spain now, and called “El Rey de los Carteristas” Not sure if this site will actually change government, but it will certainly help visitors avoid Barcelona’s thieves. Kudos to Robbed in Barcelona!

  7. Sid on October 20, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    Thank you for your photos, Rob, you have a big heart taking the trouble to inform people. I am a foreigner that has lived in Barcelona for 15 years, and have saved a good number of tourists from being robbed in the center of town while living there for 6 years. I give employment to 25 local wonderful people, and have learned that a positive attitude will save the day in Barcelona. It is funny though, that any criticism on Barcelona is always converted to a political issue by some people, may it be over robbing people, the fact that you comment on the wonky pavement, the 70´s neon light above the bars, or just the fact you drink tea in the morning. It is essential to keep a sense of humor in the face of these daily challenges.

    Cheers! Feel free to moderate any messages…..

  8. I.D.J. on October 20, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    I heard about “this site warning tourists about pickpockets in Barcelona” and I thought what a great idea!
    I was born Barcelona and although I have been living abroad for the last 10 years, I can see how this problem is increasing in the recent years when I’m visiting. When I lived there (up until I was 22) my bike was stolen. I went to the police station to report it and of course it took the longest time ever with no solution at all (I was lucky enough to get a “nice” policeman, they normally have this air of macho superior…).
    After that I experienced several attempts against more bikes I owned, wheels disappearing, sits, etc.

    I also got my purse stolen in a bus, (I must say how stupid of me for keeping it at the front pocket of my back pack), while a lady was deliberately blocking my way from walking though the aisle so another guy could help himself to it. Fortunately I was a penniless student and the only hassle was to get a new I.D. and several other cards with all the paperwork it involves.

    The last one was about a year ago, inside a restaurant called Origens in Enric Granados, just behind the university. This guy came in begging for money and leaving a sheet of paper on the table with something scribbled on it. My partner threw him a coin to get rid of him as he wouldn’t leave (and there was no attempt from staff to take him out of the premises either). It was after a while that I was missing my phone which I had left on my right hand side, on the table, and I just clicked that he had used the paper to cover it and then take it away.

    With this, I want to say that it is not only tourists that get mugged in Barcelona…yep, also locals are targeted, in fact, any naive, innocent person is targeted, regardless where they come from. They probably do have a predilection for tourists… who knows. I was pretty annoyed at this last experience since I thought I had become quite “street-wise” after all what had happened before, but I was under guard again.
    Now I only carry my money in my front pocket, I put my bag at the front and wrap it with my arms and enjoy my holiday. The only solution I find is to be more cautious.

    I understand how something like this would put people off and decide not to go back or advise other people against visiting the city. But why not try to be cautious (and read a site like this ;-)) and enjoy the city? there are lots of great things to do and to see. I always warn my friends when they decide to go, some of them got robbed anyway, others didn’t, but they all had great time…

    Yes, thieving in Barcelona is a big problem and I’m not surprised at the responses from the mayor and police that some people got, these are in fact the real problem! the inefficient people ruling up there…
    I didn’t even bother reporting my phone being stolen because I didn’t want to be sitting for hours at the police station talking to an arrogant policeman (or rather listening to him, since you’d be lucky to get a word in…).

    Anyway, that’s my bit. I still think Barcelona is a great city, despite its street thieves… I would be more worried about the politician thieves…

  9. Fran on October 21, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    I am a regular at Origens restaurant on Enric granados. Last August thieves tried to steal my iPhone THREE times as I sat on the terrace. It’s true that the staff don’t do anything to run these people off, but they probably figure it’s not worth the risk to themselves… Since these thieves do come back, after all. I think Barcelona could seriously benefit from an influx of New Yorkers; they dont put up with this shite. We could use a Guardian Angels- type organization here! Anyone up for it?

  10. Indignant Resident on October 21, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    Tell us more about what happens in New York? someone else mentioned it too. They have a zero tolerance policy? What does that mean in practice?
    Here, it seems there needs to be a change in the law before they could apply a zero tolerance policy (erm, if there was a political will in the first place!). The law is so lax, once a thief is stopped even in the act of stealing, within hours or a day, they’re out on the street again. It’s carte blanche to go and and carry on stealing.
    Maybe we could do with a section on this website about how a zero tolerance policy has been applied in others places.
    oh, and who are the Guardian Angels?

    • Fran on October 22, 2011 at 2:56 pm

      The Guardian Angels are a vigilante justice gang, formed of regular citizens, in New York. They were formed in the 1970’s, I believe, as a desperate response to the city police’s lack of control over crime. As we know, violent crime in New York was at an all-time high in the 1970s. The murder rate was soaring, subway robberies and assaults were out of control as well. Then a guy, Curtis Sliwa, along with his sister, Lisa Sliwa, formed a gang to fight crime as it happened in the streets and subways of New York. The group grew and grew, and by the late seventies they were famous. They literally went around like comic book heroes and, when they saw crime happening, they intervened and turned the criminal over to the police. They made a big difference in New York, not only on the streets, but in the minds of the citizens, who saw that they COULD do something about the crime plaguing the city, and that they did NOT have to live with it. Later, the politicians and police were forced to work more effectively in getting rid of crime, because quite simply, to have bands of citizens roaming around performing vigilante justice made the cops and the mayor look very, very bad.
      I think the root of the problem, besides the obvious corruption and flaws in the judicial system, is the ATTITUDE of the CITIZENS. As long as they see robberies and other types of crime as “someone else’s problem” and something they don’t want to get involved in, crime will continue to be tolerated, and allowed to flourish as it is right now.
      Links to Guardian Angels info:

  11. John Smith on October 22, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    Give me Patience
    Your message is fascinating.
    Please give us more details of the law change you mention. The law was modified the lessen the punishments for pickpocketting? When?
    And, any actual evidence for collusion between pickpocket mafias and politicians…?! Not that that would shock me, but if you’re going to post it on a website, well, merits some back up justification, me thinks.

    • give me patience on October 22, 2011 at 10:57 pm

      Hi John

      As Marc writes below the law now says that if you steal something worth less than 400 euro and you are caught, you are taken to the police station through one door and come out 10 minutes later through another, nothing happens to you. As to the matter of organised crime and consent by officials and police is a well-known practice around here, but of course is never talked about publicly, you’ll find some mention of it in the latest Javier Bardem film “Biutiful” which shows the ugly side of Barcelona, the one that tourists don’t get to see, a very brave film because this is a taboo subject here where politicians have worked hard at creating a fence called “nation” that protects them very well, criticize them or something about the system here and you are not a proper catalan citizen but a fascist… it’s all very sad and convoluted and only living here with eyes and ears open would help you understand.

  12. Marc (Free Catalonia) on October 22, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    Hi all
    Just wanted to say that it is what happens in the center of Barcelona, ​​at the old city (Raval Quarter and Born).
    The situation has deteriorated in recent years because of
    extrangera.Todos crime criminals are gypsies from Romania and the Moroccan musulamnes mayoria.Despues
    there are also people of the South American and black africa.
    For us, the Barcelona and Catalan is a shame.Y all the fault of the leftist and communist politicians who have governed Barcelona the last 32 years.
    If stolen menoer worth 400 euros is not a crime, only a lack administrtiva or NOTHING.

    Well just tell you that the people of Barcelona will not hardly ever at the center, is
    very sad that in your own town you can not go quietly.

    Solidarity with all the tourists affected

  13. John Smith on October 23, 2011 at 1:52 am

    Hi Give Me Pacience,
    Yes, I’ve been told by many a frustrated police officer about the law relating to minor offences. But my question was specifically about your comment:
    “laws were changed so that a mere “slap on the back of the hand” was given as punishment instead of sending thieves to prison,”
    When were the laws changed? Up until what year would you have received harsher penalties for minor offences? Are we talking about legal changes that happened during the transition to democracy? And trying to rid of Feanco’s laws?

    On you second point, all very interesting, I’ll check out th film and any other info my eyes and ears come across.
    So, are ‘we’ sayng that the current political class, or certan groups, benefit from allowing a high level of crime? How? From direct receipt of I’ll gotten gains from the pickpocket mafias?
    Or, if not, how do they gan from their ‘consent’ to organised crime?

    What I’ve noticed, living n central Bcn, is a dramatic increase in crime in the last 3 years, which seems directly related to the opening up of immigration from other parts of Europe – due to the nationality of thieves who’ve appeared in vast numbers, that weren’t here or active before. Are you suggesting there is political collusion in that?

    (before this debate gets sidetracked down a long road of accusations of racism about that comment – I believe immigration is not only a good thing but inevitable, and brings great economic, social and cultural benefits to a nation, and my whole life in Bcn is interwoven with, and enriched by, people from across the globe, inckuding of the same origin as the pickpockets – let’s try and analyse without losing ourselves in that one)

  14. Mike Kelly on October 25, 2011 at 10:36 am

    Mider Jacamau – what an idiot. People like him are one of the biggest problems Barcelona has.

  15. Vanessa on November 22, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    I just stumbled across this website, and I’m sooooo happy someone’s documenting all of this. I’m a Canadian living in Barcelona for over 4 years now, and many of the friends who have visited me over the years have either been robbed or it was attempted. There have been 2 attempts on me in the first month of me being here, but I knew what was happening (I am naturally paranoid) so could avoid it.
    Funnily I think the guy on the left of the Jaume metro picture was one of them, and it so happened as I was embarking on the Jaume station… He started unnecessarily pushing me from behind as if the metro were full (it wasn’t) which was suspicious from the get go, then paid attention to my purse. It was the ‘ol “oops I thought I dropped something in your bag” trick with the guy also holding a hat as an excuse. “Look, I’m holding a hat, I’m not stealing!” Good one.
    At this point the metro was moving, I started yelling “Ladrón” (one of the first words any stranger should learn in Barcelona), and luckily there were cops in the metro, and all they did was kick the guy out of the metro station. They said they couldn’t do anything because he hadn’t actually stolen anything! Talk about preventive measures.
    The first time was at La Boquería, when it was actually packed, it was obviously a “group squeeze” maneuver. Also caught the guy with his hand in my purse. Lesson learned: don’t bring your flimsy beach purse to the center unless you want to find some thieve’s hand in it. That place is squirming with em, so if you go best spend more time checking your bag than on the overpriced food.
    Honestly though, there is a reason why tourists (especially UK and North American residents it seems) are easy targets. Stop looking up at the sky all the time and just pay attention.

  16. […] touch on pickpocketing (of various flavours, including: petition scams, the Ronaldinho scam, the pickpockets who dress up as tourists, the metro push) and also the tyre-slash scam, the gypsy flower scam, the 3-shell game, […]

  17. david brock on January 20, 2012 at 10:21 am

    So pedantic your first reply…. so bored of petty nationalism – especially pathetic given the context of the post :(

  18. adrian saminowski on February 16, 2012 at 6:33 pm

    We were almost victimized by pickpockets while taking the metro in Barcelona last month. Good thing we noticed their hands on our bag. Three ladies were operating that time and we caught them in our camera after their failed attempt and trying to cover their faces and walk away from us when we tried to confront them. I hope other tourists will be warned against these pickpockets.

    • Rob Daly on February 16, 2012 at 6:40 pm

      Hi there, any chance you can send us the photos for publication? You can send them to the email address at the top of this blog. Thanks.

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