A new contributor to our Facebook group, Doina Bird, shared a new scam with us. Like all scams, it’s so simple we’re surprised we didn’t think of it ourselves first.
We’re calling it “The Taquilla Trick”. For those of you not resident in Catalunya, the word “Taquilla” is Spanish for those little boxes you sometimes see at the entrance to supermarkets where you put your bags. From the shop’s perspective, if your bag is in the little box then you have two free hands for shopping, or there’s the other more likely reason that if your bag is in the box, it’s that much harder for you to steal from the shop. Some shops like Caprabo absolutely insist you put your bag here and won’t let you enter if you refuse. Other shops like Eroski, Carrefour, Mercadona, and Consum do likewise.
Some detail first: Putting the bag in the box requires that you put a euro coin in the slot, which allows you lock your bag inside and take the key. When you come back after shopping, you put the key back in the keyhole, turn the key, the euro is dislodged and you take your euro and your bag. Everyone’s happy. Except… [see below]…
… our local Barcelona scam artists got an idea, a fool-proof plan to allow them take your bag which you thought was safe.
It goes like this:
Our scam artist comes to the shop, enters, puts a euro in the slot, locks the door of the taquilla – let’s say it’s number 20 – and takes the key. This sounds normal so far, right? EXCEPT, they don’t go shopping in the shop itself, instead they exit and stroll down the street to the nearest key-cutter and they get a copy of the key made, this costs them but a few cent. They come back to the shop, open the taquilla, take their euro and leave the original key in the keyhole. They then wait… wait… wait until a person arrives with an attractive bag, or a tourist arrives with a camera bag, or something else catches their attention… the bag-owner puts their belongings into taquilla number 20, and goes into the shop to do their shopping. Two minutes later, our scam artist approaches taquilla 20, opens the box with the copy of the key and takes the belongings inside.
That’s it, the scam completed. But, the scam artist now has two options….
Option A: Take the bag and the euro inside and disappear, or
Option B: Take the bag, leave the euro inside and lock the door again.
Option A means they’re a bag and a euro richer, but they have to go to the keycutter again; Option B means they’re a bag richer, and they still have the copy of the key to play the game again.
We imagine they’d go for Option B.
Imagine the shopper coming back to the row of 30 or 40 taquillas, putting their key into taquilla 20, getting their euro back and finding nothing inside… no bag… they’d surely end up trying to open the other 30 taquillas, expecting that they’d made an error in remembering which taquilla they had put their own bag into. Or perhaps they’d think they’d put their bag into one and taken the key of another. Frustrating. They now have to cancel their credit cards, buy a new mobile phone, tell all their friends they’ve been robbed, perhaps travel to Madrid for a replacement passport if they’re foreign, get a new bag, perhaps buy new sunglasses, and replace all the aspects of their lives now disrupted.
We find it ironic that the boxes are in place to protect the shop from being robbed by the shopper, but now the boxes themselves allow the shopper to be robbed by the thief. There’s some symmetry here.
And so, write it down folks, another scam to add to the growing list of scams in the Barcelona area.