Text and photos by John Smith, exclusively for Robbed in Barcelona
Events below took place on Saturday, November 26th, 13:00hrs on Carrer Montcada, outside the Picasso Museum.
So, I’m walking home, push-chair weighed down by shopping and baby.
I pass the Picasso museum, my usual route and I navigate my way around the throng of tourists.
As I turn the corner past the museum, I notice a couple particularly obsessed with their city maps.
Now, after years of living in the Born district, I’m more than used to tourists asking the way to the Picasso museum, and equally used to giving them my disinterested but useful reply with instructions of how to get there.
But… wouldn’t it seem strange to you that a couple standing directly outside the museum, would be so studiously analysing their maps? Checking the street numbers around them? Whilst, equally meticulously, checking every person around them and the bags or belongings being carried?
I’d love to be oblivious to such behaviour, but after decades of living in central Barcelona, my sixth sense has developed in tandem.
So, my alerted “pickpocket antennae” made me stop, and observe…
Given my laiden and slightly vulnerable situation, I decide to simply take photos as they circle the guy wearing green below. Have a look at my photos, then join me below for more commentary.
|Two move in front of the target (in green) and two behind.||They three facing this way realised they’ve been spotted.|
|Have a closer look.||Have a closer look at two of them.|
|They depart.||Fourth guy stands against the wall; intended victim in green.|
I’d not seen these individuals before so I hoped I was wrong, and I hoped they really were stupid tourists unable to see the building right before their eyes, or perhaps innocently planning their next visit of the day.
But no, after a few faked manoeuvres, the group of four head back into the museum, towards the souvenir shop, and then… emerge again beside an unsuspecting tourist whose bag and camera were clearly visible.
By now I’m convinced. Two move in front of the guy wearing a green jacket, and two behind, all four slowing down so as to close down the free space around the target – “the crunch”. He, still unaware of what’s going on around him, is also now separated from (I assume) his mother behind (in blue).
This is a tactic I see frequently on the metro. “How can he still be unaware of what’s happening?” I think to myself.
In the first photo you can see the four closing in on the man in the green jacket, the woman directly behind him looks down at his bag.
My brazen photography make them realise they’d been spotted. They each move away from the target, looking down at maps, taking photos or playing with their phones, trying to blend into the background again.
I take a couple more photos as they wander by, and I warn the targeted man of what has happened. Though we don’t share a common language, he understands my gestures. He is mostly bemused by it all.
I rang the police but by the end of that conversation the four were already walking down Carrer Princessa, away from the museum towards Via Laietana.
I was in no situation to follow them, as I have done on previous occasions, but within half an hour the photos were emailed to “Robbed in Barcelona” to go on the web.