Rosie got out of the car in shock. A woman from a nearby shop came over and said: “Ostras! Otra vez? La tercera hoy en este semaforo.” (“Wow! Again? The third today at this traffic light.”)
In eighteen months Rosie has had her bag snatched out of her car three times – and that’s while she’s been driving it, sitting in it or standing beside it.
In her own words, she tells us what happened.
(See our map on the left for the three locations.)
1 – May 2010: Ronda Sant Pere / Psg Sant Joan
I was walking along Ronda de Sant Pere one Wednesday lunchtime, speaking on the phone in English. I was front-followed, I realised later. They moved along at the same pace as I did from the corner of Carrer Bruc right up to just before Passeig de Sant Joan. I reached my car – an old car, Spanish number plates, non-tourist looking. I took off my jacket and put it on the back of the car, with my bag. One guy approached and asked me for directions to the metro station. Being polite and British, I gave him clear instructions. Meanwhile, his two friends took my bag out of the car. I never saw it again.
2 – October 2010: Carrer Sant Pere Mes Baix
I was dropping a friend off and stopped the car for a moment to phone another friend to say that we had arrived and would he come down to carry a suitcase. We were outside the car park in front of La Sirena. The driver’s doorwas pulled open, “Señora, la rueda…” (“Lady, your tyre…“). I realised the scam immediately. I closed and locked the door. Too late. My bag was gone from under the passenger seat. It was late at night and they could only see my bag because it was white. They missed the other bag with my laptop. Lucky me. After about ten minutes my friend’s phone rang – the bag had been thrown into the carpark near the cathedral (on the Mercat Santa Caterina side) – the phone number was written on a piece of paper in the bag and whoever found it decided to ring the number. I got the bag back, minus my cash. I’d already cancelled my credit cards, but at least I didn’t have to queue for another driving licence.
3 - November 2011: C/ Trafalgar & C/ Girona.
At the traffic lights – just before you turn left from Carrer Trafalgar onto Carrer Girona – 15:00hrs. Two weeks ago. Stupidly, I had forgotten to lock the car while I was driving it. Two guys came sauntering along through the cars stopped at the traffic lights, winding between the cars. They saw me, nodded to each other, and one opened the driver’s door. Again, I realised immediately and swung round to grab my bag. I managed to catch the corner of it, but he got it. If I had got hold of his wrist I was not letting go, and I guess I may have been knifed or worse. Lucky me again.
I see it happening all the time. I constantly warn tourists with maps-wide-open; I have a team of young English speakers that travel the red line to work and we warn them about every scam we know of – all of which are on your excellent website of course. I’m thinking of writing to 8TV, Josep Cuni loves a scandal.
I hope this helps to get the message across – we are not safe, but we can protect ourselves. I now dread coming into Barcelona by car. But, when I do, it’s doors locked, bag firmly attached to a seat belt. I now pay no attention to people, however respectable, who tell me there’s something wrong with my car.
Update (November 30, 2011 @ 14.15hrs): When Robbed in Barcelona’s Rob Daly went over to Carrer Trafalgar on the morning of November 30th to take a photo of the scene of robbery 3, he discovered another driver had had her bag snatched from her car just moments before. Motorcycle police were on the scene and were circling the block (in opposite directions) to try to find the assailants. Robbed in Barcelona caught a shakey (not particularly good video), see it below. The victim is sitting in the black jeep, which is parked on the right side – police are speaking with her. (We promise we’ll shoot landscape in future… we were just pretending to be making a phone call while recording.)