Barcelona apartments are frequently supplied with A4 information sheets to pin to communal noticeboards. The sheets are usually supplied by locksmiths or removals companies to ensure their phone number is on-hand should someone in the building need it. In addition to their own phone numbers, the sheets list useful numbers such as those of the local police, ambulance, fire service and so on.
A collaborator of “Robbed in Barcelona” sent us a photo of one of these information sheets, which in this instance has an interesting additional component called “Señales Que Podrían Ser Utilizadas Por Los Ladrones” or “Symbols That Can Be Used By Robbers”. These symbols can appear in chalk beside your apartment or building’s front door to impart essential information about the property to the robber’s accomplices. The information sheet informs the public about these symbols so that if they appear beside your door, you can take the required action to ensure your property remains safe. A series of 19 symbols appears on this information sheet. We’ve translated them for you below.
Vuelve Pronto – Returning soon
Abre Con Llave – Opens door with a chain.
Deshabilitada – Empty House
Ya Robada – Already Robbed
Policia – Caution: Police
Buena Acogida Si Se Hable de Dios – Good welcome if you speak of God
Inutil Insistir – Too difficult
Se Puede Robar – Possible to Rob
De Vacaciones – On Holidays
Casa Caritativa – Charitable house
Mujer Sola – Woman on her own
No Interesa – Not of interest
Muy Buena – Very good
Aquí Nada – Nothing here
Ojo, Perro – Beware, dog
Solo Mujeres – Women only
Usar Palanca – Use a Crowbar
Dispuesta Para Robar – Ready to Rob
Invalido – Invalid
Symbols like these have been around a while – and these particular ones are popular in the Spanish speaking world, from Chile to Spain.
Anyone who has watched Mad Men will recall in Season One, Episode Eight a hobo etched a “Dishonest Man Lives Here” symbol into the garden post of Don’s (Dick’s) father’s fence (see accompanying image).
Additionally, sketches such as this made it into popular culture when internet WIFI networks first appeared and people were going around the streets of San Francisco with Pringles cans looking for open SSID networks. They too would chalk relevant symbols on walls where the networks could be accessed without passwords (see accompanying image).
It’s an oddity of Barcelona that anyone resident here for any reasonable duration will encounter these symbols (on information sheets more than on walls, admittedly) but will think little of them, it just comes with the territory. It’s interesting that they’re still relevant in this era of mobile phones and instant messaging to be included on information sheets such as these.