Delegates, welcome to this wonderful city. Watch your pockets!
Barcelona is an incredible city and a perfect choice for conferences. It has just one flaw, an epidemic of pickpocketing mainly focused on tourists and visitors to the city. By following a few simple guidelines you can greatly reduce the possibility of a nasty incident ruining your trip.
Here are ten tips that will keep you and your belongings intact.
1. When on the street, please conceal your lanyards.
2. Don’t bring your valuables where you don’t need to have them. The less of a target you look, the less you will be.
3. Leave your passport, drivers license and essential documentation in the hotel where they will be safer.
4. Your laptops, your phones, your tablets and your gadgets will be of particular interest to Barcelona’s thieves. This week has been much anticipated. Please, do not take your laptop bags to restaurants and bars. If you must bring them, please keep them between your legs, on your lap or at the very least not in a position which is between you and the door.
5. Don’t hold maps or guidebooks in public, as this draws attention to you.
6. Please familiarize yourself with the pigeon-shit scam.
7. Please learn about the free hugger approach.
8. Please read two-door-taxi trick.
9. It’s February; don’t identify yourself as new by wearing t-shirt and shorts! The Raval district sits between the conference venue and the city center, it’s a gritty, genuine area, but don’t walk through there in a suit.
10. And especially be aware of the infamous “Ronaldinho”.
Remember, if there’s a bus and metro strike this year, it means the thieves will have to find other locations to center their activities. Watch out especially for streets and bars.
Last year a quick search on Twitter revealed many sorry tales of Mobile World Congress attendees pickpocketed or robbed. We collected some for posterity. Take a look here. Indeed, we know people who attended last year who are turned off from coming to Barcelona this year because of their experiences, see here and here.
This year, we at “Robbed in Barcelona” are upping our game. Throughout the Mobile World Congress we will collect every tweet from victims of robbery in Barcelona and send them to Barcelona’s mayor, Xavier Trias, for his consideration. We will of course also publish them here.
In addition, we have launched a Twitter campaign where we will contact delegates who have stated that they will be attending #mwc2012 (that’s Mobile World Congress to you!). You might be here because of that tweet. If so, please retweet it. If we have contacted you and you feel that this was inappropriate, please let us know, but please keep an eye on your bag anyway!
Pickpocketing and bagsnatching is rampant in Barcelona, but it is unusual to find yourself in physical danger. (Spanish law is weak in this area, but it does look on “robbery with violence” a little more seriously. But only just). If you are careful, you will have a superb time. The city has many gems, the majority of them away from the tourist centers. Explore, and enjoy!
Please also consider reporting any incidents to the police. It does take some time, but we’d appreciate it.
Robbed in Barcelona is made up of expats from all over the world who live in Barcelona. We love this city, its culture, people, food and sheer energy. However, we believe that Barcelona, its inhabitants and, especially its politicians, need to face up to the fact that there is an epidemic of muggings underway in this city. We raise awareness by giving advice and letting victims tell their stories. There are dozens of examples on our website, and in our Facebook group; do have a look.