Guest Post: Robbed by the Thieves, Failed by the Police

March 15, 2012
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Foto: Bert Kaufmann

I was robbed last night while walking home from a club at 3 in the morning.

I only realised that I had been robbed the morning after when I woke up at home and could not find my phones or wallet and had an unusual cut on my forehead.

I phoned my bank to block my credit card and they said that someone had tried to take out money from a cash machine in the centre of Barcelona until the machine had swallowed my card for entering the pin wrong too many times.

I also had my personal phone taken, a piece of prepay rubbish that I am not bothered about.

Also my work phone was taken. This was a beautiful Nokia C5 touch screen with internet enabled. When I phoned Orange to block it they could only block the sim because they needed the account holder (i.e. my employer) to block the phone. Orange also said that the thief had been sending multimedia messages all night at €1,20 a pop.

I can remember leaving the bar and walking up to the Placa Cataluña area where I was robbed. From then ’til this morning I have no memories and this weird cut on my forehead. I think someone hit me in the face by surprise to stun me then robbed me. I would have noticed two phones and my wallet being pickpocketed, because they were each in a separate pocket.

This morning I went to the police to report the robbery. I explained this story and they told me that I need to return with the following information:

1) Details of the movement on the bank card, where it was used, what banks and the addresses of the cash machines
2) Phone bill with the details of the multimedia messages, the unique IMEI number and telephone number.

Surely, if I give my bank details and phone number the police could find all this information and actually do something about it, like… locate the thieves using the phone? With 3G phones it is possible to locate phone to a 100 metre or less area in the centre of cities. That is what we call detective work in England. It’s like the police do not want to solve crime, just do their hours and collect their wage.

By the time I compile all this information the phone and my wallet will be long gone. Also in the wallet was an identity card with magnetic strip that allows the thief access to some fairly important IT installations in Barcelona.

Update 1:

The thief who took my mobile has friends with telefone numbers listed below and has enjoyed free phone calls today. Please feel free to call these numbers and politely ask them to return my phone and wallet plus the €46 euros I was carrying last night.

(Editors note: please be aware the mobile numbers listed here could be associated with other victims of crime.)

912521202: 9:58, 11:14, 16:44, 17:07, 17:08, 17:39, 18:16, 18:20.
605097654: 11:10, 11:33, 11:35, 16:34, 17:04, 17:05, 17:34, 17:49.
615845988: 18:15.

Update 2:

The police asked that I come back with details of the mobile phone (IMEI, phone number, call history etc…) and also of my bank card.

I phoned my mobile provider who gave me the following information of calls made, to what numbers and at what time, one of the numbers being a fixed line in Madrid and the other two numbers being mobiles.

IMEI: 358620043748758

I also did the same with my bank who told me that someone had attempted to take out money from my account in various bank cash machines in the Placa Catalunya area of Barcelona. Until on the 5th attempt to guess my PIN, the cash machine swallowed the card.

03:00 – 170 euros – La Caixa C/Cardenal Reig 11-13, 08028, Barcelona.
03:02 – 120 euros – La Caixa C/Cardenal Reig 11-13, 08028, Barcelona. (Editors note: we’re aware that this location and the next location aren’t close, but we have no explanation for the discrepancy.)
03:06 – 120 euros – La Caixa, Pl. Catalunya 7, 08002, Barcelona.
03:12 – 100 euros – Sabadell Atlántico, Ronda Sant Pere 13, 08010, Barcelona.
03:18 – Card taken by machine at Banco Santander, Paseo de Gracia 5, 08007, Barcelona.

I returned to the police station for the second time to try and report the crime and they told me that because it was a violent robery I had to go to the nearest hospital and get a doctor’s report stating that I had been hit on the head.

I protested that it was a waste of time as it was obvious that I had been hit on the head because there was a cut on my forehead, but I still had to go to the hospital.

In the hospital they did an x-ray of my skull and insisted I strip down to the waist so they could do an inspection despite me insisting that the only damage was the cut on my forhead. Two hours later I left the hospital and returned to the police station to try and file the report for the third time.

I explained to the police officer that I was robbed whilst walking home between 02:30 and 03:00 in the morning. I also said that it happened somewhere near Placa Catalunya. I said that I only realized that I had been robbed in the morning when I found my trousers empty of my two mobile phones and my wallet. I also said that I didn’t remember how I got home nor who had robbed me because it would seem that I was hit on the head and stunned. They asked if I had been drinking and I replied that I had had a few drinks but was not excessively drunk.

The police officer implied that I had lost my phones and wallet and that I had fallen over drunk, that way the report could be filed as lost property and not the more serious violent robbery. Fucking unbelievable.

She suggested that I lie on the report saying that two men attacked me and robbed me so that all the boxes on the report could be filled in correctly. I said that I was not going to lie on a police report and that she should put down what I said.

Further, I did not fall down drunk because my clothes were spotless. Further, as we can see from the bank and phone company information it has definitely been a robbery!

The police officer said that perhaps someone had “found” my phones and wallet that I had dropped or “lost” and had tried to use them. I then said that also would be a robbery.

The police officer also insisted I give a contact phone number and I replied that it was a bit useless as my phones had been robbed. I offered my e-mail as a contact but the police officer insisted saying that the report was not valid without a phone number nor would it accept an e-mail as a contact detail. Finally she put the work phone number of the robbed phone assuming that work would renew the sim and phone and not just give me an alternative phone.

Finally after much arguing, I managed to get the police officer to file the report as it actually happened, from what I remember and accept the additional information that I had supplied. I also listed the contents of my wallet in great detail listing the most important items below.

1) Work ID card (with magnetic band that gives me access to some sensitive telecoms installations in Catalunya)
2) Work expenses debit card
3) Personal Bank debit card
4) 46 euros of money

I know that a 3G phone can be tracked down to its location, and perhaps a more prompt and enthusiastic reaction from the police would have located my phone, wallet and the thieves who robbed me.

Now, with the slow reaction of the police all they will get are some blurry pictures from bank security cameras of someone covering their face with a hood to try and take out money. The phone will just be stripped down for spare parts and never seen again.

I would like to know from the Mayor why as a citizen of Barcelona I should vote for him in the next election? Why do I pay taxes to a useless and uncooperative police force? Why when I handed the police a whole pile of supplementary information about a crime did they not act on it but just file it away? What will the Mayor personally do to sort out the problem of pickpocketing and petty crime in the centre of Barcelona?

I started to try and report the crime at 17:00 this afternoon, I finished doing so at 00:30 this morning. Why is the process of reporting a crime so difficult? Why are the police so useless, is it corruption or incompetence? Perhaps it’s both?

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18 Responses to Guest Post: Robbed by the Thieves, Failed by the Police

  1. Christof on March 15, 2012 at 9:45 am

    And this is why I didn’t bother reporting my wallet stolen when it was. It won’t make any difference and just makes you feel even worse and adds to your workload.

    • Augusto H. Bundoc on March 15, 2012 at 1:30 pm

      I know how you feel, I was robbed of my $500.00 camcorder on the subway in Barcelona on my birthday last year (look for “SHAPE staffer robbed in Barcelona) and basically nothing was done. I started to file my report online which I ended up re-doing when I went to the police station at the airport two days later. It took the local cops nearly an hour to get my report “OFFICIALY” on their file. I even emailed the NEWLY ELECTED MAYOR of Barcelona about the incident before I went back to Belgium and all I got was an email reply from him saying how sorry he was that I had to experience that. Since then nothing much was done at all…that’s why I’m beginning to believe that a lot of these cops are probably on someone’s payroll. Either that or the police force in SPAIN and the so called politicians there have NO BALLS AND CAN BE EASILY INTIMATED BY THESE CROOKS. You just have to be thankful that you’re still alive; you could’ve been stabbed or killed while they were in the process of robbing you. My only advise to you would be NOT TO GO OUT ON YOUR OWN PARTICULARLY AT NIGHT, ESPECIALLY IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY. I hate to say this but DON’T EXPECT TO FIND YOUR PHONE, CREDIT CARD AND WALLET cause these COPS ARE USELESS AS A WET TOILET PAPER WITH HOLES ON A VERY SHITTY DAY.

  2. carolina on March 15, 2012 at 10:20 am

    barcelona is not an easy friendly city anymore, it is changing and so should your habits. dont get wasted to the point where you dont remember a thing because people are not going to take a wasted person’s demands seriously. next time use the 46 euros in your pocket and take a cab

  3. Pilar on March 15, 2012 at 10:46 am

    That’s the problem of the spanish laws, police knows that for a wallet (with “only” 46 euros) and two mobile phones, even if they find the thief, he will not get in prison, and he will just pay a fine. When the robbery “cost” less than 400 euros, in Spain, it will be qualified as a offence, not a crime. And for that, thiefs don’t go to prison. Then police in Spain are really tired to capture thiefs that stays only some hours in the police station and then go happy at home. Thiefs knows that and they make good use of that. As a Catalan, I don’t understand why they can’t change these laws! we are all tired and I really understand that police prefers concentrate the work with crimes, not with offences.

  4. James on March 15, 2012 at 11:41 am

    I’ve handed in discarded bags and passports to the police station in Plaza Catalunya before now. I went 30 mins out of my way on a few occasions, thinking I was doing a good service. Little did I know, having had my passport stolen recently, that all the police do is throw them in a big bag and send them to the respective consulates three or four times a year. I had to pay something like 130 euros for an emergency passport to go home to the UK for Christmas, and I’ll have to pay for a new passport on top of that.

    The police put down that the passport was lost, rather than stolen, as I couldn’t confirm that I had definitely seen the thief, despite having a good idea who it was – I was reading on the ferrocarill and left my bag strapped to the back of my bike, a girl walked on and stood next to my bike, she smiled at me ( put her hand in my bag) and got off at the next stop. I’m normally very vigilant but had had my passport in my bag because I went to the post office earlier in the day… and the girl smiled when I looked up.

    The whole experience at the cop shop in Plaza Catalunya was annoying. The policeman on the front desk seemed like he was on coke, a real passive aggressive wanker. The police woman dealing with the report, just useless and quite unprofessional (in fact most of the other guys walking in and out were all shouting a screaming as if they were at school). When I explained to her that I had lived in Raval last year and that people had tried to rob me on the street I’d say, over thirty times… SHE LAUGHED, and said ‘It’s because you have the face of a guiri’… so there you have it! What can you do?

  5. Renate on March 15, 2012 at 11:42 am

    Probably the motivation for making the reporting of crime so cumbersome and useless is that people won’t even bother to report it anymore and the mayor can proudly announce that the number of reported crimes have gone down.

  6. Neil Dawes on March 15, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    From the article: “Why are the police so useless, is it corruption or incompetence? Perhaps it’s both?”

    Allow me to posit an answer…

    Value of items stolen: 500 euros (all values are very rough guesses)
    Cost to tax payer for investigation into the alledged crime: I’ll be very conservative and say 800 euros.
    Cost to find, apprehend, interview and process the suspect plus search for stolen gear: Another 800 euros maybe?
    What could the suspect be charged with? At best, handling stolen goods. But there is still no real evidence it was stolen (sorry) so I’d be surprised if they’d be charged with anything as serious as theft. If charged, lets add another 1000 euros to the cost (at least!). Any charge or fine to the suspect if found guilty will be paltry (less than 100 euros). They will also be back out onto the streets re-offending within a few hours.

    So we probably have at least 2500 euros cost to the tax payer, you almost certainly won’t get your stuff back or any compensation and the thief will still be out on the streets regardless of any outcome.

    I really do feel for you and what you went through, but it general I’d say your anger and dissappointment is misplaced when aimed at the police. They know that regardless of what they do, the criminals will be back out on the streets within a very short period of time and that all they will be doing is waisting tax payers money. I’m not saying they are 100% blameless, but they are between a rock and a hard place.

    I know it’s a pain to report stuff (it can be done online now I think?) but it is important to do it so that your experience is also counted in the stats. If everyone reported them, maybe the powers that be would do something about it (we can hope!).

  7. Xevi on March 15, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    Hey, just as tip, the first phone number starting by 91, is from Madrid province, in Madrid they got the prefix 91 (and for example in Barcelona province they got 93) so all the phone lines in Spain start by certains numbers depending on were you live; in Girona province it is 97 for example. And this is a fix line (home line) not a mobile phone. Don’t know if it helps…

  8. Michael on March 15, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    You say you weren’t excessively drunk yet you didnt know you got robbed and didnt know how you got your forehead cut?

    This sounds like excessive to me.

  9. Pedro on March 15, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    I find it a bit weird that you got knocked out with just one hit and no huge headache the following day, nor swallowing (I read in diagonal, but I didn´t see any mention to it, just the cut).

    My guess, and based on a prior experience in that area… is that you may have been drugged in whatever bar you took your drinks, and then attacked and robbed.

    As for the police… Have you been robbed in other countries? I have (UK)… and the process doesn´t differ. To my surprise, I got contacted some days/weeks later (in both cases, UK and Spain) to report that my id had been found (too late, since I had renewed it)… but of course… no trace of anything else.

    Does it help? Not really.
    Could they do it better? Probably… if they applied a smarter and quicker process, specially with current technology.
    Is it a waste of time? No. You MUST report these things… so that stats show how much criminality is there in the city, so that more resources (and better… in both means and people) are assigned to security.

    Good luck.
    Also… I recommend you avoid that area in the future… it´s a disaster, and statistically, you are more likely to have trouble there than anywhere else.

  10. robert on March 15, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    hey man you were drugged, at the last bar you had a drink!!!!!…very common here.!!!

  11. Richie on March 15, 2012 at 9:05 pm

    Yeh, I got ‘spiked’ in the Haarlem jazz club, couldnt believe the chain of events afterwards.

  12. Terje on March 23, 2012 at 11:30 pm

    I was robbed just four days ago, near Paralel where we were staying in an apartment.My husband was trying to park the car when two young men came from a bar offering us some “help”. My handbag was in the car, beside my husband, window closed.I myself stood outside helping my husband.Somehow they managed to get the bag and hen just vanish!My emotional loss is bigger than material, as I had just 50 euros in my bag(hidden).But my camera and cell phone and keys to the apartment as well as ID card(my only travel document). I went to the police a day later as I honestly believed it would not have been any use.But I was told to do it by our consul in order to get documents for leaving the country.I have to admit the police was very helpful and they took my sayings very quickly.And they were ,more or less, able to speak English(which seams to be a problem in Barcelona)Our consul just said”So typical!”

  13. David A. on April 4, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    As much as I love Barcelona, these stories make me never want to visit again. I was mugged there in the street last summer and I am still amazed that the police did nothing and could have card less. Italy, Portugal, Greece… here I come!

  14. Elli on April 19, 2012 at 11:36 pm

    As to Pedro, I know you mean well and it is always offensive when people criticise a place, but I have been to London many, many times, and, whilst I know the dangers; London is bigger than Barcelona and hence even more cosmopolitan and would technically be reckoned to be no danger but NOTHING compared to Barcelona.

    As a visitor, the thieves literally engulf you and intimidate. Stories of people having been physically attacked so that they let go of their purse/wallet whilst the place is swarming with supposed police is legend. (Not a compliment, by the way). I am sorry for your loss, too, as nobody deserves this violation). If anyone can find me the ‘Robbed in London’ website I will happily retract my statement.

    In contrast, for anyone thinking of visiting and who hasnt seen this, please read this and think about how many lives were hurt badly before any real action was taken.

    I am told, on good authority, that *IF* a thief is caught and arrested, they are fined 150 Euro and let go to do it again. On a good night, they will nearly always make a profit….even based on 257 arrests….

  15. Life in Catalonia on August 2, 2012 at 7:26 pm

    I used to work in the centre of Barcelona near Las Ramblas – in Drasanes and was fed up seeing poor tourists lose their wallets. The last one I found was on the stairwell to the Metro and it belonged to a Swiss citizen. Luckily he ha along with his ID card a card from his hotel which we phoned. He took a taxi down to my workplace and I could give it back to him so it had a happy ending.

  16. Adam on June 25, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    I had my I phone stolen in Barcelona this month. The thieves also managed to run up a £760 phone bill that night before the phone was cancelled. I am an Orange customer and they seem adamant that the bill will have to be paid, even offering to break up the payments for me (how kind). I feel completely on my own, without any support, advice or help. Has this happened to anyone else? Even better if they were an Orange customer. What was your outcome? I find it ridiculous that im expected to pay this bill… any advice would be greatly appreciated.

  17. Barcelona on March 20, 2015 at 1:50 pm

    I got robbed Saturday, 14.3. in a Starbucks-company, Placa de la Universidad, no 2. at about 5.30 p.m. in Barcelona, Spain. They stole a grey Jansport backpack, which included
    A laptop: Lenovo Thinkpad T540 p, serial nr. R90B4AE3
    1 Western Digital 2,5 Zoll-USB-3.0 portable, 1 TB
    1 Toshiba portable external hard drive (USB 3.0), 1 TB
    A novel by S. Collins “The Hunger Games”
    a blue notebook
    a Tedddy-key fob (see image)
    Of particular importance are for me my two western digital external, portable drives, because they contain very important data and pictures. I will offer a generous reward if someone finds them and is able to give them back to me, because I desperately need them. Please, let me know If you saw or found them. I will offer a very generous reward!!
    If you find something, please write me:
    (yo) llegué este sabado (14.3.) en Barcelona, Espana, onde me robaram en Starbucks, Placa de la Universidad, no 2. por volta das 5.30 una mochila Jansport, gris que tene
    un ordenador Lenovo Thinkpad T 540 p, no. serial: R90B4AE3
    1 disco duro portatil de Western Digital, 2,5, USB 3.0, 1 TB
    1 disco duro portatil de Toshiba, 2,5, USB 3.0, 1 TB
    una novela de S. Collins “The Hunger Games”
    un cuaderno azul
    un oso de peluche (el llavero, como na foto)
    para mi los 2x discos duros son de major importancia porque los tenen informaciones y los datos irreemplazables.
    por eso yo doy una grande recompensa en caso de que algien los tiene y me da. En caso que algien los tiene, por favor me notifica ( Yo voi dar una grande recompensa en caso que yo reciebo al menos los discos duros!!!!

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