Guest Post: Thief Pulls Down Trousers To Prove Innocence

August 29, 2012
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Photo: Oh Barcelona

Guest post by Robbed in Barcelona contributor, Matt

I have been in Barcelona for the past week and my first experience of the thieves was when I was with a girl on the beach outside Opium. Her bag was stolen containing her camera and all her holiday photos and after two hours of searching it seemed futile. I vowed I wouldn’t let it happen again and it was a few days later on the beach at sunrise I saw a thief rifling through the possessions of a sleeping couple on the beach. I shouted at him and ran over to wake up the couple, they weren’t interested in pursuing him so I gave chase but he had disappeared.

I was pretty angry at this point and on my final night I was again sitting on the beach with some friends watching the sunrise whilst keeping a close eye on my surroundings. It’s obvious to spot these thieves straight away, we saw one guy crawl along the sand trying to take someones bag he picked it up and we shouted forcing him to drop it and shout obscenities before running off into the night. We woke the guy up to tell him people were trying to steal his stuff and alerted some others on the beach.

About 30 minutes later two guys from the beach approached us and told us the thief had come back with some friends and was trying to fight them. Me and another person I was with have quite extensive training in martial arts and are both of big builds so we said we’d help them if anything happened. Our presence (along with the 7 or 8 others who had joined us) seemed to intimidate them into leaving.

It only took a short amount of time for another thief to come along wearing just his boxers and sit down next to someone who was asleep. We saw him go through the bag but he was so relaxed about it and even sat next to the sleepnig guy afterwards we assumed they were friends (also the fact he was wet and just in boxers made it seem he had just been swimming). Shortly afterwards we saw him get up and due to being highly suspicious by this point watched him as he went over to one of the thieves from earlier and hand him some money and cards. We immediately got up and woke the guy up checking if he knew the man that we assumed to have stolen his belongings. He didn’t and informed us that his credit card was missing and about 100 euros in cash. The man he handed the belongings to had disappeared by this point but the thief was still there so we approached him informing him that we had seen him take the guys belongings at which point he denied it and pulled his boxers down showing me his (tiny) cock to presumably say he didnt have anything on him.

At this point a few other tourists came up saying they had seen him take it and about 10 of us had him surrounded. The police had been called by this point and i started pushing him around to intimidate him and we were asking him where the stuff was (I was flying home that day so knocking him out would probably have caused some legal issues as I’m aware of corrupt police abroad, if he had thrown the first punch that would’ve been ideal based on self-defence laws which is what i was hoping for). A police car swiftly came by which he ran up to to protest his innocence, unluckily for him we had about 10 witnesses with us and luckily for me they spoke spanish. The police seemed reluctant to arrest him at which point another friend came rushing over with his phone. He had been filming the sunrise and had just realised he had unknowingly filmed a high definition video of the guy robbing the items, passing them over then all of us approchaing him. I walked around so i could make eye contact with him and gave him a wink. He went absolutely mental shouting at us and the police restrained him and threw him in the back of the car and took the others who had items missing to the station to give statements. I’m not aware of what happened from then on and I was surprised by the police not taking in myself or my friend who had the video on his phone – if it had been British police I would think that video would be invaluable evidence on which to convict someone?

Anyway, hopefully justice was done and if not at least that thief couldn’t ruin anyone else’s night. Pure scum and I’m amazed the police are so casual in arresting them. If you or I were an undercover sitting on that beach that night we would have made more arrests than they probably make in a month but life goes on.

According to one of the beer sellers we became friendly with throughout the week, he informed us that if we see them steal, we should chase them and fight them. They are not very dangerous people. What are your views on this? Having been trained in dealing with situations like this I wouldn’t want anyone to see this story and assume it is safe to confront them and end up getting out of their depth.

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5 Responses to Guest Post: Thief Pulls Down Trousers To Prove Innocence

  1. Os=man on August 29, 2012 at 10:14 am

    He will just get a fine which he will probably not pay, police may know him already and he will leave the police station same night to continue doing the same. They do not go to jail until they accumulate a large amount of fines. Something like this I’m not completely aware of all the process but is ridiculous how this robbers get away with it leaving the victims with serious circumstantial issues like no pocket money or phones to communicate with someone and worst no personal documentation which may cause long bureaucracy procedures.

  2. Terry Batten on August 29, 2012 at 10:28 am

    Never, ever fight them. Firstly, they are highly organised teams, and there are never alone. Secondly, and this is probably the reason the police were reluctant to arrest them – there is a minimum limit for which a thief can be charged. I think it’s something like 300 € (not 100% positive on the exact amount) – Thieves are well aware of this, and are usually careful to keep below this amount. So if you fight them, you are not only putting yourself in danger from them, but you could be the one comitting a crime. Like everyone else in Barcelona, I have many friends who have been robbed, and I have been robbed too. I was lucky, my bag was stolen without me noticing. One friend was robbed twice. The first time (and she’s a little slip of a girl) she surprised the guy by being aggressive and snatched her bag back off him and started shouting and screaming. That worked, the guy got spooked and ran off. That was in the middle of the day. The second time was at night. She was with a friend and a guy came up to them with a knife and they (sensibly) just handed over their bags.
    After a bad week waiting for money to come through, I saw two guys rob a woman sitting in a car. I went mental, screamed my head off, they ran for it, and I foolishly ran after the guy who had the bag. I was very lucky. A guy on a motorbike coming towards us, saw me chase the thief and tried to grab him. That spooked him and he dropped the bag, before having a chance to empty it of its valuables. I hate to think what might have happened if I’d chased him up some alley.
    I guess my opinion now is yes, challenge thieves, but no , don’t try to fight them

  3. Stevie Wonder on August 29, 2012 at 10:53 am

    A few things you have to realise Matt. First off, the Barcelona “police” (and in Spain in general if stories and the odd news articles are to be believed) are offered an incentive each month (called their “plus”).. extra money at the end of each month basically, added on to their salary. However they don’t get this if they haven’t collected a certain amount of fines for that month. Traffic fines, fines for riding your bike with headphones, fines for playing music, fines for drinking beer in the street, fines for whatever they can come up with. So the last thing they want is to be out catching thieves as they can’t fine thieves. The “police” here have become money collectors for the government.
    Also, a lot of the “police” here take money from the gangs of thieves on a regular basis, bribes so that they will leave them be, free to rob tourists at the beach and wherever else they please. I have this info from a very very good source… if you get my drift.
    In terms of the thieves. They carry knives and they will use them. One guy got stabbed and killed recently (well early this year) for trying to stop thieves from stealing his bike. If they get you in a quiet area, they will stab you.
    There was a great documentary that came out a while ago called something like “Callejeros” and they did one on Barcelona street crime. It was a joke. The part I remember most was a thief walking away from “police” after robbing someone, having a friendly chat with the the corrupt coppers and then saying to the camera something along the lines of “Barcelona, where you can steal what you like and never get arrested” .. something along those lines anyway, I saw it last year some time.
    So there you have it. I have lived here for many many years and this is my experience. I try to warn everyone I come across that they have to look after their bags here. For me it has become an inbuilt reaction to living here. I never let anything out of my sight and would never sleep on the beach. You’re a fool if you do.

  4. Vera on August 29, 2012 at 11:56 am

    The minimum is 400 euros. As Terry says, the thieves are well aware of this and won’t rob above this amount. They aren’t usually fined, the police take their statement and they are let loose immediately. Not much can be done.

    • jj on January 30, 2013 at 1:33 pm

      it has this year increased to €550 as the price of i phones is high and everyone has them , you know you can walk into a sports shop in barcelona, put on a brand new pair of addidas and walk straight out, all that the security can do if they stop you is take them back, justice?

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