Although Madrid and Barcelona are both wonderful, touristic cities to visit, they are both listed within the 10 worst cities for pickpocketing. Here are a few tips to follow in order to avoid pickpockets ruining your holiday full of fun and sun in Spain.
1) One popular scam in Spain is pickpockets masquerading as undercover policemen. They are known to approach you on the street and ask for your wallet. One thing you must keep in mind is policemen are unlikely to approach you unless your behaviour seems suspicious; and even so they certainly are wouldn’t ask to go through your wallet without showing you a police badge of his own.
2) Avoid ‘tourists’. If a random person comes up to you asking for directions, you are most likely going to try and help them out. As nice as this seems, you must be aware that the ‘tourist’ might have an accomplice using the distraction to pickpocket you.
3) Don’t get caught in a people sandwich. If you find yourself sandwiched between two people on the street, an escalator, or public transport, be aware that while the person in front may be blocking your way, the person behind you picks your pocket or backpack. In order to avoid theft, always wear your backpack in front of you and avoid keeping valuables in your pockets.
4) Don’t fall for the fake petition trick. Pickpockets will often approach people on the streets with a fake petition to sign. Whether you choose to sign it or not, they will ask you to donate to a ‘charity’ as a way of extorting money. Moreover, while the person holding the petition sign distracts you, pickpocket is focused on stealing your belongings. Therefore, it’s best to avoid strangers approaching you on the streets and asking for donations; don’t be fooled into thinking the money goes to a good cause.
5) Lastly, as fun as they may seem, avoid impromptu roadside games. While strolling down the street, you may come across a few people playing a card game on the footpath. No matter how enticing it is, refuse their invitation to join the game. One, they will cheat to make sure you will lose your money. Two, while you are busy playing the game, pickpockets may be enticed to steal your belongings.