Barcelona scams and keeping safe

Barcelona Scams
Phil Kurthausen

Phil Kurthausen


Don’t Panic!

Barcelona is a cool, hip, friendly and safe city.  You are going to have a great time!

BUT as with any European city there are some things you need to be aware of.  Firstly, violence is unusual but there is, it is sad to say, a risk that some thieving low life scumbag will try and steal your phone, wallet or the contents of your bag.  You need to be aware of it but don’t let it spoil your trip.

We have some tips for you below on how to avoid becoming a victim and what to do if you are unlucky enough to be targeted.

Barcelona pickpocket


  • Watch your back.  The pickpockets target bags (they will unzip them) and back pockets.  Keep your valuables in front pockets and in secure bags.  You can carry your bag on your front but this is a flashing red light that you are a tourist with valuables.
  • Be extra vigilant on the metro and in crowded areas where a pickpocket can get close to you.  If with a friend watch each other when travelling on the metro. If you are bumped check your pockets immediately. 
  • If someone asks you for the time/directions or anything else BE ON YOUR GUARD.  Politeness is used as a way past your vigilance.
  •  These guys work often work as a team.  Someone distracts you whilst some one else robs you – variations on this theme include:


We know someone who had this pulled on them.  A guy approaches you and offers to wipe off some pigeon crap from your shoulder.  In the meantime his accomplice is going to dip in your pockets/rob your bag.  Just back off right away if approached in this manner regardless of how well dressed the ‘helpful’ stranger is dressed. In my friend’s case he knocked a guy off his bike, the accomplice, who snatched his laptop case, who ended up with a cracked head, instant Karma but it would have been better if he’d known to walk away when approached.


What’s going on over there? You are on the metro and there is some sort of act or disturbance, everyone looks over, BEWARE, there is often someone not looking over and that is the dude rifling through your bag.


Inside or outside watch where you put your bag/jacket.  Distraction scams apply here, especially if there is some act in that lovely plaça (usually not involved but used as cover by the thieves)-  Put your foot through your bag strap and make sure your phone and wallet are not in that jacket hanging over the back of your chair.


Some areas are notorious but it can happen anywhere.  Pay extra attention when in the following areas:

  • The Metro
  • El Borne – particularly around the Picasso museum and late at night
  • Las Ramblas
  • El Raval
  • Plaça De Catulyna
  • Sagrada Família


  • Don’t go vigilante on their ass.  You are insured, we hope, so take breath, a drink and remember it is only things.
  • Curse the thieving bastards.
  • Get a Police report, a “Denuncia” as it’s called in Spain, so you can give this to your insurance company.

Getting a Police Report

  1. The Spanish for Police Report is “denuncia”.
  2. It is worth remembering that Spanish police are not necessarily multilingual. The police station on Nou de la Rambla (see below for address) can provide an English speaker with whom to make a report.
  3. Make a list of what was stolen and its value. If you have any evidence as to who did it, bring that but don’t hold out too much hope the perpetrators will get caught.
  4. To make a police report it is necessary to speak to the Mossos d’Esquadra. Their main station is below.

Addresses of Police Stations

Main Police Station:

Comisaria de Policia de Barcelona (Ciutat Vella)
Carrer Nou de la Rambla, 76-80
Barcelona, Spain

Metro Metro: Liceu (Green Line, L3)

Metro Police Station

The police station for the metro is located within the Plaça de Catalunya metro station itself.

Metro Police Station
Metro Metro: Plaça de Catalunya (Red Line, L1) and (Green Line, L3)

(go inside any of the Metro entrances in Plaça de Catalunya and you will be directed to the police station)


If you are a victim of theft it is so much better knowing you are covered.  You can get some quotes by following the link below.


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