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10 Surefire Ways to Get Robbed in Barcelona

Events in Barcelona | 22.02.2022

Barcelona, unfortunately is not only famous for the Gaudi buildings, the gastronomy and the beach, but also for it’s pickpockets. It is not a city known for violence or anything like that, but your wallets, your valueables and your phones just need to be a bit more protected. Here are ten ways to get your wallet stolen for sure. Try to avoid these common tourist habits and your property should be pickpocket proof.

10) Look like a tourist

Spotting a tourist is easy. You have an open map, may speak your own language loudly as you are walking down the street, you wear a baseball cap or sweat clothes, you are eating as you window shop, and you have your camera drapped around your neck. Although you will not be able to completely erase your “I am a tourist, please rob me” look, you can do certain small things to deter the vultures and make them think twice before messing with you. Try to have clear before you leave your apartment where you are going. If you are in doubt, most of the Barcelona people will be happy to help you figure out where you need to go. People stop me and ask for directions all the time and it is always quicker than standing at a street corner staring at a map for 30 minutes. Fold the map so that you do not attract too much attention. You can also leave the baseball cap, the Hawaiian shirt and the sweat clothes back in the apartment. Also, dressing in really summer like clothes in May when its still a bit chilly and EVERYONE local is wearing a light spring jacket is a good indicator as well. Barcelona is not the tropics.

9) Leave your purse open while you are walking down the street

A friend of mine was walking down the Rambla one day. She had one of those hippy hand knit bags that have no zipper. She was only a few feet behind me talking to another friend when suddenly she realized that her wallet had been stolen. It was so quick because we were leaving a restaurant and heading back to the metro. The problem: the purse. If you have an open purse, a purse with a floppy top that leave spaces in the sides, a purse that you put more on your back rather than in the front of your body, that is like a free pass for the pickpockets to stick their hand in there and pull out your wallet. The best thing to do is to make sure that you have the correct purse for starters. It should be a purse that you feel like would be hard for someone to get into. If it is a purse with a long strap, purse is always closed once you walk through places like the Rambla and put it securely under your armpit. If no one can stick their hand in your purse or easily open it, then they can not get to your wallet. This idea is also in play in restaurants and coffee shops. Its very important that you do not leave your bag on the chair, on the floor or on the chair next to you. I normally put the strap of my purse on my knee. 

8) Put your wallet in your back pocket

It is an uncomfortable custom for some men to place their wallet in their front pocket but it could be the difference between keeping your credit cards safe or having to go through the stress and hassle of canceling everything. If your wallet is in your front pocket, it is easier for you to put your hand there and make sure that it is still there. Also, a person would have to either wrap their hand around you towards your front, or rob you from the front to get away with taking your wallet if it is in the front pocket. Most pickpockets wont take the risk unless they know for sure that you are either distracted or there are a lot of people around you to cover them stealing from you. Play it safe and place your wallet in the safer spot in the front or be even smarter and leave only the money you need for the day in an inside pocket or with a friend with a purse. Another option is to buy one of those money protectors that you hide underneath your clothes. It is safer, out of sight, and hidden from prying hands.

7) Bust out your iphone/ smart phone as you walk down the street

Believe it or not but phones are very often swiped even walking down the street, especially if you have a smart phone or the coveted iPhone. These thieves can get a lot of free money selling stolen phones so make sure that when you are talking on the phone or looking at it, you keep the phone toward the wall and away from the street as some people will fly by on bikes or running and snatch the phone out of your hand. I tend to try not to take my iPhone out of my safe hiding place in places where I know for sure that there are more pickpockets like the Rambla or the Metro. I also try to clutch my iphone rather than to weakly have it between my two hands as an offering to the passersby to take it from me. You just have to be aware.

6) Bring your passport to the beach

Why oh why would you bring your passport to the beach?!!?!? But some people do it. They think that they need their passport to pay for things with a credit card which is not true because you can give an ID or a photocopy of your passport and it works just the same. And going even furthur, you should not bring ANYTHING valuable to the beach. That means no watches, no jewelry, credit cards, passports, family heirlooms, just leave it at home. If you need money for the day, take only some loose change to pay for what you need. When you go for a dip in the sea, make sure that someone is always with your belongings to ward off people who will just walk off with your bag. I usually take turns going into the water with my friends or my family. Someone always has their eye on the bags even if we don’t have anything particularly valueable to steal, I still don’t want someone stealing the bag itself or my book…etc. as a thief might do thinking that there is cash inside.

5) Carry tons of money on you

There is something about carrying tons of money that pickpockets can just smell. Maybe it is your nervous attitude as you clutch your purse or frequently touch your wallet. Perhaps they smell it through your clothes like a , or they see it from how you are acting, but if you carry a lot of money with you, you can be certain that it is in more danger of being stolen. 

4) Set your purse down by your feet when you sit at a restaurant/bar/café

Ok, so you know not to leave anything at a cafe restaurant when you go to the bathroom but did you know that you might be robbed even when you are with your purse? Some tourists make the mistake of setting their purses down by their feet or in a chair next to them. WRONG. You should always have your purse touching you in some way (I usually rest it on my knee) so that you know when someone is tampering with it. If it is not touching you, you wont feel it when a hand goes rummaging for your phone and your wallet.

3) Allow people to “see your money” for whatever reason

If any one asks to see your money, no matter if they are dressed as the pope, police officials, children, aliens whatever…you do not have to show anyone anything. You also want to try to not flaunt that you have a lot of money on you.

2) Metro

The metros of Barcelona may be the number one place where pickpockets hang out. These people generally work in groups and take advantage of the small space, the amount of people and the fact that you are probably distracted with figuring out where you need to go. Keep your purses under your armpits and keep your eyes open to the people around you. Remember, pickpockets use distractions and have to get close to you in order to take your things meaning they need to bump you, or be next to you in some way. The pickpocketing can take just a moment to occur so be aware and also be aware o fthe people that are traveling with you as you may be able to keep a sharper eye out for them.

1) Leave your luggage unattended as you are boarding/ entering your apartment

I can’t tell you how many times I have seen people standing outside looking at maps with their luggages parted to the side of the sidewalk or even in the foyer of a building. All someone would have to do is walk past and take the bag with them. If you leave anything unattended for even a moment, you can consider it a target for pickpockets. This sort of theft gets even worse when on top of your luggage was your purse…you have to be smart when you are in a foreign country. People can and will steal anything even if you think that it is not worth stealing. Think of all the stress it would cause to be on your vacation with no clothes! Try to always keep your things orderly and with you at all times. If you must make a phone call or pay something, have someone else in your party take your things or place your luggage next to theirs. Do not EVER leave your luggage by a chair in the train, bus, or a coffee shop without someone watching it even if you have to go to the bathroom. If you are travelling alone, try to leave your luggage in a safe spot until you can store it in your lodgings.


This post is not to scare you but to educate you on how not to get your things stolen during your holiday. Having an item stolen can cause fear, anguish, lament and stress which are some feelings that no one wants on their holiday. Be smart and alert, stay glued to your things and you are sure to have a wonderful time in Barcelona with all your things intact.


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