MADRID, February 7, 2012—Throngs of tourists come to Barcelona every day with plenty of money, eager to see avant-garde architecture, beautiful vistas and eclectic shops and eateries. For these reasons, Barcelona is a pickpocket’s dream, claimed routinely to have one of the highest rates of petty theft in the world. However, spending your valuable vacation time canceling credit cards is hardly what has made Barcelona one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world.
Follow these tips to deceive the thieves:
1. Carry the bare minimum:
Since thieves cannot steal anything that is not on your person, carry only what you need for the day. A bulge in your pocket will only make a thief’s eyes bulge. Maybe you do not need your American library card, your boating license, or your CVS card. Take only a copy of your passport and the credit cards and cash you need.
2. Guard it or it is gone:
Men: Do not put anything in your back pockets; they are often loose and out of your vision, making them easy targets for thieves. Put your thumbs or hands in your pocket while on the metro to protect them.
Women: Place valuables at the bottom of your purse and never rest your bag on the backs of chairs in restaurants. Wear your purse across your shoulder and keep it in front of you. Clutch it to your chest on very crowded metros. Seriously, you may look goofy, but these pickpockets are smart. Pickpockets cut the strap with a knife, so do not take your Prada purse and expect it to last until lunchtime.
3. Use your natural wallet:
During the winter, do not keep anything in your jacket pockets. In warmer months, keeping your credit card and other valuables in your bra is a highly effective method of keeping your belongings safe.
4. Hide the tourist look:
This may be obvious, but if you do not want to be robbed like a tourist, do not look like one. Wear clothing without American logos or words, avoid whipping out your massive map in the middle of a crowded area, and abstain from speaking English so that everyone else can hear.
5. Touch and such:
Spain in general is a country without a touch taboo. When asking for directions, it is normal for people to put their hands on your back or even grab your arm to sell you something. However, touch is the pickpocket’s secret weapon. A touch moves attention away from your belongings.
You will find that people will touch you on the escalators to move by and when passing from the opposite direction, may bump into you without apologizing. Spaniards have places to go and usually do not bother wasting time with apologies. Do not always assume that a touch is a pickpocket scheme, but immediately clutch your valuables to be safe
Follow this advice because no matter how cute, flattering, or attractive your designer purse, leather jacket, or smart phone is, nobody looks their best when they have been robbed.
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