by Lu Sobredo
When I began my travel blog in 2016, I pledged to use the pages to spark interest in those who are less likely to consider traveling because of personal limitations. I wanted the narratives, which celebrate the beauty of the place and its people, to jump out of the pages. I told myself: Let your words and the words of guest writers highlight unique experiences that exhilarated the senses.
|Barcelona Cathedral Square at Night. ©James Sobredo, 2017.|
|Sagrada Familia Cathedral in Daylight. ©James Sobredo, 2017.|
In the morning, while my husband and his university friends/colleagues were walking up from the Metro onto the street near Sagrada de Familia Cathedral, James was somehow targeted by pickpockets. The first attempt failed. He caught the perpetrators in the act. He yelled at the bad people trying to pickpocket him…A colleague with him covered his back, and they both were able to fend off 3-4 people who were working as a team.
|Walking Las Ramblas in Barcelona with My Teenage Son. ©James Sobredo, 2010.|
Some of our friends and/or someone they know have fallen victim. Here are the stories they shared with James in their own words.
|Waiting for RENFE train at a Metro Station in Madrid. ©Lu Sobredo, 2016.|
G: “(My husband) got swarmed by a group of young women in Madrid a while back. They got his wallet and he yelled at them immediately. They dropped his wallet with his credit cards and license but managed to lift all the cash in that short time.”
*If you have an iPhone, go to iCloud and immediately report your phone as stolen. Apple has the option to disable and wipe out data from your phone ("brick your phone") if it gets stolen. This only works, however, if you have "Find My iPhone" ENABLED. Hint: make sure you enable this feature. James had all these features enabled and he was able to "brick" his iPhone immediately.
*Change your contact number for your email, credit card and other important accounts that use your stolen phone.
HELPFUL ANTI-THEFT HINTS:
*Secure your wallet, Passport and cell phones. Having them in your back pockets is an open invitation to be pick pocketed. When using public transportation, use secure bags like pacsafe or other anti-theft bags and backpacks that lock and make it harder to pick pocket. You can also secure your regular backpack with small combination locks.
*Separate your credit cards, identification (Passport, driver's license) and other important items so that if one set gets stolen, you have enough funds and identification information to: A) get a replacement Passport, B) finish the rest of your vacation, and C) get home.
*Be prepared: have credit card, license, Passport ID numbers stored in a secure place (Cloud, email, USB drive) where you can retrieve the information when needed.
*Safety: being alone makes you an easy prey. The pickpockets usually operate as a pair or in a group. If you are with friends, they will try to isolate you from your group. Stay away from Metro doors and be extremely cautious when entering or leaving the Metro/bus: Pickpockets grab your valuables... and run out the door.
|Our Son Carrying His Backpack at His Chest in Madrid. ©Lu Sobredo|
Although we feel safe in Madrid, our Spanish family likes to remind us to carry our backpack or daypack in the front, so we could wrap our arms around it. This is especially helpful when walking around the city or while in the Metro.
|Pacsafe Cross Body Bag from REI. ©Lu Sobredo|
Each of us in the family has some version of pacsafe brand of cross-body bag with a security clip, steel slash-guard shoulder straps and body mesh. The pacsafe bag also has an RFID safe blocking pocket for bankcards and the like. However, pacsafe won't help unless one also remembers to put away that all-convenient-cell-phone we use for taking photos. One takes the risk of a grab-and-run when using a cell phone while sightseeing. As traveler, we must decide if the risk has a potentially lower consequence over losing something of higher value. It is a balancing act between safety and convenience. In my husband's case, he would rather protect his professional camera gear over his cell phone. And of course, he would choose to protect his life over everything else.
My husband is not into “retributionist justice,” but he has this to say: “I think they (pickpockets) have just become so BOLD...The penalty if they get caught is ... small... 2-3 nights in jail and less than €300. The bad guys, on the other hand, get away with enough money to pay for their Barcelona apartment rent.”
In the meantime, those of us who are resolved to not let bad guys take away the joy and thrill of travel must stay vigilant. In the words of Phil Sylvester: “There's no need to go and cancel your flights. Sure, petty theft could almost number among Barcelona's leading industries, but the perpetrators are out for easy pickings which, after a few quick tips, won't be you. Violent crime is also very rare, so as long as you can keep a hand on your wallet you have nothing to fear in Barcelona.”
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.