Tips for Avoiding Pick Pockets in Madrid
Being the capital of Spain, visitors traveling to Madrid worry it is a dangerous city. However, Madrid along with other cities in Spain actually have a very low crime rate. You will find that the police are reliable, guns are controlled, and most areas of the city are extremely safe. It is likely that the only crime that you might encounter while in Madrid is pickpocketing. Pickpocketing, while it is not a crime that will physically hurt you, is one that will ruin your entire trip and make for a huge headache. Here are some tips about pickpockets when traveling, and ways that you can avoid being their next victim.
Important things to remember
- Pickpockets are sneaky and fast, and you probably won’t realize that anything is missing until they are long gone, making it hard to catch them or identify them.
- Pickpockets often times work in groups in order to better distract and surround you. They are like magicians; while one person is creating a distraction for you, the other person is reaching inside your bag.
- Pickpockets come in all forms. Pickpockets can be men, women, and children. They often disguise themselves to make them seem like the least likely suspect such as wealthy businesspeople, tourists, children, or a family.
- Pickpockets have been around for many years. As new technology is invented to help prevent pickpocketing from happening, they too adapt and learn the new ways. If you are going to purchase gear before traveling, make sure it is up to date.
- Although most of the time pickpockets try and act invisible to you, sometimes they can do just the opposite to try to confuse you. Beware if you are ever surrounded by an overwhelming amount of strangers that are a bit too friendly, flirty, or persistent.
Popular locations for pickpockets in Madrid
- Public transportation
- Plaza Mayor
- Puerta del Sol
- El Rastro Flea Market
- Crowded bars or discos
- Any other areas or events with large crowds
- Hotel lobbies
Who they target
The last thing that pickpockets wants is to get caught, therefore they target the most vulnerable looking people. If you are a tourist, if you are drunk, and if you are alone, you are making yourself seem vulnerable and an easy target. Try and fit in as much as possible with the locals, stay in groups, and if you are drinking, use caution. Other characteristics they look for are those who seem lost, confused, and distracted. Always be aware of your surroundings and seem sure of yourself, even if you aren’t.
Types of tricks and distractions used by pickpockets
- Fake fights
- Child Beggars
- Bag slashing
- Women offering you gifts
- People bumping into you
- Charity workers with clipboards
- Strangers that offer you help
- Strangers asking for directions with a map
Watch this youtube video so see a few of their tricks in action:
- Never leave anything unattended at any time
- Leave your valuables such as passports, plane tickets, large sums of cash, jewelry, etc. in your safe in your hotel.
- Make copies of your passport, credit card numbers, and plane tickets in case anything does happen
- Only carry small sums of cash
- Use ATMS located inside a bank during open hours, and always cover your pin number
- Wear a money belt
- Always keep one hand in your purse
- Put locks on the zippers of your bag
- Buy slash proof bags
- If you have an iPhone, you can program find my iPhone so you are able to track your belongings. You can also record its IMEI number so that police can track it, even on airplane mode.
- When going out, do not carry important documents
What to do if you do get pickpocketed
Act quickly. If you notice that you have been pick pocketed, first make note of what has been taken. Call all the necessary contacts as soon as possible, such as credit card companies if your credit cards are missing, department of motor vehicle if your license is missing, or the social security administration if your social security card is gone, etc. Then, file a police report. Although you will probably not be able to get anything back, the pickpockets won’t be able to use your ID’s or have access to your bank account.
While pickpocketing is a real threat if you are smart and prepared you can minimize the likelihood of being a victim. Knowing the warning signs and having the proper gear also helps prevent it. If it does happen to you, don’t loose your self-esteem, these people are professional scammers. Try and solve the problem as quickly as possible. Most importantly, enjoy your trip to Spain!