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Leslie Lima: I have been pickpocketed but it didn’t hurt because my actual expensive phone
was in my money bag under my shirt !



By Kevin Bonilla
Photos: K. Bonilla unless otherwise stated


It seems pickpocketing has become an endemic part of the culture in touristy Europe, specially the capital cities, and that naturally includes Madrid. The larger the droves of tourists – and other types of visitors — the bigger the bonanza. The thieves have become “discerning”. They have developed a special taste for cell phones with the Apple logo.

Watch out, Madrid centro is crawling with hardened and consummate thieves: Puerta del Sol, Plaza Mayor, Callao, Gran Via. . . The chances of getting robbed skyrocket in crowded hangouts: nightclubs, tapas bars, discos, as well as the Metro and the buses.

Plaza de Callao: There’s always something going on, including getting pickpocketed!

When something is stolen it is very important to report the thief to the police even if recovering your belonging is next to impossible. According to the police officer I talked to, only 40% of thief victims or those who have lost a belonging go to the police station to report the incident. It’s not out of fear; it’s mostly the attitude of what’s the point of reporting when the thing is gone and the chances of getting it back is nil.

If you are a tourist in Madrid, you’ll be glad to know that there is a Servicio de Atención al Turista Extranjero (SATE). It translates to English as Foreign Tourist Assistance Service. It is a specialized service run by the MADRID DESTINO municipal organization in collaboration with the National Police. It assists tourists who, during their stay in Madrid, are involved in incidents that require police intervention. The main services provided include help in filling out paperwork for police-related matters, locating family members, cancelling credit cards, contacting embassies or consulates, and providing tourist information.
Location: the National Police Station on Calle Leganitos 19 (Near Plaza de España).
Hours: 9:00 AM to midnight

But an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. So have fun in Madrid – or any tourist places around Spain, for that matter – but be alert and always be on your guard.




They’re not exactly tourists; they’re foreign students in Madrid. But to the thieves, it’s all the same.
They’re easy targets. I asked a few of them about their personal experiences with
the pickpockets or their lucky escape. Here goes.

How concerned are you about getting your pocket picked? Have you been robbed?



Leslie Lima (Dominican Republic)
I have been pickpocketed but it didn’t hurt me as much because my actual expensive phone was in my money bag under my shirt. They did take my inexpensive phone that I bought once I arrived here in Madrid and I think it’s a good idea to have a backup phone.




Nestor Arias (Texas, USA)
I have not been a victim of pickpocketing but since it’s happened to many of my colleagues, there’s a huge possibility it can happen to me as well. In order to prevent it from happening, I carry around a travel pack around my waist to ensure none of my belongings are in my pockets. At times, I leave valuable items such as credit cards at home to avoid running the risk of having them stolen.




Elizabeth Ferrufino (Florida, USA)
No, I have not been pickpocketed but I have been taking safety measures seriously. I am more aware of who I have around me and who is with me and I make sure to hold on to my belongings and have them to the front of me instead of to the side.  





Raymond Stern (New York, USA)
I have not been pickpocketed but many of my friends have and it’s such a scary sight when you thought you had something and end up not having it. I’m pretty laid back and have not done anything towards taking more care of my stuff other than pat my pockets ever so often.





Nina Hodge (Puerto Rico)
I’m pretty excited that I have not lost my phone yet or have gotten it stolen. But I’ve learned to be more aware of where I place my phone like never again will I put it on the table while I look away. It is very important to know where you place your phone and it is not really good to hold your phone. It can happen very easily that it will disappear.




Daniel Gomez (Colombia)
I’ve been pickpocketed and it is one of the worst things that has happened to me since I didn’t know when it was taken or where. I’ve changed from putting my phone in my front or back pockets. I have decided to buy an inexpensive fanny pack and lock that I feel secure with to have it around my waist. The only way I can see someone removing my phone is if he/she actually takes the fanny pack off my body. But I have become more aware of who I am dancing with in a club and who I am around with which is always the most important piece of advice to give anybody.




Olivia Ricker (New York, USA)
No, I have not been robbed but just the same I am taking precautions. I try to hide any valuable items that I may have on me (keys, wallet, etc.) and make sure they’re out of sight.






Michael Nunes (New Jersey, USA)
I am not sure whether I was pickpocketed or if I lost my phone but now I keep my stuff like my phone and wallet in a fanny pack when in a club setting or anytime I am out.





Emma Pound (Italy)
No, I’ve never been a victim but, yes, I am worried. The precautions that I have been taking are holding my things tightly and checking for them frequently and not using a purse but using pockets that are tight and/or bags that have zippers.




Dylan Harris (Barbados)
I have not been a victim of a pickpocketed incident and I am not worried about being preyed on. But I do make sure to keep my eyes and hands on the items I have with me at all times and pat my pockets just to make sure.






Callao/Diario de Madrid, CC BY4.0
Pickpocket vector/Carles’ Pics, CC BY2.0
“Inexpensive” cell phone (generic image)/Arvind Grover, CC BY-SA2.0
Pickpocketing/Steven Depolo, CC BY2.0
Girl in red jacket (generic image)/Amir Farshad Ebrahimi, CC BY-SA2.0