‘He messed with the wrong lady’: ‘Shock’ tactic helped tourist stop pickpocket in Spain

Woman catches pickpocketer attempting to steal her wallet

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A recent study from Money.co.uk named the Spanish capital Barcelona as one of the “worst places for pickpockets in the world”, with the tourist hotspot Las Ramblas coming in as the number one spot for targeted theft. The city’s famous Sagrada Familia was also named in the research. Though pickpockets may be common in these areas, being aware of your surroundings and some tactics to deter them are essential.

Jo, who works as head of digital PR from Embryo Digital, came face-to-face with a pickpocket while on Barcelona’s bustling Metro system and was able to act fast to resolve the situation safely.

Although she had planned the trip meticulously to ensure she and her cousin were staying in a safe area, the crowded transport system proved a prime location for theft.

Speaking to Express.co.uk, she said: “One day, we decided to head out and see the famous cathedral in the city.

“I was warned when going out that Barcelona is known for pickpockets as a few male friends have had wallets stolen.

“So, I ensured my backpack was always in front of me whenever I was in larger crowds or travelling on public transport.”

“On the train journey heading to the cathedral, my cousin was holding onto the pole in the middle of the carriage, and I was towards the door in the carriage.”

Jo’s cousin carried a smaller leather bag, containing her phone, purse and travel ID, though, unlike Jo, she wore this on her back.

Just found stops from their destination, Jo noticed a person board and stand beside her cousin.

She said: “They looked like a tourist at first glance as they had a backpack and didn’t look suspicious.

“But next thing I knew, they had their jacket over their arm and were using their other hand to open my cousin my bag.

“I was stood behind them, about a metre from my cousin. I knew I could stop them as the pickpocket didn’t assume we were together.”

Although confronting a pickpocket is something you should be cautious of, Jo’s resolution was to “shock” the thief into reconsidering their actions.

She explained: “He messed with the wrong lady.

“I shouted at them to make people aware in the carriage of someone trying to steal things.”

This made the thief instantly let go of the bag. She added: “This shocked the pickpocket, and they ran off the train at the next stop.”

Though approaching a thief isn’t always safe, drawing attention to a pickpocket’s attempt by shouting can make them think twice.

She said: “I went with my instincts in that situation and helped my cousin out as I was able to approach the incident safely.

“However, I would be mindful of this approach as you never know if these people are carrying weapons.

“Please be careful and be safe. Sometimes you’ve got to be careful of where you are and the people you’re around as you don’t know if they’d cause you harm.

“I also reported the incident to the police, so they had it on record for suspicious activity.”

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Though the experience was a frightening one, it taught Jo and her cousin a vital lesson about protecting their belongings.

She explained: “Given what happened to my cousin, I think it shocked her as she didn’t think it would happen to her.

“I did tell her off, and now she’s more mindful when travelling abroad.

“She would have lost her money, phone and her ID, which would have caused massive complications for us to get home.

“I think if you’re travelling abroad to Barcelona or anywhere where has large crowds and possible pickpockets, keep an eye on your belongs and don’t have things always out in your hands.”

Travel insurance is also essential. Make sure to choose a policy which has enough coverage for your personal belongings.

There is normally a limit to the maximum amount payable in total and also other limits for single items and valuables, so be sure to check the small print before purchasing.

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