There’s a piece on Barcelona pickpockets by Laura Nicolás over at Avui (MT English here–don’t worry, they’re not actually stealing postmen). I don’t often use the metro, but my impression is that the police are considerably over-exaggerating their success, and that the problem is actually increasing.
Metro Line 5 isn’t hugely popular with thieves, but the other day a Southern Slav cartoon criminal was doing the standard routine–wandering around the platform eyeing up tourist bags and pockets–as a train pulled into Sants station.
As the doors opened, he fixed on a small and well-built young man with a Glaswegian beertan and a Barça shirt. While I hung back to the right, he tracked the left back pocket with his hands, his right slightly in front of his left, his head bowed in anticipation. He looked like a hamster.
As his hand went in, I tapped the victim on the shoulder and said, “Excuse me, this man’s picking your pocket.” Almost before the thief could launch into dramatic protestations of innocence, his victim said, “Who? Him?” and punched him very hard in the face.
The thief fell over backwards bleeding from his nose, and we got on the train just as the doors closed. The little old lady crammed in front of us looked up and said to the Scotsman, “Well done, son.”
He looked round with an air of confusion. “Caught,” he replied.
“Yes, he was rather, wasn’t he,” I said.
“No, no,” he said, “Caught! I’ve got tickets for Barça.”
“Ah, Les Corts,” I said. “Well, I’m terribly sorry, but you’re on the wrong train altogether. Your best bet from here is to change platforms and get out at Collblanc. This train goes to the Sagrada Familia.”
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