BARCELONA – Catalonia’s largest city is known worldwide for the pickpockets active there. Las Ramblas, on the metro and bus or on terraces were favourite haunts. As a result of the pandemic, pickpockets have now shifted their scope and adapted their methods.
The absence of large hordes of foreign visitors, who are easy prey when strolling through the streets of Barcelona, has caused the thieves to change their tune.
Do not be distracted
Because of the pandemic, Spain is trying to cope with the large drop in tourists. This affects not only many sectors of the economy but also many layers of society. The virus also has an impact on crime.
The Mossos d’Esquadra, the regional police, find that the criminals have moved from the streets in the centre of Barcelona. Now their focus is the car parks or garages of large shopping centres in towns around the Catalan capital. What has not changed is their modus operandi; they work in groups. One person distracts the victim by throwing something on the ground, such as a coin or keys, while the other makes his move by taking things from the car.
Cities around Barcelona affected
In recent months, this type of robbery in the car parks of shopping centres has increased significantly, especially in the cities around Barcelona such as Montcada i Reixac, Cerdanyola, Barberà del Vallès and Badia del Vallès. The Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia reports that the Catalan police are on alert; this week, members of a criminal gang were arrested. They too used the diversion trick.
Apart from ‘old-fashioned’ pickpocketing, the police also see decreases in other crimes, such as robberies with violence in shops or assaults while going out at night.