Barcelona is one of the safest cities in the world, but the large number of tourists and, indeed, the sense of security at the Catalan capital makes it an easy target for thieves, pickpockets and con artists of all kinds. Be very careful and know what are the risky situations in which you can be involved so you can to avoid them.
The most common criminals in crowded tourist areas are pickpockets who take advantage of every distraction to grab your wallet or purse and go away without rising any suspicion. Be very careful with them on the subway, in shopping areas, in crowded areas as la Rambla, in markets, in street performances or on the beach during the summer. Be careful of your belongings and don’t trust. Sometimes an organized group of “crooks” try to get your attention by asking directions with a big map on their hands while other in the group steals the content of your bag, or pretend play football like Messi with you and have fun as a joke. Don’t get distracted by them and if you think you are in trouble call the police.
The robbers who use violence to take money from people are less common and usually “work” at night, when people go out to clubs and bars and walk distracted in the street. If they threaten you with a knife you better give them what they ask because you could be wounded.
It is VERY common and you have to be very careful with the thieves, usually gypsies, around bars, terraces and more tourist areas, that put papers strategically in front of you to steal your cellphones while you read the text on the notes. If you don’t want to be in a trouble, ask them to leave once you see they are coming to your table. Don’t let them fool you in any case, don’t matter how old are they.
It is also quite common but less “invasive” the method used by some young girls from Romania: they ask for a donation to help an alleged disabled association or similar. They also ask you to sign a paper to give their story more credibility. But it’s all fake. The money you give them goes to their pocket, but at least the “crime” is “clean” because they ask for money, don’t steal it.
These are all recommendations and advice in case you find yourself in some dangerous situation, and this is not very common in Barcelona, but is important to keep them in mind if you want to make the most of your stay in the city.