Traveler Protect Yourself
I have always considered myself very wary of thieves and pickpockets when traveling anywhere, especially in foreign countries. Thieves have tried to steal from me on a street in Rome, a metro in Caracas and an elevated train in Paris. I was always able to protect my valuables. Even on my recent trip to Spain in Madrid a pickpocket tried to get into my pants. It was 10 at night in a busy store and then later on the busy street outside. The young man had a small blanket over his shoulder to hide his arm and hand. I felt his clumsy attempt and moved away from him twice before he knew I was on to him and quickly ran down the street.
I keep my passport, most of my cash and travelers checks in a money belt inside my trousers. I keep my wallet in a front pants pocket with a zipper closure and a flap over the zipper held now with Velcro. I am particularly wary on busy streets and subways. I have read in guide books that thieves would throw something on you to distract you. I had always assumed you would see the pickpocket throw something at you and I would protect myself. I have always felt safe, but my luck ran out in Barcelona, Spain. Possibly my experience will help others.
Three of us on the fateful day in Barcelona decided to tour Montjuic Park. I assume the largest park in Barcelona with botanic gardens, museums and the Olympic Stadium. It was 10 in the morning. There were very few people in the park yet. The people in Spain party late and evidently get up late. We had just left the botanic garden and were walking to the museum through the park. We do not remember seeing anyone within 50 yards of us. Suddenly we felt something fall on our heads. We noticed drops of white viscous fluid on our heads and shoulders. We mistakenly assumed some birds in the trees had defecated on us. We later realized the thieves were hidden behind some bushes next to the sidewalk and had thrown the white stuff over on us.
I stopped and started to wipe the white stuff off of my wife’s hair. About this time a man and a woman (she spoke some English) walked up and offered some water and tissue to help us clean up. I thought the man was wiping off my back. I now remember he was being rather rough. Suddenly I did not feel anything and looked around. The couple was jumping into a passing car. There must have been at least three in the gang of thieves. I suddenly realized that my wallet was no longer in my unzippered pocket.
A police car drove down the street within 5 minutes which we stopped. They drove the 3 of us at least a mile to the local police station where we filled out a report and called to cancel our credit cards. The police were not interested in checking the water bottle the thieves had left behind for fingerprints. Evidently robberies happen all the time there.
I hope my experience will help other travelers protect themselves in the future.