BARCELONA is earning its infamous reputation as the ‘city of thieves’ after a spate of new pickpocket attacks that employ a particularly disgusting modus operandi.
A gang has been targeting tourists on the city’s metro system by spitting on them and then cleaning it off, using the movement as a distraction to rob their victim.
While one thief pretends to help the victim, a second actor moves in and enters their victim’s pockets or bag – or even steals the bag entirely.
Shocking footage released by Barcelona police shows the criminals in action, targeting individuals on Barcelona’s underground transport network.
In one incident caught on camera, a blonde woman goes about purchasing a metro ticket.
Unbeknownst to her, a man wearing a black baseball cap approaches from behind and spits on her and then turns his back.
He then innocently pretends to notice that something is in her hair and offers to wipe it away.
Simultaneously, an accomplice wearing a white baseball cap seizes the opportunity to divert the victim’s attention from her rucksack, which she had been clutching tightly to her chest.
In a flash, the accomplice snatches the bag and vanishes, while the first thief pretends he has to run to catch his train.
By the time the victim realises what has happened, it is too late to retrieve her belongings.
A second instance shows one thief spitting a big gob of saliva onto the neck of a young man sitting down waiting for a train.
While the spitter helps to clean the young man, an accomplice scurries over and takes away his laptop bag.
“Watch out for any kind of distractions from strangers on public transport, on the street or wherever you are,” the Mossos d’Esquadra police force urged on Twitter.
“Keep your belongings under control at all times.”
According to a report by Barcelona City Council, victims of crimes have risen almost five points over the last five years, to 25.6%, and the perception that safety has worsened has grown by almost seven points (24.3% in 2018).
Residents feel less safe due to rising crime (31.5%), followed by the lesser presence of security forces (9.7%).?
Although petty crime is high, numbers for more serious crimes such as murder and homicide are very low: 10 in Barcelona and 45 across all of Catalonia.
Barcelona has long been notorious for the petty street thieves that target tourists and the unsuspecting in public areas.
Recent high-profile victims have included tennis star Grigor Dimitrov and Barcelona footballer Robert Lewandowski.
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