You're told to watch out for pick-pockets in Barcelona, but I never realized the frequency at which they attack. They're a constant annoyance that strikes fast, like a swarm of mosquitoes in a swampy area. In a weeks time we had three close encounters and knew of one girl who's wallet was stolen. It may not be normal, the extent at which we came across the pick-pockets, but I'm sure if you watch your surroundings while in the city... especially the metro... you'll have at least one experience.
In order to recount our experiences, I'll give you a storyboard layout.
Unsuspecting German man
Clueless young 20-something American girls
3 middle aged men
2 gypsy women
1 (maybe drunk) middle aged man
Tim and Jed walked onto the Barcelona metro first, followed by Scott who was surrounded by 3 middle aged men. The 3 men were creating a bit of commotion, and slowing down to a point that made it nearly impossible for Jonathan and me to get onto the metro before the doors closed. We shoved our way on, though, and as the two of us were talking I noticed one of the 3 men in front of us reaching for Scott's pocket. I immediately swat at the man's hand and exclaim: "Don't pick pocket him!" Scott turned around and checked his pocket. The man I hit turned towards me and asked repeatedly, "WHAT, WHAT??"... apparently trying to sound innocent. Jonathan stared at them stone faced. Tim and Jed then moved closer towards me, so I maneuvered my way around the middle aged men to stand by them until the next stop when the 3 men rushed off the metro.
Tim and I had gone to Madrid on Thursday. At one point during our many metro excursions, there were two gypsy women who entered the same time we did. One of the ladies placed her foot in the door to keep it open. Tim instinctively put his hand in his front pocket where his wallet was located, and as he did so, he felt the hand of someone else trying to shove her way into his pocket as well. She immediately backed off, but that gave him enough of a clue to look around and found another gypsy girl reaching for the pocket of an unsuspecting German man. Tim grabbed the girls arm and shoved her away. Trying to seem innocent she asked, "what, what??," and then ran off the metro with her companion who was keeping the door open.
Saturday night Jed and I were in the metro station and he noticed a (maybe drunk) middle aged man who's back was turned away from the metro and towards the waiting passengers on the platform. So when the metro arrived, Jed kept his eye on the (maybe drunk) middle aged man. We got on, and both saw the middle aged man reaching for the purse of a clueless young 20-something American girl. Jed ran over and stopped the guy in time and the clueless girl zipped up her purse and went on chatting with her friends. Jed stayed nearby the girls and pick pocket until the next stop when the (maybe drunk) middle aged pick pocketing man immediately left. We ended up getting off at the same stop as the clueless young 20-something American girls and chatted with them as we walked to the next tram. The girl who's wallet was nearly stolen stopped me in my tracks when she said (like it was no big deal) "Oh yeah, my wallet's almost been stolen twice already." And that is the point in which I dubbed her "incredulously clueless."