The Plaza De Santa Ana is a beautiful place to enjoy a day in Madrid. You can sit and watch the world go by as you eat and drink with your friends. But, the Plaza De Santa Ana is also somewhere to be on your guard. Like a lot of places in Spain, the Plaza De Santa Ana has its fair share of pickpockets. My friend from footy is one lucky lucky fella. God knows how, but this weekend whilst we were on a stag do, he caught a thief in the act of stealing his mobile, an iphone none the less. I guess he like so many others is guilty of leaving valuables on a restaurant/bar table when sitting with friends and having a good time, but probably the last thing any of us ever expects when on holiday is for a small child to try and lift our possessions from right under your nose.
Robbed in Plaza De Santa An … almost.
Madrid is a city full of homeless and poor, this is obviously very very sad. If you’re sitting around in any of the main squares eating and drinking, expect to be asked for money at least once an hour. Some people will perform a ‘skill’ for money, others will just ask outright. Obviously all of them will tug on the heart strings, but none more so than young children. It was the day we were due to fly home when two small children, a young boy and a slightly old girl, approached our table in the Plaza De Santa Ana, with what looked to be something written in English written on an A4 piece of paper. The girl went around the table asking our group to sign the paper whilst the boy simply asked for money. Most of our group either gave the boy a euro, or carried on their conversations. But then out of nowhere we heard …
“Oi, give that back you little sh*t”
Everyone in the Plaza De Santa Ana swung round to see one of our lads clinging onto the young girls wrist with one arm as he prized his phone from her with the other, she had been rather naughty and my friend has very nearly been robbed in Madrid!
It seems so obvious now, the paper meant sod all, it was just a decoy as was the boy’s requests for money. He didn’t really care about the odd euro he was given, his job was to draw attention away from his partner in crime who was seeking out items of a higher value. The trick with the piece of paper the girl had was to first shove it in someone’s face, and then bring it down onto the table covering the valuable possession and taking it out of sight. Then when she had seemingly given up on getting our friend to sign her paper, she picked both the paper and his phone up in one swift movement as the piece of paper had been covering the phone – a bit like in these videos where the newspaper covers the item being stolen.
How the pickpockets get you
Luckily our friend managed to catch the girl and get his phone back, others weren’t so lucky. How do you know that you may ask, well it wasn’t long before the same two kids were back and working on another table, this time a table of locals. Along with a member of staff, we recognised the kids and raised the alarm, just in time for someone to notice their phone was gone and to be able to grab the little boy this time. He burst into tears as the person who caught the him didn’t hesitate in reaching down the boys trousers to retrieve not only their phone, but a couple of other items such as someones wallet. I’m sure in the UK if you did that the kid would get off scot free and you’d go to jail for sexual assault on a minor. Either way the girl grabbed the little boy whilst he was still in floods of tears and they both feld the scene. No one chased them, what could you do I guess, have them arrested? Thinking about the tears, I’m sure they were just a self protection act to switch the attention to the grown up acting aggressively.
The cost of being robbed
It’s obviously sad that these two small children have to resort to stealing. Their motives were probably to sell the phone so they could buy something to eat. But that said, while I wish them not to go hungry, I also wouldn’t wish anyone to have their possessions stolen in this manner, or any manner. Having a phone or wallet stolen is tough, I should know my Mrs. had her bag lifted from a restaurant not so long ago, she was shaking for hours with both rage and fear. We had to cancel all her cards, change passwords, buy her a new phone, change locks, inform her landlord etc etc it was horrible. If you’re abroad I would imagine its much worse, you could lose …
- ALL you cash
- Credit cards (which may get used)
- Room key
- Other forms of ID such as your driving license
- Reservation documents
There’s probably loads more I can’t think of, but in effect you could become stranded. So the key is I guess, keep your possessions close, ideally in a zipped pocket on your body somewhere. Don’t give thieves the opportunity to take your stuff, because they will!
Tips for staying safe whilst in Madrid
Whilst looking for video’s on scams and pickpockets in Madrid I found this article, if you’re worried about your possessions when visiting the city have a little read. Don’t let it or this article put you off of visiting Madrid as it is beautiful, but just be wary that you as a traveller/tourist could be an easy target if you don’t take care. Don’t let yourself get robbed in Madrid – Pickpockets techniques and scams in Madrid