One thing the natives are sure to say when you arrive in Madrid: “watch out for pickpockets!” Not a particularly inviting prospect to be strolling around, one hand on your wallet, scanning the crowd for possible undesirables, paranoid, tense… However, they have a point. I’m not one to blanket criticise a population (a very large population at that), but migrants do tend to invite the bad rap on this one. Two experiences now: a group of young girls of an amero-hispanic appearance in the park, and a group of rather scarey looking east europeans. The madrileÃ±os do not generally take the sun, even when it’s really nice. The only people in the park sunbathing are… yes… TOURISTS! DUH-DUH-DUUUUUUUUHHHHH!!! The naughty girls tend to stroll along offering newspapers to the unsuspecting loungers, who often have their bags lying down beside them. These newspapers make a surprisingly good shield to protect against a tourist’s eyes from seeing the hand entering their bag and looking for their wallet!
My own recent experience is with my parents who visited last week (they haven’t turned to pickpocketing themselves, by the way). Coming from the airport to my flat by Metro, I spotted a couple of fingers investigating the insides of my father’s pocket like a small rodent investigates a burrow it has happened upon. I watched for a couple of seconds, just out of interest more than anything else, AND THEN TOOK ACTION. I smacked the hand away from my father’s pocket, scowled at the east european and then said something loudly in spanish like “What a thief! You bastard! I should call the police! You should be in a prison! What a bastard!” so that all the passengers could hear me. Then for good measure in english I said “pickpockets… he was trying to pickpocket you” loudly, and I’m sure most people got the picture. We checked for anything missing (nothing was) and they left the train pleading their innocence at the next stop.
They were a team of three. All I now wonder is, what is their story?