Lately the news feeds have been flooded with reports on how pickpocket gangs are on the rise in Europe and tourists must be aware. It’s understandable with such a major tourist attraction as the Louvre being forced to shut its doors over the problem. However, while the stories tend to focus on the aspect of tourism little is discussed as to how the local community is handling the situation.
Living in a tourist destination has its plusses and minuses, one expects to deal with the frustrations of lost tourists and hoards of people. Surely no one expects or desires to live in an environment in which you must always be on guard and protecting your stuff. This is not a comfortable way to go about your daily activities and locals are starting to get fed up, to put it simply.
In Barcelona last week, one of the first successful thwarts of a pickpocket attempt occurred. A known group of felons attempted yet another theft on the Barcelona metro, but this time concerned citizens stood up against pickpocket gangs in their city, literally. As the thieves tried to escape from the train, about 20 passengers waiting on the platform to board formed a human wall and did not allow the thieves to pass.
It turns out that when Eliana Guerrero, a native Colombian living in Barcelona, saw a French tourist becoming the latest victim in her city, she blew a whistle to alert other people as to what was happening. Once the thieves were stopped at the impasse on the platform, police and security guards quickly stepped in to make the arrest.
While people should be careful not to put their lives in danger over a purse or wallet, there is no other way to change the climate of pickpocketing in Europe without private citizens taking a stand. What happened in Barcelona should serve as an example for other tourist destinations hoping to change the atmosphere on the streets.