What do you do when you’re walking on the street in a city you adore, and all of a sudden someone grabs your arm, and starts relentlessly to yank your watch off?
One afternoon, a victim tourist returning to the Majestic hotel was jumped on to rip a watch off her wrist. Failing, the thief pushed the victim to the ground, where she was attacked by a second thief. The establishment’s security personnel cannot do much more than run after the thieves who managed to flee with a Richard Mille valued at €85,000. These specialised thieves are able to get the watch off by pressing the part on the lock which makes it open, and have done it hundreds of times.
Give the watch or risk fighting a much greater risk, and that’s 100% true but in some situations it just isn’t possible. A watch theft happens in a split second and your natural reaction is to fight back, and that’s exactly what happened.
People say a knife is suitable but in many places forbidden, and there are knives with a fast action but I consider them all dangerous. When you’re attacked it’s very difficult to be ambidextrous and pull out a knife and start to defend yourself. Probably pepper spray would be more useful but again this is a different situation where you have to react and act instantly.
The assailant/s after the watch, these common thieves works the streets lifting arms and heisting watches from whomever they can. The target are tourists wearing nice watches so leave them at home when you travel.
Barcelona is a city we all adore, great food and architecture but Barcelona risks the reputation of a becoming a very dangerous place. Tourists should not be mugged after dinner in the centre of the city, and the fact is it a common occurrence makes it worse. In fact it already ranks as the top dangerous cities in Europe. One of our hosts a local said he lost his Audemar wrist watch in a heist a few weeks ago, and he too had dinner at the same restaurant.
In any alleyway after dinner in a strange city consider safety as a priority, avoid getting in any situation where you feel vulnerable. A street theft happens in split seconds, little time to react lots of things can happen. They were not lucky this night, a tough pack, she reacted instantly, great reflexes, or her watch was gone. It was off her wrist and in her hand and the struggle began, until I stepped in and made him think twice.
None of us could imagine we would get jumped, we walked in a pack but I was worried because the night before the Japanese chef of Dos Pebrots told me don’t turn left, it is dangerous and he wasn’t joking. Rule number one, never walk in any European city without having a clear understanding of the risks. Who would think Barcelona is so dangerous and frankly many visitors are caught off guard and have no idea how dangerous it is day or night.
Sitting in the hotel, I couldn’t help to think we were marked and I warned some American tourists with their shinny Rolex GMT, a definite prize for any thieve. When we walked out from the restaurant I saw three guys watching us. I didn’t want to be over react or behave in anyway paranoiac, smooth until we came near to the main road, until I heard a voice cry out, and the game was on. Despite walking in a pack watch thieves are pros and 99% they get what they are after, it’s that simple.
A French family fell victim to a gang who forced the mother to give up a €7,000 watch in a violent attack outside a five-star hotel in the city. Other tourists were pushed to the ground and had expensive watches torn from their arms. These gangs work in tandem and are well equipped and know what they are doing. They could have easily jumped us in the dark alley, but instead they planned to jump her amongst others, and too boot in a well lite and crowded place.
I saw Paul take matters right into his own hands, he head-locked the thief, and down they went onto the pavement. But, when you fight back you risk injury, and it can be serious. Your instincts are quick and swift, a chocking headlock takes a thief down, but hitting the pavement is some thing you need to pay attention to. It hurts like hell, and is unforgiving and imagine if you hit your head.
Super determined, the thief wasn’t giving up, and normally they can get a watch off in seconds by lifting the arm up to weaken your hold, the higher it goes the weaker it gets. The thief lifted her sweater, yanked the watch insisting on taking it as she held onto the strap. It was off her wrist and being held in he hand, the watch was almost gone and all in less than 10-seconds.
What saved the watch was pulling her arm tight to her body, she was twisted ferociously and as the fight ensued. Hunched over, the thief twisted her, as she lost her balance when the assailant let go, she had no choice but to hit the street floor.
The focus was on her left arm, the watch, her instincts, her strength is incredible, and never underestimate a women’s will to hold on. You just imagine the struggle uses all your body’s force. Imagine a relaxing walk and all of a sudden you are jumped, the tugging begins and so unexpectedly you are attacked.
The force is extraordinary, and thankfully no real serious injuries, a deep sense of fighting for our rights. This is a real shock when anyone feels a sharp blade invasion, it gets your attention.
According to the Daily Mail, Barcelona is the “pickpocket capital of the world”. There have been moves to change the law but the legal system is so bogged down with serious cases it has yet to proceed, and there is little appetite for further burdening the system by making bag-snatching, watch grabbing or pickpocketing crimes.
The bottom line, social conscience has become skewed, Barcelona police cannot do much due to legal system and criminals aren’t jailed for petty crimes. These thieves are focused on particular watches of value and try to physically avoid hospitalizing their victims so the crime is considered frivolous.
Tourism in Barcelona remains one of the main drivers of economy, generating nearly 14% of the city’s wealth and 65,000 jobs. There is something terribly wrong with any city who doesn’t protect tourists when they rely on tourism and shame on the local government.