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US embassy issues warning about rising violent crime in Barcelona

The advice for tourists comes in the wake of several high-profile attacks, including the death of a high-ranking South Korean official after a mugging attempt

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Plainclothes police officers make an arrest in Barcelona.

The United States embassy in Spain has just issued a statement warning American nationals of the rise of violent crime in Barcelona. More specifically, it says there has been a wave of offenses committed this summer in the city’s most popular tourist areas, including the aggressive theft of jewelry, wallets and watches, which, in some cases, have left victims with grievous bodily harm.

The embassy recommends that visitors from the United States keep their belongings safe and remain particularly alert in busy tourists zones. It adds that ostentatious jewelry or other signs of wealth should be avoided and, in the event of an attack, it warns against putting up resistance.

The embassy says there has been a wave of crimes committed this summer in the city’s most popular tourist areas

Americans account for Barcelona’s biggest tourist contingent, followed by the British, according to data from City Hall. However, the last warning to be issued from the British Embassy about safety was related to political protests in the Catalonia region.

The French Consulate has also omitted to issue a warning with regard to rising crime in Barcelona this summer, though it has a list of basic recommendations on its webpage, such as keeping an eye on valuables, watching out for pickpockets on public transport and being particularly careful in popular tourist areas such as Las Ramblas and the Gothic quarter.

Meanwhile, Japan produced a pamphlet last year for its nationals, flagging up the Sagrada Familia basilica and the Park Güell as trouble spots. Japanese visitors were also warned not to leave belongings on benches when taking photos, to avoid carrying items of value in back pockets and not to trust anyone who approaches to clean a supposed ketchup or chocolate stain on clothes – a scam that allows the partner in crime of the supposed Good Samaritan to relieve the tourist of his belongings while distracted.

The BBC highlights a number of violent thefts that have been reported in recent days

The US embassy warning has come in the wake of coverage by a number of European media outlets, such as the BBC and the German magazine Der Spiegel, which have focused on a crime wave in the Catalan capital this summer.

The BBC highlights a number of violent thefts that have been reported in recent days, including one involving the Afghan ambassador to Spain, Moassod Khalili, who last Sunday was knocked to the ground close to a central metro station by a group of delinquents who stole his watch.

Der Spiegel described Barcelona in their report as “crime city” and mentioned a number of cases, including that of the Afghan ambassador, a tourist who was punched repeatedly when having their watch stolen, and the death of a high-ranking South Korean official who succumbed to her injuries after falling to the ground when thieves tried to steal her handbag.

English version by Heather Galloway.

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