This page gives useful information about Madrid safety and how to avoid having your belongings stolen while you are out and about. We've given ten safety precautions and provided details of what action to take if you should find that your bag or other belongings have been stolen. Madrid is a fairly safe city, and it is not common that thieves will snatch your bag, but we recommend that you follow these precautions anyway.
1. Get A Strong Bag
If you are carrying a bag, then make sure it has strong straps, and if possible, place the strap across your body. This will make it less attractive for anyone to attempt to take the bag from you.
2. Guard Your Bag Close To You
Always keep your bag closed, and if you stop in a bar or restaurant, keep your bag as close to you as possible, and always in sight. It only takes a few seconds for someone to walk off with it.
If you put your bag on the floor next to your feet, then wrap the strap around your legs. If I had done this it would have stopped the thief who walked off with my bag while it was resting on top of my feet.
3. Go Where The Locals Go
Safety can be improved if you are aware that large international chains tend to be where bag thieves hang out. They know that tourists and their spending money are likely to head for refreshments in the eateries and cafes that they recognise from back home.
4. Only Carry What You Have To Carry
To travel round Madrid in safety, don't put objects in your bag unless you really need them. My bag was stolen and I realised afterwards that I hadn't needed to be carrying my car keys, nor half the paperwork I had in the bag at the time. If you don't need all your documents, ask at your accommodation if there is a safe that you can put them in.
Check with the hotel before you book, if they provide a safe.
5. Make Photocopies Of Important Documents
If you must take out important ID documents, then make photocopies of them and store them in a safe and secure place. This will help you if your bag is stolen because you will still have some form of ID even if it is not original.
6. Don't Look Like A Stranger To The City
Follow the dress code to blend in with the locals. See our page on the Click the dress code in Madrid. If you are perceived as a tourist, thieves may assume that you will be carrying valuables like credit cards and cameras and be a good prospect.
7. Keep The Contents Of Your Bag Well Organised
If you're going out in Madrid, safety can be improved if you don't have to fumble about in the bottom of your bag searching for your metro ticket or other objects. Organise the contents before leaving your accommodation and minimise the time you spend standing in the street with you bag open while you search for items.
8. Keep Cash To A Minimum
Calculate how much cash you need for the time you will be out, and leave the rest of your money in a safe place like a hotel safe if you have one. Just in case your bag gets stolen, keep some cash on your person for emergencies. Another good idea is to keep a spare metro ticket in your pocket, at least that way you can travel back to your accommodation.
Keep a record of the numbers to call to cancel your cards should you need to.
9. Madrid Safety No-No: Bum Bags Are Not A Good Idea
They are handy, but in Spain they mark you out as a tourist. It is also easy for pickpockets to unzip them without you feeling anything.
10. Don't Try And Resist If You Are Confronted.
If someone tries to wrench your bag from you then don't put up a fight. If you've followed our advice and only have the bare essentials that you need for the day inside your bag, then it won't be too much trouble to replace them.
The first thing to do is to cancel all bank and credit cards that were stolen. If you don't have the numbers to call, the police station have a list of numbers. You will also need to make what is called in Spain, a 'denuncia'. This is an official statement detailing exactly what has been stolen and how and where it happened. You'll need this document to back up any insurance claims. Your personal safety comes first, your belongings can always be replaced.
If you go to a police station to make a denuncia you could be faced with a waiting time of an hour or more. You can make your denuncia over the phone. Ask for an English speaker. Call the following number.
Tel: +34 90 210 2112
Once you have made the denuncia, you have 72 hours to visit the police station to pick it up. The advisor on the phone should tell you which station to go to and how to get there. If you have a choice, and are staying in the centre of Madrid, I would recommend that you choose a station that doesn't have a long waiting time, such as:
Comisaría de Chamberi
Rafael Calvo, 33
28010 Madrid, España.
Tel.: +34 91 322 3268
Metro: Rubén Darío (Green Line, L5) Plus 2 minutes walk.
You can enjoy Madrid in safety if you follow the guidelines we have given here. If you do get robbed then make sure you make a denuncia as soon as possible. There are police stations in every district, and if you use the telephone service to make your denuncia, they can advise you where to go.