BRITS have been warned about a rise in muggings and violent robberies by police in Barcelona.
Officials from the regional police force for Catalonia said thefts that include the threat of violence have increased 30 per cent since the beginning of the year compared to the same period in 2018.
Earlier this month, the city declared a "security crisis" amid the violent crime surge.
Police director Andreu Martinez said on Wednesday that police were working to halt the crime wave that had "generated a heightened perception of insecurity."
However Luis Sans, president of the local association of Passeig de Gràcia told the BBC that the situation was "out of control".
Barcelona, which attracts 16 million tourists a year, has long been considered a safe city, except for a persistent problem of pickpockets who target the large number of foreigners flooding the city each summer.
Current travel warning for Spain
The UK Foreign Office currently advises Brits to be vigilant when it comes to petty theft.
They advise: "Thieves often work in teams of two or more people and tend to target money and passports. Don’t carry all your valuables in one place, and remember to keep a photocopy or scanned copy of your passport somewhere safe.
"In some city centres and resorts, thieves posing as police officers may approach tourists and ask to see their wallets for identification purposes.
"If this happens to you, establish that the officers are genuine and if necessary show some other form of ID. Genuine police officers don’t ask to see wallets or purses."
In an emergency, Brits can call 112, or +34 90 210 2112 for an English-speaking phone line.
However, it now appears that thieves have begun to work in groups and use force to steal from victims.
According to the BBC, a 91-year-old French woman recently suffered head injuries after her necklace was stolen while a German tourist was hospitalised after being mugged.
Police officials complain about light punishments for petty theft, where even repeat offenders are often allowed to pay a fine instead of doing jail time for thefts less than €400 (£362).
Police said that arrests for violent robberies have increased by 80 per cent this year. But of those 1,627 arrested individuals, only 159 (9.7 per cent) were kept in custody until trial.
Locals blame the thousands of underage migrants, mostly from Morocco and Algeria, who have arrived to Spain without their parents in recent years.
Police statistics indicate that 12 per cent of those minors have committed a crime that used violence or the threat of violence since arriving to the region of Catalonia.
The attacks, often targeting tourists, have even hit foreign officials.
In June a South Korean official died from her injuries received when she was knocked to the ground after a thief riding a motorbike tried to snatch her purse.
Other robberies included the Afghan ambassador to Spain and and FBI agent earlier this month, who both had their watches stolen.
Last year, police in Barcelona told Brits their "safety was not guaranteed" due to the soaring crime levels.
A tourist recently died in Barcelona after being attacked by a gang of Russians.
The Chinese man was beaten up outside of a club and later died of his injuries.
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