Eliana Guerrero: The Pickpocket Huntress of Barcelona’s Subways

photo of Eliana Guerrero

Eliana Guerrero – The Pickpocket Huntress of Barcelona’s Subways

Thankfully I’ve never been pick-pocketed in Barcelona. Though who knows what’s going to happen now I’ve said that. But I know it’s a real problem and one that has tarnished many a friend’s trip to this fine city.

Local police say that there are about 150 pickpockets on the metro system each day with an average of 250 robberies reported each week. At least, that was back in 2012. I really wouldn’t know if it was more or less in 2015.

But, suffice it to say, if there has been a reduction it is in part thanks to the work of Colombian-born Eliana Guerrero, the Pickpocket Huntress of Barcelona’s Subways.

Eliana Guerrero is my local hero. I want to hug her. Probably more than once. I want to take her for a beer. I would go as far as to say that she is one of those special individuals that the world needs more of.

You see, since 2009 Eliana Guerrero has spent around 3 hours a day patrolling the Barcelona Metro. Armed with a whistle and only a few items for protection, such as pepper spray, she travels the metro warning tourists about the dangers of pickpockets and confronting the pickpockets themselves, herding them out of the metro, with the help of the transport police.

Eliana says, “My mother always told me, ‘One swallow doesn’t make a summer. Many people are needed to change things.’ But I don’t think so. If a person says, there’s something wrong here, that’ll draw attention, and more people will eventually join you. But somebody should take the initiative.”

Eliana is that somebody. And I am grateful that people like Eliana exist.

This video was made over two years ago. I’d love to know if Eliana is still in Barcelona and patrolling the metro every day. Partly I’d just like to know that she is ok. There is no doubt that what she does is fairly risky. I’m sure these gangs don’t take too kindly to her interference. If anyone has read anything about her lately I’d be interested to know.

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5 Comments

  • I have been pickpocketed actually and it sucks https://www.hudin.com/blog/pickpockets-of-barcelona/ The losing money part isn’t the worst but having to replace all your cards and also the arrogant attitude of the police when reporting it. We all know they’re not going to catch the guy, but they don’t have to make you wait three hours to file the report that you need for the ID office just because you live here.

    Also, I would warrant that the problem is far worse and far more violent than it has been in the past. The police do nothing because the justice system does nothing. One person won’t stop it. Tourists not coming to Barcelona will though and anyone who doesn’t want to potentially get robbed should keep it in mind when planning a trip to Europe.
    Check out Miquel’s recent post, The secret to understanding Spanish tollgates

  • Before coming to BCN I was warned about the pickpockets and have seen the video of Eliana. Having had a close shave on the Metro recently, my only regret was I was not fast enough to warn the other passengers as the two pickpockets got into another car. It reminded me of Eliana and I would like to know how she’s doing as well, but I haven’t seen her at all. Three tips for not getting victimised: 1) don’t get on the metro when it’s packed 2) don’t get on the metro when it’s packed and 3) don’t get on the metro when it’s packed.
    Check out José’s recent post, On The Set

  • I appreciate the work that you do and the risks that you take to help tourists and to clean up Barcelona’s metro and streets. However, I take issue with you referring to the unaware, careless tourists as “social autists”. As the parent of an autistic teenager I think you are minimizing the incredible challenges face by the autistic community wordwide. The distraction, carelessness, lack awareness that is displayed by tourists has nothing to do with those traits as exhibited by true Autists. Please, I implore you to change your vocabulary when you describe those that you help, and as a tourist in your city, I thank you.

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