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.