Madrid: Safety Helpful Hints

Posted by: Jim Costello

Madrid: Safety Helpful Hints - 04/27/10 01:07 PM

These security and safety helpful hints will assist you to enjoy your vacation to Madrid. The helpful hints are from Rich Steves' 2010 book for Madrid.

Theft Alert: Be wary of pickpockets, anywhere, anytime. Areas of particular risk are Puerta del Sol (the central square), El Rastro (the flea market), Gran Via (the paseo zone: Plaza del Callao to Plaza de Espana), the Opera Metro station (or any where on the Metro) bus #27, the airport, and any crowded street. Be alert to the people around you: Someone wearing a heavy jacket in the summer is likely a pickpocket. Lately, Romanian teenagers dress like American teens and work the areas around the three big art museums. Assume a fight or any commotion is a scam to distract people about to become victims of a pickpocket. Wear your money belt. The small streets north of Gran Via are particularly dangerous, even before nightfall.

Tourist Emergency Aid: SATE is a centrally located police office offering emergency aid to victims of theft. Help ranges from canceling stolen credit cards to assistance in reporting a crime (daily 9:00 am to 10:00 pm, near Plaza de Santo Domingo at Calle Legantios 19, 24 hour telephone: 902-102-112, English spoken once you get connected to a person. The Plaza Mayor Tourtist Information office is a kind of SATE office.

Embassies: The US Embassy is at Serrano 75 (telephone 915-872-200); the Canddian Embassy is at Nunez de Balboa 35 (telephone 914-233-250).

I have been visiting Madrid for thirteen years and found the city very safe. Enjoy your vacation.
Posted by: Jan D

Re: Madrid: Safety Helpful Hints - 04/27/10 04:50 PM

Can't say I've ever felt unsafe in the small streets North of Gran Via...well around Calle de Horteleza and the Chueca area.
The Gran Via is such a long road, I really wish these travel writers would be more precise.
Posted by: PADM

Re: Madrid: Safety Helpful Hints - 04/29/10 02:56 AM

More precise... Plaza de la Luna and the streets around.
Posted by: MadridMan

Re: Madrid: Safety Helpful Hints - 04/29/10 04:01 AM

Rick Steves wrote:
The small streets north of Gran Via are particularly dangerous, even before nightfall.
I think this is a wild exaggeration. Maybe I'll go there one early evening, pockets empty just in case, to see for myself. Yes, this is an area where a lot of homeless people and prostitutes hang out, probably even some small-scale drug-deals going on, but none of these people generally bother "common folk". Funny about Madrid and Spain in general is that if you're not looking for any of this stuff they tend to leave you alone. But none of this makes the area "particularly dangerous". However, if I'd never been to Spain before, coming from the USA, I'm sure that, yes, my perception would have been "DANGER! DANGER! ILLICIT ACTS ARE TAKING PLACE!" But illicit acts don't equal danger to the passerby.

Saludos, MadridMan
Posted by: jazz

Re: Madrid: Safety Helpful Hints - 04/29/10 06:19 AM

For me it's more dangerous, go to a bank to request a loan
Posted by: pedmar

Re: Madrid: Safety Helpful Hints - 04/29/10 03:56 PM

for Rich Steeves the whole world is dangerous, he must have a cut from homeland security. I walk those streets for many years and never a problem not even a scratch.

Cant believe in this day of fast open communication people will print such a thing and be believe of. In fact I listen to the US embassy warnings on emails i get from the State dept, I wont be coming out of my house, its all dangerous out there lol!!!
Posted by: laduque

Re: Madrid: Safety Helpful Hints - 04/29/10 05:53 PM

I think Rick Steves writes it more of a disclaimer so as if you do follow his advice and walk around a certain area and you are targeted you don't blame him. I also think that if you are alert and informed you will be less likely to be a target.
Many Americans are so trusting and even when they travel abroad, don't realize they need to be vigilant (especially if you come from a smaller town).
Posted by: MadridMan

Re: Madrid: Safety Helpful Hints - 04/30/10 09:14 AM

pedmar wrote:
for Rich Steeves the whole world is dangerous
I guess, in a way, he does write for and represent the people of the USA with all the good and bad associated with that. As Americans, we're hyper-cautious and anything illegal or on the fringe of legality is something to avoid like the plague.

But what laduque writes is true at the same time, that Americans tend to be very trusting as well. Isn't that the definition of a dichotomy, when someone can be very trusting and very fearful at the same time??

pedmar, I put myself on the US State Department's DO NOT MAIL list because, as you say, if followed their recommended instructions to avoid this area or that or don't do this or whatever, I'd never leave the house. But I guess they have to do it. What if something happens to 1 in a million American tourists without the blanket warning being made? That unlucky tourist would be calling his/her lawyer immediately.

I like to tell my story about reading hundreds of accounts about crime, kidnappings, and muggings in Perú before my 2-week visit there in 2000. I was scared to death in the weeks leading up to the trip. Really, I was super worried! Sure, it didn't help they had hundreds of machine-gun-toting policemen at Lima, Peru airport and the chaos there is there. But after my first 36 hours I realized I had nothing to worry about about and that my fear was unfounded. Nothing bad happened to me during my entire 2 weeks there - if you don't count the altitude sickness in Cusco.

Saludos, MadridMan
Posted by: admiral44

Re: Madrid: Safety Helpful Hints - 04/30/10 02:28 PM

Madridman and all,

You make good points on the Rick Steves and state department mailing list. While in Madrid, old city area, a couple of weeks ago, we did notice plenty of police and some were speaking with people and inspecting some type of documents.

Today, just outside Segovia, there was a roadside checkpoint setup. I thought no big deal because I've seen one most every day since driving out of Madrid. However, this time there were four policemen checking the cars/directing traffic and then two more, one with a shotgun, the other with a tactical machine gun. This got my full attention, but they just waved me on. NOt sure what they're looking for but they are serious about it.

Posted by: jazz

Re: Madrid: Safety Helpful Hints - 04/30/10 04:50 PM

is true, there are many police controls.perhaps illegal immigrants, criminals or etarras,... I don´t know???
Posted by: eskimo joe

Re: Madrid: Safety Helpful Hints - 05/01/10 02:36 PM

I did feel a bit uneasy the 1st time I wander'd there , I had a bottle of Baron de Chirel the most expensive bottle of vino I had ever bought . Nothing happend though and the vino was excellent!!
Posted by: pedmar

Re: Madrid: Safety Helpful Hints - 05/02/10 05:34 AM

i have never been stopped by police, and on my business i go to places a lot more dangerous than Peru ::) Its common sense and be alert.
Yes usually this safe thing is bring out from Americans, do not know the psychological impact in that. Like the question is that area is safe? happenned a zillion times and the source of the question is always the same.

Happy travels everyone ::)
ps and I was at the May 1 celebration in Paris, lots of police with guns and riot police behind the scenes in trucks, nothing happenned but it could be scary if from a country not used to these celebrations. It was great walks with two visiting friends from Florida USA!
Posted by: Jim Costello

Re: Madrid: Safety Helpful Hints - 05/08/10 09:50 PM

Times Square Car Bomb

On May 1, at 4:00 pm, on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in New York City, I walked through Times Square. The streets were busy with many people, vendors, street performers, scam artist, cars and a number of street criminals. The tour buses were filled with people probably from all-over the world and USA.

Some tourists and New Yorkers were seated in the plazas enjoying their McDonalds or Starbucks, typical American food and beverages (hehehe). I purchased an a Starbucks, went to Bryant Park on 42nd Street to relax, and left at 5:30 pm to meet my wife for dinner.

The car bomb incident started later that evening and the police had closed Times Square. Since my first career was with the police in the city, I continued to monitor the sitution on television and radio. I woke-up several times during the night to hear the progress of the incident. The news media reported at 8:00 am that Times Square was opened again. On Sunday morning I decided to return to Times Square sometimes referred to as the Crossroads of the World. I assumed that Times Square would be quite since the people would probably be frighted because of the car bomb incident. After taking the train to Times Square I noticed the streets were filled with tourists, New Yorkers, and tour buses. It reminded me after 9/11. The people were not going to let the terrorists scare them away from Times Square. Many of the tourists and New Yorkers were taking pictures of police officers, police cars, fire trucks, and ambulances. Some young ladies were taking pictures with five US Marines in their dress uniforms who were touring New York City. The terrorist had not yet been arrested by the FBI but the people were not going to let that deter them from enjoying themselves the morning after a potentially deadly terrorist attack on New York City.
Posted by: MadridMan

Re: Madrid: Safety Helpful Hints - 05/09/10 02:50 AM

Jim Costello, thanks for the New York City account - but seems off-topic to "Madrid: Safety Helpful Hints" unless you're trying to say that these things can happen anywhere.

Saludos, MadridMan
Posted by: pedmar

Re: Madrid: Safety Helpful Hints - 05/10/10 05:45 AM

yeah its Times Square safe?to visit ?

just been sarcastic sorry. But common sense anywhere will always prevails.
Posted by: Jim Costello

Re: Madrid: Safety Helpful Hints - 06/26/10 02:15 PM

The purpose of this information is to help tourists from having their wallet or passport taken while in Madrid or any other city such as New York. My wife and I were in Madrid for 3 weeks in May & June and we always felt safe.

This incident tells how quickly you can become a crime victim. It was raining on my last Saturday afternoon in Madrid. I was walking on the Gran Via near Calle de Alcala with my umbrella up. Along with about 20 persons I was waiting for the traffic signal to change and cross the Gran Via. I was at the rear of the group when my umbrella was hit by someone behind me. I assume it was an accident and moved forward. Then it happened again. I looked and saw a young man very close to my face. I then quickly turned around and saw 2 young women very close behind me. When I looked at them, the man and women turned around and walked quickly back-up the Gran Via. Their method of operation was for the man to distract me while the women took my property without my knowledge.

Why did I become their target?
First, I walked out of a hotel on the Gran Via one block from the incident. Was I followed?
Second, I had my "man-bag" (containing nothing of value except for a cheap camera) over my right shoulder and towards the rear of my hip with the zipper half opened. I forgot to close the zipper when I took out my umbrella. My rear left back pocket was not secured but had some papers inside that the thieves may have believed was my wallet. However, my wallet was in my right front pants pocket with a baseball type hat also inside the same pocket to prevent the wallet from falling out or being taken by a thief.

After almost 3 weeks in Madrid, I was lax for not closing my man-bag zipper and having it in front of me rather than behind me.

Enjoy Madrid but be alert for thieves. They are in all cities throughout the world.