Tourists have been warned of a crime wave in Barcelona. Robberies with violence and intimidation continue to rise in the city that attracts 16 million visitors a year.
According to the Catalonia regional police force, muggings or street robberies that include the threat of violence have increased by 30%.
Eight murders have already rocked Barcelona since July 1, 2019, against ten throughout the entire last year.
Last August 21, the US embassy even warned its citizens against “the increase in violent crime”, advising them not to wear expensive watches or jewellery.
Data shows that there are 120 crimes per 1,000 inhabitants in Barcelona, far ahead of Marbella (80 per 1,000) and Madrid (74 per 1,000).
However, the alarming numbers are qualified by the mayor of the city, Ada Colau, as a global problem:
“Barcelona is a safe city suffering from some problems like Paris, London or all the other big cities,” she said.
The issue has led some people to blame Colau, immigrants and the law. The surge of foreign residents has also been linked to the security crisis in the Catalan capital.
Some locals attribute the rising crime rate to the influx of unaccompanied minors, underage boys mostly from Morocco, more than 6,000 of whom have arrived in the city in the past two years.
Police statistics indicate that 12 per cent of those minors have committed crimes that employed violence or the threat of violence since arriving to the region of Catalonia.
These minors went to Spain to look for work, however most of them ended up being transferred between reception centres or sleeping in the streets as authorities struggled to provide enough facilities. Some got caught up in drugs and petty crimes in Barcelona.
Albert Batlle, the head of security for Barcelona’s town hall, has proposed that these minors should be returned to their families. But the regional chief for social affairs, Chakir el Homrani, has maintained that it is more of a social problem and assured the public that steps have been taken to associate the unaccompanied minors with rising criminality.