# What's the safest way to protect your valuables from theft at the beach?

I am travelling solo to Barcelona. I was wondering if anyone has any tip on how to enjoy the beach when travelling alone.

As in, is it safe to leave your belongings on the beach when you go for a dip? If not, are there any lockers on the beaches in Barcelona?

• Never ever in Barcelona. There was a documentary on BBC, which elaborately showed, where stuff was stolen from beachgoers from under their nose on the beaches, mostly Romanian gypsy gangs(not being racist but was specifically mentioned in the documentary). The police cannot do much and were mostly helpless to stop them from going around stealing. – DumbCoder Jun 10 '15 at 13:17
• In Capri, not Barcelona, but the same general concept, I hired a taxi to wait. It seemed like the safest, most secure method at the time. Returning after about an hour, the meter read EUR 20, not including tip. But I suppose you're looking for something more improvisational and economical. – Gayot Fow Jun 10 '15 at 15:03
• I realize its anecdotal evidence, but when I went to a beach solo in Barcelona, I not so much as waded into the water, and I turned around to find a teenage boy, about to snatch my bag as he was 'innocently' walking by. He sat down to wait until I turned my back to him again, but I did not. – n00b Jun 10 '15 at 15:04
• Put your wallet in your shoe obviously! From the great mind of Jerry Seinfeld: "You go to the beach, go in the water, put your wallet in the sneaker. Who's gonna know? What criminal mind could penetrate this fortress of security? I tied a bow. They can't get through that. I put the wallet down by the toe of the sneaker. They never look there. They check the heel, they move on." – LeopardSkinPillBoxHat Jun 10 '15 at 22:31
• Real Example – InFlightEntertainment Jun 11 '15 at 8:36

## Invest in a Dry Egg/Box

My suggestion is to take as little valuables as possible, and carry them in the water with you when you go for a dip. What I usually do is I take some form of plastic ID, a bit of cash, a payment card and my phone. I leave everything else at home since most likely I won't need it on the beach. Everything I take easily fits in what is called a freediving dry egg/box which, as the name suggests, is a gadget used by divers to keep their stuff dry whilst in the water. These gadgets come in various different sizes, cost under €20 and look something like this (image courtesy of ScubaStore):

(source: watersportswarehouse.co.uk)

First thing you should do after purchasing your egg is to test ride its watertightness. Put a piece of paper in it, lock it up and throw it in a sink/bucket full of water. Then wiggle it around for a few minutes. Take it out, open it and check the paper: if it's wet you either did not close the egg properly or it leaks.

One possible way of carrying the egg whilst swimming could be replacing the lanyard with a longer one so that you can wear it diagonally across one shoulder like a shoulder bag. Other options include tying it to your swimming trunks, wearing it around your waist, your neck, or wearing a rubber weight belt of the type used by freedivers on which you can strap the box. The needed comfort also depends in how much swimming you are planning to do.

## Locker Facilities at Barcelona's Beaches

Some of the beaches in Barcelona have lockers, according to the official municipal website. This information is everything but easy to find, since it's usually only listed on the individual webpage of each beach. The results of my searches show that the following beaches have lockers: Nova Icaria, Somorrostro, Bogatell, Mar Bella, Barceloneta (in Catalan only - Consigna). Hopefully this information is up to date. Note that the existence of lockers doesn't guarantee you to find a free/available one to use. Hence why I suggest the dry egg as a first option.

• Yes, wear this... it totally looks "cool" – Renae Lider Jun 10 '15 at 20:43
• I had absolutely no idea these existed, but it's so obvious! what an awesome new lifehack! – techpacker Jun 10 '15 at 23:26
• @RenaeLider Yes, you are right. Being robbed of the valuables you left on the beach unguarded is infinitely cooler. – JoErNanO Jun 11 '15 at 12:08
• @RenaeLider Ok you can argue practicality. This however has nothing to do with coolness. Having said this: keeping your belongings on you is the best way to safeguard them. And the dry egg is not that bulky as you would imagine. – JoErNanO Jun 11 '15 at 16:27
• @Panzercrisis It depends on how creative you want to be. How about replacing that lanyard with a longer one so that you can wear it diagonally across one shoulder like a shoulder bag? Other options include tying it to your swimming trunks, wearing it around your waist, your neck, or wearing a rubber weight belt of the type used by freedivers on which you can strap the box. Comfort also depends in how much swimming you are planning to do. – JoErNanO Jun 12 '15 at 6:56

I´ve never been to Barcelona, but generally beaches have kiosks where you can buy drinks and food. I usually leave my belongings in a kiosk I intend to eat/drink something (or already have). Kiosk owners are usually more than happy to hold your belongings while you're in the water. If you don't intend to eat/drink something, it's a small price you pay for a little security.

Just to be a little more safer I lock my belongings, normally a small backpack. It doesn't prevent someone from taking your whole backpack while inside the kiosk, but makes it harder for someone to pick your stuff inside.

• Good idea, but be careful not to leave something "too tempting". Salaries in Barcelona are pretty low, so an iPhone for instance could be just enough to cross the line.. – Adrien Be Jun 25 '15 at 14:12
• @AdrienBe I didn't know about their low wages. Anyway, I would put all my stuff inside a backpack, lock it and hand it over to the kiosk employee after a small chat. Ii is always a good measure not to show off in places where you're worried about your security. – gmauch Jun 25 '15 at 14:30
• @gmauch minimum salary in Spain is now around 500€ per month (in 2015). Someone working at a kiosk in Barcelona may get around 750, not sure exactly. Yeah, showing off your belongings before giving them for safety is probably the last thing one should do. – Adrien Be Jun 25 '15 at 14:56

I would recommend you to take a train and go a beach further from the city, where you can be a bit less cautious; but in the beaches of Barcelona, never, ever, leave your stuff alone when your are going to swim. Barcelona is a top destination for tourists, but also for pickpockets. They are really good and there are probably some of them in the beach waiting for people to go into the water. The only "good" thing is that they will never hurt you, they are just after your belongings.

My first bit of advice is that you shouldn't bring anything to the beach except your towel, swimsuit, flip flops and a bit of cash for a snack. No need to bring your passport or your ridiculously expensive mobile phone.

That said, I don't think you need to buy any special gadget. Just approach the person next to you and ask him (or her) if they mind to keep an eye on your stuff while you are swimming. If they say it is Ok (95% will say so while smiling to you), just put your bag on their towel and enjoy your swim. Please understand that people of Barcelona hate pickpockets more than anyone, and they will feel sympathy for a tourist who is scared to be robbed.

The sentence you should memorize is:

"Em vaig a banyar; et faria res vigilar un moment la meva bossa, si et plau? No trigaré massa."

Or in Spanish:

"Voy a bañarme; te importa vigilar mi bolsa un momento, por favor? No estaré mucho rato"

That translates to:

"I am going to swim; would you mind to keep an eye on my bag for a moment, please? I will not stay long"

(Pro tip: there will be a good opportunity for a conversation starter once you leave the water, so choose wisely who you give the bag to... 😉😉)

• "The best pickpockets in Europe come to Barcelona because, apparently, they can make good business." -- great, I'll rest easier in other European cities, knowing that the pickpockets are second-rate ;-) – Steve Jessop Jun 11 '15 at 11:38
• "approach the person next to you" - how do you know if that person is not a pickpocket? – Digital Trauma Jun 11 '15 at 23:18
• @DigitalTrauma: You can recognize them because pickpockets wear sport shoes in order to be able to run from the police and are fully clothed in order to hide in the crowd. You may say that the person could be a pickpocket enjoying the sun in his day off, but chances are low - according to the police, couple of hundreds of professional pickpockets work in the area of Barcelona, where 3 million people live. Also, who wants to go to the workplace in his day off? – Daniel Jun 12 '15 at 1:24
• @SteveJessop: Edited. – Daniel Jun 12 '15 at 1:24
• Very good advice. Although, for someone who doesn't speak Catalan, the connection between what you wrote and how it's supposed to be pronounced is not going to be obvious. :) – terdon Jun 14 '15 at 10:26

I did that a lot for a period. I used several strategies:

As a general rule take as little as possible and preferably things without value.

Then just do one of the following:

1. Check if the beach has lockers. There are some beaches with lockers with a code or keys that you strap around the wrist. You find these systems many times in swimming pools but some beaches have it.

1. Take the least possible. Take only coins and put them in a pocket in your swimming suit (preferably one that you can close). In case your clothes get stollen you always have some money to call someone or travel home. This, in principle, is only possible if you stay or live near the beach.
2. Sit near a family. If you want to go to the water kindly ask them to have a look. Just the fact that you are near other people is already a dissuading factor.
3. Ask some café or beach bar to keep your stuff. I would not advise this as the first strategy. As you can imagine they probably have many requests. If you do that at least consume something there. You can also check if they have a paid service for it.
4. Use a waterproof bag. You can put your most valuable things in and take it to the sea. You can find them in several sizes. The one in the picture is particularly suited for a mobile phone but other shapes might be more convenient for you. You can find them starting around 5euros.

Buy some disposable diapers and some peanut butter...

Craftily hide your belongings (you have limited space) in a 'soiled' diaper next to your towel.

• What about a real soiled diaper and valuables in a plastic bag inside it? But ...if you have access to that you probably already have someone to watch over the valuables (and the baby) ;) .. you could ask around though! – Erwin Bolwidt Jun 12 '15 at 9:52

You could invest in a travel safe. The one pictured below is water-resistant, though not waterproof. So you can't carry it into water. It can be fixed to a pole or a piece of furniture via the cable that comes with it, though it would best if you leave it in the beach lockers when available so you wouldn't have to keep an eye on it.

• I don't know... this one practically screams "Valuable Stuff Inside!". It might attract more attention than it should, potentially even after you leave the beach... – thkala Jun 11 '15 at 17:01
• Yeah, this box seems pointless to me. Any thief will just walk away with it and open it in the convenience of his own home with standard power tools. Might as well just hide your stuff in a plastic food container and bury it in a small hole in the sand, and then place your towel on top so you can find it again ... – iHaveacomputer Jun 12 '15 at 3:09
• @iHaveacomputer if the cable is strong enough it would be difficult to cut it. I like this idea. – Anixx Jun 12 '15 at 10:00
• Some of the point is in making yourself a harder target, not necessarily an impossible target. I doubt pickpockets walk around with (large) cable cutters - they are large and heavy and hard to run while carrying, plus scream THIEF. – Joe Jun 12 '15 at 21:16
• @Joe: my main issue with this safe-thing is that while it might deter a pickpocket, it might attract attention from more serious criminals - the kind of criminals that would ambush you on your way to your hotel... – thkala Jun 13 '15 at 18:09

I've been to the beach solo around the world a number of times. it's perfectly reasonable (in most civilized places) to leave a beach towel, a bag of things, and perhaps a chair if you're so inclined alone on the beach. If you're worried about someone stealing from you then covertly dig a hole in the sand and bury some stuff within this hole, fill it in, and cover with your towel. Someone around you will definitely notice if a stranger is literally digging through your stuff.

• It depends if the folks around you are interested in your possessions. Yeah if you were at the Sheraton's private beach at Dubai Marina Beach you would be fine. However, in my opinion I think in Barcelona you are particularly ill-advised to rely on this. – Calchas Jun 10 '15 at 14:17
• Also suitable at Fermoyle on the Dingle Peninsula, @Calchas. In that case because your nearest neighbour is probably roughly a mile down the strand. – TRiG Jun 10 '15 at 18:20
• Even if someone around notices a stranger digging around, that doesn't mean they are going to do anything about it. – whatsisname Jun 10 '15 at 19:53
• If no one challenged you while you were burying it, why would they challenge anyone digging it up? Thieves work in gangs and watch people arrive and take note of where you put stuff, hiding it doesn't work. – JamesRyan Jun 10 '15 at 20:41
• @easymoden00b how does anyone know whether you are burying your things or digging them up? They arn't paying that much attention. Someone will watch everyone arrive, you bury your things and wander off to swim with a false sense of security while others keep them with them. They'll signal their friend in beachwear who'll sit down on your towel for a couple of mins, no one will challenge them when they act perfectly normally as if to leave gathering up their things and hand them off. They don't need to pass you up, you ARE the easy target. – JamesRyan Jun 10 '15 at 20:54

To protect your stuff from being stolen on the beach, don't bring them to the beach.

Your job, when combating theft, is to make everything you have uninteresting. If they see you put stuff in your car, that's interesting. If they see you leave stuff on the beach, that's interesting.

If you drive up, park, and get out of your car ready to get in the water with they key safely attached to your body, that's not very interesting.

• That is when you travel by car. I do not drive and I use the train to get to the beach. – Willeke Jun 12 '15 at 19:10

There's quite a few bars, restaurants, and hotels adjacent to or close to the beach. You could ask the staff if you could leave your stuff there. I found the beach between the W-hotel and Port Olimpic near Barceloneta (https://goo.gl/maps/V0vqc) the most pleasant. But it's quite busy there, especially in the summer.

As for lockers, never seen them there.

You should always be cautious, never trust any place, country or city, even those with fame of secure.

In the particular scenario of beaches, I never bring with me valuables that are unnecessary. As I will be taking a proper shower back in the hotel, I seldom require any expensive watch, credit cards, rings or phones in the beach. The same applies to valuable SLR cameras that can be damaged with sand, salt and humidity.

Bear in mind that beaches are spaces where people go light in clothes, so bad boys can take a fast scan of you and your valuables while approaching to the area and determine that you are a prey well before you even take a sit in the sand. If you bring cases, boxes, a necklace with a key, a bracelet with a key or protective sealed bags,... you easily call their attention.

The first rule to security while travelling is: avoid showing you have value and project an image of being poor like a rat.

Try to bring just your hotel card, a few euros, perhaps your mobile, all of this wrapped in two plastic bags. Then, bring a towel and your food.

Now once in the beach, take your time to bury the plastic bags with valuables in the sand, in a discrete manner, and place your towel and anything heavy (beach chair, large bag with just food...) on top to mark your "treasure point" to avoid losing the track. Take a bath and return. Keep an eye to your space while swimming, thought.

In the unlikely event that somebody puts his/her eye on you, they won't dare to start a treasure hunt to take your hypothetical valuables, as long as you have shown yourself low profile, because they risk to be easily caught on the spot. They will prefer easier targets that have already shown options (people that have shown their mobiles, money, cards, ... and then stored them in ultrasafe bags). Burglars will shift to those targets to take their keys, boxes,.. because they want to play a safe game, and their victims have shown they already have value. You haven't.

• "always be cautious, never trust any place, country or city, even those with fame of secure", slightly paranoid!? I wonder what kind of trust do you have left in the human being?? Haha – Adrien Be Jun 25 '15 at 14:26

I haven't tried any of these, but here are a few ideas. They are not mutually exclusive:

1. Put lots of heavy rocks in your bag. Rocks are much more dense than bricks or concrete, and are easy to find almost anywhere. A heavy bag is harder to steal conspicuously.

2. If there are no rocks around, then fill plastic shopping bags with sand and put those in your bag.

3. Place your valuables outside the [rock|sand]-filled bag. That bag becomes a decoy, and your valuables should be inside another bag which is buried in the sand under your towel.

4. Put grease or tar on the handle of your bag. if you are more malicious than I am, you could even put something painful on it such as Ben-Gay cream with lemon juice and small bits of broken glass and crushed sewing needles. I pity the thief who grabs that handle too quickly.

is it safe to leave your belongings on the beach when you go for a dip?

Of course not. No.

If not, are there any lockers on the beaches in Barcelona?

You're off to Sitges or? In broad general terms there's a shortage of beach lockers in Barcelona area.

Further, it would be completely normal that lockers are removed, closed, added, broken, being painted that day etc. JoEr has kindly googled for you, but there's only a (say) 30% chance of that online information being accurate.

Consider - as gmauch explains every beach has concessions renting chairs and the like. Perhaps it's possible to pay these guys to look after stuff? I do not know if that is a common solution.