LONDON, England – Vigilant travelers already versed in common scams know that some situations should be avoided: when in Bangkok, don’t accept your tuk-tuk driver’s offer to visit a nearby gem shop; in tourist spots, be wary of street entertainers who urge you to bet money on a game of chance. However, even frequent visitors to Spain are likely to be unfamiliar with the country’s latest con, as Spanish police have reported that ‘Trojan horse’ thieves are hiding in luggage in order to steal possessions being transported between popular tourist destinations.
The Times reports that contortionists are hiding in luggage which is then placed in a bus cargo hold by an accomplice. During the journey, the occupant emerges from their hiding spot and steals small valuables such as cameras from surrounding luggage. The thief packs the haul into his suitcase and reseals himself inside as the bus reaches its destination.
Reports of the scam were initially met with incredulity and when, in 2011, five tourists made claims about their belongings being stolen during journeys on the Barcelona Bus company they were disregarded. Workers at the firm eventually figured out the ruse after seeing a man talking to a suitcase.
Speaking to The Times, a spokesperson for the Catalan regional police, Mossos d’Escuadra, said: “The Trojan horse version is rare but happens… We advise tourists to leave all valuables at their hotel and be vigilant.” The advice is unlikely to benefit travellers en route from one destination to another, but other tips are more practical. Barcelona was recently named the destination in which visiting Britons are most likely to fall victim to scams, and in their guide to the city, concierges from three of its best hotels advised tourists to take care on Las Ramblas, a hotspot for petty crime. Tourists are advised not to engage with anyone who might ask them for directions and, where possible, to prevent other people from touching them.