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Luggage Transfer Correos

New thievery model on the Camino....be aware!

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t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 to 2018
Another member sent this article to me this morning...


While the original is in Spanish, here, in English, is my short version translation describing a new thievery modus operandi that should alert everyone staying in an albergue. According to the article above:

1. A pilgrim arrives at an albergue with a properly stamped credencial and is assigned a bed.
2. The pilgrim does everything the other pilgrims do, and "goes to sleep."
3. In the middle of the night, @ 02:00, the false pilgrim quietly gets up and opens the door admitting a group of compatriots.
4. Within about five minutes, the group goes through all rucksacks and loose items removing valuables.
5. The thieves quietly depart the albergue.
6. They head down the road and repeat the same scam again, the next day...
7. It was reported in the original story that only three such thefts in one area yielded some 20 smartphones and €6,000 (SIX THOUSAND) Euro... YIKES!

This "Trojan Horse" offense is VERY dangerous. If they wake up an aggressive pilgrim, violence could occur.

Short of an overnight watch on each albergue door, or a sounding alarm when the door is open after hours (even shop bells would work), I do not know what can be done, off-hand to stop this. Perhaps connecting small cat bells to your rucksack to make noise if the rucksack is jostled might help.

But, IMHO, the single easiest and cheapest method is to place a bag containing ALL your valuables, phone, cards and cash in your sleep sack or sleeping bag with you. Personally, a small very soft fanny pak, or bum bag might be even better as it is strapped to you. This can be worn at the waist or cross chest. Decathlon make a splendid version for only €4,99.


Or, this slightly larger day bag, that collapses very small:


Hope this helps and that this problem does not befall you.
 
Last edited:

Geodoc

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (crossed Pyrenees then Sarria to SdC) 2018, Frances & Ingles Summer, 2019.

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 to 2018
Pilgrims should carry less stuff anyway... tablets or laptops... seriously? I am not judging. But when one makes the decision to bring these items, they must understand the overall added theft risk as well as the general invisibility.
 

Geodoc

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (crossed Pyrenees then Sarria to SdC) 2018, Frances & Ingles Summer, 2019.
Unfortunately, t2andreo, some of us don't have the luxury of leaving work when doing the Camino and require a tablet or laptop. As to the increased visibility, hence the alarm :)
 

domigee

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(x4), Fisterra/Muxía(x2), VdlP, Jerusalem, VF, Walsingham,
C inglés. Next: Gd St Bernard to Rome
Unfortunately, t2andreo, some of us don't have the luxury of leaving work when doing the Camino and require a tablet or laptop. As to the increased visibility, hence the alarm :)
If I had to carry a laptop for my work, which I cannot afford to lose, obviously, I would stay in a hotel. Just a - personal - thought....
 

Geodoc

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (crossed Pyrenees then Sarria to SdC) 2018, Frances & Ingles Summer, 2019.
A $300 tablet is less than most phones cost, so what's the real difference? I carried one last year without incident, staying mostly in albergues. The cost doesn't justify the extra expense of staying in a hotel.
 

domigee

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(x4), Fisterra/Muxía(x2), VdlP, Jerusalem, VF, Walsingham,
C inglés. Next: Gd St Bernard to Rome
A $300 tablet is less than most phones cost, so what's the real difference? I carried one last year without incident, staying mostly in albergues. The cost doesn't justify the extra expense of staying in a hotel.
Fair enough.
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 to 2018
Unfortunately, t2andreo, some of us don't have the luxury of leaving work when doing the Camino and require a tablet or laptop. As to the increased visibility, hence the alarm :)
I did say I was not judging. I understand about responsibilities and I respect the compromises one must frequently make.

Just make allowances and prepare. One other way is to avoid albergues, where security is at a minimum and opt for commercial lodging with locked doors...on private rooms. Either way, it is an individual decision.
 

chinacat

Veteran Member
Butm, IMHO, the single easiest and cheapest method is to place a bag containing ALL your valuables, phone, cards and cash in your sleep sack or sleeping bag with you. Personally, a small very soft fanny pak, or bum bag might be even better as it is strapped to you. This can be worn at the waist or cross chest.
I’ve been doing this for 50+ years.
I used to make my own little bags, and also used a small leather pouch from the Gambia - a gift from a friend in the late 60s. I slept in my bag on beaches, in hostels, in tents ... anywhere flat(ish). No mobiles or cards 😉 Just cash, travellers’ cheques and passport ... life was so much simpler 🙂

I like the small bell idea
Much gentler on the senses than an alarm 🙂
How to silence them, though, if rising early and trying to avoid waking others who are still sleeping?
 

JFG

Doing Caminos since 2003. Holy Cow!
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, Portugues, Norte, Ignacio, Salvador, Tunnel, Ingles, and more...
Another member sent this article to me this morning...


While the original is in Spanish, here, in English, is my short version translation describing a new thievery modus operandi that should alert everyone staying in an albergue. According to the article above:

1. A pilgrim arrives at an albergue with a properly stamped credencial and is assigned a bed.
2. The pilgrim does everything the other pilgrims do, and "goes to sleep."
3. In the middle of the night, @ 02:00, the false pilgrim quietly gets up and opens the door admitting a group of compatriots.
4. Within about five minutes, the group goes through all rucksacks and loose items removing valuables.
5. The thieves quietly depart the albergue.
6. They head down the road and repeat the same scam again, the next day...
7. It was reported in the original story that only three such thefts in one area yielded some 20 smartphones and €6,000 (SIX THOUSAND) Euro... YIKES!

This "Trojan Horse" offense is VERY dangerous. If they wake up an aggressive pilgrim, violence could occur.

Short of an overnight watch on each albergue door, or a sounding alarm when the door is open after hours (even shop bells would work), I do not know what can be done, off-hand to stop this. Perhaps connecting small cat bells to your rucksack to make noise if the rucksack is jostled might help.

But, IMHO, the single easiest and cheapest method is to place a bag containing ALL your valuables, phone, cards and cash in your sleep sack or sleeping bag with you. Personally, a small very soft fanny pak, or bum bag might be even better as it is strapped to you. This can be worn at the waist or cross chest. Decathlon make a splendid version for only €4,99.


Or, this slightly larger day bag, that collapses very small:


Hope this helps and that this problem does not befall you.
Thanks for the Info. Where there's a will, there's a way. If you don't want to lose it, keep it close.
 

Hurry Krishna

Indian on the Way
Camino(s) past & future
2009 (from Sarria), 2014 from St Jean Pied de Port, 2016 from Porto, 2018 from Le Puy to Santiago.
Pilgrims should carry less stuff anyway... tablets or laptops... seriously? I am not judging. But when one makes the decision to bring these items, they must understand the overall added theft risk as well as the general invisibility.
I don’t think pilgrims carrying too much makes the crime of stealing any more justifiable, surely! And given Spain is part of the first world, it would be a national shame if there were many living under the poverty line, with no other means of survival than stealing!!!!
 

domigee

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(x4), Fisterra/Muxía(x2), VdlP, Jerusalem, VF, Walsingham,
C inglés. Next: Gd St Bernard to Rome
I don’t think pilgrims carrying too much makes the crime of stealing any more justifiable, surely!
No, of course it does not. Nevertheless, carrying something valuable like a laptop, a tablet or large amounts of cash would be more tempting to a thief than just having a rucksack full of dirty clothes, wouldn’t it?
Sadly, there are gangs of thieves the world over, nothing to do with ‘first world countries’ or ‘people living under the poverty line’....
 

Bob from L.A. !

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francis 2012, 2014, 2016. Camino Norte 2018. Many more to come in my future God willing !
I wanted to suggest to all the members and other pilgrims not to believe 100% this kind of information.. people tend to be sensationalist with these issues. even if its true this information posted above, in all the albergues we keep a record of every pilgrim and that information goes every day through an app in our computer to the police. We know who is sleeping here every night. so the police which is very professional in spain can proceed to investigate. If something happen , it is easy to investigate and most of the time the robbers have been caught.
No worries but like in every part of the world, keep your most important belongings close to you. Even well educated people and with wealthy life , can suffer of kleptomania. If something happens, we have to call the police, that´s it.


Buen Camino.
I would tend to want to be a bit more pro active than re active in a case like this.
 

J F Gregory

Portugal Central - October 2019
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (March-April,2016) finished, (October 2019) Portuguese Central Route.
It's not new, these sorts of thieves were already at it in 2014.

I suggest using your backpack and trousers as pillows.
This sounds good but most alburgues do not want kits on the bed. One such thief was in out alburgue room with about a half dozen others than myself and a fellow pilgrim awoke and blew a whistle awakening all of us. The thief ran and was not caught.
 

maruska89

Mary C.
Camino(s) past & future
Porto to SdC-Sept 2017
Camino Frances-(April 2019)
This sounds good but most alburgues do not want kits on the bed. One such thief was in out alburgue room with about a half dozen others than myself and a fellow pilgrim awoke and blew a whistle awakening all of us. The thief ran and was not caught.
what a good idea to sleep with a whistle nearby.
 

domigee

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF(x4), Fisterra/Muxía(x2), VdlP, Jerusalem, VF, Walsingham,
C inglés. Next: Gd St Bernard to Rome
They're welcome to my stuff.
A peregrina I walked with a few years ago left her rucksack outside on the steps of the Cathedral in Santiago, since she wasn’t allowed in with it. Someone remarked it wasn’t safe, it could be stolen and she had the same words as you: “they’re welcome to it!!’ (It was an old bagpack that had been a pain to walk with and only contained her few very worn clothes...)
Needless to say, it was still there when Mass was finished 😁 She wasn’t happy! 😂😂😂
 

Oddyspapa

My soul is staying on the way, always.
Camino(s) past & future
Full CF (May/Jun of 2014, 2018 )
Full CF+Finisterre (2016 May/Jun)
Will go again 2020
I’ve been doing this for 50+ years.
I used to make my own little bags, and also used a small leather pouch from the Gambia - a gift from a friend in the late 60s. I slept in my bag on beaches, in hostels, in tents ... anywhere flat(ish). No mobiles or cards 😉 Just cash, travellers’ cheques and passport ... life was so much simpler 🙂



Much gentler on the senses than an alarm 🙂
How to silence them, though, if rising early and trying to avoid waking others who are still sleeping?
I did similar way. I put every valuable things in small bag and put the bag inside of my sleeping bag. So far so good. But there is no absolute solution~
 

MinaKamina

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Jacobspad 2017
Another member sent this article to me this morning...


While the original is in Spanish, here, in English, is my short version translation describing a new thievery modus operandi that should alert everyone staying in an albergue. According to the article above:

1. A pilgrim arrives at an albergue with a properly stamped credencial and is assigned a bed.
2. The pilgrim does everything the other pilgrims do, and "goes to sleep."
3. In the middle of the night, @ 02:00, the false pilgrim quietly gets up and opens the door admitting a group of compatriots.
4. Within about five minutes, the group goes through all rucksacks and loose items removing valuables.
5. The thieves quietly depart the albergue.
6. They head down the road and repeat the same scam again, the next day...
7. It was reported in the original story that only three such thefts in one area yielded some 20 smartphones and €6,000 (SIX THOUSAND) Euro... YIKES!

This "Trojan Horse" offense is VERY dangerous. If they wake up an aggressive pilgrim, violence could occur.

Short of an overnight watch on each albergue door, or a sounding alarm when the door is open after hours (even shop bells would work), I do not know what can be done, off-hand to stop this. Perhaps connecting small cat bells to your rucksack to make noise if the rucksack is jostled might help.

But, IMHO, the single easiest and cheapest method is to place a bag containing ALL your valuables, phone, cards and cash in your sleep sack or sleeping bag with you. Personally, a small very soft fanny pak, or bum bag might be even better as it is strapped to you. This can be worn at the waist or cross chest. Decathlon make a splendid version for only €4,99.


Or, this slightly larger day bag, that collapses very small:


Hope this helps and that this problem does not befall you.
6. They head down the road and repeat the same scam again, the next day...

The same night.
This is quite an organization, a lot of planning goes into it.

The way in which they operate is very simple and difficult to detect: One of them comes, of course provided with his credential, with its corresponding stamps etc, documentation (we suppose falsified), they go to bed and, that is to say, at two o'clock in the morning, he gets up, opens the door to other buddies who are waiting for him outside, they enter and, in five minutes, they search the backpacks and belongings, they take the mobiles and the money and then they arrive at another hostel, perhaps 40 km away fromthe previous one, where another buddy, who was also "sleeping" inside repats the operation of opening the door, etc.


I can fully understand that the hospitaleros are worried, no one likes to be confronted with such a situation and their options for protecting the pilgrims are limited.
On this forum, we have had discussions about safety and fires, about albergues where pilgrims were locked up for the night. We all thought it was dangerous, and it is. But still. This is the other side of la moneda so to speak.

The hospitaleros write:

The hodspitaleros have enough problems already with tourists posing as pilgrims, and now they have to assume responsibility for the belongings of the pilgrims and face very violent situations that may occur.

In the albergues there have always been, what today, in view of what has happened, we could consider petty thefts of some telephones, cameras, money, clothes that tend to dry, etc, but all on a small scale.

Pablo Arribas Briones de Burgos, wrote in his day an extensive and very amenable book about "The Picaresque in the Camino de Santiago", and, possibly this was one of the determinants that the Camino practically was abandoned during several centuries. Today, we might perfectly well be entering the cycle that the Camino "will die of success", the more scoundrels pass through it, the fewer pilgrims will go through it and we will enter into a spiral that, like a black hole, will engulf the Camino

San Sebastian June 11, 2,019
Asociación Amigos Caminos de Santiago de Gipuzkoa (Friends of the Roads of Santiago de Gipuzkoa Association)
 

MileHighPair

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2012, '14: Frances
2015: Chimayo, USA.
2016, '17: VdlP
2018: Madrid, Ourense, Salvador, Primitivo
Thank you @t2andreo for this thread. Your suggestion of putting valuables in the foot of the sleep sac is a good one, and is exactly what we do on Camino. The added advantage is that we are very unlikely to leave any of these items behind in the morning. I guess there will always be thieves.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Nearly every year since 2006, often walking more than one route. 2018 was Camino #14
This isn't new - been happening forever. Putting valuables in the foot of the sleep sack doesn't always work, either. And you should NEVER carry or leave anything you don't want to lose in your rucksack.
 

MaineSally

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Cam Frances SJPDP to Santiago ('17): Finisterre ('17); Muxia ('17)
Camino Portuguese - April ('19)
It's not new, these sorts of thieves were already at it in 2014.

I suggest using your backpack and trousers as pillows.
Another member sent this article to me this morning...


While the original is in Spanish, here, in English, is my short version translation describing a new thievery modus operandi that should alert everyone staying in an albergue. According to the article above:

1. A pilgrim arrives at an albergue with a properly stamped credencial and is assigned a bed.
2. The pilgrim does everything the other pilgrims do, and "goes to sleep."
3. In the middle of the night, @ 02:00, the false pilgrim quietly gets up and opens the door admitting a group of compatriots.
4. Within about five minutes, the group goes through all rucksacks and loose items removing valuables.
5. The thieves quietly depart the albergue.
6. They head down the road and repeat the same scam again, the next day...
7. It was reported in the original story that only three such thefts in one area yielded some 20 smartphones and €6,000 (SIX THOUSAND) Euro... YIKES!

This "Trojan Horse" offense is VERY dangerous. If they wake up an aggressive pilgrim, violence could occur.

Short of an overnight watch on each albergue door, or a sounding alarm when the door is open after hours (even shop bells would work), I do not know what can be done, off-hand to stop this. Perhaps connecting small cat bells to your rucksack to make noise if the rucksack is jostled might help.

But, IMHO, the single easiest and cheapest method is to place a bag containing ALL your valuables, phone, cards and cash in your sleep sack or sleeping bag with you. Personally, a small very soft fanny pak, or bum bag might be even better as it is strapped to you. This can be worn at the waist or cross chest. Decathlon make a splendid version for only €4,99.


Or, this slightly larger day bag, that collapses very small:


Hope this helps and that this problem does not befall you.
Out of curiosity, would the decathalon fanny pak accommodate Brierley’s book and a larger phone? I have yet to come across a waist pack that is generous enough so my guide book isn’t dog-eared! Like others, I sleep better simply knowing all important items are on me in the sleepsack!
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 to 2018
Short answer...YES! I just put a current version (2018) Brierely Camino Frances guide, and my iPhone Xr in a protective case, in the bag with room to spare.

Hope this helps
 

formysons

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Roncesvalles - Santiago 2009; Portuguese, Ingles, Finesterre and Muxia - 2019.
Short answer...YES! I just put a current version (2018) Brierely Camino Frances guide, and my iPhone Xr in a protective case, in the bag with room to spare.

Hope this helps
Do these thieves operate on all routes or are there specific routes they target??
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
possibly this was one of the determinants that the Camino practically was abandoned during several centuries. Today, we might perfectly well be entering the cycle that the Camino "will die of success", the more scoundrels pass through it, the fewer pilgrims will go through it and we will enter into a spiral that, like a black hole, will engulf the Camino.
Possibly it was one of the factors but I doubt it was a significant one. The earliest pilgrim accounts speak of dangers significantly greater than petty theft which don't seem to have deterred pilgrims too much. I suspect much greater factors in the decline of the pilgrimage were the Reformation and the loss of the relics of St. James (they went missing in the 16th century and were only found again in the late 19th century). When the ostensible purpose of the Camino is to be with the relics and they aren't there and haven't been for hundreds of years, people will get out of the habit of going to visit them. Or so it seems to me.
 

kayagee66

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2016)
Le Puy - Roncesvalles (2016)
Figeac - Cahors (2017)
Stevenson Trail (2018
Unfortunately, t2andreo, some of us don't have the luxury of leaving work when doing the Camino and require a tablet or laptop. As to the increased visibility, hence the alarm :)
And some don’t have the luxury of taking their ‘work’ with them.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2014; 2019)
Camino Primitivo (2016)
Camino del Norte (2016-2018)
San Salvador (2018)
Another member sent this article to me this morning...


While the original is in Spanish, here, in English, is my short version translation describing a new thievery modus operandi that should alert everyone staying in an albergue. According to the article above:

1. A pilgrim arrives at an albergue with a properly stamped credencial and is assigned a bed.
2. The pilgrim does everything the other pilgrims do, and "goes to sleep."
3. In the middle of the night, @ 02:00, the false pilgrim quietly gets up and opens the door admitting a group of compatriots.
4. Within about five minutes, the group goes through all rucksacks and loose items removing valuables.
5. The thieves quietly depart the albergue.
6. They head down the road and repeat the same scam again, the next day...
7. It was reported in the original story that only three such thefts in one area yielded some 20 smartphones and €6,000 (SIX THOUSAND) Euro... YIKES!

This "Trojan Horse" offense is VERY dangerous. If they wake up an aggressive pilgrim, violence could occur.

Short of an overnight watch on each albergue door, or a sounding alarm when the door is open after hours (even shop bells would work), I do not know what can be done, off-hand to stop this. Perhaps connecting small cat bells to your rucksack to make noise if the rucksack is jostled might help.

But, IMHO, the single easiest and cheapest method is to place a bag containing ALL your valuables, phone, cards and cash in your sleep sack or sleeping bag with you. Personally, a small very soft fanny pak, or bum bag might be even better as it is strapped to you. This can be worn at the waist or cross chest. Decathlon make a splendid version for only €4,99.


Or, this slightly larger day bag, that collapses very small:


Hope this helps and that this problem does not befall you.
We were made to listen to a recorded warning about thieves at Roncesvalles. There were lockers and so I didn't worry, and gradually the concern went out of my mind until, sadly, the albergue I'd been most interested to visit, Gaucelmo in Rabanal. Standing in line, some people became anxious about the gypsies in the line behind us. 'There have been thefts.' I allowed their concern to influence me and I went elsewhere. I was told that the hospitaleros moved the gypsy couple into a private room. Afterwards, I felt very guilty. 'Gypsy' or no, these were travellers to Compostela, apparently in need of financial support, possibly mendicants, and I allowed the fear to make me prejudiced. I really wanted to make some gesture, later, but I didn't see them again. It's been on my conscience. But this tactic of letting a gang of lightfingers into the dorm?! It sounds incredible. I THINK THE IDEA OF A BUMBAG OR FANNY PACK FOR KEEPING VALUABLES BY YOU AND INSIDE YOUR SLEEPING BAG IS AN EXCELLENT ONE.
 

kayagee66

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2016)
Le Puy - Roncesvalles (2016)
Figeac - Cahors (2017)
Stevenson Trail (2018
Shaggy dog story, rumours, Chinese whispers.
Of all the people reading this who have walked 1 or more Camino's, how many of you have left your phones and/or money in your rucksack? How many of you have known other people to do this? In my experience people keep their valuables very close by. Phones are always charging in the bedrooms.
These thieves must go around with the very best infrared night vision goggles so they don’t wake anyone.
It’s virtually impossible to walk around a room you are not familiar with in the pitch dark without waking someone.
etc. etc. etc.
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 to 2018
Truer words have never been spoken... Rebekah speaks truth....as always...
 

grayland

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Yes
There is another method used by dirt bags that was fairly common in the past. I would guess that there would be little reason to think that it was not still active.

A false pilgrim walks with pack and and befriends people along the way. At some point he/she asks for advice on where to keep valuables as they are worried. The new pilgrim friend usually confides in the excellent place and method they are using...the false pilgrim now can target the valuables. Often, the new best friend offers to "watch" your stuff while you shower, etc. He and the valuables are often gone when you return to your bunk.
They can repeat this on another section of the route the next day. As long as they continue to work behind the last theft they are unlikely to be identified. They can drive 100 km away for the next day.

The odds of these things happening are low....but do not fall into the trap of thinking that the camino is any different than real life elsewhere. The days of the camino being free from crime and trouble is long past.

Many of us are greatly saddened...but there it is.
 

cher99840

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2013, 2017 Camino Frances SJPP-Santiago
2015 St. Olav's Way Oslo-Trondheim
2017 VdlP Seville-Merida
Cash, debit card, credit card, passport, credential and iPhone are my only valuables and I wear them in a small belly bag. The bag is the last thing off after I enter shower and the first thing back on even tho I’m still damp. I follow this procedure in private accommodations as well as in the occasional albergue. I wear it when I sleep; it’s never off except for showering and then it is with me. I sleep in a sleep sack that encases the phone so that when I read myself to sleep, the phone falls within the confines of the sack. Everything else that goes with me is replaceable and I take nothing that I can’t afford to lose. I learned these guidelines right here on the forum before I ever took my first step on a Camino and they have become second nature in all of my travels.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Primitivo
Another member sent this article to me this morning...


While the original is in Spanish, here, in English, is my short version translation describing a new thievery modus operandi that should alert everyone staying in an albergue. According to the article above:

1. A pilgrim arrives at an albergue with a properly stamped credencial and is assigned a bed.
2. The pilgrim does everything the other pilgrims do, and "goes to sleep."
3. In the middle of the night, @ 02:00, the false pilgrim quietly gets up and opens the door admitting a group of compatriots.
4. Within about five minutes, the group goes through all rucksacks and loose items removing valuables.
5. The thieves quietly depart the albergue.
6. They head down the road and repeat the same scam again, the next day...
7. It was reported in the original story that only three such thefts in one area yielded some 20 smartphones and €6,000 (SIX THOUSAND) Euro... YIKES!

This "Trojan Horse" offense is VERY dangerous. If they wake up an aggressive pilgrim, violence could occur.

Short of an overnight watch on each albergue door, or a sounding alarm when the door is open after hours (even shop bells would work), I do not know what can be done, off-hand to stop this. Perhaps connecting small cat bells to your rucksack to make noise if the rucksack is jostled might help.

But, IMHO, the single easiest and cheapest method is to place a bag containing ALL your valuables, phone, cards and cash in your sleep sack or sleeping bag with you. Personally, a small very soft fanny pak, or bum bag might be even better as it is strapped to you. This can be worn at the waist or cross chest. Decathlon make a splendid version for only €4,99.


Or, this slightly larger day bag, that collapses very small:


Hope this helps and that this problem does not befall you.
PacSafe 55 Secure Protector for Backpack or Bag https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B000FGVFP8/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_i_9BqbDb8FE2HMV
 

nidarosa

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Inglés 2009+2017, Francés 2012+2018, Astorga-Santiago repeatedly
What do people leave in their backpacks that makes it worth the trouble to sneak around in the dark rummaging through them? Personally I have nothing in there but clothes, often a mix of clean and not so clean, and toiletries, none of them worth a penny in resale value. My phone, passport, credit card and cash are all in a money belt I sleep with. During the day I keep them in my cross body bag that I wear under the pack; in the night there is nothing in there but Fisherman's Friends, a lip balm, a buff and a guidebook (which is good, but not worth breaking and entering for). For anyone to plan and execute a robbery there must be a lot of valuables lying around! Make it easy for them and it will get worse. Make it harder and it will stop.
 

truthseeker

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés, (fall, 2018)
Cash, debit card, credit card, passport, credential and iPhone are my only valuables and I wear them in a small belly bag. The bag is the last thing off after I enter shower and the first thing back on even tho I’m still damp. I follow this procedure in private accommodations as well as in the occasional albergue. I wear it when I sleep; it’s never off except for showering and then it is with me. I sleep in a sleep sack that encases the phone so that when I read myself to sleep, the phone falls within the confines of the sack. Everything else that goes with me is replaceable and I take nothing that I can’t afford to lose. I learned these guidelines right here on the forum before I ever took my first step on a Camino and they have become second nature in all of my travels.
Same here -- I learned all these precautions here on the Forum, and never had anything stolen.
 

mdelag

Member
Camino(s) past & future
**CAMINO FRANCES: LEON-SANTIAGO sept. (2015)
**CAMINO FRANCES SJPP-SANTIAGO 2017
Hello everyone, I just got back home from my 2nd Camino, this time I was alone, never felt afraid, not even for a second. Some people I met told me about that story of the smartphones being stolen. So I charged my phone when I was awake. And when I went to sleep I putted my small sack with my values inside my sleeping bag, as I did in 2015. All the albergues were FULL. I would say, temptation is always there for everybody. So we pilgrims are the one who have to take care of our stuff. And if you bring laptops or tablets or very expensive smartphones, keep an eye on them. Don’t put temptation on the tables. And don’t give all the responsibility to the albergues. Just my point of view...PILGRIMS ARE HUMAN TOO !!!
 

biarritzdon

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF11, CF12, CP13, CF14, CA15, S.Anton15, CF&CI15
Ditch Pig16, CF&CP17, CdN18, CM18, CF18, LePuy19
Shaggy dog story, rumours, Chinese whispers.
Of all the people reading this who have walked 1 or more Camino's, how many of you have left your phones and/or money in your rucksack? How many of you have known other people to do this? In my experience people keep their valuables very close by. Phones are always charging in the bedrooms.
These thieves must go around with the very best infrared night vision goggles so they don’t wake anyone.
It’s virtually impossible to walk around a room you are not familiar with in the pitch dark without waking someone.
etc. etc. etc.
This is the end of the story. I have been doing Caminoes since 2011, nothing ever stolen but few thing left behind. I have only met one pilgrim personally who told me about being robbed and it was one of those purses one puts around their neck; it was cut off of him while he slept and he was pretty who the perp was. Follow the rule to keep everything valuable on you all of the time and all you might lose is pair of socks off the drying line
 

Felice

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP to Santiago Sept 2014
Shaggy dog story, rumours, Chinese whispers.
Of all the people reading this who have walked 1 or more Camino's, how many of you have left your phones and/or money in your rucksack? How many of you have known other people to do this? In my experience people keep their valuables very close by. Phones are always charging in the bedrooms.
These thieves must go around with the very best infrared night vision goggles so they don’t wake anyone.
It’s virtually impossible to walk around a room you are not familiar with in the pitch dark without waking someone.
etc. etc. etc.
Maybe. Rooms are often not pitch black, especially in the summer when the hours of daylight are so long. How many albergues have shutters?

My daughter's good friend walked the CF last year. In an albergue somewhere around Los Arcos, she had several hundred euros stolen during the night. She'd put it at the bottom of her sleeping bag, thinking it was safer there.
Since the thieves are well versed in how to behave as a pilgrim, it follows that they also know where pilgrims are likely to hide their valuables.
Another point: an obvious night for stealing would be Friday night. Pilgrims have taken money out of the cash machine to pay for things over the weekend when they don't want to risk losing a card in a machine.
 

Mudcrone

Mudcrone
Camino(s) past & future
2012-2018 Frances, Via de la Plata, Portugues Central and Seaside, Norte
Something worth considering for those who can't sleep with their things (e.g., tablets or laptops).

This won't do much good. If you read the blurb you have to pull the top, which means you have to be present and awake to activate it, in which case you could just yell and wake everyone up.
 

Mudcrone

Mudcrone
Camino(s) past & future
2012-2018 Frances, Via de la Plata, Portugues Central and Seaside, Norte
This is the end of the story. I have been doing Caminoes since 2011, nothing ever stolen but few thing left behind. I have only met one pilgrim personally who told me about being robbed and it was one of those purses one puts around their neck; it was cut off of him while he slept and he was pretty who the perp was. Follow the rule to keep everything valuable on you all of the time and all you might lose is pair of socks off the drying line
I lost a pair of underwear off the drying line this year. lol
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés, 2019
I normally use a Pacsafe exomesh bag when I travel. It's been great when I've needed to carry a backpack on crowded subways (like DF in Mexico or Shanghai), for locking up my valuables in dubious hotel rooms, or to secure my possessions while sleeping in a train station or airport. I'll have it in Europe, where I'm likely to be using bag storage or bag check in cities. Since it weighs a pound, I'll send it home with my companion before I fly to Biarritz.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino France, Camino del Norte, Camino de Madrid
Camino Porto, Camino Primitivo
Another member sent this article to me this morning...


While the original is in Spanish, here, in English, is my short version translation describing a new thievery modus operandi that should alert everyone staying in an albergue. According to the article above:

1. A pilgrim arrives at an albergue with a properly stamped credencial and is assigned a bed.
2. The pilgrim does everything the other pilgrims do, and "goes to sleep."
3. In the middle of the night, @ 02:00, the false pilgrim quietly gets up and opens the door admitting a group of compatriots.
4. Within about five minutes, the group goes through all rucksacks and loose items removing valuables.
5. The thieves quietly depart the albergue.
6. They head down the road and repeat the same scam again, the next day...
7. It was reported in the original story that only three such thefts in one area yielded some 20 smartphones and €6,000 (SIX THOUSAND) Euro... YIKES!

This "Trojan Horse" offense is VERY dangerous. If they wake up an aggressive pilgrim, violence could occur.

Short of an overnight watch on each albergue door, or a sounding alarm when the door is open after hours (even shop bells would work), I do not know what can be done, off-hand to stop this. Perhaps connecting small cat bells to your rucksack to make noise if the rucksack is jostled might help.

But, IMHO, the single easiest and cheapest method is to place a bag containing ALL your valuables, phone, cards and cash in your sleep sack or sleeping bag with you. Personally, a small very soft fanny pak, or bum bag might be even better as it is strapped to you. This can be worn at the waist or cross chest. Decathlon make a splendid version for only €4,99.


Or, this slightly larger day bag, that collapses very small:


Hope this helps and that this problem does not befall you.
Thank you for posting. So sad to hear that something like this has been happening. It happened couple times in Norte. Dampens my spirit. 😵
 

gmag

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
frances
In some albergues we have the names and photographs of some of these thieves, or supposed thieves. It is true that they choose the municipal albergues and that in the private ones we pay much more attention and control the security of our pilgrims.
I would like to be able to show the photos we have, but it is not possible as long as they are not judged and condemned. We have been open for only 9 months, and after only three months I had a video (made by a corean pilgrim in Hontanas, I think) of a thief that I took to the Guardia Civil, here in Frómista, the next day. One of the problems is that the victims do not report to the police, and without complaint the police can not do anything. Although if they investigate and look for them.
 

Lurch

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
looking at 2018-2019
Something worth considering for those who can't sleep with their things (e.g., tablets or laptops).

Carried an Ipad with me last year. Left my cell with my wife stateside and needed internet access. Used as a camera also. It resided in my sleeping bag at night, along with wallet and other valuables. But, I traveled with friends and part of the time spent in private rooms.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino France's (2016) Portuguese 2017
Pilgrims should carry less stuff anyway... tablets or laptops... seriously? I am not judging. But when one makes the decision to bring these items, they must understand the overall added theft risk as well as the general invisibility.
And credit cards/cash/passport should you not bring those either !
 

Lynda t

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP to Santiago May 2010
Lisbon to Santiago May 2012
Another member sent this article to me this morning...


While the original is in Spanish, here, in English, is my short version translation describing a new thievery modus operandi that should alert everyone staying in an albergue. According to the article above:

1. A pilgrim arrives at an albergue with a properly stamped credencial and is assigned a bed.
2. The pilgrim does everything the other pilgrims do, and "goes to sleep."
3. In the middle of the night, @ 02:00, the false pilgrim quietly gets up and opens the door admitting a group of compatriots.
4. Within about five minutes, the group goes through all rucksacks and loose items removing valuables.
5. The thieves quietly depart the albergue.
6. They head down the road and repeat the same scam again, the next day...
7. It was reported in the original story that only three such thefts in one area yielded some 20 smartphones and €6,000 (SIX THOUSAND) Euro... YIKES!

This "Trojan Horse" offense is VERY dangerous. If they wake up an aggressive pilgrim, violence could occur.

Short of an overnight watch on each albergue door, or a sounding alarm when the door is open after hours (even shop bells would work), I do not know what can be done, off-hand to stop this. Perhaps connecting small cat bells to your rucksack to make noise if the rucksack is jostled might help.

But, IMHO, the single easiest and cheapest method is to place a bag containing ALL your valuables, phone, cards and cash in your sleep sack or sleeping bag with you. Personally, a small very soft fanny pak, or bum bag might be even better as it is strapped to you. This can be worn at the waist or cross chest. Decathlon make a splendid version for only €4,99.


Or, this slightly larger day bag, that collapses very small:


Hope this helps and that this problem does not befall you.
I always kept valuables in my sleeping bag at my feet. That was way back in 2010.
 

gerip

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF, Lourdes to Burgos, Oct 2018
CF, Burgos to Santiago, May 2019
Primitivo, Oct 2019
The odds of these things happening are low....but do not fall into the trap of thinking that the camino is any different than real life elsewhere. The days of the camino being free from crime and trouble is long past.

Many of us are greatly saddened...but there it is.
But according to history the Camino was never free from crime and trouble. At least nowadays your life is not likely to be in danger.

I like to stay away from those albergues that I know consists of large dormitories chock a block with pilgrims. The thievery stories I've heard or witnessed usually take place in those types of facilities. Folks leaving money and documents in those lockers in Roncesvalles, for one thing, or all those pilgrims sleeping in the gym in Zubiri (it seems one victim there had his phone on his chest charging while he was asleep).
 

Tony Bobcat

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
May 2017
I always keep my valuables inside my sleeping bag down the bottom near my feet., I sleep with my money belt on, I charge my phone and battery pack while I’m awake in the afternoon. Apart from loosing some socks and a towel from the clothes line, I’ve never had any problem.
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 to 2018
And credit cards/cash/passport should you not bring those either !
I said LESS stuff, not NO STUFF...

Everyone should apply their own common sense when paring down what they choose to place at risk. This is no different IMHO than for any other travel excursion.

Rebekah Scott's sage advice applies, "...bring nothing that you are not prepared to lose..."
 

nycwalking

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF: (2001, 2002, 2004, 2014). Hospitalera: 2002, Ponferrada. 2004, Rabanal del Camino.
In 2002, I was a hospie at San Nicolas de Flue albergue in Ponferrada.

One morning a pilgrim left his fanny pack hanging on bed post to go take a shower. Upon return bum bag had walked way.

In bum bag he had all his money; passport and other I.D, tickets, everything. He couldn’t even verify his identity.

Take your valuables, especially identification, everywhere you go!
 
Camino(s) past & future
The French way September “2019”
Pilgrims should carry less stuff anyway... tablets or laptops... seriously? I am not judging. But when one makes the decision to bring these items, they must understand the overall added theft risk as well as the general invisibility.
The problem is not what we carry, the problem is that we all need to be safe as well as our belongings!
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times
I do not take any clothing or equipment I am not okay with losing, having stolen or leaving on a donativo table. I do not take that same attitude with my passport, credit cards and cash (when it is a large sum). Even my smartphone I am not okay with losing. For that reason those items pretty much stay with me 24/7 while walking the Camino.
I would say to anybody, it is not your fault if you are the victim of a theft on the Camino or anywhere. The blame is 100% on the thief and they have no valid excuse or justification to steal from you. They do not need your things or money etc more than you do. I have always felt that was a BS saying/philosophy to say that they did.
Bring anything you want to bring, but be aware the more you have that is irreplaceable (lack of better terms) the more care you must take in securing them.
 

Valeriel

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
No previous Caminos. Arles from Pau then onto Somporte, the Camino Aragones and possibly to do route
Another member sent this article to me this morning...


While the original is in Spanish, here, in English, is my short version translation describing a new thievery modus operandi that should alert everyone staying in an albergue. According to the article above:

1. A pilgrim arrives at an albergue with a properly stamped credencial and is assigned a bed.
2. The pilgrim does everything the other pilgrims do, and "goes to sleep."
3. In the middle of the night, @ 02:00, the false pilgrim quietly gets up and opens the door admitting a group of compatriots.
4. Within about five minutes, the group goes through all rucksacks and loose items removing valuables.
5. The thieves quietly depart the albergue.
6. They head down the road and repeat the same scam again, the next day...
7. It was reported in the original story that only three such thefts in one area yielded some 20 smartphones and €6,000 (SIX THOUSAND) Euro... YIKES!

This "Trojan Horse" offense is VERY dangerous. If they wake up an aggressive pilgrim, violence could occur.

Short of an overnight watch on each albergue door, or a sounding alarm when the door is open after hours (even shop bells would work), I do not know what can be done, off-hand to stop this. Perhaps connecting small cat bells to your rucksack to make noise if the rucksack is jostled might help.

But, IMHO, the single easiest and cheapest method is to place a bag containing ALL your valuables, phone, cards and cash in your sleep sack or sleeping bag with you. Personally, a small very soft fanny pak, or bum bag might be even better as it is strapped to you. This can be worn at the waist or cross chest. Decathlon make a splendid version for only €4,99.


Or, this slightly larger day bag, that collapses very small:


Hope this helps and that this problem does not befall you.
 

Valeriel

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
No previous Caminos. Arles from Pau then onto Somporte, the Camino Aragones and possibly to do route
I've read this thread and was just wondering the ultimate solution would be to take hourly turns to 'guard' the rooms at night. The possibility is just that the thief might offer to 'guard the
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 to 2018
Back in the mid-1970s when I was in the army, the barracks buildings on my base dated to World War II. So, they totally lacked any modern conveniences, like fire detection or extinguishing capability.

In response, we had to mount a "fire watch." One soldier had to remain awake, standing a one-hour watch, then wake his replacement. This continued all-night long, from 'lights out' (22:00) to reville (05:00 - 05:30).

While it was crude, it WAS effective. That said, I doubt you will ever get tired pilgrims to agree to maintain a similar watch to prevent crime.

I do not have the answer. I am sure there is one out there...somewhere.

Electronic monitoring, like passive CCTV, is not the answer, IMHO. This is because it is not enough to video record the theft occurring or even identify the thief. The need is to prevent the thefts in the first place.

About the only thing I can think of, off-hand, is a mandate that all albergues install small metal safes, securely mounted to the frame of each and every bed. This would be similar to the hotel safes we see globally. But, it could be as simple as a metal lock-box with a key.

There would be two keys. The pilgrim rents one for the night to use the box. The albergue matinas the second, on a ring, in a secure, OFF-SITE location.

There ought not be a master key. A master-key would be easily duplicated and fast. So that would just make organized thievery easier.

Also, if you opted to rent the key, say for €1,00 for the night, this would generate revenue to pay for this upgrade.

I am saddened that I am even suggesting this. But, we live in perilous times... Also, few albergues have the wherewithal to make the initial investment to obtain even simple, small metal boxes with two keys for each bed.

Like I said, I do not have the answer to this problem.

Hope this helps.
 

Luka

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pelgrimspad I, Via Monastica, Via Podiensis, Via de la Plata, Camino Francés, Camino del Norte...
Of all the people reading this who have walked 1 or more Camino's, how many of you have left your phones and/or money in your rucksack? How many of you have known other people to do this? In my experience people keep their valuables very close by. Phones are always charging in the bedrooms.
I have often kept valuables in my backpack and I have seen phones being charged unattended everywhere. I believe that a thief will always find a way. In Amsterdam a wellknown trick for pickpockets is to walk around signs saying 'beware of pickpockets'. A lot of people check their wallets and phones when they see that sign, so the thief knows exactly where to aim for. So every thief on the Camino will know to aim for sleeping bag bottoms and fanny packs.

To me it sounds stressful to always having to take your valuables with you wherever you go. A lot of showers hardly leave room to keep valuables dry. And what do bottom-of-sleepingbag-pilgrims do when they have to go to the toilet in the middle of the night? Grab everything from the bottom of your sleeping bag and take it with you?

I hardly keep any cash with me (ATM's all over the place in Spain), I keep my two bankcards in different places, I carry a (separate) copy of my passport with me and I am pretty cautious with my phone. That's it. Call me naive, but it is also a matter of probability calculation. I use common sense. For the rest I prefer to trust my fellow pilgrims.
 

grayland

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Yes
@Luka has very good advice ^ (as she often does:cool:)

Common sense and care will protect you from most common dirt bags. Just don't fall into the naive thought that crime is not a part of the camino. Love your fellow pilgrims.....but keep your valuable very close. There is no need to obsess over this. Just be as careful as you would anywhere else.
 

MICK1970

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
planed walk
Another member sent this article to me this morning...


While the original is in Spanish, here, in English, is my short version translation describing a new thievery modus operandi that should alert everyone staying in an albergue. According to the article above:

1. A pilgrim arrives at an albergue with a properly stamped credencial and is assigned a bed.
2. The pilgrim does everything the other pilgrims do, and "goes to sleep."
3. In the middle of the night, @ 02:00, the false pilgrim quietly gets up and opens the door admitting a group of compatriots.
4. Within about five minutes, the group goes through all rucksacks and loose items removing valuables.
5. The thieves quietly depart the albergue.
6. They head down the road and repeat the same scam again, the next day...
7. It was reported in the original story that only three such thefts in one area yielded some 20 smartphones and €6,000 (SIX THOUSAND) Euro... YIKES!

This "Trojan Horse" offense is VERY dangerous. If they wake up an aggressive pilgrim, violence could occur.

Short of an overnight watch on each albergue door, or a sounding alarm when the door is open after hours (even shop bells would work), I do not know what can be done, off-hand to stop this. Perhaps connecting small cat bells to your rucksack to make noise if the rucksack is jostled might help.

But, IMHO, the single easiest and cheapest method is to place a bag containing ALL your valuables, phone, cards and cash in your sleep sack or sleeping bag with you. Personally, a small very soft fanny pak, or bum bag might be even better as it is strapped to you. This can be worn at the waist or cross chest. Decathlon make a splendid version for only €4,99.


Or, this slightly larger day bag, that collapses very small:


Hope this helps and that this problem does not befall you.
Hopefully more people will make use of Alarm/ security apps on their smart devices, or leave them at home.
 

david1

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Paris to Santiago de Compostela
Anything that makes noise when someone tries to rifle your stuff will do the trick.
Window alarms.
Two small pieces of plastic, joined by magnets, when separated sound an alarm.
From Amazon description;
Magnetic Door and Window Alarm - Pack of 3 is a pack of warning alarms to alert a carer if a user has opened any door or window, they can be installed directly without additional wires. Fix the alarm unit to the edge of a door or window and the magnetic bar to the door or window frame. When the magnetic contact is broken (by the two parts being separated), the alarm will keep sounding until either the two parts come back in contact with each other or the ON/OFF switch is switched OFF.

A loud alarm sounds (95 dB) from the alarm unit, alerting a carer in the vicinity when a door or window is opened. No extra wires needed..."
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
I carry a (separate) copy of my passport with me and I am pretty cautious with my phone.
I used to do this. Then, the separate copy of my passport was stolen and someone used it to try and obtain a passport in my name. He wasn't successful, but it my passport applications have consistently taken longer to process than others' in the decades since. Now I keep the separate copy of my passport on Google Drive where I can download and print it if necessary but it is not as subject to theft.
 

NorthernLight

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
Don't keep all your financial assets in one spot. Make the thieving buggers look for it.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés, 2019
Many of the albergues on the CF have warnings posted, yet I've seen plenty of phones and cameras sitting unattended on beds. Albergue Maribel Roncal in Cizur Menor has small phone charging lockers for a refunded euro.
 

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