Barcelona airport thief nabbed by champion runner but immediately released

The Local Spain
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Barcelona airport thief nabbed by champion runner but immediately released
Barcelona's El Prat airport has lots of pickpockets targeting distracted travellers. Photo: Alejandro Molina Fernández/Unsplash

Barcelona's infamous pickpocketing problem was on full display on Wednesday as a thief nabbed by a trail running champion at El Prat airport was then immediately released.


A pickpocket trying his luck at Barcelona's El Prat airport unknowingly chose the worst victim he possibly could have on Wednesday.

Núria Picas, widely held as one of the world's best ultra runners, was loading her luggage from a car for an upcoming trip to Norway when a thief stole her backpack containing her passport, phone, and other valuable items.


The Catalan runner set off after him, chasing the thief through the airport, until she (perhaps unsurprisingly) caught up with the pickpocket, took him down, and got her bag back.

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A post shared by Núria Picas (@nuriapicasoficial)

"The kid didn't know who he was up against," Picas, the winner of the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc in 2017, said.

However, the thief was then promptly released by airport security. Picas took to Instagram to vent her anger: "Outrageous when security let him run free in the blink of an eye".

Although the fact that it was security workers rather than actual police officers who apprehended the thief could partly explain his swift release, Spanish law allows low-level criminals to steal goods worth less than €400 and not face a prison sentence if caught, meaning most of them continue doing it.

There are also reports of a lack of Catalan Mossos police at El Prat, which means they have to move between terminals rather than remain at one, leading to a proliferation of pickpockets, homeless people and even squatters at the airport's premises.

Barcelona is particularly notorious for being the pickpocketing capital of Spain if not Europe.

Between January and June of 2022 alone, 36,386 non-violent robberies (hurtos) took place in Barcelona, according to the Spanish government’s latest Crime Report.

READ ALSO: How Barcelona is once again Spain's pickpocket capital

The word hurto in Spanish encompasses different non-violent forms of stealing other people’s property, from pickpocketing to stealing from shops or burglaries.

This equates to 200 reported non-violent robberies a day in Barcelona during that period.

Although there is no official data on thefts committed at airports, robberies have been reported at Barcelona’s El Prat, Madrid's Barajas, Valencia, Alicante-Elche, Palma de Mallorca, and Tenerife airports, among others.

There was the case of two thieves at El Prat who stole a suitcase which contained €8 million worth of jewellery, two elderly pickpockets who operated at Alicante's airport dressed as tourists, and a thief who specialised in stealing suitcases from airport buses in Gran Canaria. 

READ ALSO: How to avoid getting robbed or pickpocketed at Spain's airports


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