Police in Barcelona have handed out more than 100 emergency clothing kits to bathers who return from a swim to find that everything they left on the beach has been stolen by the thieves who plague the city’s shoreline.
The “robbery kits”, made up of a T-shirt bearing the city council logo, a pair of shorts, flip-flops and a metro ticket, are particularly appreciated by swimmers on the city’s nudist beaches of Sant Sebastià and Mar Bella whom thieves have left exposed.
The kits handed out by officers of the city’s Guàrdia Urbana have saved the blushes of 174 bathers since this year’s summer season officially began on 27 May. The number given out has increased each year since they were introduced in 2016.
Barcelona has five kilometres of beaches of which the most popular, with both bathers and thieves, is Barceloneta. By the end of last week 853 thefts had been reported to the local police station, including 17 cases of robbery with violence.
A dedicated group of officers, some in plainclothes, have patrolled the city’s 10 beaches from May to September for the past eight years in cars and on foot, bicycles, scooters and quad bikes.
Thieves are not the only problem. Many people ply their trades on the beaches and anyone hoping to relax in the sun will find their reveries interrupted every few minutes by hawkers offering beer, water, mojitos and cannabis while others try to sell you a sarong or offer a massage or a henna tattoo.
Police have confiscated more than 100,000 drinks and brought more than 9,000 charges for selling refreshments on the beach without a licence so far this year.