The famous pigeon poop pickpocket of Barcelona has been spotted in Marbella, Spain. Is he enjoying a working vacation in the southern coastal resort town? Is he now living there in order to enjoy the richer pickings of Brits with second homes instead of low-budget holiday-makers? More than one pickpocket has complained to us that Barcelona’s tourists don’t yield the wished-for wealth, though they make up for their cash-poor wallets in sheer number.
So the pigeon poop perp first spotted by us in Barcelona in 1998, then again in 2008, has not retired and is not currently languishing in jail. Where is he now?
“Well, I can report he’s still at large some 8 yrs after this blog thread started,” reports Pete, of Bedford, UK. “I got ‘done’ this morning, 22nd July 2017 in Marbella, Spain. And there’s little doubt from your photos it was the very same guy.”Many pickpockets bravely practice the face-to-face pigeon poop ploy. Our man isn’t the only one—but he’s famous because Bob Arno and I documented his M.O. long ago in our book. Also because he’s had a long and prominent career employing this devious method. And he’s famous for his duplicitous smile. His M.O. is tried and true, explained in the posts linked above. Here, faithfully according to script, is how it happened to Pete yesterday in Marbella:
“I’d been walking and was sitting on a wall separating two pavements in a quiet part of town (Avenida Mercado). I saw a little guy with a several day growth, big glasses, baseball hat, and the same features as in the photos, plus a few years, shuffling along on the lower pavement behind me, as if he was lost. He must have been sizing me up.
“Next thing, I felt some sort of liquid stuff hit my head and shoulders, put my hand round and back it came with bits of a sort of brown porridge on it. Initial reaction was to look up to see if someone had chucked something out of a window. But no open windows above. So then I thought bird shit? But was a bit confused when I sniffed the stuff and it smelt of cocoa drink.”
The pigeon poop perp learned long ago that the yuck factor trumps logic. Any old goop will serve, as long as it’s disgusting and the victim wants it off.
“Just then, the little guy suddenly appeared coming back behind me, and called out ‘Bird? Bird’ to me, as if to say he knew it was a bird that got me. I shrugged, still in disgust at the thought, when he motioned me to come across to see him. I hesitated. He insisted, waving a bottle of water and a packet of tissues. So I approached him. He commiserated.”
The pigeon poop pickpocket has his psychology down. He knows how to behave in order to gain his victims’ confidence. (Hence the word con artist.)
“He started brushing me down, then circled around me and said “You’ve got some on your back, take of your rucksack, go on, take it off”. At this stage I was kind of overwhelmed at his concern to help me. He even got me to circle around whilst cleaning me down, which meant of course that my rucksack was behind me and out of my sight for 20 secs or so. Then, he got me to take off my shirt, indicating it was fouled.”
In his Academy-Award-winning role as good samaritan, the pigeon poop pickpocket performs with aplomb. So convincing is his good-guy cameo, his discombobulated victims trust him like obedient children. Just get the yucky stuff off me, please!
“Looking back, my collaboration with this suggestion was pure idiocy because there I was standing with no shirt on when he suddenly took his leave of me, gesturing to keep the water and tissues he’d given me. Even then, I had no idea of the advantage he’d taken of me. After shaking down my shirt, I put it back on and slowly walked on, partly in disgust at, as I imagined, having had a bird score a direct hit on me, and partly full of admiration for this altruistic citizen.”
…And the Oscar goes to…
“Half an hour later I walked into a small store to buy a cheap tee-shirt to replace the fouled one. I took out my wallet from the small pocket on the outside of my rucksack where I normally keep it, to pay. I opened it and to my horror it was completely empty of cash, whereas only an hour ago it most certainly contained two €50 notes and one £50 note. The penny dropped. This ‘kind citizen’ thief had had the damned cheek to remove, open, drain and replace my wallet whilst he was ostensibly brushing down my back. All in 20 seconds, no problem to a skilled operator.
“My first reaction was to go and hunt him down, as he was most likely ‘working’ Marbella old town that day. My second, that a confrontation, in which I might well have grabbed his bag, could have been turned against me as an attempted robbery on him. So, still in a bit of shock, I decided this was just a painful lesson in life that had cost me €150. Then I thought… next time I’m in Marbella, I will hunt him down, track him from a distance, and get some telephoto shots of him working his con trick on some other poor soul, before shouting a warning to the victim. But then I started my Google search for ‘bird dropping con man’ and up came this blog. All I can say is that this smooth operator needs his picture up in every tourist area of Spain. Thanks for your interest on this site!”
Like 70-80% of pickpocket victims, Pete did not file a police report. I don’t blame him at all—there are many reasons not to. He did complete my survey though, which is extremely helpful in enabling me tally incidences and frequency of reporting. [Thank you so much Pete!]
As I said in my second story of the pigeon poop pickpocket (this is my third):
This is a perfect con. (Con comes from confidence, right?) He plays the good Samaritan. He gains your confidence. He creates a strategy to touch your body wherever he wants to, wherever the disgusting mess supposedly is. A pickpocket can’t steal without touching, right? Why wait for an opportunity? That’s for amateurs. Create one! I call these thieves strategists and they are devious. Look, he makes you grateful to him. He desensitizes you to his touch. And he employs the yuck factor, taking advantage of the truth that bird shit directly triggers the ick region of the brain, a highly effective distraction.
He’s still out there, I’m sure. And he’ll find unsuspecting victims every day. All we can do is spread the word.