A much-travelled Skipton couple have urged holidaymakers planning a trip to one of Spain’s top cities to beware of pickpockets.

Andy and Sarah Davidson say they have been to some of the world’s worst trouble spots but nothing prepared them for their experience in Barcelona.

The pair, who travelled to Spain with four friends, were targeted three times by criminals who tried to steal their valuables.

“We stayed in a hotel off the Ramblas and spent the first day sightseeing,” said Sarah, 54, a part-time registrar. “We were aware of the danger of pickpockets and took precautions but what happened was entirely unexpected.

“Two boys, aged about 10 or 11, ran up and one pushed a clipboard towards my chest, asking me to sign a petition for the mentally handicapped. I was wearing an across-the-body bag with a pocket for a mobile phone and it wasn’t until a couple of minutes later I realised they had taken the phone.

“I was so cross. I’m normally streetwise and didn’t think it would be me they got. But I was determined it would not spoil my holiday.”

Then Andy, 58, a retired dental surgeon, suffered two attempts to steal his cash and watch.

“They work out a strategy to distract you and are very clever,” he said. “Two young men approached us on the pretence of giving us a voucher for drink. But suddenly they lurched at us and tried to put their legs through mine to cause confusion.

“We kept walking resolutely on but I felt a hand in my back pocket. Thankfully they didn’t get away with anything. Sarah said: “I said, ‘Andy, they’re trying to steal your watch,’ and as I started talking loudly they went away.”

The couple’s third experience of pickpockets in as many days came after Andy walked 50 yards off the Ramblas to a bar.

“Two characters walked towards me, waving their hands in my face, and I felt someone trying to feel in my back pocket. I whirled round and they ran off,” he said.

“The barman said it was a terrible situation, with two or three a people a fortnight coming in to tell him they’d been robbed.”

Andy and Sarah told their story as a warning to others as the holiday season approaches.

“We’ve travelled all over the world – to places like Nicaragua, Panama and Venezuela – and are very experienced but even we felt threatened in Barcelona,” said Sarah.