Spain is sometimes perceived as a somewhat less than safe country to travel in. While certain parts like Barcelona may be prone to petty crime, the reality is walking the Camino is a very safe undertaking.
Pilgrims are held in high esteem in Spain and are, for the most part, afforded nothing but the epitome of hospitality and safety. There are a few things to be aware of, however, to make sure there are no untoward occurrences.
Like any country, Spain has its fair share of petty thieves who will take advantage of a situation if it arises. If you leave your valuables unattended there’s a good chance they won’t be there when you get back. There is nothing unusual about this and common sense is the best form of prevention here. Have someone trusted mind your belongings if you have to go somewhere. This is especially important in the larger cities like Burgos and Leon.
A recent phenomenon is locals masquerading as pilgrims and ingratiating themselves to groups of pilgrims in albergues. They will instigate a drinking session so when the pilgrims go to bed they usually sleep deeply. The thieves will then go through their belongings and be gone by morning.This is generally instigated by a pair or group of thieves.
Again, being vigilant is the best prevention here. Don’t leave your belongings out in full view. Some pilgrims leave their wallets inside their sleeping bags for added security. This type of phenomenon is limited to the albergues as you have your own private rooms that you can lock if you stay in hotels or casa rurales.
Another recent but thankfully rare occurrence seems to be single female pilgrims being flashed by a local man. While this is relatively harmless, it is of course an invasion and can be very confronting. This seems to be done by bored farmers who get their thrills taking advantage of a situation. They are never a physical threat however and many women find the best way to deal with them is to point and laugh-guaranteed to deflate their egos! Walking with another person is also a means of prevention as they only target single women.
Like all countries, there are always bad apples, but the level of instances compared to the number of pilgrims shows that walking the Camino is actually a very safe undertaking. As with anywhere, a level of awareness and precautions against theft is the best means of prevention. The reality is that you are rarely alone on the Camino and fellow pilgrims are never more than a few minutes behind you so even if something untoward should occur someone is never far away to help.