For months my wife and I read of incidents of theft and attacks on tourists in Spain, in your Travel Section. In spite of this we visited Madrid and Seville in August. Strolling with hundreds of citizens and tourists in downtown Madrid in a crowded area, we passed an excavated building site. We were suddenly attacked by four men. One grabbed my wife's purse and pushed her to the ground. She fought, and the man fled without the purse. The other three threw me to the ground and ripped off my flight bag, which was encircled around my chest.
The entire incident took 10 seconds, and luckily we were not injured, but we lost money, traveler's checks, incidentals and a night's sleep. The next day was wasted replacing the traveler's checks, etc.
In relating our story to members of our tour group, we learned that a woman had her purse stolen in a nightclub by a very young Gypsy girl. The scam was that the thief played with a kitten on the floor by the table where the purse lay, then ran out the door with it before the tourist discovered the larceny. Another woman's purse was stolen more basically--a teen-ager simply grabbed it from her as she walked near our hotel.