No matter where you go in the world it’s important that you are always watchful and aware of where your valuables are – especially the ones in your pockets. That means your wallet, your passport, cash, credit cards and cellphone. Pickpockets can spot tourists and travelers a mile away.
Don’t think for two seconds that you can’t be pickpocketed – all walks of life can be a target for pickpockets especially when you are traveling abroad – Did you know as of this writing over 300 individuals are pickpocketed in a major foreign city on any given day.
Being aware of your surroundings and who’s in your personal space at all times is going to separate you from those who are a victim of being pickpocketed and those who don’t.
Law enforcement agencies from all over – Barcelona, Prague, Rome, Madrid, Paris, Buenos Aires, Amsterdam, Florence, Thailand, Hanoi, Amsterdam even the USA weighed in on the various ways pickpockets carry out their crime and how you can avoid being a victim by side stepping the crooks at their own game.
All LE’s will tell you wear your stuff in your front pocket. The probability of being pickpocketed in that area is very low. That doesn’t mean you are home free. Police globally say that our eyes are weak when we interpret any sort of motion. We have problem watching things that move in an arc instead of moving straight and up and down. Pickpockets who know their game use basic sleight of hand skill – meaing they will distract you with one hand by arcing the hand in the air. What happens to you? You naturally look away while the other hand is lifting your stuff.
That’s why it’s better having your wallet in your front pockets because it’s a difficult place for someone to try and dip into pocket and steal from that place. There are indestructible wallets on the market now that require a finger against a digital reader that will recognize your fingerprint before it opens. Extremely expensive – almost a grand. So putting your wallet in your front pocket is a good security measure and guess what – it’s free.
What if you should choose to wear your wallet on the inside pocket of your jacket? Your chances of being picked have increased – it’s considered a medium risk. LE’s tell folks to watch out for someone who doesn’t belong – you know someone who’s standing perhaps in the lobby of your hotel who’s probably not a guest. This person is most likely casing the place. You as a guest have interacted with the front desk, exchanging money or paying a bill, you place your wallet in the inside pocket of your jacket. This person will then use their phone to call their buddy who’s standing outside describing what you look like and what direction you are headed. When you leave your hotel they will follow you and know exactly where your stuff is. One may bump into you to cause a diversion while the other will slide their hand inside your jacket and snatch your goods—easy as one-two-three. Happens all the time.
The experts tell us to stash your cash in a security pouch that you wear around your waist inside your clothes – Amazon sells them cheap – ten bucks.
Lots of travelers love carrying around backpacks and who wouldn’t? They are a carry all for everything, you can wear them on your back, and they hold a lot of stuff. Why is it a bad idea to carry a backpack? Think about it – other thieves may dress like you as a tourist. They could be wearing socks with sandals, carrying a map or a camera. They may ask you for help and distract you with a map all the while again having a buddy who can open that backpack and lift your stuff without even knowing it. In fact did you know that skilled thieves can open your pack while you walk? Here’s a great site from a guy who’s been a security consultant (and who’s very funny) who’s been studying pickpockets for years – http://bobarno.com/
LE’s will tell you that regardless of how secure you think you are pickpocketing does happen sometimes especially in a big crowd. Keep your cash in various places. Don’t always keep it in the same place. Keep it against your body.
Keeping your wallet in the back pocket of your jeans is a no brainer. You are just asking the pickpocket so move up against you and lift your wallet – in fact, you might as well save yourself and the pickpocket time and trouble and hand him over your wallet. So don’t stash any credit cards in your wallet and limit your cash because you have placed a target on the back of your shirt that says steal from me I am an easy mark.
A great tip from all travel experts – before you step foot on the plane email yourself with your credit, debit, and charge card numbers and the international toll-free numbers to call in case you’re a victim of theft.
Another item that is pickpocketed all the time – a woman’s purse. Thieves if they aren’t going to run by and just hank your purse from you if it’s not securely over your shoulder will make eye contact with their victim. The victim keeps her eye on the approaching person because well you want to make sure what they are doing right? However, when you are focused on their eyes where are their hands? In your purse, stealing your stuff.
LE says “Ladies leave your purse in the hotel safe” If you insist on wearing a purse make sure it’s the kind that has a long strap that can hand across your body. Purse snatchers and pickpockets hate that.
Oh and never ever leave your purse on the back of your chair. Loop it around a leg of a chair and around your leg and keep it right at your feet with all the zippers zipped tight. Do not store your money with your keys or ID cards, credit cards, passports etc… If your money is lifted (because that’s what they want) the pickpocket or thief won’t have any other information about you that might create a follow up crime.