How to Avoid Pickpocketing on The Road
When you travel to another country, take care of your belongings. Pickpockets are a worldwide problem so you have to be attentive to keep your wallet and other valuables safe. What is even worse about this kind of robbery is that sometimes they might get not only your money or credit card, but your return tickets or passport. All these things result in great troubles. So what are the right ways to avoid becoming a victim? Use these simple tips to protect yourself and your belongings. Mind that ignoring pickpockets may result in filling out papers for police reports as well as for Consulate or Embassy to restore your documents, not to mention the low possibility of returning the stolen money.
WHO ARE THE PICKPOCKETS
Pickpockets are the thieves who steal things from pockets or bags. Usually the fact of pickpocketing is being noticed few hours later, when victim comes home or returns to hotel. In such case, chances to find the criminal are really low.
It is believed that common pickpocket is a gloomy man that looks like a criminal. But in fact the opposite is true. Pickpockets usually are undistinguished people that look like everyone else. Sometimes it might be teenagers like boys and girls from 12 to 19 years old, well-dressed. So be especially attentive if you get suddenly approached by a group of young people in the street. Pickpockets in Europe are so young as laws usually require crime evidence to put them in prison for petty theft, so they use the advantages of their age not to be found guilty.
The vast majority of pickpockets work in groups. Usually one or two of them would divert your attention while the others clean your pockets. After stealing they join their accomplices, so to leave the scene of the crime quickly. This is a long-established pattern that reduces the risk for criminals to be caught.
PICKPOCKET’S BELOVED PLACES
Sights are one the favourite places for pickpockets. Tourists are making photos, talking, visiting new places, thereby become inattentive to everything around. Are you close to Colosseum, Leaning Tower or Eiffel Tower? Be very attentive!
Public Transport. Subway, buses, trams are places of their biggest “catch”. A common situation when victim sets lower value to push from all around is when a large number of people crowding in a single place. Another possible scene of the crime is a crowded subway station, where it is so easy to get in, do their job and leave unnoticed.
Museums. Despite the fact that most museums are taking fees for entrance, pickpockets act there as well. While your attention focused on the works of art, pickpocket’s eyes keep watch on your bag. The more popular museum is, the higher possibility of becoming a pickpocket’s victim.
Railway Stations. People that are visiting new locations disoriented a little, and more think about how to get to the place they need, while the luggage safety may be abandoned. Pickpockets are looking for just such people.
Restaurants, Cafes and Bars. When visiting street restaurants you may have noticed people hanging bags or clothes over the back of chairs. It is the most common situation when pickpocket just grabs your belongings and run away. Usually these thieves are well-trained so it’s really difficult to catch them.
Beaches Do not leave your belongings unattended on the beach, it is better to go with friends or relatives. I never take valuables when I go swimming and sunbathing.
COMMON PICKPOCKET TECHNIQUES
The majority of pickpockets will try to dissipate your attention firstly, after it’s done steal money and other valuables. Their aim is to do their job quietly, to avoid being caught. There are ways to reduce the vigilance of travelers. I will name some of them, so you can avoid such tricks.
Charity. This kind of theft isn’t much popular, however it’s worth mentioning here. The intentions are clear. A man or group of people pretending to be activists would try to collect signatures in order to help children. One of them usually divert your attention by offering reading some brochure meanwhile another one might try to steal something from you.
To Give a Jerk. If you stand next to doors, the thief could simply pull out a cell phone or bag and leave the subway car in a moment before the doors are closed. This option is best suited for overcrowded vehicles. But if you notice someone really close to you in an empty subway car mind your belongings first of all.
Cell Phone In Crowded Places. If you are talking on the phone at the station or at the bus stop, you may become an easy target for thieves, they just snatch the phone and run away.
Show Location on Map. Pickpockets may ask for your help in order to find the right direction. Usually they try to limit your sight range with the map to ensure you are unaware and quietly pull out valuables.
ATM Robbery If you withdraw cash from a stand-alone ATM keep in mind the following trick. A person (it might be a teenager as well) may pull your bag or sleeve prompting you to turn around while his accomplice will try to withdraw your cash. It rarely ends in success due to the sound of ATM giving cash. So, they use another way of spying the PIN code in order to steal credit card afterwards. Cover the input panel with hand while cash withdrawal.
Notching Bags. Some thieves cut the bag with a knife or sharpened coin to get to your money. Be careful. You may purchase the special anti-theft travel bags.
HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM PICKPOCKETS
Wear Money Belt. This is a convenient way to protect yourself from pickpockets. There are various types of belts. But the point is to hide valuables from criminals. It can be worn under clothes. There are belts that emulate a conventional belt, but they have a secret compartment on the clasp on the inner side that can be used for money storage. Don’t use such belt for all your cash, leave the day amount in ordinary wallet.
Don’t Carry a Lot of Cash. Thieves may notice that you have a lot of money, and you would become the number one target. In case you are unable to prevent robbery, it is better to lose the minor part of money and to save the major one.
Take Care of Bag Security. Bags are the common thieves aim. To reduce the risk of robbery, mind the following:
- Loop the bag in front of you, don’t keep it behind while in overcrowded places.
- Lock the zipper. By doing so you would complicate the task for pickpockets and they probably choose another victim. Consider obtaining a lock.
- Secure your bag to a fixed object. It is enough to pass the cable lock between the bag’s handles and any stationary object to avoid pickpocketing.
Keep your wallet in front pocket. Some people stick wallet in back pocket. Pickpockets dote on such people. Easier target wouldn’t come up.
Don’t keep cell phone in a prominent place. Especially while visiting cafes and restaurants. When the conversation is over, store it in a front pocket or bag, as thieves may instantly snatch your phone and run away.
Divide your belongings among several places. It is better to have a credit card for shopping, and keep the emergency one in the hotel room. So in case of robbery you able to return home, having no financial problems. So what should you do if not only your money is stolen, but documents as well? Don’t panic and claim the loss of passport. Fill out a police report for your lost passport. After it’s done, print out certain forms to take them to Embassy or Consulate.
Purchase a protected bag. Nowadays, you can easily obtain a bag that pickpockets wouldn’t even try to open. Mind your comfort and safety. Read the article about how to choose travel backpack.
Be attentive, it isn’t worth being afraid of robbery all the time. Most likely you will never run into pickpockets. I’m traveling for many years, met thieves just twice. Their efforts were unsuccessful though. All you need to know is how they act and how to resist their attempts. I hope now you do.