Pickpockets prey on people in busy, noisy, crowded places filled with tourists like subway stations, bus and train stations, busy streets. They generally travel in pairs and choose victims who are older, look lost or confused, or who are not paying attention to what’s going on around them (maybe because they’re too busy looking at the sights.) Women are preferred targets because they often are carrying a purse slung over a shoulder on the side, dangling from one hand, or on their backs. Men can also be targeted if they carry their wallets in either a back pocket or jacket.
1. Don’t be victim of a pickpocket;
With a team of two, one person walks past the victim – either bumping into them, pushing past them or touching them on the arm or shoulder. The second pickpocket reaches into the bag or pocket and grabs the goods. This really only takes seconds – and even if your purse is zipped closed – you won’t feel a thing!
2. The “grab and scram”
This is a favourite in front of museums, on big squares or even on pedestrian-only streets, and targets people carrying purses or handbags. You’ll be walking along with your purse or pack casually hanging from one shoulder – or carrying your camera, video camera or sack of souvenirs… Someone comes up from behind you on a bicycle, skateboard, roller-skates or motorbike and grabs your valuables on the move. Within seconds – they’re gone and you’re left “not” holding the bag. In some instances, a knife or pair of scissors is used to cut the handles of a purse.
In some cities, a favourite trick of thieves is to grab your purse while you’re in your car – two people will drive up next to the passenger side of the car when you’re stopped at a light – the one on the back of the bike jumps off, opens your car door if it’s unlocked and grabs your purse or backpack off your lap – jumps back on the bike – and zoom! They’re gone. This is another practiced trick that takes only seconds to pull off.
How to protect yourself:
- Always be aware of your surroundings.
- Take only what you need with you – leave the rest with the hotel safe.
- Take only the credit card you need and limited amount of cash.
- If you’re carrying a purse or backpack, wear it in the front, with the strap diagonally across your body.
- Use a money belt and keep it under your blouse/shirt or sweater.
- For men keep your wallet in your front pants pocket or use a money belt that’s worn under your shirt.
- Take copies of your passport, ID cards, insurance cards, etc. and leave them in the hotel safe.
- Let someone from the hotel know where you’re going, or leave a copy of your itinerary in your room and with a friend or family member at home.
- If you’re in your car, put your purse, bags, backpacks, etc. on the floor so they can’t be easily seen through the window.
- Always keep your doors locked – especially when you’re stopped.
- Pay attention to who’s in the car next to you or behind you especially when stopped.
- Try to avoid leaving anything in the car or make sure you look everything in the trunk of your car before leaving it.
3 . ATM attacks
Although it’s becoming more common for thieves to steal your money at the ATM machine there’s a much simpler and easier way that involves less risk for the pickpocket. Again, this is done by a team of two or three people. You’ll get some cash from the ATM machine and leave, and moments later someone brushes past you – touching you on the shoulder.
You might not even feel it and as soon as you enter a crowded street, are standing in line get on the bus or subway, your pocket gets picked. How did they know? Because the person who brushed past you marked your jacket or coat with a little piece of chalk – letting their partners know that you’ve just gotten money out of the ATM
How to protect yourself:
- Pay attention to your surroundings – don’t use the machine if in a crowded place.
- Travel with a companion when you go to the ATM, and watch each others’ back – literally!
- Don’t get large sums of money at any one time – get only what you need and pay with your credit card
- Carry what money you do have in the front pocket of your pants, split it up if travelling with someone.
4. Other Safety Tips To Remember When Traveling:
- Never hang your purse or bag over the back of your chair in restaurants or bars.
- If you hang your jacket or coat of over the back of your chair – don’t leave your wallet in it.
- Don’t leave your purse in the grocery cart – even turning your back for a few seconds to reach for something is all the time a thief needs to grab it.
- Don’t put shopping bags or backpacks by the side of your chair – it’s easier than you think for a thief to grab them.
- Don’t go down dark alleys, into dimly-or-unlit parking lots, or bad areas of town at night.
- Whenever possible, walk with someone else at night, and stick to well-lit, populated areas.
- If someone tries to force you into a vehicle, do everything you can to get away rather than getting in. Drop your purse or keys, scream, and whenever possible, run.
5. Safety Tips when traveling in your car:
- Keep plenty of room between you and the car in front of you. Another common trick is for the car to slam on its brakes and when you hit it and get out, the second person comes up from behind and grabs whatever’s in the front or back seat.
- Always keep your doors locked – and if you have to get out, even for a minute, or for getting gas, etc. lock them behind you.
- Don’t park on the street. It’s worth the extra money to pay for parking, which usually has live attendants and video surveillance. It’s much easier for thieves to break into cars that are parked on city streets where their activities may go completely unnoticed.
- Scan parking lots to see if someone is sitting in a vehicle that’s parked next to yours – and if so, don’t get in your car till they’re gone, or ask an employee of the hotel or restaurant to stand by until you’re safely in your vehicle.
6. If you’re been a victim of a theft;
Don’t be a hero, your things can always be replaced so don’t take any chances. Stay calm, and hand over whatever the thief asks for – getting beaten up – or worse, isn’t worth it. Report the crime to local police and obtain a writen report.