How to Avoid a Pickpocket

Tips for a Avoiding Pickpockets

If you like to travel, you should be aware of how to avoid a pickpocket. These sneaky men and women are active in major cities across the globe, especially in places like London, Paris, New York and Barcelona.

A skilled pickpocket can rob you of your valuables within seconds. While being a great inconvenience, it can also result in an unexpected end to your trip if they steal all your cash and credit cards.

Pickpockets usually look for a certain type of victim, and the tips below will let you know what sort of behavior to avoid. Prevention is key when it comes to how to avoid a pickpocket.

Don’t Talk To Strangers

In some cases, a pickpocket will try to engage you in conversation. They might be asking for directions or just feigning being friendly. In actuality, they’re probably setting you up for a nearby partner. Walk with purpose and don’t stop to talk to locals, especially in places like subways.

Don’t Hesitate

Stopping every few feet to consult a map is a good indication that you’re a tourist and an easy mark. Pickpockets are masters of spotting the confused looks of tourists, and they’ll quickly try to take advantage. The best remedy is to know exactly where you’re going, even if that means taking extra time to prepare.

If you do need to stop, don’t do it in a crowded area. This is just begging a pickpocket to bump into you and dip his hand into your pocket. Instead, try to pause in an open area where anyone approaching you will be very visible. Putting your back against a wall is also a good tactic.

Don’t Flash Your Money

Try to be as subtle as possible about where you’re keeping your money. If you’re waving around foreign currency and fumbling with your purse, a pickpocket in the vicinity is bound to notice.

Beware Of Crowds

Pickpockets love areas like elevators, subway trains and buses – anywhere where people are packed together in close quarters. Keep that in mind when traveling, and avoid crowds when possible. If you do have to get in a crowd, make sure any valuables are kept directly in your hand.

Don’t Be Predictable

Pickpockets love tourists who are predictable. If you suspect you’re being followed by a pickpocket, try ducking into a store or quickly changing directions. You could also try stopping and staring directly at the pickpocket. Since they are pickpockets and not muggers, most will quickly retreat if they suspect a possible confrontation.

Have A Group Strategy

If your group is comprised of several people, it’s a good idea to use some basic strategy. Those who are less observant should be placed in the middle of the group, as they would make the easiest targets. Those who are more attentive to their surroundings should bring up the rear of the group. Just imagine your group as a flock of sheep, and you’re arranging yourselves to watch out for wolves.

Avoid Pockets

A good rule of thumb is to avoid placing anything of value in an outside pocket on your purse, jacket, pants or suitcase. No matter how careful you may be, pickpockets are incredibly skilled at their “profession.”

Don’t Make Things Easy

If you have to carry a backpack, make sure to carry it across your body. If it’s on your back, a pickpocket will be able to open it without you seeing it. If you have a purse with a zipper, make sure to keep your hand placed over the entry point.

If you’re eating at an outside café, never place belongings on the ground or hang a purse from a chair. Instead, try placing items in your lap or hanging your purse from your knee.

Pickpockets love easy targets. If you give them much of a challenge, they are likely to move on to the next tourist.

Money Belts

Money belts are worn under your clothing and allow you to store cash and other valuables. They are an excellent way to thwart pickpockets. Just be sure that you aren’t constantly revealing it in public. Even a money belt can be stolen by a skilled and inventive thief.

Pack Lightly

When going out on the town, don’t carry all your valuables with you. Just take what you think you’ll need, and leave the rest in the safe at your hotel.

Don’t leave it in your room, by the way, as members of the hotel staff might relieve you of it. An enterprising thief might also try to break into your room after you’ve left. The bank safe is your best bet.

Prepare For The Worst

Even with the best preparation, you might still find yourself the victim of a pickpocket. You should prepare for this possibility before leaving home. Make a copy of important documents and leave them with a friend. If things go wrong, they can fax you the needed information. This should include:

  • Credit card contact info
  • Tickets and travel reservation numbers
  • Passport
  • Reservations for your hotel

You can also send yourself an email with all your important contact numbers to call in case you’re robbed. This will allow you to access the information from any computer in the world.

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