How to Protect Yourself from Pickpockets

How To Prevent Crime

We’ve all heard the horror stories about travel in Europe. “Don’t worry about being shot, but the pickpockets are everywhere.”

Nothing ruins a vacation more quickly than having all of your valuables stolen. Not only will you have less money to spend on your much-anticipated trip, but you may have trouble getting back home on time. So here are tips for dealing with those sneaky little pickpockets who inhabit the cities of Europe.

1. Do Not Stand Out

Don’t wear clothes that will instantly mark you as a foreigner. Don’t overdress and advertise yourself as “having money”. If you have especially valuable jewelry, leave it at home. The same goes for sentimental jewelry.

Also, watch how you act. Don’t pull out a stash of cash; this tips off thieves you have something they want.

2. Do Not Overload Yourself

If at all possible, pack only one bag. The more stuff pieces of luggage you have to watch over, the more likely one is to get picked off.

3. Take Only What You Need Into the City

Anticipate what you intend on spending on excursions into the city. Take only what you need. Leave anything else behind in your hotel room, or in any hotel safes that are provided.

4. Have An Emergency List

Keep a list of the emergency phone numbers you might need. This should include any relatives back home you might need to call, your bank and the local consulate for your native country.

5. Duplicate Your Paperwork

Make an extra copy of your documentation, such as your traveler’s checks and passport. Keep your copies separate from the original documents, so you have redundancy. Consider leave one copy with a family member at home.

You might consider bringing another passport photo, as this helps replace the passport you lose.

6. Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket

Keep your money separated from your credit cards, and these separate from your traveler’s checks. This might make it harder to keep track of. At the same time, if some of your valuables are lifted, you don’t lose them all.

7. Make It Difficult to Pick Your Pocket

Purchase a money belt and wear it. This fits around your waste and carries you wallet, keys and a few other small valuables. They are uncomfortable, but do the trick.

If you don’t like this option, consider placing your billfold in your front pocket instead of the back. This is much more noticeable when someone tries to pick your front pocket.

8. Beware of the Weary Traveler

If a native walks up looking for directions, beware. This may be the beginnings of the “one-two punch”. One thief distracts you, while the other steals your purse. Spilling a drink on a tourist is another variation of this game.

9. Leave the Camera at Home

One of the favorite targets of foreign pickpockets are cameras. Camera straps are often uncomfortable, prompting people to set the camera down for relief. When you set the camera down, you look around and it’s gone.

Take an instant camera instead. The quality of pictures might not be as great, but you won’t lose your investment in that expensive camera.

If you insist on taking pictures with your expensive camera, consider disguising it. Make a purchase at a local shop. Then carry your camera in that bag, which disguises your camera as a local touristy item.

10. Don’t Venture Off the Beaten Path

Try to stay in the tourist sections of town. These usually are better lit and have more people in them. The worst that happens in these places is a pick pocket. If you don’t know a city, you could easily wander into a bad part of town and not know it. Not knowing the language makes this more likely.

If you decide to have an adventure, talk to a local whom you trust. Talk to a tour guide, or at the very least staff at the hotel in which you are staying.

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