If there is one thing that pickpockets love, it is tourists. Let’s face it when even the savviest of us are in a new city or country we are a little lost. This is exactly how pickpockets want their victims to be; distracted and unsuspecting. Follow our tips to ensure you and your pockets are less likely to be picked on by a pickpocket.
Tourists are easy to spot in most places. If you are visiting the Christ the Redeemer statue in Brazil you are probably not a local. At the same time, there is no need to advertise how much of a tourist you are. Don’t take out a large map and stop in the middle of the street. Don’t have a general lost look all the time. In essence, there is a difference between a smart traveler and an unsuspecting tourist. Don’t be the latter.
A good example is fanny packs and or money belts. Someone may try to sell you this in your home town as a way to stop pickpockets. All these things do is signal to pickpockets that you are their best target. Sure your money is packed under your shirt, but you still need to use it. You probably leave your phone in your pocket for ease of use too.
Don’t be a hero
One of the best ploys that pickpockets use is asking for your help. While we are not saying that you should refuse to help anyone in a new city, we are saying that you should be cautious when anyone asks you for help or tries to be friendly. A friend of mine was listening to music on a bus in the Philipinnes when someone tipped him on the shoulder to ask the time, they started to get talking. When they finished my friend put his earphones back in and there was no music playing. His phone was gone.
If someone stops you on the street or anywhere else and you think they are trustworthy. Stop, find a safe position where you can’t be taken advantage of by someone else. Ensure you have all of your belongings and then help someone. However being realistic if someone is asking the tourist for help in a strange city, you should already be suspicious.
Act like there is always a pickpocket nearby
The most common thing people say after they are robbed is, “I thought I was in a safe place”. The reality is that there are no safe places. Anywhere there are tourists, there are pickpockets. Whether you are in a museum or outside at a famous landmark, you are a target.
Always imagine that there is a pickpocket in the same room as you and you will be more careful. It may sound a little over paranoid but this is the way to ensure nothing is stolen and after a while, it becomes second nature.
The most important thing is to be careful. Keep your money and phone in your front pockets. If you have anything valuable in your bag make sure it is buried deep. If you go somewhere really busy move your bag to your front instead of your back. If someone tries to talk to you, talk back but don’t stop moving. If they distract you, make sure you are fully aware of what is happening all around you as they often work in teams.
If you do get robbed, don’t be embarrassed, it happens thousands of people every day. Go to the police straight away, put a hold on your cards and see what can be done.