For years, pickpockets have honed their skills on countless victims so they don't need to change their methods much; they just practice them until they are perfect. Be aware of your surroundings and follow these tips to prepare before you leave, make yourself a difficult target and to protect your valuables from prying hands and eyes. If you can recognize that there are some people who make a living off of tourists like you, it should be enough to encourage healthy suspicion in certain scenarios to keep a step ahead. All you can do is be prepared, be alert and be practical.
Prepare Before You Leave
Before you leave home, be sure to photocopy all of your important documents and leave a copy with a relative/friend who can fax them to you if necessary. Keep a list of contact numbers available in your suitcase for reporting stolen credit cards along with a copy of your password and any other important documents. This way, no matter what happens when you are abroad, you will have a back-up plan to get your documents, identity, accounts and/or money back under control.
Make it Difficult to Get to Your Valuables
- If you are wearing a purse, carry it so the openings are against your body or the zipper compartments are close underarm instead of loose and by your waist.
- When you stop to eat or sit down, never put your purse/bag on the ground or hang it on the chair—this is easy pickings for people who want to take your belongings.
- Don't keep anything important in any outside pockets of the suitcase, jacket, purse, bag, etc. Instead use the inside pockets of jackets, or purchase a money belt that goes under your clothes, stays on your body and stays out-of-sight and out-of-reach at all times. Whenever you need to access the information in these safe locations, do so in a private spot like a changing stall or a bathroom stall.
- Leave excess documents, cards and cash in your hotel room so the things you are carrying are just the essentials.
- NEVER put your wallet in your back pocket—even if it has a button. This is the easiest place for people to get into without being noticed. If you insist on using a visible outside pocket, use your front pocket to store your wallet. It's much more difficult for a thief to remove a wallet from a front pocket without being noticed.
- Walk with a purpose – Many tourists want to slow down and linger to take in the sights. While it is enjoyable, meandering makes you stand out to pickpockets. Take the time before you leave a safe area, like a restaurant or your hotel, to check your surroundings and know the directions you need before heading out. When you walk with a purpose, it makes you a less desirable target because even if you are lost, it gives the impression that you are confident and aware of your surroundings.
- Be unpredictable – If you think you are being followed or targeted by pickpockets change your direction. Stop and go in a different direction. Go into the nearest shop for a few minutes to collect yourself and make them lose interest. Stations are a common area for pickpockets because people have strict start and end points—they are anxious to get to their next destination and are not paying attention to the crowds around them.
- Be wary of large crowds – When you are walking through a crowd of people, there will be a lot of physical contact and bumping as you work your way through everyone. This is a perfect location for pickpockets to operate because you will be more focused on getting out of the crowd, or distracted by the local entertainment that made you stop, than on your pockets and belongings.
- Don't expose your wallet's Location – After you have bought something, put your wallet away quickly and while you are still at the counter. If you are fiddling with it and putting it away as you walk out of the store, you are broadcasting your wallet's location to a pickpocket, or presenting them with a snatch and run opportunity.
Be a Difficult Target
Keep in mind that trips are to be enjoyed, but a little preparation can go a long way in terms of avoiding theft. You won't fully appreciate how important your wallet or purse contents are until suddenly they are gone. Being a little cautious upfront will result in a better experience for you and those you are travelling with.
Use your instincts, a little common sense, and buy a travel insurance plan from Cover-More to avoid being a victim, so you can enjoy the sights and beauty of your host destination without worrying or stressing out. Should the unfortunate occur, our emergency assistance professionals are available to help 24/7.