In this modern age, it is hard to imagine that pickpockets still exist. But you can learn to outsmart a pickpocket when traveling. In the average North American city, you are not likely to find a thief of this variety, but if you are planning on traveling to a foreign country, then the possibility rises. After all, isn’t ‘tourist’ synonymous with ‘disposable income’? It is, at least, to the poor in countries like Mexico and the Dominican Republic.
Pickpockets are most prevalent in high tourist areas like cruise ship ports, crowded open air markets and any tourist themed shopping area. If there are beggars around, chances are that there are pickpockets. If you stand out as a traveler, either by the way you look or the way you dress, you will be a target. Busy train stations, airports and bus stations are prime areas for pickpockets to work. When you are moving through a crowd, you expect to be jostled around a bit and therefore may not feel a hand reach into your pocket or purse. Plus, after the thief has made their move, they can disappear into the crowd quickly and quietly, without you even noticing.
Aside from avoiding areas where pickpockets can be, there are many other things you can do to outsmart a pickpocket when traveling.
To begin with, do not rely on any outer pockets or purses to stow away valuable, even if they have zippers. If you are able, consider having some pockets sewn into the inside of your pants and shirts. It may take a bit of maneuvering to get the contents out when you need them, but that is better than having your money or documents stolen. If defensive tailoring isn’t possible then the best thing is a fit money belt. When worn under your pants, it is virtually impossible for thieves to get into it without you knowing.
“Many travelers use a pouch worn around the neck for storing their passport. Again, because it is worn in a sensitive area you would feel if a pickpocket tried to get their hands on it. This is an effective way to outsmart a pickpocket.”
A common tool for pickpockets to use is a razor blade. They use it to slash open pockets, the bottom of bags and straps on purses. Aside from the danger of having your belongings stolen, there is the added hazard of being cut during the process. The best defense here is to not use a purse at all.
Do not put things in your pockets either, flat looking pockets that obviously do not have anything in them will not be their target. It is only when they have obvious bulges from wallets or mobile phones that thieves get out their blade.
Distraction is another popular tool for pickpockets. After all, if your attention is caught by a fist fight or the attention of a prostitute, then perhaps you will not notice the hand going into your pocket or shopping bag. Some thieves will post large ‘beware of pickpockets’ signs and watch as tourists reach to where their wallet is to make sure it is still there. This is a great way for pickpockets to find out where people’s money is.
If a child approaches you begging for money, asking for help or saying they are lost, it is because they have been told to distract you while a thief goes to work on you. Children will not approach a foreign stranger unless they have been told to by an adult.
As soon as you sense that something is not quite right, get moving.
Pickpockets work on the theory that tourists are rich and predictable. So do something unpredictable. Jump up and down, run away, back up, or yell loudly. This may be just enough to send the potential thief in search of an easier mark.
If an old woman suddenly stops in front of you, keep moving. If a child squirts water on you, ignore it and keep moving. Learn how to say ‘thief’ in the native language spoken in your destination. If a pickpocket is successful and you notice it as they run away, yell the word loudly. Most will drop their score and run. Do not attempt to go after them as they may have a weapon or accomplices nearby that could really harm you.
To outsmart a pickpocket is really about forethought. Prepare yourself for carrying your valuables differently than you do at home. Be aware of your surroundings at all times, and try not to give in to distraction. Dress conservatively, without jewelry.
I think you need to know some places that have more pickpockets than the other, here is the world’s top 10 worst cities for pickpockets. Don’t miss out our tips to save money on your vacation, even you can make money while traveling.
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