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How to avoid pickpockets

How to avoid pickpockets

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Unfortunately, pickpockets are everywhere! At the local mall, on college campuses, and almost every travel destination. “How to avoid pickpockets” is even one of the top searches on Google. I was even the victim of a an attempted pickpocket scam in Italy. Thankfully I was alert and picked up on their activities. So their attempt failed miserably.

To avoid falling victim to pickpocketing teams, it’s important to stay alert and aware of your surroundings at all times. Keep your belongings close to your body, and be wary of anyone who seems overly friendly or eager to help. Trust your instincts, and if something seems suspicious, move away from the situation and seek assistance from a trustworthy individual or authority figure.

Practical tips to avoid pickpockets

Pickpocketing is a common problem in many tourist destinations. As I mentioned earlier, a tourist city like Rome is a bullseye for pickpockets .But there are some easy to do things that can greatly reduce your odds of becoming a victim of pickpocketing:

How a pickpocket scam works

Pickpockets often work in teams to distract and steal from their victims. That was my experience in Rome. Here’s how it typically works:

My personal pickpocket experience in Rome, Italy

Many years ago while wandering the streets of Rome, Italy I noticed an elderly man, very well dressed (including sport coat and high end Italian loafers) was following me. As I hoped onto a city bus, so did he. He stood near me and after a few moments, and as the bus came to slight jerky stop, he took the opportunity to aggressively bump into me.

But knowing what his intentions were, I shoved him back just as aggressively and stated “pardon.” He appeared to have a small pocket knife to attempt to slice through the pant pocket (which was zipped secure) located on the side of my cargo pants. He appeared shocked that I realized what he was up to, placed the small pocket knife into his pant pocket, and apologized profusely as he quickly jumped off the bus and melted back into the Roman streetscape to seek another victim.

Thankfully the material was difficult to cut, the pocket zippered shut, and I was psyched up to respond accordingly. But you may not always be. Afterall, you’re on vacation and trying to relax. That’s why it’s critical to get 24/7 backup via a secure travel pouch, wallet, or daypack.

Which pockets do pickpockets steal from exactly?

Pickpockets can steal your wallet from a variety of places, especially if they have a small knife to cut through fabric. But some common areas include:

Where pickpockets operate

In general, pickpockets tend to target crowded tourist areas, public transportation systems, and other places where large numbers of people are concentrated. Rome, Paris, etc. and their public squares, buses, and subways are top of the list. To minimize the risk of falling victim to pickpocketing, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings at all times, keep your valuables secure and out of sight, and take other precautions such as carrying a travel pouch that hangs comfortably from your neck or using a cross-body bag.

It’s difficult to pinpoint a single country that has the most pickpockets, as pickpocketing is a common problem in many densely populated urban areas around the world. However, some travel destinations with high rates of pickpocketing include Barcelona, Rome, Paris, and Prague, among others.

While pickpocketing is generally less common in the United States than in some other parts of the world, it is rampant in certain cities, particularly in areas that attract large crowds of tourists or where there are significant economic disparities. Some cities where you should definitely be alert for, and proactively prepare for, pickpocketing are:

Hopefully, you now know how to avoid pickpockets. Take this information to heart and, most importantly, take action to protect yourself and your valuables (and by extension your family). A first step is to take advantage of new RFID technologies and fabric/zipper designs that make it difficult for pickpockets to operate. So we highly suggest getting a HERO Neck Wallet.

And remember, by taking these precautions, you can minimize the risk of pickpocketing and enjoy your travels with greater peace of mind.

Discover the ins and outs of wandering the world with our product reviews and travel tips, including what’s the best daypack, what are the best shoes for travelling, what’s the best souvenir, and by subscribing to Kenn Dodson’s Wanderlust Travelogue at

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