How to avoid pickpockets: 18 tips from an expert
Recently, the most visited museum in the world, the Louvre in Paris, closed because their workers went on strike to protest the unrelenting pickpockets in the museum. Pickpocketing has become the number one problem for the police in almost all the big cities. The travel season is approaching and the bandits love it as much as we do, since for them this means there would be more tourists to rob.
If you plan to travel – alone or with your family read further to learn some tips, from a retired pickpocket “Mr. Nice fingers”, on how to guard yourself against the increasing number of pickpockets.
1) Leave at home, or in the safety box of the hotel anything valuable that you will regret losing. Carry only one credit card, one ID and as little cash as possible with you.
2) Do not keep all you money and cards together. Spread them around your different pockets. By doing so, if you were pickpocketed, you would not lose everything at once.
3) Do not put your wallet or cash in your front pocket. It is better to have a small fat wallet in the back pocket even if it is more visible. According to Mr Nice Fingers (Mr. Nice), it is much more difficult to steal from the back pocket without the victim noticing it, unless the wallet is partly out of the pocket.
4) Always have extra copies of your travel documents and ID cards, stashed with the important valuables you left in the hotel. Have some extra passport photos with you. This will make the process of making a new travel document much faster.
5) Carry only bags with zippers. Place it as close to your body as possible. Make sure that you can see the whole bag at all times. Position the end of the zipper (where the slider is) in front so you can keep an eye on it.
6) Mr Nice doesn’t recommend a backpack when travelling in crowded cities, but If you really need to carry one, carry it in a way that it’s slightly in front of you. Never put any documents or money in the outside pockets -according to Mr. Nice thieves just love it when you do that.
7) If you are in a metro (or tube in UK) or any other crowded place be cautious of the following: thieves’ “false alarm” strategy -when somebody shouts “thief”; when some body pushes you, or when somebody asks you for direction. These are tricks to divert your attention for pickpocket to be able to do their jobs.
8) Try not to eat or drink while walking, your attention would be centred on the lovely sandwich or the cold bottle of water, and pickpockets know that.
9) When in the metro or train try to stand far from the doorway. Pickpockets are on the look out for people holding a mobile phone or a bag to grab it just before the door closes.
10) Be on guard if somebody spills something on you and while apologising will try to clean his mess off your clothes. If that happens to you, try to go one step back and observe the situation. If the person/persons look suspicious to you, try to avoid letting them get close to you since they are about to rob you.
11) Use only cash machines (ATMs) located inside a bank or just outside of it. As much possible avoid ATMs in walking streets or side streets, since the chances of those machines being tampered with are much higher. While withdrawing watch out for anyone trying to look over your shoulders, and remember to cover your hand when punching in your pin code.
12) Avoid looking like a tourist and try as much as possible to blend in with the locals. Do not wear short skirt if you are going to the bazaar in Marrakesh, or suits if you are going to the Playa in Malaga on a summer day. It is less likely pickpockets would victimize the locals. Try for example to carry a bag from a local supermarket or store and put some of your belongings in it. This would help you look more like a local and “camouflage” some of your belongings away from the hungry eyes of pickpockets.
13) Know the way to the places you want to visit before going out of your hotel. If you need directions ask the hotel personnel instead of asking any random passerby. Walk with confidence and try not to look lost, while being alert of what is going on around you. You would avoid being scammed by looking like someone how lives in the neighbourhood.
14) Watch out for pickpockets when you stop to watch a street show as that is a favoured spot for pickpocket to victimize tourists.
15) Have a list of all the emergency contact numbers and persons you will need to call if you were pickpocketed.
16) If you are divested of your valuable, start yelling for help immediately. You might be lucky that the crook gets scared and drops your wallet on the floor. Do not ever try to chase down the pickpocket, since they rarely work alone and by the time you discover you have been mugged whatever they’ve stolen from you most probably have already been handed off to an accomplice.
17) If you are pickpocketed, always go to a police station and file a report, even if you do not think the police will able to help you to find your belongings. Thieves might use your identity in their future criminal activities, reporting your case might just keep you away from future troubles.
18) Mr. Nice has given all the important tips, to prevent pickpockets from ruining your holiday. However it is no fun to have succesfully protected yourself from pickpockets and come home to an empty house! So here is his last advice to you. Repress your urge to announce to the world your impending trip by writing all your plans on your Facebook wall. Wait with updating your status until you get back home. Believe it or not, thieves have levelled up. They have adapted the latest trends and acquired the hottest gadgets according to Mr. Nice, some of his former colleagues are already on Facebook and Twitter. Digitally watching out for people who have just opened up their house to thieves by divulging their plans in different social networks.
Having said all that Mr Nice recommends that you be on the look out but you don’t necessarily need to pounce on the first person that gave you a dagger look or somebody who inadvertently pushed you in the train, he might have been pushed too by somebody behind. Be cautious but not paranoid, life and most specially your holiday trip is too short so enjoy it.
Buenviaje, God reise, Gute reise, bonvoyage, magandangpaglalakbay to all of you from Mr. Nice and us.