How to Prevent Getting Pickpocketed

Last Updated on June 21, 2023

One of the dangers you must watch out for whenever you are out and about is getting your pocket picked. Falling prey to a pickpocket can be inconvenient and put you in a compromised and precarious position if you travel.

Incidents of people getting pickpocketed are on the rise globally, with one study calculating more than 400,000 incidents every day. In major cities, this number is usually the highest. Areas like significant tourist destinations, train and bus stations, shopping centers, and restaurants are especially vulnerable to this type of crime.

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So, when traveling or just out and about in your hometown, it is a good idea to watch out for pickpocketing incidents. This way, you avoid incurring monetary loss and losses resulting from property theft. Being stranded in a foreign land without money or important documents is no one’s idea of a perfect holiday. However, you can keep pickpockets at bay with simple precautions and good habits.

Here, we will discuss in detail a few steps you can employ to prevent pickpocketing. Do not let the threat of being pickpocketed get you down, and enjoy your travel to the fullest with these simple tips.

Developing Awareness

Awareness is The first step in avoiding getting your pockets picked. With a little bit of intelligent locational and situational awareness, you can make yourself much less of a target and also understand how to minimize your losses if you fall victim to such a crime. First, let us talk about being aware of where you are.

Locational Awareness

While traveling, it is crucial to understand that certain spots are better suited to the activities of pickpockets than others. It would be best if you conditioned yourself to be vigilant when you enter areas that are more likely to be the favored hunting grounds of local pickpockets.

First, look at your itinerary and identify places where you are very likely to be in a crowd. Also, it is of particular importance that you watch out for places where something occupies all your attention and focus. These are usually the areas where pickpockets operate.

When embarking on a trip to popular tourist destinations and attractions, it is essential to exercise caution and remain vigilant. An abundance of foot traffic, dense crowds, and bustling pedestrian zones often characterize these areas. Furthermore, the allure of these attractions can serve as a distraction, creating the ideal environment for pickpockets and other petty criminals to operate. 

As such, staying aware of your surroundings and taking the necessary steps to safeguard your personal belongings is imperative.

It is a good idea to always be conscious of your belongings in such places. Watch out for any accidental contact, and check if all your possessions are still with you. 

Act unobtrusively and do not attract attention when you go shopping. It’s a good idea to be discreet when making payments.

Also, other areas that merit your attention are crowded public transport hubs and large transport vehicles where many people are in a hurry and close proximity to each other. Restaurants, bars, and hotel lobbies are also often preferred places where pickpockets operate. By constantly being aware of where you are and gauging the level of threat the location brings, you can ensure you keep appropriate levels of alertness and vigilance to avoid losing your stuff.

Situational Awareness

While specific locations are more conducive to the efforts of pickpockets, certain situations also provide prime targets. Among these, quite a few might occur naturally, and some may even be contrived or manufactured by individual thieves or pickpockets operating in a group to get to their targets quickly and effectively. You need to be aware of these situations and be extra careful.

Dense crowds can be particularly inviting for pickpockets. While you are traveling, there can be situations where this happens naturally. Areas around major tourist spots are usually crowded. However, entry and exit points of places offer a unique opportunity – a choke point where the crowd concentrates, and there is a fair amount of jostling and physical contact.

In these situations, you should be on your guard at all times. If you are in a queue, boarding a crowded transport with other people, or using a revolving door of any kind, be extra careful and make sure all your belongings remain safe.

Some pickpockets rely on one-on-one interactions. This might involve being friendly and trying to “help you out” if you are trying to reach somewhere unknown or appearing vulnerable and needing help. In the conversation that ensues, the pickpocket would choose the perfect moment and get their work done. Be on your guard when strangers approach you, especially in a foreign land. 

Best Practices for Travel

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When you are traveling, there is always a chance of being pickpocketed. However, there are several precautions you can employ in your habits that can significantly reduce the risk and even make the loss minimal and tolerable if you do fall victim to this crime.

Basic Precautions

The first thing to do when traveling is to develop a mindset that employs some basic precautions. First, take stock of all your important documents and make multiple copies of them, storing each in a different place. This way, you will always have a backup record of your documents, even if one of them is stolen.

One thing you need to secure with care is your phone, one of the most likely things to be taken when you are pickpocketed. Employ fingerprint or PIN code security on your phone and register with a “Find my phone” service so that a stolen phone can be remotely located via GPS. 

Finally, you can conduct preliminary research on the internet and read firsthand accounts to learn more in detail regarding the places you are about to visit. Often, past victims of pickpocketing leave an account of their experiences, which can give you a clue about locations and methods to stay alert about. Many companies also offer theft insurance, which you can consider if you are carrying valuables.

Valuables and Money

One of the best practices you can adopt when traveling is to minimize the potential for loss. It is always a good idea to keep things simple when you are out and about. Take as little money as you can with you, choose one form of identification to keep in your wallet, and keep it at that. 

It is also advisable to portion out your cash money into multiple parts at the start of your trip and store each portion in a different place. That way, even if you fall victim to theft, you will still have resources to rely on and minimize your losses.

It is also an excellent plan to keep valuables to a minimum. Consider your bare necessities for travel and avoid carrying valuable items superfluous to your needs. 

For example, you can leave your jewelry and expensive watches at home and travel light. 

If you are carrying valuables, leave them in your hotel room. If your hotel room has a safe, that is the best place for your valuables. The less you flaunt expensive items while traveling, the less conspicuous you will make yourself pickpockets in the area.

You can invest in tough, durable lanyards and straps for gadgets like phones and cameras. This will allow you to keep them secured to your body at all times and foil any attempt at stealing. 

Using credit and debit cards in place of cash is another good idea. If your wallet is lifted, you can instantly block your card by contacting your bank or financial institution to avoid illegitimate transactions.

Appropriate Luggage and Clothing

Finally, if you want to be as safe as you possibly can, there is a lot you can do by making the right choices regarding appropriate luggage and clothing. 

Many brands offer unique products designed to foil the attempts of pickpockets and thieves. Even with your regular fare, there are practices you can adopt to minimize the risk of being pickpocketed.

Choose the Right Clothes

The best way to ensure you do not get pickpocketed is to keep as much stuff as you can in your pockets within your peripheral vision. Front and side pockets, therefore, are more practical locations to keep things than back pockets. Clothing with tight pockets can also help in this regard, as you can feel any attempt at intrusion instantly and take appropriate action.

Backpacks, while being a convenient luggage option while traveling, can be very tempting for pickpockets and thieves. If you have to use a backpack, try buying a secured one with locks or a theft-proof one where the main chain is on the inside part that touches your back when worn. 

Many backpacks also come with a selection of internal loops and hooks, which come in handy if you have stored valuables inside. You can secure them to these points to avoid losing them.

When in crowded places, you can wear your backpack on the front to ensure that everything is always visible. Similarly, keep your backpack between your legs if you sit down to eat or rest. You can buy aftermarket ones if your luggage does not have built-in locks. Numbered combination locks are convenient and save you the hassle of dealing with multiple keys.

One of the best investments you can make to avoid being pickpocketed while traveling is a hip belt or money belt. This secured pouch or compartment comes with a strap and can be worn under your clothing. 

Money and other valuables kept here are not impossible for thieves to steal, but they are also entirely out of their field of vision. This helps you stand out less and keep your valuables protected. If losing cash is a concern during travel, this is a foolproof method to keep your money safe.

A favorite method of pickpockets to reach your belongings is to cut and slash at your baggage or clothing. 

If you look around, you will find a large selection of cut and slash-proof luggage and clothing options which can help you foil that attempt. Similarly, clothing with hidden waterproof pockets is an excellent way to store money and other essential things like your phone and passport.

Make Smart Plans

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If you have planned your trip meticulously and know precisely where you will be, it is easy to make allowances in your plan to remain secure while out and about. However, this is only sometimes the case during travel. Therefore, it is more important to adopt a practical mindset while planning your trip that keeps you prepared for both foreseen and unforeseen emergencies.

When traveling in a group, you can assign essential items and documents to different people in the group and assign responsibilities accordingly. This way, no single person has to worry about too many things.

Having a list of important numbers to contact beforehand is also a good idea. If you are visiting a city in a foreign country, learn how to contact law enforcement if you need to report an incident of theft urgently. Have your bank and credit card provider on speed dial. Apart from photocopies, store electronic copies of all essential documents.

It is crucial to be prepared for the possibility of pickpocketing when traveling. However, minimizing your losses can significantly help prevent them from ruining your overall travel experience. By taking precautionary measures, you can better handle the situation and continue to enjoy your travels without feeling discouraged.

Final Words

With these crucial tips, you should be able to travel in peace without too much worry about being pickpocketed. Care, vigilance, and the right resources should help you avoid pickpocketing, even in crowded places.

If you want to cover all your bases, considering every scenario is a good idea. If you lose important documents to a pickpocket, you might fall victim to identity theft. Therefore, invest in a good identity theft protection service before making travel plans.

There are identity theft protection services that will provide you with emergency cash if you were to get your wallet lost or stolen. Now that sounds like a good deal, doesn’t it?