Avoiding Pickpocketing: My Tips

     Losing your stuff while traveling is never going to be fun, and being pickpocketed is one of the quickest ways for your wallet or phone to disappear. In the modern age you don't want to have to replace a $1000 phone, and you really don't want to have to go using your emergency cash or credit card because your wallet was stolen. I just wanted to share a few tips that I have learned and been able to use while traveling that have helped me not be pickpocketed, and even stop someone from trying to pickpocket me.

Tip 1: Pay Attention to People

     Humans are good at catching onto things that seem out of place, and if you see someone that seems to always be behind you, or is standing off to the side looking out of place, then they probably are. A big area you will see this is in subway entrances in Europe. Since many people will keep their ticket in their wallet, a person waiting inside the stills is able to quickly find out where your wallet is, just by watching you walk in, scan your ticket, and put your wallet back. So be on the lookout for these people, who often don't work alone, that are out to steal your stuff.

Tip 2: Choose Wisely

     While you may be used to keeping your wallet in your back pocket or purse, while traveling it is better to keep it in your front pocket. Your front pocket is harder to steal from, although I have had someone try in Amsterdam, and it is easier to discreetly check to make sure your stuff is still there while you are walking. You should also choose wisely when picking your wallet. Bulky wallets, although harder to steal, are easier for thieves to see, and could make them target you. Also be careful giving away the location of your wallet or important documents, if the thieves don't know where they are, they are going to have trouble stealing them in the first place.

Tip 3: Avoid the Scams

     The key to a pickpocket is knowing where the persons wallet is. If the thief doesn't know where your wallet is, they are going to have a hard time targeting you. To counter this, they have begun to use "beggars" and kids to find out where your wallet is. They might approach you with a paper, that looks like a donation sheet, and they ask for money for some cause. In my experience they pretend to be deaf or mute, and point that it is for donations. Some people will feel inclined to donate, and that will allow someone else working with the beggar or child to see where your wallet is, thus you are now a viable target.

Joseph Hallgren

Boston, MA

Full time student, adrenaline junkie, and traveller.