How to Protect Yourself From Pickpockets When Traveling
We just got an awful text from one of our clients: “my iPhone was pickpocketed”.
For travelers, there is no better way to have your dream vacation ruined than having your wallet, purse, passport, credit cards, or smartphone stolen.
We know this from personal experience, as Carol had her purse stolen a few years ago when we were visiting Rome. Inside the purse was her passport, wallet filled with cash and credit cards, and other valuables and goodies that women like to keep in their purses.
We spent nearly three hours in an Italian police station reporting the theft. Then, we had to call all of our credit card companies, and to top it all off, we spent nearly a whole day getting Carol a new passport at the American consulate’s office.
What a mess!
As you might imagine, we’re now a LOT more careful to protect our valuables when we’re traveling. Here’s a few things we’ve learned:
How to Protect Yourself From Pickpockets
- This first suggestion might be hard to do, but try not to look like a tourist. I know, I know, there’s 20 of you touring the Roman Colosseum. You’ve all got your cameras to the ready, and you’re totally being a tourist. Just know that when you’re in tourist mode, you’re a target for pickpockets. However, when you’re not out touring in a group, do your best to blend in with the locals. If you stand on a street corner in your white sneakers and colorful Bermuda shorts while studying a tourist map, you’re telegraphing to thieves, “come steal my stuff”.
- Photocopy important documents. Make a copy of your passport, driver’s license and both the front and back of your credit and debit cards to keep in your hotel room’s safe. If you do suffer a loss, you will be very happy to have copies of these documents. Better yet, when you’re out touring, leave your passport back in the hotel safe and move about with the copy. Better to have the copy stolen than the original. Of course, this won’t work if you’re traveling between countries during the day.
- Men, keep your wallet in your front pocket. Better yet, don’t keep it in your pocket at all. Consider buying travel pants that have the front pockets zippered and buttoned. Or, maybe consider one of those zippered travel belts. Whatever the case, if you leave your valuables in an unprotected back pants pocket, you might as well just hand your wallet to the nearest stranger. Seriously. Don’t put stuff in your back pocket.
- Women, don’t carry a purse on your shoulders. Better yet, don’t carry a purse at all. But, if you must, consider buying a women’s travel purse. These small purses are generally a cross-body style that sits safely in front of you, rather than hanging on your shoulder. Further, keep your purse on you at all times. Never, ever hang it on the back of a chair. If you do, consider it gone!
- Protect your cell phone. You’re new iPhone is one of the most sought after objects for pickpockets. Not only is the phone valuable on the black market, but if they’re hacked, there is generally a treasure trove of personal information stored on them. Protect your phone as much as you would your cash.
- Be alert. Pickpockets lurk in very crowded spaces. They are highly skilled to find a weakness and will strike when your attention is diverted. And, as you’re in a very crowded space, you’re not likely to even know that the thief has make his strike until later. Further, be wary of wandering alone on dark streets. Bolder thieves will simply accost you if they find you alone.
Please know that we’re certainly not here to make you paranoid when you’re traveling. Having said that, and having been a victim ourselves in the past, our desire is to simply increase your awareness so that your vacation isn’t marred by some creep stealing your stuff. :O
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