10 Tricks to Protect Yourself From Pickpockets
Over 400,000 pickpockets hit the streets each day, and good ones are really creative people that carry lots of tricks up their sleeve. In order to protect ourselves, we need to be as crafty as they are and see things from their point of view.
We at Bright Side want to help you keep your belongings safe, whether you’re traveling abroad or just walking down the street, and that’s why we have a few tricks up our sleeve too.
1. Don’t use ATMs outside.
ATMs are like magnets for pickpockets, and they can even work in pairs in order to distract you while one of them snatches your money. Also, there are thieves who will try to see your PIN number and then take your wallet.
If you need to use an ATM, use one in a business building or that isn’t out in the open. That’s because ATMs inside hotels and restaurants have less cash and aren’t as likely to get exploited.
2. Don’t check on your belongings.
Don’t take out your phone or wallet just to make sure that you still have them. Pickpockets’ eyes will be on you immediately, especially if you pull your belongings out after you get bumped. If you need to do it, be smooth and discrete about it so that you don’t signal to them where your valuables are.
Also, pickpockets might shout, “Someone stole my wallet!” just to make everyone turn around and check their own. Ignore this as much as you can and check your valuables smoothly but only after some time has passed.
3. Be aware of those who move too quickly on public transport.
If you’re on a train or bus and you notice someone who is constantly going up and down and at a fast pace, keep your belongings close. Even better, clutch your bag tightly, as your hands are your protective tool here.
When a pickpocketer is doing this, it’s because they’re scanning the environment for bags that are left unattended or for ones that can be grabbed easily as they exit at the next stop. Also, be aware of those who make small movements with their hands and even legs. They will use this as a type of bodily distraction so that you don’t see when they reach to grab something.
4. Buy clothes and accessories with secret pockets.
Invest a few bucks in pieces of clothing with secret pockets. These could lower your chances of getting robbed on the streets. There are many different types you can buy, like jackets with inside pockets, shorts, underwear, T-shirts, and more.
5. Don’t use a button flap purse.
If you want to wear a purse while going out, choose one that will be hard for a thief to reach in and steal your valuables from. Cross-body bags are a good choice because the thief won’t be able to just grab and run. Avoid bags that have only a button flap.
Also, it’s better to get a bag that has 2 layers inside with zippers and a button flap that goes over the zipped layers. However, an experienced pickpocketer might be able to unzip the bag without you feeling it, so maybe a zipper with a lock would be better.
6. Don’t pay too much attention to signs about pickpockets.
Signs that say things like, “Be aware of pickpockets!” are what thieves like. This is because we tend to check our pockets immediately after seeing the sign, which will give out a signal to any thieves nearby. So don’t check your pockets after looking at a sign like this.
7. Be aware of groups that suddenly split up.
Pickpockets sometimes work in groups. So if you notice a group of people entering a building you’re about to go into, or they gather in a touristy spot and spread out, be on alert. Also, you might notice that they’ll start to act like they’re alone.
Make sure you aren’t anywhere near them because they spread out in order to find their next victim. They might even start to talk on the phone while they’re actually scheming something.
8. Don’t stop to look when someone starts arguing.
Thieves know that many people can’t resist watching strangers that are fighting. That’s why they might start an argument, hoping to distract the crowd. Another pickpocketer will push through the crowd and lift your valuables. They’re counting on everyone to pay attention to the distraction and not your purse or wallet.
Other ways that they can make diversions are by falling and tripping or acting like they’re sick.
9. Avoid walking near a road.
There are pickpockets who love snatching bags and valuables by driving by you. So when you’re on the sidewalk, make sure you are as far away from the road as possible. If you can, walk against traffic so that you can see vehicles approaching. Also, keep your bag on the arm that is not closest to the road.
10. Be aware of the “sandwich” technique.
If you find yourself on an escalator with a couple of people in front of you and they’re actually blocking you from passing, you might have stumbled upon a “sandwich” technique. The couple in front of you is actually a “staller” who can buy time for the pickpocket behind you to lift your valuables. This can usually happen in shopping malls, airports, markets, or train stations.
To avoid it, keep your bag in front of you, at your feet, or on you when you’re on an escalator. If you’re feeling like you are in the “sandwich” situation, firmly but politely ask those in front of you to step away so that you can pass.
How do you protect yourself from pickpockets? Have you been a target of pickpocketing before? If you have, what situation did they use to get to your belongings? Did they get caught?