Pickpockets and Purse Snatchers Oh My!

Getting pickpocketed is a terrible thing. If you travel often, the chances are that it’s going to happen. Even if you don’t travel it can happen. If you take precautions and stay alert the risk is greatly reduced but the fact is no one is immune.

Some steps you can take to make you less likely to be the victim:

Pickpockets

There are three proven ways to avoid being the victim of a pickpocket

  1. Keep your valuables secure in a money belt. There are a number of styles and sizes available but the common design is a pouch that secures to a belt and is tucked under your clothes. If you find it awkward to access the pouch, a pickpocket will find it near impossible. If you have to carry a passport, cash or credit cards they really should be in a money belt.
  2. If you won’t need something, don’t carry it. If you are staying in a hotel most now provide in-room safes where things are much more secure than carried with you.
  3. Stay aware. The best thing you can do is avoid getting into crowds. That is the favorite environment for pickpockets. If you do end up in tight quarters be aware that pickpockets are masters of disguise. Most choose to look just like other tourists or well-dressed professionals or a young mother carrying a baby so don’t let down your guard because of hoe someone looks.

Purse Snatchers

There are also some things you can do to foil a purse snatcher

  1. Always expect the worse and keep a firm grip on you purse. Don’t expect a strap hung over your shoulder to prevent a snatching. Often the thieves carry a knife to cut the strap. If you get into crowded areas keep an arm wrapped around the purse.
  2. Never walk around or sit in a public space with your purse wide open. It only takes a second to reach in and run.
  3. There are purses available with a wire inserted into the strap and there are also accessory straps from companies like Pacsafe that prevent cutting.
  4. You should also realize that backpacks have also become popular targets for thieves. Use those same precautions with backpacks and don’t walk with a backpack slung loosely over one shoulder. Wear it over both shoulders. Lately you will also see many people wearing their backpacks on their front. That is not a new fashion look but an additional way to protect a backpack especially on the crowded streets of an unfamiliar city.

If you are traveling internationally, normally you don’t need to carry a drivers license unless you are going to rent a car. Likewise you usually don’t need to carry your passport. Our recommendation is to leave those in your hotel along with credit and debit cards you won’t be needing. You should still have some forms of identification and a copy of your divers license will usually suffice. Another strong recommendation is to have and carry an emergency identification card that includes contact information and any medical needs (a great source of a downloadable card is HERE).

Keep any money and cards you’ll need in that money belt and carry a small card case for that license copy and emergency ID in your pocket along with important information like key phrases, hotel address, and local emergency numbers.

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