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Sunday, December 10, 2023

The way to Keep away from Pickpockets in Europe

Should you’re planning a visit to Europe you’ve undoubtedly been warned in regards to the hazard of pickpockets. You will need to be vigilant as a result of hundreds of vacationers are victims of pickpockets every year—nobody needs to spend their hard-earned trip canceling their bank cards, changing their passports, and discovering various means to entry cash.

Fortunately, there are numerous issues you are able to do to discourage your self from turning into a pickpocketing sufferer. This information will clarify the place pickpockets work, who they aim, the completely different strategies they use, and methods to guard your self.

The Most Fashionable Cities for Pickpockets

Whereas pickpockets will be present in almost any metropolis, the most important concentrations are in cities that entice probably the most vacationers (no shock there).

Here’s a record of pickpocket hotspots in Europe:

  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Rome, Italy
  • Paris, France
  • Madrid, Spain
  • Athens, Greece
  • Prague, Czech Republic
  • Lisbon, Portugal
  • Florence, Italy
  • London, England
  • Amsterdam, Netherlands

However don’t suppose that pickpocketing solely happens in huge cities. I’ve a pal who even had his pockets stolen in a small city in Switzerland.

Who Are Pickpockets?


Most individuals assume pickpockets are sketchy-looking males, however numerous pickpockets are literally younger ladies and boys—normally round 10-16 years outdated. Most vacationers don’t suspect {that a} younger youngster would steal from them so that they let their guard down.

Moreover, police can’t actually arrest minors, and most don’t journey with any identification, so even when they’re caught the police normally need to allow them to go. Different instances, pickpockets are well-dressed and also you’d by no means count on them to be thieves.


Pickpockets virtually all the time work in teams. One or two folks will do one thing to distract you whereas one other member tries to take your stuff.

As soon as the theft has occurred, the thief who stole the merchandise will typically hand it off to another person and so they’ll all run in separate instructions. This makes it very exhausting to trace the wrongdoer.

The place Do Pickpockets Goal?

It’s no shock that the majority thieves goal locations which might be busy/chaotic and have loads of vacationers.

Listed below are a number of spots the place try to be additional vigilant:

High Vacationers Sights


Whether or not it’s the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Trevi Fountain in Rome, or Charles Bridge in Prague, it isn’t a shock that pickpockets hand around in busy vacationer spots. Naturally, vacationers are extra involved about viewing the sights and taking pictures than taking note of their environment.

Public Transportation

Subways and metropolis buses are prime spots for pickpockets—and after residing in Paris, I’ve seen my share of pickpockets on the Paris Metro. Public transportation is a good place for a pickpocket as a result of it’s typically very crowded and it’s straightforward for thieves to create confusion.

Pickpockets usually goal giant metro/subway stations the place many transit traces converge as a result of it offers them loads of locations to exit in the event that they’re being chased.

Pay additional consideration throughout rush hour instances and on routes that result in the most well-liked vacationer sights.


Europe’s hottest museums swell to most capability (particularly in the course of the summer time) and there are certain to be a number of pickpockets among the many lot. Whereas the admission worth deters most pickpockets, it doesn’t cease all of them from preying on unsuspecting guests who’re merely having fun with the artwork.

In actual fact, in 2013, the employees on the Louvre in Paris went on strike as a result of the pickpockets have been getting so unhealthy.

Practice Stations

Practice stations are giant, crowded, and filled with confused vacationers with their arms filled with cumbersome baggage—which is strictly the sort of setting pickpockets love.

Eating places, Cafés, and Bars

Many individuals let their guard down after they’re having fun with a meal or a drink, so it’s straightforward for a criminal to sneakily snatch a handbag from the again of a chair or a cell phone from the highest of a desk.

Be sure you by no means depart your telephone on the desk or your bag/purse unattended.

The Seashore

Take note of your stuff while you’re on the seaside. Don’t depart your bag unattended or out of sight as a result of there’s a good probability somebody would possibly snatch it up. The seashores in Barcelona are particularly identified for pickpockets.

Retail Shops

Clothes and shops in Europe can get extraordinarily crowded—particularly across the holidays. These are straightforward locations for pickpockets to focus on vacationers who are normally carrying some huge cash.

The Sneaky Tips Pickpockets Use To Steal Your Stuff

Distraction is the one tactic that every one pickpockets use. They wish to distract your consideration simply lengthy sufficient to take your stuff.  The next strategies are well-known ways in which pickpockets and thieves steal from vacationers.

“Charity” Employee with Clipboards


This rip-off may be very well-liked in Paris. It almost all the time entails a gaggle of younger ladies with clipboards. They’ll strategy you and level to a clipboard whereas signaling that they’re deaf and mute. They need you to signal a petition for charity. Should you signal, they’ll ask for a donation to the charity. After all, the “charity” is pretend — actually, the cash typically goes to those ladies’ “boss” (i.e. human traffickers). Whereas the vacationer is signing/studying the petition, there may be typically an confederate making an attempt to pickpocket the sufferer.

Crowd the Metro

Paris Metro Safety

The metro (subway) trains can get very crowded. A typical tactic is for a gaggle of 4-6 youngsters to push on a crowded prepare shortly earlier than the doorways shut and crowd their goal. They’ll swipe what they’re making an attempt to steal after which all of them hop off proper because the doorways start to shut. By the point the sufferer realizes what occurred, it’s too late and the prepare has already left the station.

All the time be cautious when a gaggle of individuals crowds onto an already busy metro automotive. Even be cautious of anybody who’s standing very near you on a prepare that isn’t crowded, as they is perhaps as much as no good.

Sidewalk Cafe Seize

Pay additional consideration to your telephone and purse/bag everytime you’re consuming or ingesting at a restaurant. Pay double consideration while you’re at a sidewalk cafe as this is among the most typical locations to get your stuff swiped.

Metro Smartphone Seize

Folks are likely to zone out whereas they’re speaking or texting on their telephones. Be very cautious about utilizing your telephone in case you’re standing close to the door of a subway automotive. Thieves will attain in and snatch your telephone proper because the doorways shut.

Assist with Your Bag

Some metro stations have a lot of stairs so “good samaritans” will seize ahold of your suitcase that can assist you carry it up the steps. This normally takes folks off guard a little bit and that is when their pal reaches into your purse or pocket. There are literally loads of good individuals who will supply to assist carry a heavy suitcase, however they’ll ask you earlier than grabbing onto your bag.

Bump and Raise

If you’re surrounded by crowds, it isn’t unusual to by accident stumble upon different folks. Nevertheless, it is a frequent transfer carried out by pickpockets, so if somebody bumps into you, it is perhaps sensible to take a fast stock of your belongings.

Escalator Backup

Escalators are one other space that pickpockets goal as a result of it’s straightforward to create chaos. With this rip-off, there might be one or two folks in entrance of the goal and some others behind the goal. Somebody close to the highest of the escalator will cease proper after they get off and this can create an enormous backup of individuals making an attempt to get off. Because the backup happens, the folks behind the goal will attain into the goal’s bag/pocket and hand off the products to one among his buddies behind him. I’ve additionally seen it the place they’ve handed off the products to somebody on the alternative escalator, so it’s virtually inconceivable to chase them.

Newspaper/Map Distraction

A typical pickpocket tactic entails utilizing a big map or a newspaper to cowl the goal’s line of sight to take issues out of their bag. They’ll typically shove the map in your face, level to part of the map, after which their pal will attain underneath the paper so you may’t see what they’re taking. This can be a quite common approach that folks steal cellphones from tables.

ATM Confusion


All the time watch out when utilizing the ATM — particularly while you’re alone. Whilst you’re within the strategy of withdrawing cash, a gaggle of beggars will strategy you from behind to try to get your consideration. They may pull in your arm or shove a bit of paper in entrance of the display. Should you flip towards one of many thieves, one other one will slip in from the opposite facet and press the button for the utmost amount of money. Then they’ll swipe the cash and run away.

Additionally, be sure you cowl up your PIN code while you enter it. Some thieves will attempt to see your code (some even use hidden cameras) after which they’ll observe you round for an opportunity to steal your card.

Ticket Machines Dupe

All the time be a little bit leery of people that attempt that can assist you at ticket machines. I do know some individuals who bought scammed in Paris by a well-dressed man who “helped” them purchase Metro tickets. The guests needed to purchase two 5-day passes, which price about 30€/every, so the person provided to make use of his bank card as a result of he informed them Australian playing cards don’t work within the machines. He mentioned that they might simply pay him in money.

He did purchase the tickets… however he purchased them a one-way youngster’s ticket (which appears to be like similar to a 5-day cross) that prices about 1€ and he pocketed 60€ in money from them.

The Useful Vacationer

Don’t let pickpockets benefit from your good nature. On this rip-off, one of many scammers will drop one thing in entrance of you and when you’re serving to them decide up the mess, the opposite pickpocket will swoop in and raise one thing out of your bag. That doesn’t imply you may’t assist your fellow man, however simply watch out about your personal stuff whereas doing it.

Slashed Bag


Whereas uncommon, some pickpockets don’t even hassle making an attempt to steal your bag and they’ll merely slash it open with a knife. Pacsafe makes a variety of slash-proof baggage for additional safety.

Turnstile Stall


Busy turnstiles are a standard space for pickpockets to strike. As you’re approaching a turnstile, one individual will minimize in entrance of you after which proceed to cease (they may fake that the machine isn’t working) and their companion will come up behind you — basically trapping you between the 2 of them. The individual within the again will raise one thing out of your bag or pocket whereas his companion within the entrance is fumbling with the turnstile.

Scooter Snatch and Run

Whereas not tremendous frequent, some thieves will drive up on a scooter, snatch a bag from the sufferer’s shoulder, after which trip off into the sundown. I wouldn’t be too nervous about this system, however it could possibly occur.

Road Performances

Many avenue performances entice giant crowds of vacationers—which may typically entice loads of pickpockets as nicely (typically they’re all working collectively).

Pretend Struggle

A big group of males would possibly begin a “struggle” round a vacationer, and in all of the commotion one of many males will try and pickpocket the goal.

Who Do Pickpockets Goal?


Anybody is usually a potential goal of a pickpocket, however they do have a tendency to focus on sure sorts of folks. Pickpockets will all the time search for the best goal as a result of they don’t desire a confrontation.


Duh, proper? However vacationers = cash to pickpockets. Should you appear like a vacationer, you’re robotically going to be singled out. Take a look at my article on the right way to not costume like a vacationer in Europe.

Folks With a Lot of Baggage

You’re going to be a main goal for a pickpocket if you’re pulling alongside two big suitcases and have a backpack. You gained’t be capable of watch over all of your issues since you have got a lot stuff and also you’re a slow-moving goal.

So pack mild!

Take a look at my Backpacking Europe Packing Checklist and Journey Europe Packing Checklist for Girls to get some recommendations on packing mild and see my information to the greatest journey backpacks to see my favourite journey baggage.

Guests from Asia


Asian guests (particularly Chinese language) are a best choice for pickpockets as a result of many Chinese language vacationers are very rich. Moreover, numerous Chinese language residents don’t have quick access to credit score and debit playing cards so that they carry giant quantities of money—and thieves know this.

So even in case you’re not Chinese language, however have Asian heritage, you would possibly wish to be particularly cautious because you is perhaps extra prone to be focused.

Folks Who Flash Valuables

Strolling alone at evening whereas utilizing your iPhone? Don’t be stunned if somebody takes it from you.

Trusting Folks

From all my travels, I’ve hardly ever met a extra pleasant bunch than the Australians. I’ve additionally by no means met one other group of people that’ve been victims of pickpockets extra typically than Australians. I feel the individuals who suppose everybody else round them is good and useful are those who get taken benefit of most frequently.

How To Defend Your self From Pickpockets

A crossbody sling is a good way to maintain your valuables safe

Should you’ve made it this far, you is perhaps considering that there are millions of pickpockets making an attempt to rob each vacationer in Europe. However that isn’t the case and also you’ll hardly ever have any issues in case you take a number of additional precautions.

Additionally it is essential to do not forget that precise violent crime is low in Europe so there’s a very low probability of something taking place to you.

On this part, we’ll speak in regards to the steps you may take to keep away from turning into a sufferer.

Pickpocket-Proof Journey Clothes

Firms are beginning to make journey clothes security measures which might be nice for deterring would-be thieves.

One in every of my favourite manufacturers of anti-theft journey clothes is Bluffworks — they make journey pants, and, journey vests even journey fits which have hidden-zippered pockets. And, better of all, all their merchandise appear like regular clothes that you just’d put on day-after-day however are made out of high-tech materials.

Bluffworks additionally has trendy ladies’s anti-theft journey clothes that’s price testing.

Pickpocket-Proof Baggage


If you wish to be additional secure, you will get your self a specifically designed “pickpocket-proof” backpack, bag, or purse.

The preferred anti-theft baggage are made by Pacsafe. Their baggage have tamper-proof zippers, cut-proof straps, anchored straps, and a slash-proof steel mesh sewn into the bag.

Zippered Purse

Top-of-the-line methods to maintain your valuables safe is to have a handbag/bag with a zipper. I like to recommend preserving valuables in inner zipped compartments if potential.

Put on a Cash Belt

A cash belt is among the most safe methods to hold valuables like more money and your passport. Nevertheless, many vacationers make the error of considering that they need to use their cash belt like a pockets — nevertheless it isn’t supposed for that.

Ideally, you need to preserve the cash and debit/bank cards that you just’re going to want for the day in your pockets after which preserve all additional money and perhaps a backup bank card within the cash belt. The cash belt must be worn underneath your garments and must be pretty inconvenient to entry (to discourage thieves).

There are a number of types of cash belts accessible:

  • Across the Waist — That is the standard fashion of cash belt. You put on it underneath your shirt and round your waist.
  • Across the Neck — Cash belts that dangle round your neck are one other good choice. These are so much simpler to entry (particularly in case you put on them underneath a button-up shirt).
  • Hidden Pocket — These hidden pocket cash belts are good as a result of they tuck into your pant leg and I feel they’re extra snug than one which goes round your waist.
  • Belt with Pocket — Should you simply wish to stash some money, you need to use a belt with a hidden pocket built-in.

Restrict What You Carry

Pickpockets can’t steal what you don’t have—fairly easy. That’s the reason I desire to hold little or no whereas I’m sightseeing. I particularly suggest not carrying loads of money.

Safe Your Bag/Backpack

Your bag or backpack might be probably the most weak space that pickpockets love to focus on. Backpacks are particularly weak as a result of you may’t see if somebody is making an attempt to get into it. Listed below are some ideas for securing your bag.

  • Put on Your Bag Backwards — On crowded public transportation, lots of people put on their baggage backward as a result of this enables them to control them.
  • Lock Your Bag’s Zippers — At a minimal, you’ll wish to lock your zippers. You don’t want something fancy — a easy baggage lock will work nicely.
  • Use A Sling Backpack — Sling backpacks are good as a result of they keep near your physique and they are often slung over your chest simply if wanted. They do are typically small, so that you’ll have hassle in case you plan on carrying loads of stuff with you. Right here is an instance of a sling backpack, however there are numerous types accessible.
  • Safe Your Bag To An Immovable Object — If you’re at a restaurant, loop your bag’s strap round your leg or your chair leg so somebody can’t come by and swipe the bag. Equally, it’s sensible to safe your bag to a chair or baggage rack when you’re on a prepare — particularly on in a single day trains. A retractable cable lock will present sufficient safety to discourage most thieves however looping it round your chair is far simpler.

Hold Your Pockets in Entrance Pocket

Loads of guys preserve their wallets of their again pockets, however that is a particularly straightforward goal for a pickpocket. And that’s the reason it’s advisable to maintain your pockets in your entrance pocket. I extremely suggest getting a brilliant skinny pockets as a result of a cumbersome pockets feels very unusual in your entrance pocket — and it appears to be like sort of dumb. The Large Skinny Multi-Pocket Bifold Pockets will get loads of nice critiques for having a low profile.

Hold Your Telephone Off The Desk

Smartphones are a brilliant well-liked merchandise for pickpockets to focus on. Many individuals merely depart it on the desk whereas they’re consuming, which makes it straightforward for somebody to come and snatch it up.

Break up Up Your Valuables

Unfold out your valuables so that you’ll restrict any injury in case you do occur to get pickpocketed. For instance, I’ll preserve my bank card in my pockets however I’ll put a backup bank card in my baggage. And I’ll break up up my money between my pockets and bag so I don’t threat shedding all the pieces.

Remaining Ideas About Pickpockets In Europe

The possibilities of you getting pickpocketed whereas touring in Europe are low however it could possibly occur. In actual fact, Italy reviews 463 mentions of pickpocketing per a million guests and France has 283 mentions per a million guests so it’s statistically uncommon.

The actual secret’s to not make your self a goal since pickpockets all the time wish to discover the best goal potential. So be vigilant and take a number of additional steps that I’ve outlined on this information and also you’ll have a terrific journey.

And whereas we’re with regards to security, try my information to frequent journey scams in Europe to study different methods scammers attempt to benefit from vacationers.

James Feess
Newest posts by James Feess (see all)

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