Saturday, June 22, 2024

Keep away from Pickpockets in Europe

In the event you’re planning a visit to Europe you’ve undoubtedly been warned in regards to the hazard of pickpockets. It is very important be vigilant as a result of 1000’s of vacationers are victims of pickpockets every year—nobody desires to spend their hard-earned trip canceling their bank cards, changing their passports, and discovering different means to entry cash.

Fortunately, there are a lot of 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 might 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 massive cities. I’ve a good friend 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 women and boys—normally round 10-16 years previous. Most vacationers don’t suspect {that a} younger youngster would steal from them in order 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 should allow them to go. Different instances, pickpockets are well-dressed and also you’d by no means anticipate them to be thieves.


Pickpockets virtually at all times work in teams. One or two individuals 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 arduous to trace the perpetrator.

The place Do Pickpockets Goal?

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

Listed here are a number of spots the place you need to be additional vigilant:

High Vacationers Points of interest


Whether or not 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 photographs than paying attention to 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 massive metro/subway stations the place many transit strains 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 preferred vacationer sights.


Europe’s hottest museums swell to most capability (particularly in the course of the summer season) and there are sure 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 truth, in 2013, the employees on the Louvre in Paris went on strike as a result of the pickpockets have been getting so unhealthy.

Prepare Stations

Prepare stations are massive, crowded, and stuffed with confused vacationers with their fingers stuffed with cumbersome baggage—which is precisely the sort of surroundings pickpockets love.

Eating places, Cafés, and Bars

Many individuals let their guard down once 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.

Make sure to by no means depart your cellphone on the desk or your bag/purse unattended.

The Seaside

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

Retail Shops

Clothes and malls 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 Methods 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 could be very widespread in Paris. It almost at all times includes a bunch of younger women 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. In the event you signal, they’ll ask for a donation to the charity. After all, the “charity” is pretend — the truth is, the cash typically goes to those women’ “boss” (i.e. human traffickers). Whereas the vacationer is signing/studying the petition, there’s typically an confederate making an attempt to pickpocket the sufferer.

Crowd the Metro

Paris Metro SafetyParis Metro Safety

The metro (subway) trains can get very crowded. A standard tactic is for a bunch of 4-6 youngsters to push on a crowded practice 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 practice has already left the station.

At all times be cautious when a bunch of individuals crowds onto an already busy metro automobile. Even be cautious of anybody who’s standing very near you on a practice that isn’t crowded, as they may be as much as no good.

Sidewalk Cafe Seize

Pay additional consideration to your cellphone and purse/bag everytime you’re consuming or consuming at a restaurant. Pay double consideration if you’re at a sidewalk cafe as this is likely one of the commonest locations to get your stuff swiped.

Metro Smartphone Seize

Individuals are inclined to zone out whereas they’re speaking or texting on their telephones. Be very cautious about utilizing your cellphone for those who’re standing close to the door of a subway automobile. Thieves will attain in and snatch your cellphone proper because the doorways shut.

Assist with Your Bag

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

Bump and Carry

Once you’re surrounded by crowds, it isn’t unusual to by chance stumble upon different individuals. Nonetheless, it is a widespread transfer carried out by pickpockets, so if somebody bumps into you, it may be good 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 will likely be one or two individuals in entrance of the goal and some others behind the goal. Somebody close to the highest of the escalator will cease proper once they get off and it will create an enormous backup of individuals making an attempt to get off. Because the backup happens, the individuals 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 unimaginable to chase them.

Newspaper/Map Distraction

A standard pickpocket tactic includes 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 good friend will attain below the paper so you may’t see what they’re taking. This can be a quite common method that folks steal cellphones from tables.

ATM Confusion


At all times watch out when utilizing the ATM — particularly if you’re alone. Whilst you’re within the technique of withdrawing cash, a bunch of beggars will strategy you from behind to attempt to get your consideration. They could pull in your arm or shove a bit of paper in entrance of the display screen. In the event you flip towards one of many thieves, one other one will slip in from the opposite aspect and press the button for the utmost amount of money. Then they’ll swipe the cash and run away.

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

Ticket Machines Dupe

At all times be somewhat leery of people that strive that will help you at ticket machines. I do know some individuals who received scammed in Paris by a well-dressed man who “helped” them purchase Metro tickets. The guests wished 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 advised them Australian playing cards don’t work within the machines. He stated 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 similar to a 5-day move) that prices about 1€ and he pocketed 60€ in money from them.

The Useful Vacationer

Don’t let pickpockets reap the benefits of 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 choose up the mess, the opposite pickpocket will swoop in and elevate one thing out of your bag. That doesn’t imply you may’t assist your fellow man, however simply watch out about your individual 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 spread of slash-proof luggage for additional safety.

Turnstile Stall


Busy turnstiles are a standard space for pickpockets to strike. As you’re approaching a turnstile, one individual will reduce in entrance of you after which proceed to cease (they may faux 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 elevate 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 widespread, some thieves will drive up on a scooter, snatch a bag from the sufferer’s shoulder, after which experience off into the sundown. I wouldn’t be too apprehensive about this method, however it may occur.

Road Performances

Many road performances entice massive crowds of vacationers—which might typically entice loads of pickpockets as properly (generally they’re all working collectively).

Pretend Combat

A big group of males may begin a “battle” round a vacationer, and in all of the commotion one of many males will try to 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 varieties of individuals. Pickpockets will at all times search for the simplest goal as a result of they don’t desire a confrontation.


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

Individuals With a Lot of Baggage

You’re going to be a chief goal for a pickpocket in case you are pulling alongside two large suitcases and have a backpack. You gained’t be capable to watch over all of your issues since you’ve gotten a lot stuff and also you’re a slow-moving goal.

So pack gentle!

Try my Backpacking Europe Packing Checklist and Journey Europe Packing Checklist for Ladies to get some tips about packing gentle and see my information to the greatest journey backpacks to see my favourite journey luggage.

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 easy accessibility to credit score and debit playing cards in order that they carry massive quantities of money—and thieves know this.

So even for those who’re not Chinese language, however have Asian heritage, you may wish to be particularly cautious because you may be extra more likely to be focused.

Individuals Who Flash Valuables

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

Trusting Individuals

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 believe the individuals who suppose everybody else round them is sweet 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

In the event you’ve made it this far, you may be pondering 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 for those who take a number of additional precautions.

It is usually vital to keep in mind 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 discuss 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 are nice for deterring would-be thieves.

Considered one 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 to be regular clothes that you simply’d put on every single day however are made out of high-tech materials.

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

Pickpocket-Proof Baggage


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

The most well-liked anti-theft luggage are made by Pacsafe. Their luggage 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 retaining valuables in inside zipped compartments if potential.

Put on a Cash Belt

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

Ideally, you must preserve the cash and debit/bank cards that you simply’re going to wish 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 below 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 type of cash belt. You put on it below your shirt and round your waist.
  • Across the Neck — Cash belts that cling round your neck are one other good choice. These are lots simpler to entry (particularly for those who put on them below 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 believe they’re extra snug than one which goes round your waist.
  • Belt with Pocket — In the event you simply wish to stash some money, you should 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 favor to hold little or no whereas I’m sightseeing. I particularly advocate not carrying loads of money.

Safe Your Bag/Backpack

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

  • Put on Your Bag Backwards — On crowded public transportation, lots of people put on their luggage 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 properly.
  • 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 usually small, so that you’ll have hassle for those who plan on carrying loads of stuff with you. Right here is an instance of a sling backpack, however there are a lot of types accessible.
  • Safe Your Bag To An Immovable Object — Once 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 good to safe your bag to a chair or baggage rack when you’re on a practice — 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.

Maintain Your Pockets in Entrance Pocket

A whole lot 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 advocate getting an excellent skinny pockets as a result of a cumbersome pockets feels very unusual in your entrance pocket — and it appears sort of dumb. The Massive Skinny Multi-Pocket Bifold Pockets will get loads of nice evaluations for having a low profile.

Maintain Your Cellphone Off The Desk

Smartphones are an excellent widespread 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.

Cut up Up Your Valuables

Unfold out your valuables so that you’ll restrict any injury for those who 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 every part.

Last Ideas About Pickpockets In Europe

The probabilities of you getting pickpocketed whereas touring in Europe are low however it may occur. In truth, Italy experiences 463 mentions of pickpocketing per a million guests and France has 283 mentions per a million guests so it’s statistically uncommon.

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

And whereas we’re as regards to security, take a look at my information to widespread journey scams in Europe to study different methods scammers attempt to reap the benefits of vacationers.

James FeessJames Feess
Newest posts by James Feess (see all)

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