Regardless of your travel destination, it’s good to take extra precautions when lugging around your valuables.
Stolen belongings and pickpockets can happen, even to the best of us. The slightest moment of distraction is an invitation for swipers to take valuables, even if you’re exercising extra precaution.
While there is this assumption that all pickpockets simply work alone (some do), they often work in teams, where each person is responsible for a specific task (i.e. selecting a ‘victim,’ distracting them, hiding the act of theft from the public, the actual theft itself, and a separate ‘runner’ who would obtain the stolen item, in case a confrontation happens). Their moves are strategic, swift, and clever.
Although being mindful of your surroundings and your belongings is the first step to preventing the loss of your belongings, here are some ways to reduce the risk while you travel:
1) The first sensible thing to exercise when sight-seeing is to not look like a tourist. Confusingly interpreting a map, or checking your phone is enough to make you a perfect target. At the very least, fake it til’ you make it.
2) It doesn’t necessarily matter when you’re traveling, but rather where. Places that force travelers into a tight spot are prime areas for pickpockets. There is greater opportunity to create distractions. Crowded spots also legitimize physical contact between the tourist and pickpocket. While the risk of getting pickpocketed is heightened in busy tourist attractions, this shouldn’t deter you from visiting them! Simply steering clear of busy and large crowds would make you less of a target
3) While there are some that would advise to spread their valuables so that pickpockets would have greater difficulty in extracting the goods, doing this also makes it difficult for you as well. Having to guard several things in several places is not only a hassle, but it can even work against you, as it gives pickpockets more opportunity to swipe something of value.
The ‘rubber band around your wallet,’ trick doesn’t help either: it compresses your valuables to a neat little package for pickpockets. Rather than spreading things around, keep at least one credit card separate from other, so that you’ll have at least one piece of ID to use if an unlikely pickpocket was to occur.
As a general rule, it’s just best to keep a low profile with your valuables. Pickpockets are keen buggers. Flashing your phone, wallet, or camera is already half the work for thieves. If you’re looking for more information on how to outsmart these guys, check out this article.