13 Ways to Prevent Being the Victim of a Pickpocket
May 22, 2017
The Pickpocket in London
Everyone makes mistakes, even more so when we leave the comfort of our own home, town, or state. One mistake is far more painful for me to discuss because I felt so stupid: when I became the victim of a pickpocket in London.
It happened after my son and I finished sightseeing at Westminster Abbey. We hopped on the London Underground so that we could head to our hotel and freshen up before dinner. Since it was rush hour, the trains were quite crowded and there were no seats available. So I was forced to stand, with my wallet in my camera bag, which was strapped diagonally across my body
During our Underground journey, I noticed a man standing in front of the train doors, looking at me. We made eye contact, but something about him made me uneasy, so I looked away. When I looked back again, he had vanished. This was odd because the train hadn’t yet made any stops. But I just shrugged it away and assumed the man had moved down a couple of cars to try and find a seat.
However, when we finally got back to the hotel, I opened up my camera bag and found that both my wallet and hotel key card were gone. The man on the tube, who had imperceptibly zipped up my bag so that I wouldn’t notice my wallet was gone.
Because of this pickpocket, I lost: $400 cash, my driver’s license, my airport parking ticket, and my credit card. Not to mention an awful lot of time!
13 Ways to Avoid Being the Victim of a Pickpocket
After the fact (of course) I recognized all of the things that I had done wrong. To prevent this from happening to you, here is a list of simple steps you can take to avoid becoming the victim of a pickpocket.
- Keep passports in a safe at the hotel. You won’t need them while you’re out and about. You’ll only need them at the airport.
- Only take one day’s worth of cash with you when you’re out.
- Write down your credit card company’s phone number to report lost or stolen cards. Keep that number in your hotel room so that if you lose your wallet, you still have the emergency number.
- Have a backup credit card that you leave in the hotel room. Trust me, once the stolen card is reported lost, it will be easier to use another card than to try and get a replacement card sent to you. And while we’re on the subject, be sure to notify your credit card companies that you will be traveling out of the country before you leave so that they won’t decline your charges because they are “suspicious”.
- Carry your cash in the front pockets of your pants. No one can pickpocket those without it looking like a sexual assault.
- Ladies, use a handbag with a long strap and wear it diagonally across your torso. This will prevent anyone from grabbing your purse and running away with it.
- If your bag zips, make sure that the zipper is in the front where you can see it. Never leave the opening of your purse behind you.
- Avoid crowded areas as much as possible. People will bump into you so much that you won’t even notice if someone is trying to steal your wallet.
- If signs are posted telling you that pickpockets operate in the area, take them seriously. They aren’t posted there just to scare away tourists.
- Register for the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
- Be aware of where your wallet, money, and bag are at all times.
- Trust your instincts! If someone looks or acts suspicious, get as far away from them as possible.
- Finally, assume that you will be pickpocketed rather than assuming you won’t be. A little paranoia can prevent you from becoming the victim of a crime.
I hope that you never have to deal with the frustration and loss of being a pickpocket’s victim. Travel smart and travel safely!
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A BIG Thanks to Julie Peters for all her hard work!
Meet Julie! She has wanted to travel ever since she left her small town in Maryland for the first time as a kid. When she is not traveling, or writing about her travels, you will find her planning her next trip, daydreaming about returning to one of her favorite places, reading a good book, or working on a craft project.
She is married, and has two children. Also living with her is a tabby cat with delusions of grandeur (he thinks he’s a tiger), and a silly little rescue mutt named Kingston who is part Corgi.
To find out more about Julie and all her adventures, check her blog out at https://travelasmuch.com. You can also follow her on twitter at travelasmuch, Instagram at travelasmuchpics, Pinterest at travelasmuch and on Facebook at travelasmuchasyoucan.