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Pickpocket Scams in Florence Italy

One cannot visit Italy with out seeing Florence. It is a must see for most tourists, and also a location where pickpockets know they can find un-wary travelers too.

Traveling through Florence Italy can feel like wandering through an open-air, living museum. The most remarkable, most stunning collections of art are there to be discovered, but also the wittiest scam artists who will attempt to steal your personal treasures.

The larger a city is the more likely one is to be pick-pocketed, and Florence is one of those cities favored by pickpockets.

While this article just focuses on pickpockets issues in Florence Italy, make sure you check out the article on general pickpocket tips in Italy, as well as other cities which pickpockets that are also discussed, including:

Pickpocket Scams Reported in Florence Italy

While a pick pocket could strike anywhere at anytime, areas known for pick pocketing include the Basilica of San Lorenzo and Market, Ponte Vecchio, the main station Santa Maria Novella, Pitti Palace, Battistero off San Giovanni, Piazza Michaelangelo, on the Via dei Cerretani from the train station to the Duomo, Galleria degli Uffizi (Museum), the Duomo and Piazza Signoria. Public transportation is also a magnet for pick pockets frequenting bus lines 12/13 to Piazza Michelangelo and 7 to Fiesole. Last, beware of crowded corridors of trains.  The following are just a few of the more "reported" incidents of pickpocket scams reported by travelers that occurred in and around Florence Italy:

  1. The vicinity of the famous Ponte Vecchio bridge has always been a haunt for pickpockets.  Teams of busy pickpockets specifically look for unaware tourists visiting this famous spot.  Many times the pickpockets are your gypsy children who work in teams - one distracts the tourist, while the other removes something from your travel bag or purse.  Be very mindful at this location.  Other scams used at this location include gypsies who pass a tourist a baby, or a doll to catch them off guard. At the same time slightly older children pick their pockets, while other pickpockets use the age old scam of the paper flower to distract.  This bridge is also an attractive area for children to steal from tourists who are busily window shopping or taking in the beautiful view of the city and Arno River.
  2. The Market in Piazza di San Lorenzo is a prime target for pick pockets. It is very easy be distracted by the wares being sold with the vendors trying to win your attention, plus the magnificent basilica in the center of it all. This is an area where you should pay very careful attention to your wallet, watch, or any valuable that you want to keep. Be mindful of who is near you and try to avoid this area at night.
  3. The Uffizi Museum is one of the oldest museums of the Western world. Unfortunately, it is possible to be overcharged for your ticket to view the exhibits. Prices are always posted, so double-check that you are charged the correct amount and receive proper change.
  4. Although some areas such as the Pitti Palace, surrounded by luxurious shops, appear to be an area where you can let your guard down, even a purse under a café table behind a small fence can be up for the taking. Once the purse is stolen, it is critical to contact your credit card company as soon as possible because thieves can charge thousands of dollars to the account within minutes.
  5. Be wary at the central train station, Santa Maria Novella, for little girls who grab anything they can reach and pass it off to another little girl. It is very difficult to catch your stolen belongings because the girls continue to pass them off to one another.
  6. You forgot your adapter for electronics at the last hotel and need to purchase a new one, so you can charge your digital camera. You find a small, local store that sells international adapters, but the prices are not listed. The salesperson states that the adapter costs €10. The price seems high, but you buy it anyway and the salesperson does not offer a receipt. You have most likely been overcharged.  It is law that stores provide customers with receipts to ensure that stores record sales and pay appropriate taxes. Further, by not providing a receipt, it makes it impossible for you to dispute the charge or report the overcharge.
  7. For many it is heart wrenching to see the old, poor woman with young, crying children beg for money on the street. While your heart may tell you to give a Euro or two, listen to your head because once you give the woman, or group of women, money, they may persistently follow you begging for more.
  8. It is safest to use an ATM during the day and during bank opening hours. If you, for some reason, do not receive the money from the ATM, you then have the opportunity to immediately ask for assistance from bank personnel.
  9. Internet Cafes and Laundromats are typically frequented by foreigners and the pick pockets are aware of this. Another customer may approach you asking for assistance with a machine. You want to be helpful and explain how the machine works, but forget that your purse is still sitting on the counter behind you. The customer’s friend moseys over and takes your purse and exits the Laundromat.
  10. Three men approach you at night pretending to be drunk. One of the men rests his hand on your shoulder and asks, “How would you react to this?”, as he steps on one of your feet. Your attention goes immediately to the odd situation and your foot. While you are distracted and perhaps disoriented, another man goes for your cell phone, without you noticing.
  11. Bag snatchers are a problem is almost all large cities, however in Florence, it is possible for a scooter to rush by while snatching your handbags.  You may want to consider a handbag with a security strap (steel cable embedded into the strap).  To see a variety of travel safety purses, this page has a variety, many with videos showing the various security features.

Our site contains over 100 pages of travel safety tips and security tips that are useful for any traveler. You will find tips involving luggage theft, avoiding pickpockets, laptop theft, hotel burglary, and airplane, train, automobile, and boat travel crimes.