While this is not a very common occurrence in the United States (but it does happen) it is more common in Naples Italy, where it is known as "Scippatori," which is Italian for thieves who drive speeding scooters down busy narrow streets looking for tourists carrying purses or travel bags while walking close to the street. If the Scippatori find one, they drive as close to the sidewalk as possible so they can yank the bag of the the arms or shoulder of tourists and quickly speed away. The thieves drive scooters, especially Vespa's motorcycles, and sometimes even bicycles.
The below video is in Italian, however is has raw video that shows a woman having her purse stolen by a scooter thief or "Scippatori" As many streets in Italy are very thin, it is easy for the scooter bandit to get close to their victim and steal the purse or handbag. As you will see in this video, the woman is dragged to the ground and is almost run over by a passing vehicle. These are very dangerous thefts and really send home the reason why the purse or travel bag should not be worn the the street side when walking down the street.
The below video was captured in a parking lot in the United States, however the same concept translates to the thefts in Italy. This woman suffered a broken hip due to the fall. Again, sending home the idea to wear your purse on the side away from traffic if cars or scooters are in the area.
While this theft did not happen in Italy (it occurred in China) you get another reminder of why travelers should never carry a travel purse over their shoulder which is close to the street. This video shows another set of thieves on a motorcycle who steal a woman's purse off her shoulder as she walked close to the street. Luckily, the thief was caught in this case - however the thieves really paid the price for this pickpocket crime - they really get beat up bad by the crowd who caught them. Caution: If you don't like to watch violence, you may want to stop the video after the thief steals the purse.
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.