Which Purses Pickpockets Love To Pick

Paris-PickpocketsFinding a pickpocket proof purse for travel is a smart investment for keeping your valuables secure. Here is some friendly advice and tips from a thief who is now helping people avoid becoming victims. Read on to learn how pickpockets operate and which purses thieves like to steal from the most.

The Type of Victims Pickpockets Like to Target

Obviously, pickpockets look for people who are either distracted or can be easily distracted.  People on cell phones, with children, in loud groups, or others who just aren’t paying enough attention to the people around them often become victims.  Those who just set down their stuff are favorites of pickpockets and thieves, because they are so easy to take advantage. You can’t always be vigilant, especially when site-seeing, but you can use anti-theft gear to thwart thieves for your peace of mind.

Purses That Pickpockets Love to Pick and Steal From

While there is really no purse that can’t be picked, or as some thieves call “dipped,”
there are some purses and bags that are easier than others. Thieves look for the following bags. Knowing what a thief looks for will help you know what not to look for in a purse or bag. There are two main categories of purses: danglers and fixed. As the names imply, danglers hang from the body. Fixed bags think fanny packs and backpacks, are carried in a more stationary position. Click here to see the latest styles of travel purses.

Dangler Purses 

Draw String Purse or Bag

The draw string purse is one of the easiest styles for pickpockets to steal from. Some thieves call it “the pickpocket’s best friend.”   Why is this? Simple mechanics really, in many cases drawstring purses are backpacks, which make the removing of items from within even simpler. These bags work by pulling the strings tighter to close the bag and loosening them to open it. Even the most novice thief can remove the wallet from one of these bags. Basically all a thief needs to do is grip the drawstring of the purse and pull down gently, which gets them into the bag. There is no sound when they open the bag, and very little movement is involved, which is great since it will leave the victim, or mark, which is the name some professional pickpockets call a victim, completely unaware that the thief just stole the their wallet. The thief could be long gone before the wallet is discovered missing.


Flap Purse

The most beloved type of bag for a pickpocket. This type of purse usually contains one large pouch, covered by a flap that usually buttons shut with a magnet style closure. They come in all shapes and sizes, but thieves usually prefer the medium sized ones. The best part for a thief is often the button will be left undone, making it very easy to slip the wallet out with very little motion. However, if the flap purse is still vulnerable even with the button secured. A thief can get close enough to gently but firmly grip the button of the flap with his thumb and index finger and undo it, using his thumb to mask the sound. With a quick but easy motion of the hand, the wallet is gone.

Locking Zippers  on Pacsafe City Safe Giii Travel Purse

Locking Zippers offer Security and Peace of Mind


Zipper Purse

A bit more difficult than a flap purse, this style can be simple for a skilled thief to conquer. A good thief will ease the zipper catchers instead of the pull-tab to control the noise. The wearer doesn’t feel it, and a quick jostle or distraction, such as a question; from an accomplice will definitely divert attention. After that the bag is easy pickings. Zipper bags vary and sometimes have multiple pouches, so a thief will often watch to see in which compartment the wallet is placed. The best pocket to carry a wallet in is in another zippered pocket on the side of the purse closeted to the body. Click to find a zipper purse right for you.

Clutch Purse

This one can be tricky for thieves. Much like the shoulder bag this one is full of pockets and might not have a wallet at all. As always, a slow zip will lead the thief to what they want. If the bag is not on a strap then it is less appealing to a thief. That’s the good news. The bad news is once it is out of a woman’s hand, for even a second, the entire hand bag can be taken.

Side Flap

A side flap purse is usually a medium to small purse that has one large compartment and one flap to close it up. This means one thin piece of fabric is all that is between your wallet and a thief, who can simply place his thumb over the clasp and then unbutton it. The real reason as to why this is on the list is because of the fact that while walking this type of purse tends to “slide” to the back of your hip, placing it right in front of a thief.

Anti-theft Cross Body Bag

Anti-theft Cross Body Bag

Dangler with a Flap

A dangler with a flap is an eye catcher to a thief. The bag only has one large compartment, and can be easily opened without the victim noticing because A: with a long strap there is less motion against her. And B: flap purses have only have one latch between the thief and the valuable prize of a wallet.

Net Bags

These types of bags usually either have a flap or zipper, or sometimes both. The ones that have both aren’t much of a security feature since the flap usually doesn’t have a button. A pickpocket will maneuver himself behind the intended victim and ease his hand under the flap, then unzip the bag. Net bags don’t make a lot of noise and sometimes tend to be bulky so the motion won’t be felt. A quick fish for the wallet and he’ll be on his way.

Shoulder Bag

Depending on the bag sometimes the top of this kind of purse is left open with no clasp, meaning the wallet is vulnerable, especially if there is enough room at the top to slide a hand in. Otherwise, an enterprising thief can use a box cutter to cut open the back of the bag and remove the wallet through the slit. Some women, rather than carry a wallet, use the pockets of these bags to carry money and cards. They usually keep these in an outer pocket that they can be easily accessed. Also stealing a cell phone from this kind of bag is a snap since the pouch for it is usually on the exterior. Click here to see a complete selection of travel handbags with built-in anti-theft features 

Fixed Bags

Venturesafe 100 security features line drawingFanny Pack

This style of bag can be just as easy as picking a pocket!  Best part of all for a thief, it is a removable pocket. A good thief will simply press up against the mark, unbuckle the pack, and either make tracks or pass it off. Sometimes, much like with wallets, the mark will still “feel” the bag on their body so they won’t even know that they have been victimized.

Often thieves look for bags worn slightly to either side, then, masking their hand, slowly unzip the large compartment and remove the cash or wallet.  On the flip side, a fanny pack or waist pack is also a great way to carry your camera and other items you don’t want to put in your pocket or carry by hand. Choosing the right style of anti-theft waist pack will provide hands-free freedom and security of valuables.

Security waist pack features such as locking zippers to stop a pickpocket from unzipping the waist packs zipper without your knowledge, wire embedded into the back strap to stop someone from cutting the rear strap from behind, as well as metal mesh embedded into the material to stop bag cutters are some of the clever anti-theft features to give you peace of mind. Choose a style right for your needs. Click here to see the latest designs.


A thief really needs two things to handle backpacks, proximity and the ability to quickly find the wallet. Most backpacks have a drawstring and a button, and pickpockets will often look for one with the button undone Don’t travel with this type of bag. The latest designs of travel backpacks keep your gear handy and your hands free. The best travel backpacks also have anti-theft features, for worry-free daytrips or longer journeys. Click here to see the newest travel backpacks with anti-theft features.

Back Pack Purse

Here is another pickpocket dream come true, a woman’s purse completely beyond the owner’s field of vision. Most backpack purses open with a clap, same as a flap, but there are some with straps or drawstrings or both. A pickpocket will wait until the victim is right in front of him, then gently unbuckle the strap or loosen the drawstring, which will open the purse wide. If done gently and quick enough the mark won’t notice because the back has fewer nerve endings than anywhere else. A quick search for the wallet often leaves a woman without her wallet.

Small Backpack

Thieves also favor small backpacks because they are easy to open when out of the wearer’s sight. The lack of contact with the body and the lower density of nerves in the back make these bags an appealing target. It’s also easier to find the wallet quickly since it is small to search through. Security style backpacks for women and men.

Unattended Bags

A thief will consider any bag unattended fair game. The most common places for women to leave their bags unattended are in grocery stores where a woman will leave her purse in her cart for a few moments or pull the cart behind her as she moves, in restaurants when she slings the bag onto the back of her chair or puts it on the floor, in theaters where she might actually put it under the sea and out of view.


Jacket Pockets

Anything of value seen hanging out of a jacket pocket will soon vanish, and the most tempting item is loose cash. Wallets are just as easily plucked out, as well as iPods, cell phones, or anything else that might be there.

Back Pockets

Anything carried in a back pocket can be stolen; however there are a few types of pockets thieves favor. Carpenter pants because they have wide, shallow back pockets which have easy access, buttoned and unbuttoned slack pockets because they are just like a flap dangler, baggy jeans, and men who allow part of their wallet to stick out above their pants.

Top Scams Pickpockets Use to Steal Purses

Kick the Purse

When a woman sits down at a table or bar she’ll often set the bag on a nearby chair or on the floor beside of her. If it’s on the floor, a thief may wait until she is engrossed in either talking or eating. The purse thief will then casually walk past her table and gently kick the purse away from the table. Then he’ll pick it up and tuck it away or if the thief is a female, sling it over her shoulder like it is hers. Small bags are usually taken this way.

Gas Station Ruse

Many women are victims of scam artists at gas stations. Their car is usually unlocked and they are facing the pump, not watching their valuables inside the vehicle. Thieves have perfected a few rip offs at gas stations. The first is simply to open a woman’s car door while she is looking at the pump. The second is to steal her bag while she runs in quickly to pay. The third is to involve her in a distraction, either trouble with the pump, or to ask for directions. While she is distracted, an accomplice steals the bag from the car.

The Swarm

A team of crooks target works a crowded section of the city that is full of tourists. The crooks know the escape routes and the areas that disract tourists most such as a famous building, fountain etc. Spreading out over key vantage points, one will alert the other croks when a mark is spotted. The engrossed tourist won’t even know what hit him he consults a map or takes a photo. In a flash a few people will bump into him talking loudly, and the next thing he knows his wallet, travel bag, or passport are stolen.

The Mommy Set Up

A thief thinks of taking your possessions as a job. He probably tells himself that anyone who would be careless with their money or purse or wallet doesn’t deserve them. Some of them target playground areas where mothers take their children. The purse thief will look for two moms talking, and do something to make the children cry. Maybe take the child’s ball or throw sand on them. They know the mother’s instinct for her child is greater than for her purse or shopping bags. Once the mom or moms rush over, the thieves will help himself to their wallet or bags, fading quickly out of sight.

Restroom Snatch

Have you ever noticed that purse hooks in restrooms are up high on the door? This gives easy access for a female thief to reach over the stall and be gone before you can react; throwing your purse over her shoulder like it belongs to her. Another alternative is to take the wallet out, quickly throw the purse back over the stall, startling the woman. Thirdly, a female thief can place the stolen purse into a larger store shopping bag, and walk nonchalantly among the shoppers of mall and not be identified.

Out of the Blue

Densely populated cities, especially in Italy, are known for the occasional but shocking slash and grab theft from mopeds or bikes. The riders look for a woman walking near the edge of the sidewalk with her purse on her shoulder closest to the street.  As the thief drives by the victim from behind, he grabs the purse off her shoulder and speeds away.  Some thieves have been known to have an accomplice who rides on the back of the motorbike and it is their job to complete the purse snatching, leaving the driving to the other thief.  In some shocking cases, they even use a knife to slash the strap. The key to this type of theft is finding a woman walking with the flow of traffic, and not facing it, so she cannot anticipate a thief riding on a bike up from behind her.

To see a complete selection of security travel purses and handbags, visit www.CorporateTravelSafety.com.