In countries where poverty is excessive and crime rates are high, or in cultures where a woman alone is considered fair game, it's a definite plus to be subway savvy. As you travel around the world, it's wise to keep the following cautions in mind:
Always have your fare ready when entering the subway. This way potential thieves never see where you keep your wallet.
Keep safe. When waiting on the platform, stand far back from the subway tracks.
An experienced pickpocket can usually pick a tourist out in a crowd. Wear your purse over one shoulder with the opening flap against your stomach so that it's impossible to get into. If you're carrying a day pack, wear it in front, kangaroo style.
Don't tempt thieves by carrying credit cards or money in a fanny pack. In a crowded car, these pouches can easily be sliced open with a razor blade and you will be none the wiser until it's too late.
Avoid remaining in an empty car. If you find yourself alone, simply exit one car and enter another at the first available stop. Remember that it's generally the center cars on the train that get the heaviest traffic and there's greater safety in numbers.
Avoid constantly referring to your subway map on the train. This only serves to advertise that you're not sure where you're going. Instead, situate yourself so that you can study the route map posted in the car. Or better still, pick a woman in close proximity and ask for help in getting off at the proper stop. Generally she'll become a mother hen and get you exactly where you want to go.
Most major cites have its problems when it comes to crime in on public transportation system, however you need to be just as alert in New York City as in Paris France. Travelers need also to be aware that professional pickpockets love to work escalators in these locations. The suspects usually work in pairs, the partner gets in front of you going up (or down) the escalator. When you reach the top/bottom the person in front doesn't get off the escalator (the person has usually 'dropped' something which he then bends over to pick up) causing people to conveniently bump into you from behind. And guess who is right behind you? You are correct, the pickpocket. And you are busy trying to keep from outright running over the person in front of you. If you run into this situation, keep you hand holding your pocket where your wallet is, and or make sure you are holding your purse shut.
If you are look for a unique device to keep your property safety in these locations, consider a security waist pack. These are specially designed to foil even the most brazen pickpocket.
Additional subway scams
Don't drink and ride the subway with William Loyde.He may be 71, but the gray-haired Brooklyn man is far from retired. His job is picking pockets on the trains, authorities told the Daily News.
Loyde is a "lush worker" - a specialized breed of underground predator who targets drunken or sleepy subway riders, police said.
Loyde, a tall and balding man, was back in handcuffs this month after cops say he preyed on a drowsy straphanger Feb. 17.
It was about two hours before sunrise when Loyde sat down next to the 24-year-old and made his move in Flushing, Queens, police said.
NYPD Officer Daniel Fahey watched him deftly lift the wallet from the pants pocket of the man on the No. 7 train at the Main St. station, police said.
"He is pretty much a professional criminal," said Randy Stoever, a retired NYPD Transit Bureau sergeant who ran into Loyde while heading a squad that targeted pickpockets.
Several years ago, Stoever said he spied Loyde and a partner as they quietly zeroed in on a sleeping man in a Times Square subway.
Loyde allegedly sat down next to the man on a No. 7 train while his partner stood lookout. It was about 2 a.m. on Oct.5, 2001, court records show.
Loyde slipped his fingers into the man's pocket, but the man woke up and bolted the train, Stoever said.
But Loyde didn't get away. After he was arrested, cops discovered he had another wallet and a bag belonging to a man he allegedly had robbed earlier, Manhattan prosecutors said.
Cops charged Loyde with attempted grand larceny and possession of stolen property.
"He was an adamant guy," Stoever said. "He acted like he didn't know his partner and acted like he had never been locked up before. When I told him that I had his picture [from a prior arrest], he said, 'Take me to trial. I have never been convicted in my life.'"
Loyde, who could not be reached, has indeed spent little time in jail, records show. On the 2001 bust, he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and received no time behind bars.
He has been arrested at least seven times since 1993, at least four times on the subway, authorities said. He has done three stints on Rikers Island after being charged with grand larceny and other crimes, records show.
Loyde's latest arrest came after Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly ordered cops to intensify their efforts to fight crime in the subways after a spike in January.
In a three-day span, cops nabbed four "lush workers," including a 66-year-old man with eight prior subway arrests.
"These were great arrests by police officers who tackled an old problem with new vigor," Kelly said.
As a result of the crackdown, the number of felonies this month has fallen to about nine a day. Last month, there were 11 felonies a day. Subway crime remains at near record lows.
Don't draw unnecessary attention to yourself by what you wear. Be culturally correct and dress appropriately. Try saving that mini skirt for parties back home. Muted colors and conservative clothing always helps you to fade into the crowd and stay out of trouble.
Unfortunately, crowded subway cars can be perfect breeding grounds for antisocial behavior. Some men will use this opportunity to touch or pinch the female passengers close to them. If this happens to you, make a fuss in any language you choose. Point at the offender and chastise him in a loud voice. He'll probably just slink away.
However, don't become so offended that you stop paying attention to your belongings. It's a fact that women are often groped on packed subways simply to divert their attention while their purse or backpack is being pilfered. Be ever watchful, ladies. Both pinched bottoms and stolen wallets are not fun!
Special Traveler's Tip:
When using the subway in developing countries in male-dominated societies, make every effort to behave modestly. Wear a fake wedding ring to deter unwanted advances and sport sunglasses to hide your eyes. In some cultures, simply meeting a manís gaze means that you welcome both his attention and his company.