A Street Smart Guide to Avoiding Pickpockets – Actual Pickpocket Videos

BY Beth Williams

Pickpockets have been around ever since the invention of pockets, purses, and carry bags. Unfortunately, it is just something th

 Travelon Urban Tour Bag

Shop Travelon Urban Tour Bag

at travelers need to be prepared for when they travel – especially when visiting crowded tourist destinations. One of the best ways to out smart pickpockets is to know their scams, diversions, and methods, so you won’t be victimized. Think of it as part of getting ready for your trip in addition to reading guidebooks and articles about what to see and do. A little time spent learning about how pickpockets and thieves operate and counter-planning before you go and you’ll return home with your valuables plus new memories. Start by selecting a pickpocket-proof backpack as a travel companion.


One of the best ways to ensure you won’t be wasting precious vacation time at a foreign police station filling out police reports for a stolen wallet or passport is to watch videos of actual thefts committed against tourists and change your behavior to avoid being the next target.

Some pickpockets operate in teams, and others are lone wolves. The thieves who target travelers are both male and female, young and old. You’d be surprised how sophisticated and professional some thieves are. Watch and up your street smarts.

Pickpocket Video Filmed in Baia Mare, Romania

This is a video of a street pickpocket that is targeting an unprotected zipper pocket on the rear of a daypack. The victim is stopped at a street corner waiting for the light to change. Notice that several other people are waiting at the crosswalk but do not see what’s going on around them.  Can you spot the two thieves working together? You may have to watch the video a few times to catch the teamwork. At first, you do not see the accomplice, but she will reveal herself later on.

The main pickpocket is the man with the dark jacket, dark baseball cap, and blue jeans. The accomplice acts as a blocker and comes close to the mark to block others from seeing her partner remove a cell phone from the back of victim’s backpack. The cell phone is stolen just as the light turns green and victim walks across the street, never knowing that his cell phone was taken.

Lessons Learned From This Video

Never place items of value in rear pockets of backpacks, unless they’re in a secured anti-theft backpack. You will not feel an item being pulled out of an ordinary pocket, and many times the theft will go unnoticed by others around you. Solution: If you do carry a backpack, making it an anti-theft pack designed with security features. Specifically, one that has security zippers that prevent a thief from unzipping a pocket without your knowledge. Today there are anti-theft packs and bags for every type of traveler.  At the very minimum retrofit your pack with a small lock on the zippers, to make it difficult for a pickpocket to get in the pocket.

Pickpocket Video – Women Pickpocket Operating in Department Store

This is a video of a team of pickpockets working in a department store. The victim is in the upper left corner of the screen. She is wearing a black, long-sleeve blouse, and gray pants. You will see her use her phone and put it in her purse when she is done. She then starts looking at clothes to buy. At about 25 seconds into the video, you will see two thieves enter from the upper right corner of the screen. One is a woman wearing a short sleeve blouse, and her accomplice is a man with a black tee shirt with blue jeans. Watch the woman thief pick up a piece of clothing and hold it up and close to the rear of the victim’s purse. The pickpocket uses her free hand to remove the victim’s wallet from the purse – while using the item she is holding up to block the view of others and to make it look like she is “just shopping.” The accomplice is acting as a “look-out.”

Lessons Learned From This Video:

1. Make sure your purse has security or built-in anti-theft security zippers so a thief cannot open it when you are distracted. As you saw in the video, the victim and the friends she was with had no clue what was going on. Pickpockets are great actors and actresses. They know they have to “blend in” to the situation so they do not cause the victim or others in the area to be alerted to “suspicious activities.” Good pickpockets have this skill down to a science, many times allowing them to get right next to you without you have any idea that what they are doing is unusual.

2. Good travel purses havebuilt-inn zipper locks, as well as other anti-theft / pickpocket security features to prevent theft of the bag and from the bag. If you don’t want to buy a new security purse, you can use zipper locks that can be adapted to many bags.

Travelon LTD antitheft backpack

Travelon LTD antitheft backpack

Thwarting Pickpockets in Barcelona

Famously, Barcelona is called the favorite city of pickpockets. Perhaps because the beautiful city attracts so many tourists. Barcelona offers many sights to distract tourists. The most well-known one is the large pedestrian-friendly street called the Las Ramblas with so much going on, street vendors, performers, restaurants, and shopping to distract tourists. The following video shows how women carry their purses while walking down the Ramblas in Barcelona, Spain.  Note how many women hold their purse or handbag in front of them, have purses that have short straps which ride high in their armpit, or clutch their bags tightly – all in response to safeguarding their valuables from slick fingered thieves and pickpockets.

Carrying your bag so that it can’t be snatched away by a thief that runs past you is only part of the way you must protect your valuables. The other way is to use a bag with built-in anti-theft features to keep pickpockets out. Bottom line, we recommend you use a bag designed with the latest anti-theft features and carry it crossbody or in front of you when in crowds.