Be Travel-Wise, How to Avoid Popular Pickpocket Scams

BY Beth Williams

Be travel-wise and travel smartly. Be informed and select the right travel gear for a worry-free trip. Generally  travel scams involve distractions, a mark easily confused, crowds, and often unseen teams of pickpockets can make it so that even a seasoned traveler can fall victim.  Quickest solution is to use anti-theft  travel gear to protect valuables. The gear protects valuables and stop pickpockets cold in their tracks.

  • Scam 1. Two or three woman and a couple of young children surround you. One
    pickpocket stealing wallet

    Use an anti-theft wallet and don’t ever place in your rear pocket

    holds a small baby and extends the baby to you. While you are distracted by the baby or doll, one of the children picks your pocket and disappears around a corner or down a side street. The child then passes off the stolen item (e.g. money, watch, wallet, etc.) to an adult so that if the child is caught, the stolen item cannot be found. This scam can also occur with a group of women and children approaching you with a cardboard sign or newspapers. Some tourists have actually had the baby or doll thrown at them to catch – with the hands reached out toward the baby, the pockets are open to pick.

  • Scam 2. You enter a taxi and the driver attempts to cover the meter so you are unable notice that the driver did not reset the fare from the previous traveler. He is instead trying to double his fare.
  • Scam 3. Be wary of a friendly stranger, who offers to take your picture with your camera, after the photo is captured, the stranger walks away with the camera.
  • Scam 4. Be mindful of your belongings when disembarking trains and buses. Gypsies may be waiting to steal as you enter the chaos of the train station.  They man also ask for money directly while getting on and off trains at random stops in the pursuit of easy to grab luggage.
  • Scam 5. Think twice before taking advantage of the fake Gucci purse, for the alluring price of €20 (the authentic costing €200), being sold by a street vendor, set up on a simple cardboard box. As you pull out your wallet to pay,  an V snags it and runs away. Despite the seemingly good deals, selling in this manner is illegal.
  • Scam 6. While driving from City A to City B someone waves you down saying that you have a flat tire. You do indeed have a flat (perhaps from the man who flagged you down) and the helpful man offers to take you to the nearest station. While you are at the station, your luggage and possessions that remain in the car are stolen.
  • Scam 7. Traveling in a foreign country usually means paying with foreign money. Double check change you receive, it is possible that a vendor will give you a counterfeit bill, old currency such as the Lira, or even the wrong change all together.
  • Scam 8. It is common for travelers to spontaneously visit a city without making a prior hotel reservation. Once the traveler arrives at the train station, there are many hotel representatives eagerly awaiting the new arrivals to share their excellent rates. The representatives seem legitimate with name tags, nice brochures or posters for the hotel with photos. The representative will even offer to escort you to the hotel. Once you arrive, you check-in and pay, then you go to you room only to find that it does not even closely resemble the room shown in the brochure, it is a total dump. At this point it is unfortunately almost impossible to get your money back. Always ask to see a room before paying. 

20 Tips to Protect Yourself and Your Belongings from Pickpockets

Although millions of people have fallen victim to petty theft, it is most certainly not a reason to avoid the pleasures and adventure of travel. There are simple things you can do to not be a victim of theft. To fully enjoy your journey and for peace of mind, follow the below guidelines, and travel with anti-theft travel gear to foil thieves and to keep your valuables secures. Be sure to use a RFID blocking wallet or bag to protect against identity thieves too!

  1. Research ahead of time to determine areas with high pick pocketing activity. Either avoid these areas, or be vigilant when traveling through.
  2. Vattene! (VATtene!) – ”Get Lost!” It will confuse the thief if you firmly and loudly tell them to go away in Italian (or whatever appropriate language). This is a great way to throw the bad guys off-guard!
  3. Appear confident, even if you are nervous, or lost.
  4. Try to avoid talking to strangers. If unavoidable, stay alert while speaking with them.
  5. Use ATMs located in bank lobbies during bank opening hours. Block the keypad when entering your PIN.
  6. During the day, walk on the sunny side of the street. Most pick pockets lurk in the shade.
  7. Avoid known areas of high theft activity, especially at night; ask the hotel management about a location, if you’re not sure.
  8. Be on high alert in areas that are crowded. Crowds create the opportunity for people to easily bump into one another: buses, metros, markets, etc. as distractions.
  9. If possible, travel in groups – safety in numbers.
  10. Try to dress like the locals, no shorts, flip flops, baseball caps, etc.
  11. When traveling on a train, attempt to find a seat. If a seat is not available, try not to stand by the doors.
  12. Do not pull out cash in public to avoid drawing attention to you. Keep your money spread out in multiple pockets.
  13. Leave large amounts of cash in the hotel safe. Travel with your own portable safe.
  14. Be cautious when in a crowd, including elevators, escalators, trains, buses, etc.
  15. Do not examine your map while in a crowded area. Try to study your map before leaving the hotel or while sitting at a restaurant.
  16. If you carry a backpack or purse in a crowded place, wear the backpack on the front, or your purse across your body. Use a travel backpack or purse with “locking zippers” only.
  17. Wear a money belt or a neck pouch.
  18. Never leave your purse hanging on the back of a chair, use a purse with a “snatch-proof” strap.
  19. If you suspect that you are being followed, do something unpredictable and go into a store. This will catch the pick-pocket off guard.
  20. Lastly, prepare for the worst and gather pertinent information such as: credit card phone numbers, make two photocopies of your passport, make additional copies of tickets and hotel reservation information. Keep them where you can access them in case of loss. Think about making the information available on-line, via email etc.

Anti-theft Travel Gear Helps Keep Your Belongings Safe from Pickpockets

Now there are some ingenious products to give travelers peace of mind when traveling. Foil would be thieves with gear that includes special slash proof bags with locks, portable safes for your room plus travel wallets, neck pouches, or money belts. To find the perfect travel bag or travel accessories visit

To avoid asking a stranger to snap a photo or of the two of you or selfie, use the Looq.

Women may enjoy the convenience of a multi-pocket security handbag with a locking the top zipper, while men may appreciate the compact PacSafe MetroSafe 100, which can be worn as a shoulder bag or a waist pack.

Or, to fully educate and prepare yourself for a chance encounter with a petty thief, check out Traveler Beware, an audio book by Detective Kevin Coffey. All of the cutting edge travel gadgets to give you peace of mind when traveling can be found at