Italy – Theft Scams in Milan

BY Beth Williams

Pickpocket Scams in Milan, Italy

Milan may be the fashion capital of Italy, but it is also a city where tourists can be victims of pickpocketing first hand. The top places where you need to exercise caution are where there are high concentrations of tourists, such as the central train station Stazzione Cadorna, and these locations popular with tourists:Piazza del Duomo, Castello Sforzesco, and Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. The more people there are in a location the more easily marks can be distracted and theives disappear into the crowds.

  • In the main train station, Stazzione Cadorna, there are often people waiting for tourists to arrive. Some are eager to strike up a conversation with a mark or to offer assistance. A newly arrived traveler may not be quick thinking and appropriately suspicious of “friendly strangers” thus making for a perfect target. For example, the payphones in Italy are difficult to use for first timers, and a friendly man may approach offering assistance. Once the helpless tourist accepts, the man offers to take the traveler to a nearby bar, or if assisting a woman, expect a kiss in return. Never go to a second location with a stranger.
  • People on the street will always offer what seem to be free gifts of flowers, prayer cards, or even a friendship wristband. Do not accept them and try to avoid these people at all costs, these gifts are never free. The person will want money for the item or even try to keep you in conversation so an accomplice can steal from you while you are attentive to the discussion.
  • Here’s another one, at a popular tourist site, a young girl may approach you and stand very close. In one hand she is carrying a cardboard sign and attempting to tell you something in Italian, in the other hand she has your wallet from your pocket…hidden behind her cardboard sign.
  • Motor coaches are always popular hunting grounds for tourists, especially routes that connect the airport and main train station. Once you depart the coach with your laptop bag or camera in one hand and your recently collected luggage in the other, a thief asks you a question in Italian. While you are trying to decipher what the person needs, an accomplice moves past you possibly even bumping into you and lifts one of your bags you momentarily placed on the ground.

Thefts at Milan Central Station

This video really shows how brazen young thieves can be.  These gypsy children have honed their pickpocket skills. It’s a craft taught to the young by the old. Want to have peace of mind and keep your valuables secure when in crowded locations? Rely on a security purse or security day pack when traveling. Security packs are designed with locking zippers to keep thieves out and offer other features to keep your possessions secure.

Theft Video at the Milan Airport

This is a video of a theft from a traveler at the airport.  Always keep an eye on your luggage, no matter how close it is to you.