Italy – Pickpocket Scams in Venice

BY Beth Williams

Venice Italy is another great “don’t miss” city in Italy, but where pickpockets prey on tourists. Like tourists, pickpockets love Venice too.

Pickpocket Scams Are A Part of Venice Italy

Venice is an unusual city of waterways instead of roadways. It is incredibly romantic and relaxing, but flooding is not the only danger in Venice.

The following are the most common locations where tourists fall victim to thieves, scams and pickpockets.

  1. Piazza di San Marco, Academia Museum, the Rialto Bridge, and smaller crowded bridges. (The common factor here is crowds).

The most common types of theft committed against tourists involve:

  1. Distractions: Example a young man or woman in close vicinity to you creates a sudden distraction such as asking directions, accidentally spilling food on you, or even partaking in a heated argument, this is strong indication that the young man is trying to divert your attention towards him so someone else can steal from you while your attention is off of your possessions.
  2. In Venice, “Back-Pocketers.” frequently target tourists  This type of pickpocket is able to easily free wallets from tourists’ back pockets by making a small cut on the rear pocket (and sometimes front pocket in very tight congested locations) with a box cutter, causing the tourist’s wallet to fall into the pickpocket’s hands.

Pickpocket Scams on Venice Water Bus or also know as Vaporetto

Since the canals are the main transportation in Venice, many travelers use water taxis as transportation. These water taxis are known by several names including public boats, water bus, or in Italian – “Il Vaporetto” or “Motoscafi.” While these boats run almost constantly, the Vaporetto is usually overcrowded and people are jammed on like sardines, which is why it favored by pickpockets.  The pickpockets know tourists love to ride on these boats. So pickpockets too love the boats.

Obviously, tourists fall victim to pickpockets during the height of the travel season – summer – where skilled Venice pickpockets take advantage of overcrowded water taxis.  Rainy days are also common times when pickpockets seem to strike travelers more since the water taxis will be packed to the gills.

The following are a few tips to keep in mind when you want to avoid pickpockets while riding on Venice water taxis:

  1. The standard water bus or auto bus fare is a rather steep € 6,00 for the popular lines on the Grand.  Cana Carnival is also a time of year when pick pocketing increases with the increase of tipsy, foreign tourists.
  2. The Vaporetto (waterbus) that travels between the Academia and Rialto boat debarkation stops is known to be favorite of tourists and pick pockets alike. When the Vaporetto is full on a rainy day, the commotion of passengers entering and disembarking creates an ideal situation for thieves to add luggage or a few wallets to their collections.
  3. Pickpockets look for those who build in the advantage – such as those who get caught in a crowd rushing toward the water taxi embarkation ramps.
  4. Venice pickpockets are also known to take advantage of those waiting in line to get onto a water ferry.  Depending on the time of day, the lines can be very long and pickpockets have been known to work their way into the crowd.
  5. Be careful if you are parking at the Tronchetto and want to ride the public Vaporetto boat into Venice. Men have been known to surrounded travelers and told where to walk.  Many of these people will not direct you to the right place – they will direct you to the private taxi boats and not the public Vaporetto dock. There you will be over-charged.

On the positive side, the people of Venice have created a civilian anti-pick pocket patrol called the Cittadini Non Distratti. Venetian citizens, who are members of this patrol, walk the streets of their beloved city looking for offenders. Many store owners are also members of this organization making it difficult for thieves to use stolen credit cards. Protect your credit cards and money with an antitheft travel wallet

In fact, most pick pockets simply place stolen wallets in mailboxes around the city – keeping only the cash. Identification and credit cards not belonging to them make it easier to catch these thieves; therefore these items are not valuable for particular pick pockets. The postal service then delivers the abandoned wallets to the local police.