Italy: Pickpocket Scams in Venice

BY Beth Williams

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

Pickpocket Scams Are A Part of Venice Italy

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 is someone close to you creates a sudden distraction such as asking the time or for directions.  If this happens, this could be a setup for someone getting ready to steal your wallet or valuables.
  2. Back pocket wallet thefts are common in Venice, as well as anywhere in the world. Outsmart these thieves with an under clothing money belt for travel that safeguards your valuables, even in crowds.

Pickpocket Scams on Venice Water Bus or also known 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 in 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 autobus fare is a rather steep € 6,00 for the popular lines on the Grand.  Cana Carnival is also a time of year when pickpocketing 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 pickpockets 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.

Protect your credit cards and money with an anti-theft travel wallet. This is a favorite one for men, favorite travel for men, while many women prefer this style of travel wallet and purse.

Once pickpockets have stolen a wallet most simply place the 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 pickpockets. The postal service then delivers the abandoned wallets to the local police.

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