Watch out for Pickpockets on Italian Trains

BY Beth Williams

For years, the Italian State Police and the Railways have distributed handouts on trains and in stations all around Italy – the words are simple – Look out for pickpocket and thieves who want to steal your valuables.  Most of their tips have been given out for the last 30 years, but we need to be reminded of them because the same train theft scams have been around for years:  The tips include:

  • Don’t let your luggage out of your sight.
  • Always keep your bags closed.
  • Don’t leave anything of value in jackets that are hanging up.
  • Avoid sitting in empty compartments.

You need to watch out for minors who use these trains — many of them have been found to be runaways and may be the culprits in many of thefts that occur on Italian trains.  Additionally, the Italian train police have stated numerous times previous that many of the train pickpockets that have been caught were non-EU immigrants.   The victim of choice is a tourist, for the most part international travelers who may not be aware of many of the train scams and pickpockets who operate on these Italian trains.  Many times the victims are those whose journey lasts many hours, giving the way to the temptation to sleep and wakes up without your wallet, mobile phone or bag.  Portable computers are quickly rising to the top of the list of items stolen from travelers on Italian trains.

But there are some Italian trains that are riskier others.  The Italian train police have stated that these would include night and long distance ones.  Trains falling within the Rome district – ones which stretch to Ancona, Florence and Naples, as well as trains coming from the Italian Côte d’Azur, as well as some others coming from the south are also favorites of train pickpockets and thieves.

Italian police also cautions those who use their trains the following tips:

Always staying alert, not only when the journey starts, but also before getting onto the train, in the car parks, along the underground passages, and on the train benches. The most dangerous times are those just before the train starts or just after it arrives, because pickpockets take advantage of the crowds to come into physical contact with the victim they’ve chosen and to make the most of his distraction.

Some of the most common tricks of train thieves include bumping into a chosen victim, make a part of them dirty and then offer him some ‘help’ to clean him up.  Other scams include the simple distraction of a phony request for some tourist information so that the train traveler turns their attention away from their valuables.


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