Finding a pickpocket-proof purse for travel is a smart investment for keeping your valuables secure. Here are tips from a thief, who is now helping people avoid becoming victims. Read on to learn how pickpockets operate and which purses thieves like to steal from the most. Pickpocket-proof purses have hidden built-in anti-theft features to help keep your valuables safe. The best features are looking zippers, slash proof sides and bottoms, and straps which can attach a purse to the back of a chair or other item to prevent grab and go thefts.
The Type of Victims Pickpockets Like to Target
Pickpockets look for people who are either distracted or can be easily distracted. People on cell phones, with children, in groups, or others who just aren’t paying enough attention to the people around them often become victims. Tourists are prime targets. Another favorite target is those who set their bag down, even right next to themselves, for grab and go theft. You can’t always be vigilant, especially when site-seeing, but you can use anti-theft gear to thwart thieves and for your peace of mind.
Purses That Pickpockets Love to Pick and Steal From
Professional thieves can steal or “dip” from all kinds of bags. Some purses and bags that are easier than others to breach. Knowing what a thief looks for will help you know what to look for in a purse or bag especially one meant for travel. There are two main categories of purses: danglers and fixed. As the names imply, danglers hang from the body. Fixed bags think fanny packs and backpacks, are carried in a stationary position on your body, think waist packs, backpacks, and body pouches. Anti-theft travel purses are now available in many designs and sizes to meet your style.
Draw String Purse or Bag The drawstring purse is one of the easiest styles for pickpockets to steal from. Some thieves call it “the pickpocket’s best friend.” Why is this? Simple mechanics really, in many cases drawstring purses are backpacks, which make the removing of items from within even simpler. These bags work by pulling the strings tighter to close the bag and loosening them to open it. Even the most novice thief can remove the wallet from one of these bags. All a thief needs to do is grip the drawstring of the purse and pull down gently, which gets them into the bag. There is no sound when they open the bag, and very little movement is involved, which is great since it will leave the victim, or mark, which is the name some professional pickpockets call a victim, completely unaware that a thief just stole their wallet. Usually, the thief and your wallet are long gone before the wallet is discovered missing.
Flap Purse The most beloved type of bag for a pickpocket. This type of purse usually contains one large pouch, covered by a flap that often has just a magnet style closure. They come in all shapes and sizes, but thieves usually prefer the medium and larger sized ones. The flap purse is still vulnerable even with a button or latch closure. A thief can get close enough to gently but firmly grip the button of the flap with his thumb and index finger and undo it, using his thumb to mask the sound. With a quick motion of the hand, the prized wallet is gone.
Zippered Purse A bit more difficult than a flap purse, this style can be simple for a skilled thief to conquer as well. A good thief can easily slide a zipper open without the wearer feeling it. A thief will also try to distract you from noticing your zipper being unzipped – they will bump into you, distract you with a question, or use an accomplice to find another way to divert your attention. It only takes 2 seconds. Zipper bags vary and sometimes have multiple pouches, so a thief will often watch to see in which compartment the wallet is placed. The best pocket to carry a wallet is in a zippered pocket on the side of the purse closest to the body. Find an anti-theft zipper travel purse right for you.
Clutch Purse This style can be tricky for thieves to pickpocket and may not a wallet inside due to its size. That’s the good news. The bad news is once it is out of a woman’s hand, for even a second, the entire handbag can be taken. This is a risky style to carry.
Side Flap A side flap purse is usually a medium to small purse that has one large compartment and one flap to close it up. This means one thin piece of fabric is all that is between your wallet and a thief, who can simply place his thumb over the clasp and then unbutton it. The real reason as to why this is on the list is because of the fact that while walking this type of purse tends to “slide” to the back of your hip, placing it right in front of a thief.
Dangler with a Flap A dangler with a flap is an eye catcher to a thief. The bag only has one large compartment and can be easily opened without the victim noticing because A: with a long strap there is less motion against her. And B: flap purses have only one latch between the thief and the desired wallet.
Net Bags These types of bags usually either have a flap or zipper or sometimes both. The ones that have both aren’t much of a security feature since the flap usually doesn’t have a button. A pickpocket will maneuver himself behind the intended victim and ease his hand under the flap, then unzip the bag. Net bags don’t make a lot of noise and sometimes tend to be bulky so the motion won’t be felt. A quick fish for the wallet and he’ll be on his way.
Shoulder Bag Depending on the bag sometimes the top of this kind of purse is left open with no clasp, meaning your wallet is vulnerable, especially if there is enough room at the top to slide a hand into the bag. Otherwise, an enterprising thief can use a box cutter to cut open the back of the bag and remove your wallet through the slit. Some women, rather than carry a wallet, use the pockets of these bags to carry money and cards. They usually keep these in an outer pocket that they can be easily accessed. Also stealing a cell phone from this kind of bag is a snap since the pouch for it is usually on the exterior. Avoid these style for travel unless it designed with anti-theft features.
Fanny Pack This style of bag can be just as easy as picking a pocket! A good thief will simply press up against the victim, unbuckle the pack from the rear, and pass the fanny pack on to someone else. Sometimes, much like with wallets, the mark will still “feel” the bag on their body so they won’t even know that they have been victimized. Often thieves look for bags worn slightly to either side, then, masking their hand, slowly unzip the large compartment and remove the cash or wallet.
On the flip side, a fanny pack or waist pack is also a great way to carry your camera and other items you don’t want to put in your pocket or carry by hand. It’s all about choosing the right style of anti-theft waist pack that will provide hands-free freedom and security of valuables. The best security waist pack have locking zippers to stop a pickpocket from unzipping the waist pack, wire embedded into the back strap to stop someone from cutting the rear strap from behind, as well as metal mesh embedded into the material to stop bag cutters. All these anti-theft features guard your gear and give you peace of mind. Choose a style right for your needs.
Backpacks/Daypacks A thief really needs two things to handle backpacks, proximity and the ability to find the wallet quickly. Many daypacks have a drawstring and a button, and pickpockets will often look for one with the button undone. Don’t travel with this type of bag. The best travel backpacks have zippers which lock down plus other anti-theft features. You really need to travel with one e of these newer styles with a full suite of anti-theft features.
Back Pack Purse Here is another pickpocket’s dream come true, a woman’s purse completely beyond her field of vision. Most backpack purses open with a clasp, same as a flap purse, but there are some with straps or drawstrings or both. A pickpocket will wait until the victim is right in front of him and then gently unbuckle the strap or loosen the drawstring, which will open the purse wide. If done gently and quick enough, the mark won’t notice because the back has fewer nerve endings than anywhere else. A quick search for the wallet often leaves a woman without her wallet.
Small Backpack Thieves also favor small backpacks because they are easy to open when out of the wearer’s sight. The lack of contact with the body and the lower density of nerves in the back make these bags an appealing target. It’s also easier to find the wallet quickly since it is small to search through. Security style backpacks for women and men.
Unattended Bags A thief will consider any unattended bag fair game. The most common places for women to leave their bags unattended are in grocery stores, in restaurants and in theaters.
Jacket Pockets Anything of value seen hanging out of a jacket pocket will soon vanish, and the most tempting item is loose cash. Wallets are just as easily plucked out, as well as cell phones or anything else that might be there.
Back Pockets This is the sucker pocket, and anything carried in a back pocket can be stolen. This is a favorite pocket for phones and wallets. Don’t use it, especially in a crowd. Use your front pants pocket.
Top Scams Pickpockets Use to Steal Purses
Kick the Purse When a woman sits down at a table or bar she’ll often set her bag on a nearby chair or on the floor beside of her. If it’s on the floor, a thief may wait until she is engrossed in either talking or eating. The purse thief will then casually walk past her table and gently kick the purse away from the table. Then he’ll pick it up and tuck it away or if the thief is a female, sling it over her shoulder as if it is hers. Small bags are usually taken this way.
Gas Station Ruse Many women fall victim to theft at gas stations. Their car is usually unlocked while pumping gas and they typically face the pump, not watching their valuables inside the vehicle. Thieves have perfected a few rip-offs at gas stations. The first is simply to open a woman’s car door while she is looking at the pump. The second is to steal her bag while she runs in quickly to pay. The third is to involve her in a distraction, either trouble with the pump, or to ask for directions. While she is distracted, an accomplice steals the bag from the car.
The Swarm A team of crooks target works a crowded section of the city that is full of tourists. The crooks know the escape routes and the areas that distract tourists most such as a famous building, fountain, etc. Spreading out from key vantage points, one will alert the other crook when a mark is spotted. The engrossed tourist won’t even know what hit him he consults a map or takes a photo. In a flash, a few people will bump into him talking loudly, and the next thing he knows his wallet, travel bag, or passport is stolen.
The Mommy Set Up A thief thinks of taking your possessions as a job. He probably tells himself that anyone who would be careless with their money or purse or wallet doesn’t deserve them. Some of them target playground areas where mothers take their children. The purse thief will look for two moms talking, and do something to make the children cry. Maybe take the child’s ball or throw sand on them. They know the mother’s instinct for her child is greater than for her purse or shopping bags. Once the mom or moms rush over, the thieves will help himself to their wallet or bags, fading quickly out of sight.
Restroom Snatch Have you ever noticed that purse hooks in restrooms are up high on the door? This gives easy access for a female thief to reach over the stall and be gone before you can react; throwing your purse over her shoulder like it belongs to her. Another alternative is to take the wallet out, quickly throw the purse back over the stall, to startle the woman. Thirdly, a female thief can place the stolen purse into a larger store shopping bag, and walk nonchalantly among the shoppers of a mall and not be identified.
Out of the Blue Densely populated cities, especially in Italy, are known for the occasional but shocking slash and grab theft from mopeds or bikes. The riders look for a woman walking near the edge of the sidewalk with her purse on her shoulder closest to the street. As the thief drives by the victim from behind, he grabs the purse off her shoulder and speeds away. Some thieves have been known to have an accomplice who rides on the back of the motorbike, and it is their job to complete the purse snatching, leaving the driving to the other thief. In some shocking cases, they even use a knife to slash the strap. The key to this type of theft is finding a woman walking with the flow of traffic, and not facing it, so she cannot anticipate a thief riding a bike up from behind her. See the best selection of security travel purses and handbags to help you keep your possessions.