Pickpocket Statistics - How Bad is it Really? December 28 2011, 2 Comments

How many people actually do get robbed; pickpocketed, bag snatched or just robbed on their travels each day, each week, each year? Unfortunately the numbers are hard to come by. To begin with most incidents are not reported. Why, you may ask. The reasons are many: when travelers find themselves in a foreign country, usually just for few days, reporting a crime to the police is not only time consuming but difficult. Sometimes the police does not want to accept reports, other times the police are corrupt, to say the least.

I have been robbed by police in Mexico: my family and I were pulled over by policemen on a road in northern Mexico and they simply demanded that we hand over our money, camera, laptops and phones. We did of course just that: the police had guns and they were clearly not joking around. Who were we supposed to report that incident to? My insurance company meant I should have reported it to...wait for it... the police and thus denied our claims completely.

Back to the statistics regarding tourism theft. They occur every where, in all cities and all countries. Sometimes the crimes are organized, sometimes they are performed by individuals. Most thefts are due to poverty and are difficult to combat. People have always stolen and always will. In the end pickpocketing is all about opportunity; so to stay safe travelers must learn how to not present an opportunity to the thieves. By this I mean; don't flaunt your money. Don't keep it all in a wallet in your bag. Don't keep your wallet in your back pocket and so on.

Bob Arno, the legendary pickpocket artist, who has recently had several shows air on the National Geographic Channel, has written several blog posts about crime statistics. Even he, who works with this issue, has had a difficult time finding reliable statistics. He believes that in Barcelona alone there are 6 000 incidents a day, but says the reported incidents in Barcelona are 'only' 115 055. He mentions that in Rome, 300 people will report thefts every day. How many who do not report their losses, we do not know. If we extrapolate the Barcelona number to the major tourist destinations around the world; let's say the 10 largest cities, that makes over a million pickpocket incidents a year. And that is just for ten cities. Imagine the numbers were they extrapolated for the whole world. A careful calculation, based on the Barcelona number, makes it approximately 158 084 619 reported thefts a year world wide, or per day 433 108. How many more unreported incidents there are, I wouldn't dare guess....

So I say, be carful out there everyone! Hide your valuables so you can have a safe and care free Holiday!


Sadly, professional pickpocket groups even force children to do their dirty job for them.