Pickpocket Statistics - How Bad is it Really?

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.

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i was on the underground when i had my purse stolen out of my bag in rome,i blame myself as i have watch so many scam programs i just hope the girl i saw didnt have a puse. And just to warn everyone to stay safe when in rome.

victim on 21/03/2015

i was born in england and lived there 41 years without being a victim of pickpockets. I went to barcelona and 4 days into the trip i was pickpocketed in guel park.

A victim of bird shit scam 2 people a man and a woman who looked south american or spanish. As i was walking i felt something touch my hair, i wasnt near any trees so felt that weird. Then as i looked around me the 2 people who were about 3 metres or so away said in heavy accent barcelona birds. I immediately believed them although saw no evidence of a bird. The woman somehow got me to take my coat off and with the bottled water in my pocket told me to pour over my coat while she used hygiene wipe which she conveniently had. The man also helped wipe my chinos, i thought very kind of them i dont like bird shit. Then i noticed the woman give a nod of her head to the man behind me wiping my trousers, then i got suspicious it was the expression on the womans face. I quickly made sure my wallet was still in my back pocket which it was so i felt guilty that i kind of let them know i was suspicious. I let them wipe for another ten seconds then they left as i thanked them, gracias.
Then another younger woman same kind of descent said toilet to me than pointed in the direction of a WC that you put money into use, i declined. That was probably the third person involved and maybe the one who put the fake droppings on me.

I didnt know i had been robbed until later that evening i went to a cafe. Went to reeach in my wallet and was shocked to see all of my £240 euros gone, i was hysterical. They left me about 5 euros of loose change so i just had enough to pay for the meal. The cafe owners didnt know what i was trying to say to them as i left in a hurry. I didnt report it and still havent

pickpocket victim

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