All gone, the pickpocket got me

Imagine this: after a long, sweaty, tiring summer of getting up every morning at 4 am, to rush out in the morning darkness, alone, hop on your bike, ride ten minutes to the drop off spot, pick up hundreds of heavy, still wet from the printer, smelly newspapers, load your bicycle packs full, the bike so heavy that you, a short, tiny 15 year old girl, can barely straighten it enough to get moving, stepping on the pedals, heavy, heavy, careful not to fall over, yet finally off to the first, of many, many, ten story building where you deliver newspaper after newspaper, jumping at every sound, scared, yet determined, the night light clicks off, you freeze, caught in darkness, stumbling to find the light switch, always were scared of the dark, still are, heart pounding, what was that sound, running down the stairs, elevator up, one newspaper per door, faster, faster. One hour passes, you hardly notice, running, delivering, one paper at a time two hours gone, finally done, simply exhausted, hands black from the ink, sweaty, smelly, achingly tired. stumbling into bed, home, rest at last, so tired, eyes groggy, sleep until ten, then summer vacation, at nine, must sleep, so tired, every evening, all summer, every day get up, work, tired, exhausted, yet so very, very proud. You did it!

Last week of summer vacation the trip to London is on! Finally! The reward! Having saved every penny for the trip, all paid by your own hard earned money, to see every nook and cranny of London, taste the food, smell the smells, experience the city, bring home clothes that cannot be found back home, souvenirs and gifts for the whole family.

First day in London, overwhelmed, all the sights and sounds, at Picadilly, you reach into your inner jacket pocket to pay for some water. The wallet is gone. You frantically search everywhere. You jeans pocket, everywhere. the wallet is gone. All your cash is gone. Every single dime you slaved for, every morning at 4 am, all summer vacation. You, a 15 year old on your first trip, paid for all by yourself, stolen from. No money. No shopping. No nothing. You cry. Yet there is nothing to be done. You feel like such a fool. The pickpocket targeted you. You didn’t notice a thing. All your money is gone.

This happened to me in 1986. I was devastated. I was exhausted. Worst of all I felt so stupid. I could have prevented it.  A whole summer spent working, and in a few minutes it was taken from me.  In London I had no money to do anything. This was before credit cards, before easy Paypal transfers. I had brought all my money in cash. There was nothing to do. All my money was gone.

Years later, the Clever Travel Companion is my way of getting back and helping other travelers stay safe on their travels. I designed the Clever Travel companion's gear because there was nothing else out there that could fool pickpockets. I use my own designs everywhere we go! No one will target you if you are well prepared. Do not think it will not happen to you. Pickpockets do not discriminate: make it difficult for them at least. Before you travel remember:

  1. Keep the bulk of your money zipped up and hidden.
  2. Keep only what you need in a regular pocket or handbag. Pickpockets know where to look. If they target you, make sure the will not get much.
  3. Travel insurance. If the worst happens, make sure you are covered.
  4. Passport: have a photocopy of your passport, it makes things easier to get a new one, in case your id’s are stolen.
  5. Use your hotel safe. It is there for a reason.
  6. Don’t flaunt it. Any pickpocket can see you are a tourist. They know you have money to spend. You already have a target on your back, don’t make it bigger. Hide your valuables, don’t hang anything on the back of your chair, don’t keep your handbag loosely draped over your shoulder, don’t keep your wallet in your back pocket or outside pocket of your backpack.
  7. Watch out for over friendly locals ‘helping you’. Groups of pickpockets often work together, a couple will divert your attention, while another steals from you. Be aware.

Testing out our new (coming in October) two pocket leggings and one pocket tank on the beach in Seminyak, Bali.

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Wow, Peter, you have seen some stuff on your travels! You are right, having a copy of your passport is really smart! We advice everyone to have one handy. It makes replacing a stolen or lost passport so much easier!


Dave, yes, getting stuff out from the underwear in public is a bit of an issue, then again if it is an issue for you, just imagine how hard it would be for a pickpocket… I am sorry to har you were stolen from in Rome. You are right, losing credit cards is very annoying. As long as they didn’t get your passport though, that is even worse. I am glad you have been safe since!


Thank you Teresa, we are working on a waterproof design. It is a bit difficult getting it right, but hopefully we will have it available soon!


Ive been lucky, one of my camera club members was recently robbed of both his wallet and passport while vacationing in Italy. This year I traveled to the Philippines, Japan and Italy and only in Italy I had the closest call to trouble in the form a persisting African street ‘watch’ seller (obvious Chinese knockoffs), and a gypsi beggar by the farmers market plaza both in Florence. I also had an old scheme pulled on me in the philippines which did not work. I found Japan to be the safest of my travel locations whith not a single incident or concern.
After much deliveration on what strategies to use I re-engeneered my own ‘safety wallet’, I purchased a fashion chained motorcycle wallet and replaced the fashion chain with a real 12 inch steel chain and heavy duty fastemers from a hardware store. I then outfitted the wallets pockets with scan shield protectors. I also affixed a similar chain to a weather proof phone, this proved to deter a potential phone pickpocket attempt in Manila as the individual noticed my chained phone and suddenly moved away.
As for my passport,, nothing happened but i went the extra mile and scanned the first page and visa stamp, which is all thats needed, emailed it to myself and saved a copy on both my phone and my travel tablet device. I also had my passport and boarding passes and cash i was not expecting to use kept at the hotel safe not the room safe all inside an envelope which i marked and sealed daily.


I thought I was invincible. Nobody could pick my pocket. I was from Peckham. I now live in Australia. Yet on my last trip to Rome “they” got me on the underground. I always walk with my hand on my wallet but at one station the crowd pushed on and I had to raise my hand to hold on to the top rail. By the time I got my hand down again the wallet was gone. They were very professional. It was worthy loosing the $60 just for the experience. But I also lost ALL my cards.That was the worst part. They never used the cards but it took months to replace them all. After that I bought the clever companion under pants with 2 zipped pockets. So far nobody hes tried to pick them although it was embarrassing trying to get a travel card out in the rush hour at Waterloo underground. I think the zipped pockets T shirts would be a better way to go.

Dave Brock

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