Pickpocket Loss Stories from J, the Travel Authority

Janine over at the blog J, the Travel Authority recently hosted a giveaway, asking travelers to related their pickpocket / travel loss stories. Here are a few entries!

My Swedish husband always keeps his hand on his wallet while traveling abroad. Here in the USA, he never thought having his pocket picked would be a problem, but sure enough, someone stole his wallet at the Copley mall in Boston. It was a bunch of kids who made noise to distract them, while a comrade came up from behind. They took money but threw away the wallet with his license and green card. Someone found it and sent it back to us. My son's son encountered pickpockets in China, and they were very sophisticated. They came up close with razor blades and cut the pockets. Sounds more dangerous to me than losing one's papers and identity cards!

Ruth Pennebaker:
A young guy tried to pick my husband's pocket in Bari, Italy, several years ago. My husband quickly reverted to his native language (English), spewing swear words and chasing the guy -- who was eventually picked up by an accomplice on a motorcycle. Later, we both wondered, what on earth would he have done if he'd apprehended the bigger and younger would-be thief.

Your story is outrageous. I've never heard of a bird poop scam before! I'm lucky to not have had unfortunate experiences being pick-pocketed while traveling; the one time I was when I was on line at a department store in my town.

On a recent trip my daughter left her iTouch in our rental car. Of course, we were already at the airport when we figured that out. I went back to the rental place to get it. Kudos to Hertz--the bus driver radioed ahead and the iTouch and another item we'd left were waiting for us. I never even got off the bus, the items were waiting for me and I made my flight on time.
Ted R:
I was visiting a friend in NYC and decided to buy flowers before I took the train. I bought the flowers and heard the train coming, I decided to quickly put the wallet in my top coat pocket (instead of in my pants pocket) and run for the train. There had been a short thin man standing slightly behind me when I bought the flowers. When I ran for the train I felt something brush lightly against my shoulder, when I sat down in the train I checked my pocket and the wallet was gone!

Vera Marie:
Mine is a brag about beating the pickpockets, actually. I was in Brugges, roaming around a lace shop and noticed two girls who looked like college student age, carrying packbacks, dressed kind of scruffy. They seemed to be one in front of me and one behind me all the time. Then one stepped so that she crowded me into a narrow aisle. I'm sure her partner was trying to get something out of my bag--but it was under my arm and the wallet was deep in the bottom where it was not easy to reach. I left the lace shop, wandered on, stopped in a Christmas store. There were the same two girls. I didn't want to tip them off as to where my money was, so I went up to the clerk and said, "I would like to buy this, but you see those two girls? I think they're pickpockets and they're following me. So until they leave, I won't get my money out." Unfortunately, the clerk, said, she could not do anything if they didn't actually try to lift something from someone. And fortunately, they left so I could make my purchase.

My story is more of a reflection of my own disorganization than anything else! I was 20 years old, living on my own for the first time, for a summer in Paris. I went to the movies, placed my bag under my seat, and a few hours later realized my camera was gone! It was only an inexpensive point-and-shoot, but at the time I considered it very valuable. AND it was a going away present from my parents!! I felt so foolish, I spent my food money on buying a replacement and lived on bread for weeks. Well, lo and behold, when it came time to pack up to return home - I found the stupid camera in the back of a drawer! So I had 2 cameras, and missed out on some great French meals. ;-)

Heather L:
These clothes are a perfect solution to the problem tourists have with pickpockets. And they look attractive to boot.

Leslie (Downtown Traveler):
Fortunately I have never been pick pocketed, but we did have a their snatch a camera charging chord from my backpack when it was checked at the airport while we were on a RTW trip. The charger had very little retail value, but it was incredibly frustrating because they didn't sell Cannon camera accessories anywhere in Brazil at the time! We had to wait in Rio for a few weeks while a family member shipped us a new one. It took so long, we left Ri, traveled around Brazil and came back to the hotel later to pick it up.

Harlan Vaughn:
I've never been pick pocketed, thank god, but I am going to Madrid in a few months and am definitely leery. I did lose something while traveling though: my iPod! I left it in a rental car on accident, and returned it. By the time I realized it, they'd already given it to another renter! I don't know what happened to it... but it's gone. Had to get a new one. 

Jeff Dobbins:
On the first night of my first trip to Istanbul, I was walking with my guide (who I’d hired via the internet) when four gregarious young men seemed to appear out of nowhere. They approached me and with wide smiles and loud tidings (I’ve no idea what they where saying) they energetically shook both my hands and patted my shoulders and back. Within moments they began to close tightly around me, and what I thought was the welcome wagon became a group grope as two continued vigorously shaking my hands and arms while I felt unseen hands up and down my body. As I struggled to detach myself, their friendly frenzy seems to intensify as they shook, bumped, and accosted me in tight formation. Just as I was about to yell for help, all four dashed away into the night. I felt me back pocket, which was now wallet-free.

Exasperated I screeched to my guide, “I can’t believe I just got mugged by four Turkish teens!” With a sneer he informed me, “They were Kurds.” Like that somehow made a difference to me.

I have had the good fortune to have never been pick pocketed. I’ve experienced more than a few attempts, but each time, luck was on my side. (Long may it last.) However, I guess you could say what I “lost” while traveling in questionable areas was the freedom to bring along anything I wanted. You never know how safe you feel in a city until you’re there, so packing correctly can be a challenge. Suddenly, not being able to tote around the purse or backpack you brought because it can fit your phone, wallet, passport, jacket, and camera (etc.) means you can’t bring those items out with you. I once walked around Barcelona for eight hours in a too-heavy jacket in springtime because my friend had just had her passport stolen and I needed the largest zipper pockets possible to carry everything I needed. Not only was it uncomfortable, it looked ridiculous.

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