Train stations are an ideal place for pickpockets to identify their target and strike. Find out how to avoid being targeted by pickpockets in a train station when traveling overseas.
A few years ago I decided to spend three months in Italy by myself. As a young, single female travelling alone I scoured the internet to learn about pickpockets in Rome. Not only did I discover that the crime statistics for Rome showed an average of 300 pickpocket incidents each day, but I was reminded of that fact every time I told another person about my trip. It didn’t matter who I was talking to, I was always warned about the pickpockets in Italy.
Therefore when I arrived at Termini Station, the major public transportation hub in Rome, I was already practicing expert theft prevention techniques. My purse was in front of me with the zipper facing my body to avoid a stolen wallet. I kept an eye out for groups of people who were just hanging around the ticket stations. I felt secure in my surroundings and walked up to the ticket machine to buy a metro ride.
Naturally, I pressed the button for English and almost immediately two people were beside me asking if I needed help. Though I managed to successfully purchase my ticket without being pickpocketed, I knew that if the situation repeated itself I could end up with a stolen wallet. Having the English language clearly displayed on the screen identified me as a tourist and made me an easy target for a pickpocket.
I went about my day -- sightseeing, meeting new friends and practicing my broken Italian -- before entering another metro station to purchase my ticket back to my hostel. As I looked around for pickpockets in the train station, I saw a few questionable characters and so I walked directly to the ticket machine. This time, however, I pressed the button for Italian. I figured that I surely knew enough Italian to be able to purchase a ticket correctly, and much to my delight the men looking on didn’t bother me.
During the rest of my trip, I continued to purchase all of my train tickets in Italian. It didn’t matter whether I was buying a metro ticket or a train ticket to another Italian city, I was never bothered by pickpockets in a train station again. Theft prevention turned out to be as simple as using the native language whenever possible.
Gerri Espino is a freelance writer with a passion for Italy. After tracing her Italian family roots a few years ago, she spends as much time as possible overseas via work-exchange opportunities.