The Clever Travel Companion Updates

6-fold increase in pickpocketing in just 8 years November 02 2017, 0 Comments

Pickpocketing in Malta has last year reached an all-time high of almost 2,500 cases, an average of seven reported a day. These statistics have forced the Maltese parliament to address the issue in public. While Malta may not be the best example of the situation worldwide, this is a statistical reflection of the rise in pickpocketing cases reported worldwide and a demonstration of how brazen, professional, organised and adaptive thieves are becoming. 

This worrying trend, which has been developing over a number of years, is even more pronounced when considering that the overall total for 2016 shows a sixfold increase when compared to 2009.

Details on various thefts offence committed last year were tabled in Maltese Parliament recently by Home Affairs Minister Carmelo Abela in reply to a question by Opposition MP Beppe Fenech Adami.

The places to avoid were the main tourist hotspots of Valletta and Paceville.

It transpired that, in 2016, pickpocketing was the most common type of theft reported, with 2,447 cases. This was 20 per cent up over the previous year. According to the data, this offence rose steadily since 2013. Four years ago 1,469 pickpocketing cases were reported, followed by 1,538 in 2014 and 2,030 in 2015.

This trend has been linked to a number of Eastern European gangs, some of whom have been brought to justice already and further demonstrates that this is a pattern seen all over Europe and not just in Malta. In Paris for example, the rise in pickpockets around the metro and Eiffel tower have seen a number of Eastern European gangs prosecuted as has London's Transport Police in relation to a rise in thefts on the London Underground. 

Cases the police refer to as “snatch-and-grab”, whereby the offender forcibly obtains personal belongings like bags, purses and mobile phones, increased to 179 in 2016, an increase of 41 per cent over 2013.

Though no detailed overall breakdown of the localities where pickpockets are most likely to strike was divulged, this newspaper last month reported that, in 2016, one in every eight offences was reported in Malta's tourism hub, Valletta. This data confirms earlier research carried out by criminologist Saviour Formosa who had concluded that, in 2015, the places to avoid were Valletta and Paceville.

Safe not sorry

• The Maltese police rolled out a crime prevention campaign last summer targeting the spike in pickpocketing together with a number of tips to avoid being targeted.

Keep purses secure and carry wallets in an inside pocket.

• Bags should be carried in front with flaps against your body.

• Keep straps short and bags tucked under the arms.

• Do not display any jewellery.

• Do not show any money – keep it safely in your pockets.

• Stay alert and aware of what is going on around you.

• If possible, install a tracker application on your smartphone.

• Keep a record of the unique reference number (IMEI) of your phone – this can be retrieved by dialling *#06#.

• Use your phone’s security lock or PIN number.

• Do not write PIN numbers for credit/debit cards on your mobile phone.


Bus Pickpocket Caught In Action August 29 2017, 0 Comments

If you're a fan of Clever Travel Companion, you'll be more than aware of the methods pickpockets use to get their grubby paws on victims valuables, even if you're new to this site, you probably have some idea of how they go about their business but how many of us can say we've actually spotted them in action? Well the below CCTV footage from China captures a perfect example of a slippery, albeit clumsy thief in action - as did the bus driver... 


 

As you can see from the video, the thief identifies his victim and his target early, realizing that she has multiple open bags, is rushing for a bus and will at some point become vulnerable. The one thing he didn't count on was the bus driver spotting him. However, consider the bus driver not being there, it is clear the victim has no idea what has happened despite realizing she and the thief have come into contact. She's probably more concerned about getting on the right bus and paying for a ticket - the pickpocket on the other hand probably plans to pretend he has boarding the wrong bus by mistake and will make a quick getaway once the victim is safely aboard, doors are closed and the bus is driving away, as is common with public transport robbery methods.

Watching the video it becomes easy to see how pickpocketing is still a major crime and people are still not only getting away with it but making a darn good living out of doing so! Check out the gang who made over 1million Euros targeting Disneyland families. In the above China case, the victim was lucky she had a helping hand and her thief was clumsy but let's be honest, it's probably not the first time he's done it and it wont be the last. I'm sure there are many women boarding buses and reaching for their phones that are no longer there thanks to this guy and many more pickpockets. The scary thing is, how many of us can relate to being in this situation? Panicking about getting on the right bus or train or plane even, focusing on getting a ticket bought and paid for whilst everyone is bustling to do the same? Is it worth losing your phone, passport, cash, cards or something more valuable over? No way. 

So how do we prevent the above happening? Well if you're on this website, you'll know that we advocate Clever Travel Companion's 100% pickpocket proof gear for this. Just imagine if the victim in the video had put her phone in one of CTC's Leggings secret pockets? The thief would have had no chance.   

But that's not all you can do. Make sure you don't have open bags and look like you're in a hurry, stay very aware of your surroundings and who might be watching you or approaching you. 


Hero Coffee Shop Owner Tackles Pickpocket! August 23 2017, 0 Comments

This story originally appeared in WRIC Virginia local news and is an inspirational example of an everyday hero. The owner of a coffee shop acted without thought for himself when a customer screamed that her purse had just been stolen. He charged after the assailants, eventually catching up to them and retrieving the customers valuables - I think we can all agree, every coffee shop needs an owner like this! It's worth remembering though, not all victims of theft are lucky enough to have a hero on hand to help out, so take care to ensure you don't put yourself in a position of danger.

 

 

Co-owner Walter Bordeaux said it was a good day at The Coffee Tree on Colonial Avenue: “Everything was going great. We had plenty of customers,” he said.
A customer was seated outside, not far from where Bordeaux stood, when there was a commotion: “The customer runs around the corner here and screams, ‘They stole my purse!’ As soon as they said that, without any hesitation, I just took off running.”

Surveillance video shows several young people running down the street. Bordeaux eventually caught up with some of the group and asked a question, he said. “‘Why are you doing this to your community? You know? Because I want to be a part of this community. Why are you doing this?’” At that point, someone dropped the purse and Bordeaux returned it to the customer, he said.
“I’m glad nothing escalated. I’m glad they were just kids. I’m glad they didn’t put up a fight and I hope they see the error of their ways,” Bordeaux said.

He and co-owner Dee Stewart took over the shop two months ago. It was a dream for them. Bordeaux said wants the community to know he supports them — and needs their support, too. “They were good kids. They just made a mistake, and I hope that they learn from that mistake, but I just want to let everybody know, we do support our community.” Police said detectives are investigating.

For information and tips on how to stay safe and out of harms way, check out our travel safety tips guide or better yet, pick up some pickpocket proof travel gear and keep your valuables to yourself at all times.