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.


Textbook Pickpocket Manoeuvre Leaves Grandmother $2650 Out of Pocket October 21 2017, 0 Comments

The video below captures the moment two professional pickpockets carried out their grubby work on an unsuspecting victim, in this case a 69 year old grandmother whom the pickpockets had identified at a local bank and subsequently pursued after she'd made a substantial withdrawal.

 

Kantaben Ashani, 69, a retired cleaner, was buying radishes in Kingsbury, North London when the thief reached into her bag to lift envelope of cash.  Ms Ashani, who had withdrawn the cash to pay for Diwali gifts for her family, said she believes she had been tailed by the thief after withdrawing the money from a nearby Nationwide bank. 

She discovered the theft moments later when attempting to pay for her groceries at the till.    'I saw the women but thought they were just shopping. I started crying at the till, I couldn't stop talking and crying. It's the first time I've carried this much money,' said Ms Ashani, according to the Evening Standard.  'I get flashbacks every time I go to the shop. I'm praying to God that they don't do that to anyone else.'

The theft was caught on camera by local resident Suryakant Jadva and quickly shared on Twitter. Ms Ashani added that she would struggle to give presents to her loved ones for Diwali, the festival of light which started on Thursday.  'One of our rituals is that we give money to our grandchildren — it's like Christmas, lots of presents. Now the money's gone Diwali will be a bit of a financial strain.'  The Metropolitan police confirmed it was investigating.

DON'T BE A VICTIM!

Pickpockets are unfortunately not going away. There will always be people out there with unpleasant intentions and a disregard for other people, whether they turn that into a profession or not, they still exist. We hear about stories like the above everyday and although this particular crime was committed in the victims local area, tourists and non-locals are the #1 victims around the world. The probability of being targeted as a holidaymaker soars in comparison to locals. 

Having said that, nobody on vacation wants to spend their trip scared or worried. The Clever Travel Companion offers solutions! Solutions like our pickpocket proof scarf and ladies pickpocket proof leggings!


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.