Everyone is aware of the danger pickpockets and thieves pose and how that danger is especially exacerbated when it comes to tourists and travelers. The consequences are greater for the victim and the theft itself has a higher success rate for the perpetrator. At Clever Travel Companion, our mission is to ensure travelers avoid the common pitfalls of not only theft and travel themselves but also the confusing number of safety options to consider as preparation, so that you can enjoy your adventure hassle free.
We've compiled a comprehensive guide on complete travel safety covering everything from what to look out for, where to expect it, what to do if you do become a victim to how to avoid becoming one altogether.
We're going to look at some of the way pickpockets go about making their living off of innocent victims. In the below video, a reported from Travel + Escape spends a day with some professional pickpockets and learns how they go about making their living.
It is true that some of their methods are rudimentary and relatively basic but as mentioned, these guys make their living this way. Make no mistake, they are absolute professionals in their trade and can earn huge amounts of money, sometimes over $10,000 per day. So you see, it pays to get good at their trade.
Naturally there are a number of ways to protect yourself in such situations and tons of products on the market that claim to be 100% pickpocket proof. We personally believe a simple approach of remaining vigilant and not making an obvious target of yourself is a good start but concealed, secure, zipper pockets in places pickpockets wouldn't expect are a great way to keep the most valuable of valuables out of harms way. We'll look into this more further down.
Whilst pilfering peoples pockets on public transport is the most obvious and probably most basic method of pickpocketing, it can also be the most risky and perhaps least successful, especially for someone not so skilled. Of course, for such great earning potential, this has lead thieves to develop a huge number of different methods for relieving their victims of their hard earned valuables in all situations. Lets take a look at some of the most common below.
The above scams are prevalent worldwide despite being known as common in the regions mentioned, and are likely to target tourists and travelers only whilst they go about their vacation, sight seeing, walking, visiting landmarks etc... They can also take on a number of different forms and can be carried out by anyone. Be vigilant, thieves often operate in gangs and want to appear as non-suspicious as physically possible so don't assume that because your suspect is a child or elderly that they're not out to rob you.
Public transport is a pickpockets playground. As you've seen in the above video, they dream of bustling train platforms and cramped carriages, busy buses and confused tourists. That doesn't mean to say you're safe in a private taxi, tuk tuk or at the airport though, some thieves are precisely the kinds of people you're forced to trust like taxi drivers - and when we say thieves, we don't just mean they'll have your iPhone out of your pocket. They can rob you in other ways, like incredibly over charged taxi fares.
This article on statistics for theft in London stands to prove the above point. The number #1 location by a long way is the London Underground.
You may also find yourself vulnerable to getting ripped off or robbed when simply shopping or using local services. These kinds of scams are more likely to indirectly leave you out of pocket than an actual thief helping himself to your your valuables but nonetheless, they are worthy of being aware of. They're also probably the most likely to catch you.
It probably goes without saying that as a tourist, you're not likely to be targeted by other tourists (although it has happened). Certain groups of up to no good locals can be found in every city in the world and are by no measure a representation of the rest of the city - but they do exist and they will target travelers. Europe's freedom of movement immigration policy has also made it very easy for people from lower income regions to go to popular tourist destinations and target locals and tourists alike so make yourself aware and knowledgeable of what you might expect. Be vigilant and be suspicious of over friendliness. There's no need to be grumpy or rude, but don't make yourself vulnerable either.
Accommodation is another area you might find yourself a victim. It's even been known for hotels booking online or over the phone to not exist at all! There have also been reported incidents of reception providing a room key on request to anyone claiming to be staying there. Be wary of any strange activity and always confirm details of room calls, advertisements, local companies and more with the front desk. Check up independent reviews of not just the hotel itself prior to visiting but also the area. Don't leave valuables lying around in your room and don't always trust safety deposit boxes, make sure you have a back up solution to hiding your personal items.