Not all pickpockets like to hang around crowded tourist attractions. Some of them like to pick easy targets at ATMs, where people are vulnerable. Pickpockets might be a crafty bunch, but you can outsmart them by being aware of their tactics and by using anti-theft proof gear.
How the Schemes Work
Aside from card skimming, pickpocketing is a common crime around ATM areas. These street thieves know you have money. If they watch your every move, they’ll know where you’re keeping your cash and valuables as well. Once pickpockets have that information, they will steal your wallet or your money before you can walk away.
Sometimes, pickpockets work in pairs. One member will watch you closely as you enter your PIN number. The other will drop cash and ask you if it’s yours. If you pick that up, the other member will quickly take out your ATM card. This works when you are distracted, and you forget that you didn’t retrieve your card. Often, the scam also works when victims assume that the machine sucked in their card when they weren’t looking.
After successfully retrieving your card, the pickpockets will go to another ATM machine to withdraw money from your account.
How to Protect Yourself
To keep your money safe, always be alert, pay attention to any suspicious behavior, and don’t forget to wear your pickpocket-proof gear.
- Stash your money in a travel scarf. Pickpockets won’t be able to reach your cash if you store it inside a scarf with hidden zippered pockets. You can tuck you cash, passport, and cellphone inside these pockets, where they aren’t visible to street thieves.
- Invest in pickpocket-proof clothing. Use pickpocket-proof clothes such as shirts, hoodies, and jackets. They look like any of your regular clothes, but these anti-theft versions have hidden zippered pockets where you can keep your money safe.
- Budget your money. Take enough cash for the day, and leave most of it in a safe in your hotel room. Budget your money wisely so you won’t have to withdraw extra cash from an ATM.
- Stop touching the location of your valuables. Refrain from touching the areas where you’re keeping your valuables so pickpockets who are observing you won’t know where to target.
- Minimize the number of valuables you have. Don’t give pickpockets the opportunity to spot possible things they can steal from you. Carry only the valuables that you need. Leave the rest in your hotel room, preferably inside a vault or any locked container.
- Carry cash in different pockets. Store your cash in various places so you can keep most of it protected. Even if they do steal some of it, there’ll be a good chance you still have enough left to enjoy your vacation or to travel back home.