Sometimes the best distraction that pickpockets use on people is one that plays on compassion. A person in an unfortunate situation looks vulnerable and is the last person to arouse suspicion from others. Beware of the actor.
“The actor” is a wildly popular and effective tactic in a pickpocket’s playbook so make sure that you don’t fall prey to these acts used on unsuspecting marks. Clever Travel Companion has compiled a list of some of the most popular acts used by pickpockets.
The Couple on Honeymoon
This ploy works best in tourist spots as they’re swarming with tourists who just want to have a great time and see sights. Tourists are often in higher spirits and want everyone to feel the same way. A couple may approach a tourist and ask them to take their picture against a famous attraction. With hands away from their bags and their focus on the viewfinder or the phone screen, there’s nothing stopping a pickpocket from lifting several valuables from the tourist. Wearing pickpocket proof gear is one of the best ways to safeguard against theft.
The Lost Child
It’s disgusting that people would use a child as a bait to commit their crime, but that’s the reality in certain parts of the world. Even a tourist minding their own business is not safe. The child starts to tug on their clothing to command their attention. Once the engaged tourist comforts the distraught child, a pickpocket will approach them from behind and take anything they can without being caught.
The Helpless Woman
Everyone has a soft spot for grandma, especially if grandma has no one to help her carry her groceries across the street. She may drop a bag or two and oranges may roll right at your feet. Once a helpful tourist bends down to help her, their defenses are immediately lowered. They may place their own bags down on the street or simply push it aside. Pickpockets will then start to help themselves to the contents of the bag and walk away with no repercussion.
The Other Victim
An ordinary looking person may start to pat their pockets and become hysterical. Their cries may get louder and louder until they proclaim being robbed. Everyone else starts to check their own pockets and sigh a relief once they confirm everything is in place. Standing near the crowd is an accomplice or two, watching everyone give away the location of their valuables.
Don’t let pickpockets make you cynical of the world. Not everyone who is in need of a helping hand has ulterior motives. Tourists are often advised to seek the help of the police or to guide a stranger towards them.
Being smart about how you stop to help another person is one of the best ways to protect yourself. Wearing pickpocket proof clothing to keep your valuables concealed, such as a scarf lined with a secret pocket, even when your hands are busy will seriously cut your risk of being robbed while helping others.
Check out our other articles to learn about other diversions pickpockets use.