It would be easier to spot pickpockets in a crowd if they looked a certain way—but they don’t. Age, gender, and ethnicity aren’t factors that will help you identify street thieves. The moment you lump these criminals into a stereotype, you make yourself vulnerable to the others who don’t fit that category.
You might not be able to identify them from their physical traits, but you can learn how to avoid them. Start by understanding how they operate and why anti-pickpocket devices are necessary for your travels.
How the Scheme Works
Women are just as capable of theft as men. If you’ve seen Ocean’s 8, you know exactly why they can get away with it. Most people don’t expect women to be capable of picking pockets, especially when they look so well-dressed.
Female pickpockets have been known to use the damsel in distress scheme, which works on women and men alike. They pretend to be drunk and uninhibited to lure kind strangers. These damsels in distress target anyone who they think will fall for the act. Once unsuspecting individuals come to their aid, these female pickpockets feign attention to get them to let down their guard. Then, they will carefully steal their wallet without their knowledge.
How to Avoid Pickpockets
Pickpocket schemes may vary, but they all follow common rules like access and distraction. Ignoring a seemingly-innocent stranger on the subway who might genuinely need help won’t always be easy to do. Making your valuables inaccessible to petty thieves, on the other hand, is a different story. It’s so much easier to explore and travel the world without having to worry about your valuables getting stolen.
Here are a few tips:
- Pay attention to your surroundings. Your lack of attention makes you vulnerable to all sorts of pickpocket techniques. Never let your guard down, especially when you’re in crowded areas where pickpockets can slip their hands into your bag or slash it.
- Don’t stop to talk to strangers. Pickpockets like to take advantage of friendly, unsuspecting tourists. They can spot a tourist from a mile away, so don’t make it even easier for them by lowering your guard down.
- Use an anti-theft scarf. These special scarves come with hidden zippered pockets that are large enough to hold your passport.
- Wear underwear with pockets. Stash your cash somewhere pickpockets won’t be able to reach. You can now wear underwear with zippered pockets to keep valuables safe.
- Put on pickpocket-proof clothes. They look like any ordinary shirts and jeans, but they also have hidden zippered pockets, which street thieves won’t have access to.
Pickpockets only succeed if you give them an opportunity to distract you. You might not always be able to determine who’s being genuinely friendly or who’s taking advantage of your kindness, but you can foil any attempts to steal your valuables by wearing anti-pickpocket devices like the Clever Travel Companion gear.