Street vendors are commendable for making an honest living. Rain or shine, you’ll see them peddling their goods so they could take home a day’s pay. This is why almost everyone wants to help them out by buying from them, whether it’s food, trinkets, or flowers.
This is an opportunity seen by pickpockets everywhere. They capitalize on trust and compassion, and exploit them for a few hundred dollars. Sadly, most pickpockets will pose as street vendors to get close to you.
A lot of our friends who have traveled to places around the world have met a vendor who wouldn’t take no for an answer. One couple we knew was walking down the street and a man approached them. He started shoving some flowers in their faces. The only way to make him stop was to buy the flowers. Afterwards, they discovered that one of their phones was missing. This technique is the “flower excuse.”
Another friend went to a country in Asia and met a monk who wanted to sell him a piece of paper that contained an ancient chant and a Buddhist’s bracelet. The monk followed him under the scorching sun until he relented. It would make for a unique souvenir after all. When he got to a restaurant, he couldn’t find his phone anywhere. Pickpocket proof gear — such as tank tops and dresses with secret zipper pockets—helps take care of this problem by letting you conceal your valuables.
So how can you then spot a fake street vendor who could be posing as a pickpocket?
- They will be very insistent and won’t leave you alone even if you say no.
- They will sell you their wares for very low and almost too-good-to-be-true prices just to get you to stay.
- Some of them may wear coats, robes, or layered clothing despite the hot temperature.
- They may get very touchy.
Since it seems that this type of pickpocket can’t be easily avoided, you would have to take precautionary measures to avoid losing your valuables. Here are some tips to help you against this scam:
- Pickpockets will usually observe your hands to see where you keep your money. Keep pocket change separate from larger folds of cash. Limit enough pocket change for conveniences such as food and fare.
- Sometimes, a debit or credit card is preferable when traveling. Going to the ATM leaves you vulnerable to prying eyes. For added measure, you can conceal your card with the help of pickpocket proof shirts.
- If you need to bring large amounts of cash and other valuables, wear a piece of clothing lined with secret pockets that are deep enough. It will even be better if these pockets are placed close to your most sensitive body parts. An example is this shirt with two secret pockets that are placed strategically near your ribcage, a sensitive part of your midsection.
- If possible, only buy from vendors situated in areas near the police.
We, at The Clever Travel Companion, often receive horror stories in emails. As much as possible, we like to keep the public informed about the different tactics used by pickpockets and how you can avoid them. You can check our other articles to keep yourself informed.