Pickpockets love hanging out at bars. It's one of the places where they can mix work and pleasure. They can enjoy drinks and food while choosing several targets among drinking patrons. Bars set the perfect environment for pickpockets. People with lowered inhibitions are everywhere to be seen. Plus, it's dark, which makes quick and subtle movements unnoticeable.
Alcohol lessens a person's alertness and slows down their reaction time. It also keeps spirits high and makes one more receptive to friendly strangers. Pickpockets know all of these too well as they always try to zoom in on the easiest targets. They put on the friendliest personas to make someone open up.
Here are some of the techniques they use on drunk and vulnerable people.
Fun Bar Tricks
Drunk people are susceptible to manipulation and misdirection. Once they observe you in this state, a pickpocket or their accomplice may ask you to do something that will require you to get close to them, take a piece of clothing off, or leave your belongings somewhere out of sight.
A pickpocket will always have dozens of bar tricks up their sleeve to distract you. Sometimes it's not even pickpockets who are the problem, but swindlers who'll get you to open your wallet or hand your phone to them until you're too confused or preoccupied to retrieve it.
Some pickpockets may see a very drunk person and take advantage of them by offering to help them to the bathroom or give them a ride home. Once the drunk person agrees, they usually lean their bodies close to the person offering.
Don’t forget that this isn’t the worst case scenario. A drunk person may lead a thief straight to their home or their hotel room. Wouldn’t it be a more enticing steal if they had the key or map that leads to a more valuable haul?
Safety in Numbers and Covers
When planning to get really drunk at an unfamiliar place, make sure to go with friends. Having at least one responsible friend is better than relying on ten strangers. This also rings true when going out for drinks at local watering holes.
As much as possible, try to keep money within your body. Pickpocket proof clothing helps you conceal your valuables. They contain secret pockets, like this shirt and dress. Having a zippered pocket also helps if a person's reflexes are impaired by alcohol. It prevents them from leaving valuables at the bar or the cab. If you can leave the bag and purse at home, please do. Most ladies are known to sling a bag over a chair and pay no mind to it.
When strangers approach you at the bar, try not to give away your personal information and current address. Giving away your information may lead to even bigger problems like identity theft or kidnapping. If a stranger offers to take you home, lead them to a cafe or restaurant instead where you can sober up and call a friend.
The Clever Travel Companion regularly posts travel tips to help you against pickpockets, but these tips can also help a regular Joe or Jane.