Beware of these 5 pickpocket strategies

by Genevieve Northup
Stripes Europe

While out and about in Europe, it is important to watch for pickpockets, particularly while in transport stations, on public transport, and at tourist destinations, shopping centers and fests. Remember these ploys when you are out exploring to outsmart would-be thieves.

1. The klutzy passerby.
There are a couple of ways this method is used. One is for an accomplice to block your entry or exit to a building, bus or train. A second person comes up behind you and steals. Alternatively, one person may act alone and will bump into you and grab what he can. 

2. The solicitor or lost traveler.
One perpetrator distracts you by asking for donations or directions. As you read the charity pamphlet or look at the map, a second assailant lifts valuables.

3. The sneaky dinner guest.
In a crowded restaurant, where you have your coat hanging over the chair or bag next to it, a thief brushes past your seat and steals items. This can also happen if you leave valuables in your coat pocket and hang it on the establishment's communal coat rack. 

4. The too-helpful traveler.
While at a metro or bus ticket booth, a fellow traveler offers to help you buy your ticket. In the process, he swaps your more expensive pass with a similar-looking one-time ticket or lifts valuables while you are distracted. 

5. The peddler or hungry beggar.
While dining on an outdoor patio, a pickpocket sets a sign, newspaper or merchandise on top of the cellphone and wallet you've left sitting on the table. He takes off with your belongings and his prop.

For more on how to prevent theft and what to do if you are a victim, read our Tips for Traveling Smart article. 

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