Pickpockets are known to be one of the biggest risks that you will face when traveling abroad. But is the risk so big that it is impossible to avoid? Absolutely not!
In fact, there are a number of easy things that you can do when you learn how to avoid pickpockets that are very effective. The biggest threat of pickpockets is how they catch you at vulnerable moments.
While this is scary, it also means that you can lower the risk of pickpocketing by merely practicing some simple avoidance tactics. Today, we’ll teach you all about how to avoid this type of theft while you adventure your way around the world!
The Real Risk of Pickpockets: Distraction
Every person has heard a story or two about someone who was pickpocketed while they traveled. They were talking to a nice man when suddenly they turned around, and their bag was gone. In another story, they realized their camera went missing after they stopped to look at a map when they made a wrong turn.
These are situations that anybody could find themselves in without thinking much about it. However, all of these victims were in a vulnerable position simply because they were distracted!
Pickpockets look for vulnerable and distracted targets. If they cannot find an easy pick that is already distracted, they will set up a situation in which they can divert their target's attention to steal from them without ever being noticed.
When you are distracted, you do tend to forget about your valuables. In that momentary lapse of alertness, pickpockets swoop in and steal something. And that is the situation that you have to prevent when learning how to avoid pickpockets!
How to Avoid Pickpockets: The Tips
Alertness is everything when you are avoiding pickpockets. By being hyper-aware of your surroundings and the associated risks at all times, you can lower the chances of being targeted by a petty thief. Here are some ways that you can make yourself a less appealing target while you travel:
#1: Difficult-to-Open Bags
When a pickpocket sees a wallet sticking out of a tote bag or a pocket that hasn’t been fully zipped up, they’ve found an incredibly easy target. It would be hard for them to resist stealing it!
In these cases, having a bag that is difficult to open can make you less of a target. Bags with zippers that lock or have hidden pockets where you can stash your valuables make for the best choices when you are trying to avoid pickpockets. Thieves go for bags that can be opened quickly without being noticed.
Hard-to-open bags can be frustrating for you to use, but they offer protection that you would otherwise be missing out on.
#2: Slash Proof Bags
Slashing and cutting bags is a less common technique used by pickpockets since it is more difficult to do this without being noticed. That doesn’t mean, though, that it doesn’t happen. With a sharp knife, thieves can cut into your bag and steal from you without you noticing.
For this reason, many travel bag companies make bags which are lined with some type of lightweight steel mesh. While mesh can be cut through with time and persistence, pickpockets rely on a quick and invisible theft. They will not be able to cut through mesh discreetly, so they will move on from your bag if they encounter steel mesh.
#3 Money Belts Work
While money belts or necklaces that you wear underneath of your clothes may not look cool, they really do a great job at protecting your money. Since they are worn so close to your body, the thief would have to get too close to you to succeed.
#4 Pay Attention
Make alertness one of your new skills. This may sound like a crazy piece thing to use to protect yourself, but it is one of the ways that you will truly be able to keep yourself from becoming a victim of pickpocketing.
If you are aware of the times that you are in a risky situation, you will be more likely to keep your belongings secure.
Are you sitting down to take a drink? Keep your bag on your lap or wrapped around a leg. Taking something out of your bag? Double check that you secured the zipper and lock afterward.
By simply taking the time to train yourself to be a little bit more attentive while you are traveling, you will be able to better protect yourself from the pickpockets who are out there looking for vulnerable and distracted targets.
#5 Avoid and Notice Commotions
We’ve all been in a crowd that suddenly becomes 10x worse because someone shouts or screams. We’ve all run into someone on the street that just wasn’t paying attention. While these are both relatively normal situations that can arise, they are also prevalent situations that pickpockets create.
Whenever an unexpected commotion begins around you, go alert immediately. If you have a backpack, bring it around to your front. If anything valuable is in your pockets, place a hand on it for security.
Sure, not every commotion is going to be a misdirection set up by pickpockets. But what’s the harm in protecting your belongings in case it is?
#6 Don’t Invest In Flashy Protection
Bright colored fanny packs, huge backpacks covered in locks, and other obvious anti-theft bags might actually attract more attention rather than less. If you have a bag that obviously looks like it has something valuable in it, the pickpocket might be more likely to try to find a way to take it.
After all, a huge camera bag is sure to be worth more than a tiny wallet. It’s okay to buy bags that are specifically made for traveling, but try to choose a bag that looks as simple and inconspicuous as possible. No one needs to wear a neon sign that says “I’m holding valuables!”
You Have the Power
The power of the pickpocket is the power of distraction. You can overcome them by simply learning how to be more alert and observant, especially while you are traveling. While some people feel burdened by the slight sense of paranoia that comes with being alert, seasoned travelers will tell you that this is the only way to truly stay safe!
Be vigilant, and you will be better able to protect your belongings.