Fortunately Europe is very safe for tourists. Violent crime is extremely rare there. However, you do have to take precautions to prevent being a victim of pickpockets. My husband and I were in Madrid a while back, and in an extremely crowded subway (Metro), as we pulled into the station, he felt a slight tug on his back pants pocket. He reached back and grabbed the hand of a woman, who immediately pulled free and jumped out just as the doors opened. Then she vanished. Fortunately, he had his wallet in a front zipped pocket. He was prepared and you need to be too.
Here are 10 steps to prevent pickpockets
- Keep wallets in an inside pocket of a coat or jacket.
- Better yet, keep wallets in a front pant pocket, preferably one with a button or zipper.
- Zip closed handbags or purses.
- Don’t display jewelry. It attracts pickpockets.
- Carry handbags in front of you, with the flaps against your body; or better yet, carry it inside your coat.
- Don’t show your money. Keep it safely in a pocket.
- Carry a “dummy wallet”. Put a “dummy wallet” with a little currency in your back pocket, while you kept your real wallet in a zippered front pocket or inside your coat. Pickpockets will most likely target the more obvious “dummy wallet” and you will only be out a few dollars.
- Wear a money belt. This is not a fanny pack which is highly susceptible to theft, but a specially designed belt which is worn under your clothes.
- Don’t use a wallet. Just use a money clip and keep in a front pocket.
- Leave valuables in a safe at the hotel. Remove any credit cards, ID, or extra money you don’t need immediately, and put it in a hotel safe.
Be alert. Notice when people are invading your personal space or are pressed against you in crowded areas.
It also helps if you understand how pickpockets work so you are more likely to recognize when you are more vulnerable or susceptible to their attack.
Distraction is their primary tool
Teams – Frequently pickpockets work in a team. While one member distracts you through friendly conversation, bumps into you, or “accidentally” drops their money, a wallet, or bag; a team members swoops in and steals your wallet. Or they may spray something like ketchup or another liquid on you, and then try to quickly “clean up” the mess, while lifting your wallet.
Sex – An attractive “drunk” person at a bar starts touching you affectionately and passionately. You are intrigued and let your guard down. Next your wallet is gone and so are they.
Enjoy your vacation, but be aware.
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