Methods to Keep away from Pickpockets in Europe

In the event you’re planning a visit to Europe you’ve undoubtedly been warned in regards to the hazard of pickpockets. It is very important be vigilant as a result of hundreds of vacationers are victims of pickpockets annually—nobody desires to spend their hard-earned trip canceling their bank cards, changing their passports, and discovering different means to entry cash.

Fortunately, there are various issues you are able to do to discourage your self from turning into a pickpocketing sufferer. This information will clarify the place pickpockets work, who they aim, the totally different strategies they use, and methods to guard your self.

The Most Standard Cities for Pickpockets

Whereas pickpockets will be present in almost any metropolis, the most important concentrations are in cities that entice essentially the most vacationers (no shock there).

Here’s a listing of pickpocket hotspots in Europe:

  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Rome, Italy
  • Paris, France
  • Madrid, Spain
  • Athens, Greece
  • Prague, Czech Republic
  • Lisbon, Portugal
  • Florence, Italy
  • London, England
  • Amsterdam, Netherlands

However don’t assume that pickpocketing solely happens in huge cities. I’ve a good friend who even had his pockets stolen in a small city in Switzerland.

Who Are Pickpockets?


Most individuals assume pickpockets are sketchy-looking males, however numerous pickpockets are literally younger women and boys—normally round 10-16 years outdated. Most vacationers don’t suspect {that a} younger baby would steal from them so that they let their guard down.

Moreover, police can’t actually arrest minors, and most don’t journey with any identification, so even when they’re caught the police normally need to allow them to go. Different occasions, pickpockets are well-dressed and also you’d by no means anticipate them to be thieves.


Pickpockets nearly all the time work in teams. One or two individuals will do one thing to distract you whereas one other member tries to take your stuff.

As soon as the theft has occurred, the thief who stole the merchandise will usually hand it off to another person and so they’ll all run in separate instructions. This makes it very laborious to trace the wrongdoer.

The place Do Pickpockets Goal?

It’s no shock that the majority thieves goal locations which might be busy/chaotic and have numerous vacationers.

Listed below are just a few spots the place you need to be further vigilant:

Prime Vacationers Sights


Whether or not or not it’s the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Trevi Fountain in Rome, or Charles Bridge in Prague, it isn’t a shock that pickpockets hand around in busy vacationer spots. Naturally, vacationers are extra involved about viewing the sights and taking pictures than paying attention to their environment.

Public Transportation

Subways and metropolis buses are prime spots for pickpockets—and after dwelling in Paris, I’ve seen my share of pickpockets on the Paris Metro. Public transportation is a superb place for a pickpocket as a result of it’s usually very crowded and it’s straightforward for thieves to create confusion.

Pickpockets usually goal giant metro/subway stations the place many transit traces converge as a result of it provides them loads of locations to exit in the event that they’re being chased.

Pay further consideration throughout rush hour occasions and on routes that result in the most well-liked vacationer sights.


Europe’s hottest museums swell to most capability (particularly throughout the summer season) and there are sure to be just a few pickpockets among the many lot. Whereas the admission worth deters most pickpockets, it doesn’t cease all of them from preying on unsuspecting guests who’re merely having fun with the artwork.

In reality, in 2013, the employees on the Louvre in Paris went on strike as a result of the pickpockets have been getting so unhealthy.

Practice Stations

Practice stations are giant, crowded, and filled with confused vacationers with their fingers filled with cumbersome baggage—which is precisely the form of setting pickpockets love.

Eating places, Cafés, and Bars

Many individuals let their guard down after they’re having fun with a meal or a drink, so it’s straightforward for a criminal to sneakily snatch a handbag from the again of a chair or a cell phone from the highest of a desk.

Make sure to by no means depart your telephone on the desk or your bag/purse unattended.

The Seashore

Take note of your stuff once you’re on the seaside. Don’t depart your bag unattended or out of sight as a result of there’s a good probability somebody may snatch it up. The seashores in Barcelona are particularly identified for pickpockets.

Retail Shops

Clothes and department shops in Europe can get extraordinarily crowded—particularly across the holidays. These are straightforward locations for pickpockets to focus on vacationers who are normally carrying some huge cash.

The Sneaky Methods Pickpockets Use To Steal Your Stuff

Distraction is the one tactic that each one pickpockets use. They need to distract your consideration simply lengthy sufficient to take your stuff.  The next strategies are well-known ways in which pickpockets and thieves steal from vacationers.

“Charity” Employee with Clipboards


This rip-off may be very standard in Paris. It almost all the time entails a bunch of younger women with clipboards. They’ll strategy you and level to a clipboard whereas signaling that they’re deaf and mute. They need you to signal a petition for charity. In the event you signal, they’ll ask for a donation to the charity. In fact, the “charity” is faux — actually, the cash usually goes to those women’ “boss” (i.e. human traffickers). Whereas the vacationer is signing/studying the petition, there’s usually an confederate attempting to pickpocket the sufferer.

Crowd the Metro

Paris Metro Safety

The metro (subway) trains can get very crowded. A standard tactic is for a bunch of 4-6 children to push on a crowded practice shortly earlier than the doorways shut and crowd their goal. They’ll swipe what they’re attempting to steal after which all of them hop off proper because the doorways start to shut. By the point the sufferer realizes what occurred, it’s too late and the practice has already left the station.

All the time be cautious when a bunch of individuals crowds onto an already busy metro automotive. Even be cautious of anybody who’s standing very near you on a practice that isn’t crowded, as they may be as much as no good.

Sidewalk Cafe Seize

Pay further consideration to your telephone and purse/bag everytime you’re consuming or ingesting at a restaurant. Pay double consideration once you’re at a sidewalk cafe as this is among the commonest locations to get your stuff swiped.

Metro Smartphone Seize

Folks are likely to zone out whereas they’re speaking or texting on their telephones. Be very cautious about utilizing your telephone when you’re standing close to the door of a subway automotive. Thieves will attain in and snatch your telephone proper because the doorways shut.

Assist with Your Bag

Some metro stations have a lot of stairs so “good samaritans” will seize ahold of your suitcase that can assist you carry it up the steps. This normally takes individuals off guard slightly and that is when their good friend reaches into your purse or pocket. There are literally numerous good individuals who will supply to assist carry a heavy suitcase, however they’ll ask you earlier than grabbing onto your bag.

Bump and Carry

While you’re surrounded by crowds, it isn’t unusual to unintentionally stumble upon different individuals. Nonetheless, this can be a widespread transfer carried out by pickpockets, so if somebody bumps into you, it may be sensible to take a fast stock of your belongings.

Escalator Backup

Escalators are one other space that pickpockets goal as a result of it’s straightforward to create chaos. With this rip-off, there shall be one or two individuals in entrance of the goal and some others behind the goal. Somebody close to the highest of the escalator will cease proper after they get off and this can create an enormous backup of individuals attempting to get off. Because the backup happens, the individuals behind the goal will attain into the goal’s bag/pocket and hand off the products to one in every of his buddies behind him. I’ve additionally seen it the place they’ve handed off the products to somebody on the other escalator, so it’s nearly unattainable to chase them.

Newspaper/Map Distraction

A standard pickpocket tactic entails utilizing a big map or a newspaper to cowl the goal’s line of sight to take issues out of their bag. They’ll usually shove the map in your face, level to part of the map, after which their good friend will attain beneath the paper so you’ll be able to’t see what they’re taking. This can be a quite common approach that folks steal cellphones from tables.

ATM Confusion


All the time watch out when utilizing the ATM — particularly once you’re alone. Whilst you’re within the technique of withdrawing cash, a bunch of beggars will strategy you from behind to try to get your consideration. They may pull in your arm or shove a chunk of paper in entrance of the display screen. In the event you flip towards one of many thieves, one other one will slip in from the opposite facet and press the button for the utmost amount of money. Then they’ll swipe the cash and run away.

Additionally, you’ll want to cowl up your PIN code once you enter it. Some thieves will attempt to see your code (some even use hidden cameras) after which they’ll observe you round for an opportunity to steal your card.

Ticket Machines Dupe

All the time be slightly leery of people that attempt that can assist you at ticket machines. I do know some individuals who obtained scammed in Paris by a well-dressed man who “helped” them purchase Metro tickets. The guests wished to purchase two 5-day passes, which value about 30€/every, so the person provided to make use of his bank card as a result of he instructed them Australian playing cards don’t work within the machines. He mentioned that they might simply pay him in money.

He did purchase the tickets… however he purchased them a one-way baby’s ticket (which appears to be like similar to a 5-day cross) that prices about 1€ and he pocketed 60€ in money from them.

The Useful Vacationer

Don’t let pickpockets make the most of your good nature. On this rip-off, one of many scammers will drop one thing in entrance of you and when you’re serving to them decide up the mess, the opposite pickpocket will swoop in and carry one thing out of your bag. That doesn’t imply you’ll be able to’t assist your fellow man, however simply watch out about your individual stuff whereas doing it.

Slashed Bag


Whereas uncommon, some pickpockets don’t even trouble attempting to steal your bag and they’ll merely slash it open with a knife. Pacsafe makes a spread of slash-proof luggage for further safety.

Turnstile Stall


Busy turnstiles are a standard space for pickpockets to strike. As you’re approaching a turnstile, one particular person will minimize in entrance of you after which proceed to cease (they could fake that the machine isn’t working) and their associate will come up behind you — primarily trapping you between the 2 of them. The particular person within the again will carry one thing out of your bag or pocket whereas his associate within the entrance is fumbling with the turnstile.

Scooter Snatch and Run

Whereas not tremendous widespread, some thieves will drive up on a scooter, snatch a bag from the sufferer’s shoulder, after which experience off into the sundown. I wouldn’t be too nervous about this system, however it might probably occur.

Avenue Performances

Many avenue performances entice giant crowds of vacationers—which may usually entice loads of pickpockets as effectively (generally they’re all working collectively).

Pretend Combat

A big group of males may begin a “combat” round a vacationer, and in all of the commotion one of many males will try to pickpocket the goal.

Who Do Pickpockets Goal?


Anybody could be a potential goal of a pickpocket, however they do have a tendency to focus on sure varieties of individuals. Pickpockets will all the time search for the simplest goal as a result of they don’t need a confrontation.


Duh, proper? However vacationers = cash to pickpockets. In the event you appear to be a vacationer, you’re routinely going to be singled out. Take a look at my article on the right way to not gown like a vacationer in Europe.

Folks With a Lot of Baggage

You’re going to be a chief goal for a pickpocket if you’re pulling alongside two big suitcases and have a backpack. You received’t have the ability to watch over all of your issues since you will have a lot stuff and also you’re a slow-moving goal.

So pack gentle!

Take a look at my Backpacking Europe Packing Checklist and Journey Europe Packing Checklist for Girls to get some tips about packing gentle and see my information to the finest journey backpacks to see my favourite journey luggage.

Guests from Asia


Asian guests (particularly Chinese language) are a best choice for pickpockets as a result of many Chinese language vacationers are very rich. Moreover, numerous Chinese language residents don’t have quick access to credit score and debit playing cards so that they carry giant quantities of money—and thieves know this.

So even when you’re not Chinese language, however have Asian heritage, you may need to be particularly cautious because you may be extra more likely to be focused.

Folks Who Flash Valuables

Strolling alone at night time whereas utilizing your iPhone? Don’t be shocked if somebody takes it from you.

Trusting Folks

From all my travels, I’ve hardly ever met a extra pleasant bunch than the Australians. I’ve additionally by no means met one other group of people that’ve been victims of pickpockets extra usually than Australians. I believe the individuals who assume everybody else round them is good and useful are those who get taken benefit of most frequently.

How To Shield Your self From Pickpockets

A crossbody sling is a good way to maintain your valuables safe

In the event you’ve made it this far, you may be considering that there are millions of pickpockets attempting to rob each vacationer in Europe. However that isn’t the case and also you’ll hardly ever have any issues when you take just a few further precautions.

Additionally it is vital to do not forget that precise violent crime is low in Europe so there’s a very low probability of something occurring to you.

On this part, we’ll speak in regards to the steps you’ll be able to take to keep away from turning into a sufferer.

Pickpocket-Proof Journey Clothes

Firms are beginning to make journey clothes safety features which might be nice for deterring would-be thieves.

One among my favourite manufacturers of anti-theft journey clothes is Bluffworks — they make journey pants, and, journey vests even journey fits which have hidden-zippered pockets. And, better of all, all their merchandise appear to be regular clothes that you just’d put on every single day however are made out of high-tech materials.

Bluffworks additionally has modern ladies’s anti-theft journey clothes that’s value trying out.

Pickpocket-Proof Baggage


If you wish to be further protected, you will get your self a specifically designed “pickpocket-proof” backpack, bag, or purse.

The preferred anti-theft luggage are made by Pacsafe. Their luggage have tamper-proof zippers, cut-proof straps, anchored straps, and a slash-proof metallic mesh sewn into the bag.

Zippered Purse

Among the finest methods to maintain your valuables safe is to have a handbag/bag with a zipper. I like to recommend maintaining valuables in inside zipped compartments if attainable.

Put on a Cash Belt

A cash belt is among the most safe methods to hold valuables like more money and your passport. Nonetheless, many vacationers make the error of considering that they need to use their cash belt like a pockets — nevertheless it isn’t meant for that.

Ideally, it’s best to hold the cash and debit/bank cards that you just’re going to want for the day in your pockets after which hold all further money and perhaps a backup bank card within the cash belt. The cash belt ought to be worn beneath your garments and ought to be pretty inconvenient to entry (to discourage thieves).

There are a number of types of cash belts accessible:

  • Across the Waist — That is the standard model of cash belt. You put on it beneath your shirt and round your waist.
  • Across the Neck — Cash belts that hold round your neck are one other good possibility. These are rather a lot simpler to entry (particularly when you put on them beneath a button-up shirt).
  • Hidden Pocket — These hidden pocket cash belts are good as a result of they tuck into your pant leg and I believe they’re extra comfy than one which goes round your waist.
  • Belt with Pocket — In the event you simply need to stash some money, you should utilize a belt with a hidden pocket built-in.

Restrict What You Carry

Pickpockets can’t steal what you don’t have—fairly easy. That’s the reason I desire to hold little or no whereas I’m sightseeing. I particularly advocate not carrying numerous money.

Safe Your Bag/Backpack

Your bag or backpack might be essentially the most susceptible space that pickpockets love to focus on. Backpacks are particularly susceptible as a result of you’ll be able to’t see if somebody is attempting to get into it. Listed below are some suggestions for securing your bag.

  • Put on Your Bag Backwards — On crowded public transportation, lots of people put on their luggage backward as a result of this permits them to keep watch over them.
  • Lock Your Bag’s Zippers — At a minimal, you’ll need to lock your zippers. You don’t want something fancy — a easy baggage lock will work effectively.
  • Use A Sling Backpack — Sling backpacks are good as a result of they keep near your physique and they are often slung over your chest simply if wanted. They do are typically small, so that you’ll have bother when you plan on carrying numerous stuff with you. Right here is an instance of a sling backpack, however there are various types accessible.
  • Safe Your Bag To An Immovable Object — While you’re at a restaurant, loop your bag’s strap round your leg or your chair leg so somebody can’t come by and swipe the bag. Equally, it’s sensible to safe your bag to a chair or baggage rack when you’re on a practice — particularly on in a single day trains. A retractable cable lock will present sufficient safety to discourage most thieves however looping it round your chair is far simpler.

Maintain Your Pockets in Entrance Pocket

A variety of guys hold their wallets of their again pockets, however that is a particularly straightforward goal for a pickpocket. And that’s the reason it’s advisable to maintain your pockets in your entrance pocket. I extremely advocate getting a brilliant skinny pockets as a result of a cumbersome pockets feels very unusual in your entrance pocket — and it appears to be like form of dumb. The Huge Skinny Multi-Pocket Bifold Pockets will get numerous nice evaluations for having a low profile.

Maintain Your Telephone Off The Desk

Smartphones are a brilliant standard merchandise for pickpockets to focus on. Many individuals merely depart it on the desk whereas they’re consuming, which makes it straightforward for somebody to come and snatch it up.

Cut up Up Your Valuables

Unfold out your valuables so that you’ll restrict any injury when you do occur to get pickpocketed. For instance, I’ll hold my bank card in my pockets however I’ll put a backup bank card in my baggage. And I’ll cut up up my money between my pockets and bag so I don’t threat dropping all the pieces.

Remaining Ideas About Pickpockets In Europe

The possibilities of you getting pickpocketed whereas touring in Europe are low however it might probably occur. In reality, Italy experiences 463 mentions of pickpocketing per a million guests and France has 283 mentions per a million guests so it’s statistically uncommon.

The true secret’s to not make your self a goal since pickpockets all the time need to discover the simplest goal attainable. So be vigilant and take just a few further steps that I’ve outlined on this information and also you’ll have a fantastic journey.

And whereas we’re with reference to security, try my information to widespread journey scams in Europe to be taught different methods scammers attempt to make the most of vacationers.

James Feess
Newest posts by James Feess (see all)

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