If you’re ever a tourist at any point in your life, there’s a pretty good chance you may end up being the target of a pickpocket. Here are ten signs that let you know it’s about to go down.
10. You Look like You’re Lost
When we visit a place that we’re unfamiliar with, we often stand out like a sore thumb. Not because we look like martians or something, but because it’s obvious to locals that we’re lost. And, if it’s that obvious to locals then you can bet it’s also obvious to pickpockets. In fact, they intentionally keep an eye out for people who look lost, hence the reason why you’ll often find them lurking in popular tourist spots. So, instead of making yourself a target by fiddling with Google Maps or some other navigation app, try to appear as confident as you can, and, most importantly, be aware of your surroundings at all times.
9. You’re Sleeping
We know that traveling can be exhausting, but you need to avoid falling asleep in the airport and on your flight. “Sleeping in airports is a strictly at-your-own-risk activity,” TripSavvy said in an article published on its website. “By choosing this somewhat risky option, questions of safety, lawfulness, and comfort will undoubtedly come to mind, and there are many airports that will not only be uncomfortable, but downright dangerous.”
As for catching a few Zs on your flight, “theft on airplanes is rare,” Bill Miller, an executive with booking site CheapOair, told ABC News. But, it can and does still happen. “People fall asleep on planes, and someone can reach under the seat in back of them to steal stuff from carry-on luggage under the seat or in the overhead, especially on overnight flights,” George Hobica, an airline expert and president of Airfarewatchdog, told ABC News.
8. You’re at the ATM
Most people are very vigilant when visiting the ATM, and rightfully so. ATMs are hotspots for pickpockets. But, here’s what you may not know: that pickpocket may not be after the cash you withdraw from the machine. He or she may actually be after your card and pin number. They do it by walking up to you and asking you for help using the machine, or they begin engaging in conversation with you while you’re entering your pin number. And, now that they’ve got your pin, all they need to do is follow you and snatch your wallet out of your pocket (or snatch your purse off your arm if you’re a woman), and bam, they’ve got full access to all your cash.
TIP: NEVER give advice to anyone on how to use an ATM. Don’t accept “help” from anyone either. And, if you notice someone is persistently hovering while you’re at the ATM, cancel your operation and find another machine ASAP!
7. People Nearby Start Arguing
What’s so strange about people arguing in public, you ask? Well, nothing — unless of course it’s all a setup. According to Reader’s Digest, Gene Turner, Certified Identity Theft Risk Management Specialist and author of pickpocket.com, says that pickpockets know people can’t resist seeing strangers fight, so they use that as a distraction to pick someone’s pockets. They are banking on you paying more attention to them fighting than you are to your wallet or purse, Turner said.
TIP: Beware of people who suddenly begin feeling “sick.” There’s a good chance they could be trying to pick your pockets, too.
6. Someone Yells That There’s a Pickpocket Around
As crazy as this may sound, sometimes pickpockets themselves yell that there’s a pickpocket around. Sometimes they’ll get someone else to do it for them. Either way, the reason behind it is the same. They know that anyone with a significant amount of cash or with anything of value, for that matter, will get worked up into a tizzy, checking their pockets making sure nothing was stolen from them. This makes it easy for pickpockets to know who to target. After all, they don’t to waste their time on someone who has little to no money.
5. Someone’s Invading Your Personal Space
Not only is someone invading your personal space quite annoying, it can actually be quite risky. That being said, beware of strangers who get all up in your space, especially when you have no place else to move — like on a subway train, for example. Yes, it’s sometimes inevitable that strangers will get a little too close for comfort on a packed train, but pickpockets use this method to corner you, so to speak, and easily lift your wallet from your pocket or purse without you suspecting a thing.
TIP: Check your pockets if someone bumps into you in a busy crowd. They just might have stolen your wallet.
4. You Get Double-Teamed
Pickpockets sometimes work in pairs. One person will distract you by engaging you in conversation, while his or her partner will steal things from your pockets or bags.
They don’t always engage you, though. Like the thieves who targeted a woman on the subway in New York. The guy attempted to block his partner from view while she reached into the woman’s purse and stole her wallet. Thankfully a watchful police officer witnessed the entire thing, and the two thieves were arrested.
TIP: Avoid sitting close to the doors on a train. Pickpockets will be able to quickly grab your bags or valuables and exit the train before you can stop them.
3. You Pull Out a Wad of Cash
It may seem obvious not to do this, but you’d be surprised at the number of people who pull out a big wad of cash in public. This definitely makes them a target for pickpockets, since they’re always on the prowl, watching everybody to see who their next victim will be.
TIP: Pickpockets like to target the wealthy, so not only should you not pull out large amounts of cash, you should also keep your fine jewelry out of plain sight. In fact, if you’re going on a trip, it’s best to leave your expensive jewelry and designer watches at home.
2. You’re Wearing Your Bags Incorrectly
If you’re wearing your bag or purse on one shoulder, you’re making yourself an easy target for pickpockets. It would take nothing for them to sneak up behind you, snatch your bag, and keep rolling. The best way to prevent this is to wear it across your chest and keep it close to you. You’ll also want to make sure it’s visible to you. And, if you’re wearing a backpack, don’t keep your valuables in outside zipper compartments. Pickpockets are so sneaky they could open those compartments and take your belongings without even being detected.
TIP: Don’t leave your bags unattended. Just because you’re standing in what you would consider a safe space — outside your hotel lobby, for example — doesn’t mean pickpockets aren’t hanging around waiting for their next victim.
1. You’re Wearing Headphones
Anyone with teenagers at home knows how distracting headphones can be. Your kids always seem to be wearing them, and, as a result, they never hear you when you call them. And, while that can be annoying for parents, it can put your kids, and yourself if you wear them, in a potentially risky situation. Listening to music in public makes it all too easy for pickpockets to sneak up on you and snatch your personal belongings. Believe it or not, it makes it real easy for a thief to steal your phone, too. All they have to do is unplug your headphones and run off with your phone. They’re likely to get a good head start too because you’ll be so convinced that your headphones stopped working that you won’t even notice that it was your phone that was stolen.
Looking for more tips on how to outsmart criminals? Discover some of the most common places burglars look when they break into your home.