Pick-Pockets

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larryinnewyork
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Pick-Pockets

Post by larryinnewyork »

Have you ever been a Victim of a Pick-Pocket ? ? ?
If yes, where did this happen ? ? ?
How did they do it ? ? ?

If I worry about pick-pockets, I will put my wallet in my front pocket.
livesoft
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Re: Pick-Pockets

Post by livesoft »

Yes. I was in Mexican City when I was 14 years old. My family was thousands of miles away. I didn't have much cash, but I did have some Travelers Checks. Amex made me go to the police station to report the theft before they would re-issue me checks.

I think it happened when the thief stubbed my toe in a market and as I caught myself from falling, they must've lifted my wallet out of my back pocket. I carry little and in my front pocket from now on.
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ddunca1944
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Re: Pick-Pockets

Post by ddunca1944 »

My husband was pick pocketed on the crowded train from Naples to Sorrento. He felt the hand go into his front pocket.... they got nothing because we both were wearing most of our money and credit cards in moneybelts under our clothing... :P
red5
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Re: Pick-Pockets

Post by red5 »

Athens, Greece. A lady came running up behind me, grabbed into my back pocket and kept running into a waiting car and sped off. Luckily my back pocket was empty.
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Watty
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Re: Pick-Pockets

Post by Watty »

texasdiver
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Re: Pick-Pockets

Post by texasdiver »

In Guatemala City in 1988 when I was in the Peace Corps. I was always super cautious and would carry my wallet in the front pocket and sling my backpack around to the side or front of my body because thieves were known to use knives to slit backpacks from behind on the street.

Anyway I was boarding a bus at a very crowded bus stop where there were dozens of people trying to push their way onto an already overcrowded bus. I had my wallet in the front right pocket and had my hand in my pocket covering it but as I was stepping up onto the bus I reflexively pulled my hand out to reach up and grab the handrail and at that moment as I was being pushed forward with the crowd I felt a hand in my pocket pulling out my wallet. They weren't even being stealthy. I tried to turn around and grab the person behind me but it was a sea of people pushing forward and I understood there was no chance. Lost my Peace Corps ID and my local drivers license and perhaps $25 in cash. No big deal but I was furious.
Topic Author
larryinnewyork
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Re: Pick-Pockets

Post by larryinnewyork »

Wow, a lot of overseas stories.

Maybe the USA is still the land of opportunity.
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Watty
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Re: Pick-Pockets

Post by Watty »

larryinnewyork wrote:Wow, a lot of overseas stories.

Maybe the USA is still the land of opportunity.

More likely the land of mugging instead of pick pocketing.
epitomist
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Re: Pick-Pockets

Post by epitomist »

I work in a major city where coworkers have gotten mugged. I carry two wallets - one is my real one and the other is my decoy. The decoy has $14 in cash and old hotel keys, used-up American Express gift cards, etc. Nothing with my name on it.

Generally the real wallet is in my front pocket and the decoy is in my jacket or back pocket.
texasdiver
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Re: Pick-Pockets

Post by texasdiver »

Watty wrote:
larryinnewyork wrote:Wow, a lot of overseas stories.

Maybe the USA is still the land of opportunity.

More likely the land of mugging instead of pick pocketing.
[OT comments removed by admin LadyGeek]
ShiftF5
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Re: Pick-Pockets

Post by ShiftF5 »

texasdiver wrote:
Watty wrote:
larryinnewyork wrote:Wow, a lot of overseas stories.

Maybe the USA is still the land of opportunity.

More likely the land of mugging instead of pick pocketing.
[OT comments removed by admin LadyGeek]
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zanian
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Re: Pick-Pockets

Post by zanian »

Madrid. It was my first day there and we were jet lagged. I was sitting in an outdoor cafe and there was a loud disturbance. I was just about to pay so my wallet was in front of me on the table. I look down and my wallet is gone. I see two little kids run away, they must have been 7 years old.

A bystander said to not run after the kids but walk. We follow them sneakily and lo and behold after a while the kids stopped running and me and my friend catch up with them. I grab one and my friend grabs the other. The look on their faces was priceless. I realize I am grabbing a little kid and come to the conclusion that this is kind of sad. What am I going to do? Beat up a 7 year old? I get my wallet back but the money is gone. I look all over for it but cannot find any money thinking they might have handed it off to someone else. I am just happy to get my ID and credit cards. I lost about 200 Euros. We don't even report them to the police, but let them go. We were in no mood to waste any more time with this.

Spain is terrible for this kind of stuff. Almost all my friends have some story, My parents etc.
smackboy1
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Re: Pick-Pockets

Post by smackboy1 »

Watch this, a true fingersmith showing how it's done in front of cameras

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MG2HPtbV-80
Disclaimer: nothing written here should be taken as legal advice, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.
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Toons
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Re: Pick-Pockets

Post by Toons »

No. :happy
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likegarden
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Re: Pick-Pockets

Post by likegarden »

No pick-pocket experience here, though I lost a pair of pants. While having spare time on a business trip to Seoul, South Korea, and waiting for the bus back to the hotel, I walked a little side-street in Itewon. A man-woman pair walked behind me chatting, too close, so I walked away fast. Back in the hotel I noticed that they had partially slit down the back pocket of my pants without being able yet to remove my wallet. Those pants were no longer usable.
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lthenderson
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Re: Pick-Pockets

Post by lthenderson »

Never worried about it here in the States but do when overseas. I usually keep my cards and extra cash in my sock after having heard of others who lost their money belts in muggings. I only keep what I need for the day in my front pocket and try to keep a hand on it at all times. Another thing I like is to wear cargo pants and put it in a front thigh pocket with button enclosures. It is lower and the buttons make it harder to retrieve unnoticed. I've been followed by a pack of pick pockets in mall areas frequented by tourists but they never made off with anything. I have been groped on public transportation but again, nobody ever got anything. Normally the areas they work are high tourist ratio areas which are the areas I try to avoid. Once you are away from the tourists, people are more honest and I rarely worry about getting picked or mugged.

I also usually send myself an email containing phone numbers of any cards that I have with me on a trip and enough of the number that I can call to cancel my card should it ever get taken. All I would have to do is get somewhere with internet access to pull up the information. I don't put the entire card number in the email in case my email gets hacked for some reason while I'm gone and make sure to delete it when I get back. Personally I think the highest risk one runs overseas is using credit cards while dining out. I keep a card that I use only when overseas so it is easier to monitor for fraud when I get back. I also tend to just use my cards in ATMs and withdraw cash so if I loose my huge roll of pesos that can last me several days, I'm only out $80.
leonard
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Re: Pick-Pockets

Post by leonard »

Watty wrote:See this if you are traveling;

https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/ ... ickpockets
Rick Steves seems to be a borderline apologist for the pick pockets in the beginning of that article. Weird.
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Mingus
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Re: Pick-Pockets

Post by Mingus »

One tried

This dirtbag at some lively but scummy bar in was trying to pick my wallet out of my back pocket.

I had my wallet inside the inside pocket in my jacket.

He was pretty obvious too.
fareastwarriors
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Re: Pick-Pockets

Post by fareastwarriors »

Why do people pick their wallets in their back pockets? Doesn't hurt or feels weird to sit on it...?
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FelixTheCat
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Re: Pick-Pockets

Post by FelixTheCat »

What do you guys do to prevent pocket pickers? Money belt?
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kolea
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Re: Pick-Pockets

Post by kolea »

Yes, someone bumped into me and grabbed a wad of tourist maps out of my pocket in Amsterdam. I usually leave my wallet in the hotel safe and only carry cash for the day. I think he watched me pull cash out in a store, but he went for the wrong pocket and only got junk.

Another time I flew into Amsterdam (my company had offices in Holland that I visited a lot) and had my bags at my feet as I waited for a bus. Someone came up behind me, grabbed a bag while I was looking away, and ran off with it, but I saw him out of the corner of my eye. I chased him across the airport yelling at him. All these people just stared at us, nobody did anything. I was closing on the guy and started to wonder what to do if I caught up to him, but he threw my bag at me and ran off. The bag had a bottle of expensive wine from Spain (where I was coming from), and I managed to catch it without it breaking. Meanwhile, I had left my other bags at the bus stop while chasing the guy and thought they would be gone. But they were still there when I got back.

The trains are notorious in Holland for having thieves on them. My co-worker had her laptop stolen on one. Someone distracted her and an accomplice grabbed the laptop and ran off the train while it was stopped.

[edit] One more: My wife and I were in Italy recently and I had heard there were lots of pick pockets on the subway in Rome, which we rode a lot. A couple of guys got on the train and one tried to stand on one side of my wife and the other tried to stand on the other side. The train sways so people jostle each other a bit and it is easy to use that to reach in someone's purse or pocket. I was suspicious of these guys and pulled my wife over to where I was standing and watched them. They did the same thing to another tourist looking bloke on the subway and I saw them jostle him and watched them try to reach in his pocket! I couldn't believe it. But the guy was not dumb and stated yelling at them. The subway made a stop and the 2 guys ran off.

I think pick pockets are easy to avoid, you just have to be aware of your surroundings in crowded places.
Last edited by kolea on Fri Feb 20, 2015 1:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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DonCamillo
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Re: Pick-Pockets

Post by DonCamillo »

Twice, both on the subway:

First time, on the Paris Metro. Two men, timing their robbery to the opening and closing of the subway doors. I later timed it--13 seconds. One kept me off balance, the other patted me down trying to find my wallet. They did not succeed. Wallet and passport were in my front shirt pocket, under a jacket, with a day pack over top of it.

Second time, on the subway in Prague about ten years later. I had the wallet in my front pocket, with my hand around it. Professional pickpocket grabbed it right out of my hand as the subway door opened. I knew immediately what he had done and shouted thief, but I could not tell who had done it. My wallet was field stripped, with only the items I planned to use that day. It only had driver's license, a couple of credit cards, and 5 euros in cash. Got off the subway near the American Express Office and they helped me cancel my credit cards on the spot. Biggest hassle was replacing the driver's license when I got back to the U.S.
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hoopy
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Re: Pick-Pockets

Post by hoopy »

I was pickpocketed in Chicago once. Some guy bumped into me and took my ipod from my front pocket.

I was also robbed in New Orleans. I was standing at an ATM, withdrawing cash. As soon as the machine gave me the money, someone grabbed it from my hand and ran off.
nimo956
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Re: Pick-Pockets

Post by nimo956 »

I never had my wallet stolen, but I did fall victim to a taxi scam while in Rome. I had just taken a train from Florence and while the hotel seemed close by on the map, I thought I'd take a taxi so I didn't have to lug my suitcase around.

My first clue should have been the fact that two taxi drivers practically got into a fist fight over who would take me (I somehow signaled to another cab by accident). I must have been an obvious mark. I'm pretty sure he drove around in circles since the hotel was straight down the street on the map.

He added on a phony "bag fee" to an already inflated cab price. My friend was talking to me while I was paying him and distracted me as I handed the cab driver a 20. When I turned my head back he had a 5 in his hand (they are the same color), which I thought was strange, since I couldn't remember having any 5s in my wallet. So I gave him another 20 and he gave me change.

It seems so stupid and obvious in retrospect, but I must have paid almost $100 for that cab ride when it should have cost 8 euros. It practically ruined my whole day, but I just tried to get over it. I even had Rick Steves' book and he mentions this exact scam step by step. Unfortunately, I skipped that paragraph beforehand!

To make matters worse I ran out of cash and went to one of those TravelEx exchange booths! Probably lost another $100 in fees alone.

This was my first international vacation, so I'm much more diligent now. Still, that experience has colored my perception of travel in general. I always feel like I'm getting ripped off with every transaction I make.
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kolea
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Re: Pick-Pockets

Post by kolea »

nimo956 wrote: This was my first international vacation, so I'm much more diligent now. Still, that experience has colored my perception of travel in general. I always feel like I'm getting ripped off with every transaction I make.
Here is a tip or two:
- Getting cash on a CC is really expensive. CC companies make a fortune on exchange. Get a Schwab card - they do not charge for international cash.
- Try to only carry cash you need for the day. Leave CC and passport in hotel safe. Or only take one CC with you, leave others behind.
- Put the big bills in one pocket. Don't pull out big bills on the street.
- Get a bunch of change and small bills and put them in another pocket. Use this for taxis and quick-eats. Those guys like to pretend they don't have change and hope you will say keep it.
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fund
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Re: Pick-Pockets

Post by fund »

Rome subway for me, as well. I was 20, and traveling as part of my junior year abroad. I felt the hand go in my front pocket, but the train car was jammed with people and there was no way to know who had done it. Lost some lira, my drivers license, and student ID. Definitely put a damper on my day.

Some years later I was traveling in Uzbekistan. I had just landed in Tashkent. At that time (I don't know if this is still the case) there was an official exchange rate and a black market rate; the gulf between the two was pretty darn substantial. The flight had landed at night, and the forex places in the airport were all closed. I had intended to exchange just enough to see me through to the next day when I could look for more favorable rates. But that plan was dashed. So off I went with a taxi driver. I told him I needed to change some money, and he took me through a bunch of very dark streets somewhere in the city. There we met his friend and we did the exchange. Every sense in my body was telling me that this was trouble and things were about to go sideways and pear-shaped really quickly. Everything happened as if in slow motion, when your senses are heightened and you're intimately aware of each passing second. But it worked out mostly, somehow. I knew what the black market rate was, and what I got from the driver and his friend was a little less than that, but not much, maybe the equivalent of $25. I never changed money in a dark alley after midnight again! Looking back on that...wow, the number of things that could have gone wrong but didn't.

Another trip, this time to Ethiopia, I had a another experience. I was in the market in Addis, and I'd been warned to keep my wits about me. Sure enough, two teenagers were following me before too long. I was wearing a shoulder bag that I'd slung over my shoulder diagonally and it was laying across my back. One of the kids jumped on me from behind and thrust both his hands in my front pockets. My bag had a Lonely Planet book in it and some other stuff, so it had some thickness. I think that helped to prevent the kid from getting as close to me as he'd hoped, as well as getting as good a grip as he'd have liked. I spun around as fast as I could and flung him off my back. He and his friend ran off. I didn't lose anything, thankfully.

One other related story: somewhere in northern Laos I had somehow lost a bunch of cash, something like the equivalent of $50. I think it had somehow fallen out of my pocket during the day. I asked around to the shopkeepers and restaurant workers. Before too long a woman pulled from her pocket the money I'd lost. I gave her half of it as a reward.
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mojave
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Re: Pick-Pockets

Post by mojave »

Twice when I was young (under 8) people tried to pick pocket my mom in Chicago. I think this is why I hate big cities.

First time we were walking into one of the museums downtown. One guy pretended his hand got caught in the door handle (impossible, it was just big loop) while the other guy tried to get to my mom's purse. Second time, we were at the zoo watching some water animals behind glass (seals maybe?) and there was a big crowd watching. I accidentally bumped into and stepped on the foot of a woman next to me, mom made me apologize. Lady didn't respond and just kept looking forward. Then my mom felt her trying to get into her purse.

Unlucky for them, my mom grew up in a working class family in a working class town on the south side of Chicago. She had street smarts and had no problem causing a big scene both times to freak out the would-be thiefs.
Billionaire
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Re: Pick-Pockets

Post by Billionaire »

This happened in Barcelona. When checking in, if the hotel front desk tells you to keep all valuables locked in the safe, then keep all valuables locked in the safe. We suspect the cleaning staff stole my wife's IPHONE. I guess we were lazy. It WAS password protected, so I'm not sure what they were able to do with it. My wife was due for an upgrade anyway. That was the only time we have had a problem. Lucky probably. During recent international trips we've been able to avoid taking taxi's between the airport/hotel and found inexpensive commuter trains to take us into the city. Taxi's in unfamiliar territory, I just feel like it's an opportunity for bad stuff to happen.
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Van-Guard23
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Re: Pick-Pockets

Post by Van-Guard23 »

zanian wrote:Madrid. It was my first day there and we were jet lagged. I was sitting in an outdoor cafe and there was a loud disturbance. I was just about to pay so my wallet was in front of me on the table. I look down and my wallet is gone. I see two little kids run away, they must have been 7 years old.

A bystander said to not run after the kids but walk. We follow them sneakily and lo and behold after a while the kids stopped running and me and my friend catch up with them. I grab one and my friend grabs the other. The look on their faces was priceless. I realize I am grabbing a little kid and come to the conclusion that this is kind of sad. What am I going to do? Beat up a 7 year old? I get my wallet back but the money is gone. I look all over for it but cannot find any money thinking they might have handed it off to someone else. I am just happy to get my ID and credit cards. I lost about 200 Euros. We don't even report them to the police, but let them go. We were in no mood to waste any more time with this.

Spain is terrible for this kind of stuff. Almost all my friends have some story, My parents etc.
Almost happened to me in Madrid as well. My wife and I were walking at night towards El Retiro Park after taking some pictures at Cibeles Square and stopping by a kiosk to ask about airport shuttle bus times. I had my camera bag slung across my body as we crossed a street, with the main compartment of the camera bag secured by two Delrin clip buckles. That's when I felt something behind me and I reached for my camera bag behind me...and realized that the main compartment was open and a dude's hand inside the bag. I turned around and he took his hand out of the bag and I saw there were two other women to his sides right behind me as well. My first instinct was to confront him...then it dawned on me that this man might have some kind of weapon...so I halfheartedly yelled out for "Policia" to scare him off. No damage done...but a close call. Would've hated to lose my Canon T5i in the middle of a vacation. After that, I started using a smaller camera bag that I can sling across my body but keep it in front of me.

During my European travels (especially the big cities) , I make it a point to leave my wallet at home and either use a money belt (which can be cumbersome) or a wallet insert that fits a couple of debit/credit cards, ID, and cash that I keep in my front pants pocket.
Last edited by Van-Guard23 on Fri Feb 20, 2015 5:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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MildlyEccentric
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Re: Pick-Pockets

Post by MildlyEccentric »

I was on my way into the Paris Metro and before arriving at the platform, I reached back and buttoned my back pocket where my wallet was located. There was a crowd at the platform and just before I boarded, someone shoved me on my back and I was pushed somewhat off balance into the crowd. At the same time there were several yanks on my wallet, but the button on my pocket held and my wallet stayed in my pocket. Not so much of a pick pocketing, more of a pocket mugging.

On another occasion, again in Paris, I met a tourist who told the tale of being surrounded by a large group of children who ran up to him and started going through all of his pockets. He was unable to keep them from grabbing his passport and running off.
CuppedUp
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Re: Pick-Pockets

Post by CuppedUp »

A couple of #6 treble hooks sewn into the back pockets of pants works great as a deterrent.

Note. Only do this if you do your own laundry and never ever use your back pockets.

For better results do not use barbless hooks.
HIinvestor
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Re: Pick-Pockets

Post by HIinvestor »

In Hong Kong, had a piece of paper stolen out of my jeans pocket without noticing when we were walking in a very large group to a restaurant. It was not valuable, but shorcked us. The day I got home from Hong Kong, I was looking over my backpack and found that it had been sliced open (while I had been wearing it on my back in broad deaylight in busy sidewalks there). They knife had also nicked my purse but not reached my money or anything of value and fortunately had not sliced ME! That was in the late 70s.

In the early 90s, was pickpocketed in London Tube. They ended up with a few pounds and a small coinpurse. I was surprised and very angry when I realized it had been lifted without my knowledge. Fortunatelyl, everything else was safe under my clothing in a cloth moneybelt against my body.

In Rome, pickpockets kept hounding H until I finally got him to stop wearing a wallet and instad just put his valuages in a cloth moneybelt worn under his clothing, against his body. It worked and we enjoyed the rest of the trip.

That pickpocket video was awesome!
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Riceman
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Re: Pick-Pockets

Post by Riceman »

TwoByFour wrote:
nimo956 wrote: This was my first international vacation, so I'm much more diligent now. Still, that experience has colored my perception of travel in general. I always feel like I'm getting ripped off with every transaction I make.
Here is a tip or two:
- Getting cash on a CC is really expensive. CC companies make a fortune on exchange. Get a Schwab card - they do not charge for international cash.
- Try to only carry cash you need for the day. Leave CC and passport in hotel safe. Or only take one CC with you, leave others behind.
- Put the big bills in one pocket. Don't pull out big bills on the street.
- Get a bunch of change and small bills and put them in another pocket. Use this for taxis and quick-eats. Those guys like to pretend they don't have change and hope you will say keep it.
Great advice, definitely separate large from small bills. Similarly, keep subway tickets/cards or cheap items you will need to access frequently in the pocket with small bills, and keep more important things together in either one front pocket or a jacket pocket.

Then the key is to be aware of your surroundings and anticipate crowded situations. You know it will be crowded before you get on the bus, or the subway, or in the market with lots of vendors. Don't wait to make your plan until the person is bumping into you. My strategy is almost always having a hand on my important items before I enter a crowded situation and keeping it there until after I leave that situation.
renter
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Re: Pick-Pockets

Post by renter »

After a quick call, I put my cell phone in my backpack and started walking up a street. About five minutes later I took off my backpack and noticed that someone had unzipped it and removed my cell phone! I was shocked! I was in a downtown area in China but it wasn't terribly crowded and I hadn't been jostled. It was a creepy feeling knowing that someone was walking right behind me and nabbed it. This was way back when cell phones were a cool novelty. I think I was lucky that I wasn't wacked over the head for it.

Years later, again in China, I was a victim, but only of an attempted pick pocket. I was standing inside a ridiculously crowded subway train going to the next station, and learning my lesson from the above experience, I had my wallet in my FRONT LEFT POCKET plus I HAD MY LEFT HAND ON TOP OF MY POCKET AS EXTRA SECURITY. I then felt a large hand groping my left hand frantically as if searching for something. This must have lasted for several seconds, as I remember looking all around me confused and couldn't tell which of the dozen or so people standing packed around me was doing it! Now that was really creepy.
halfnine
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Re: Pick-Pockets

Post by halfnine »

I haven't had my pocket picked but have been scammed out of a few dollars here and there. For pick pockets, these days I generally wear a money belt and keep cash for the day in a front pocket. If it starts getting crowded or any distraction occurs (bumped into, spit on, somebody drops something in front of me, etc.) I'll initially put my hand in my front pocket as well. On a broader scale and for general safety I also now do two other things. I'll scout out my surroundings and see who I'd target for theft/robbery and if I can't find anyone than I know I am the target. I'll also choose the people that help me or provide me a service instead of letting them choose me. For instance, I'd rather pull a taxi off the street then get in a taxi of a driver who has approached me. Or, if someone "nearby" overhears my destination, and offers to share a ride or give me a lift I'll pass on that opportunity.
hmw
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Re: Pick-Pockets

Post by hmw »

My wife seems to be prime target for pick-pockets.

While on our honey moon, my wife's wallet was stolen, probably in the subway in downtown Madrid. The thief was so skilled that we couldn't figure out when the theft actually occurred. Had to cancel all our credit cards. There wasn't much cash in her wallet, but her wallet was a fancy Chanel wallet and it was worth quite a bit of money.

On another European trip, we were on the high speed train from Brussels to Paris. We left our backpacks and her SLR camera inside its pack on the overhead shelf. We both dozed off. The camera was gone when we woke up in Paris. Didn't have our pictures backed up so we lost all our pictures taken in London and Brussels.

More recently, my wife had her iPhone stolen in a supermarket in Manila. Someone bumped into her and lifted her phone. Only realized it after the fact.
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4nursebee
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Re: Pick-Pockets

Post by 4nursebee »

I was victim of an attempt.

NYC- busy sidewalk, daylight.
I was with two friends. If we were not feeling good yet, we were high in anticipation...
Two people passed near us, one bumped. 10 feet later, noted my coat jacked was unbuttoned, flap open.
Nothing had been there.
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Mrs.Feeley
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Re: Pick-Pockets

Post by Mrs.Feeley »

My husband had his cellphone lifted from his sweatshirt pocket while on a crowded bus. It took us a day to realize this is what had happened, and that the phone hadn't been misplaced around the house. We bought him a new phone, called Tracfone and they were kind enough to transfer his phone number and minutes to the new phone, while deactivating the stolen phone. But for the next few months he was getting calls from the seedy buddies of the guy who lifted his phone. He even determined the full name of the guy as well as his address. The police were not interested in pursuing the thief.
linenfort
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Re: Pick-Pockets

Post by linenfort »

Attempt in Dublin.

My friend had his tube pass picked in London. We were at a club called Bar Madrid, which is probably long gone.
rkhusky
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Re: Pick-Pockets

Post by rkhusky »

texasdiver wrote:
Watty wrote:
larryinnewyork wrote:Wow, a lot of overseas stories.

Maybe the USA is still the land of opportunity.

More likely the land of mugging instead of pick pocketing.
No, our thieves just know where the real money is....like in Hedge Funds and defense contracts.
[OT comments removed by admin LadyGeek]
dolphinsaremammals
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Re: Pick-Pockets

Post by dolphinsaremammals »

nimo956 wrote:I never had my wallet stolen, but I did fall victim to a taxi scam while in Rome. I had just taken a train from Florence and while the hotel seemed close by on the map, I thought I'd take a taxi so I didn't have to lug my suitcase around.

My first clue should have been the fact that two taxi drivers practically got into a fist fight over who would take me (I somehow signaled to another cab by accident). I must have been an obvious mark. I'm pretty sure he drove around in circles since the hotel was straight down the street on the map.

He added on a phony "bag fee" to an already inflated cab price. My friend was talking to me while I was paying him and distracted me as I handed the cab driver a 20. When I turned my head back he had a 5 in his hand (they are the same color), which I thought was strange, since I couldn't remember having any 5s in my wallet. So I gave him another 20 and he gave me change.

It seems so stupid and obvious in retrospect, but I must have paid almost $100 for that cab ride when it should have cost 8 euros. It practically ruined my whole day, but I just tried to get over it. I even had Rick Steves' book and he mentions this exact scam step by step. Unfortunately, I skipped that paragraph beforehand!

To make matters worse I ran out of cash and went to one of those TravelEx exchange booths! Probably lost another $100 in fees alone.

This was my first international vacation, so I'm much more diligent now. Still, that experience has colored my perception of travel in general. I always feel like I'm getting ripped off with every transaction I make.
I had a similar ripped off by a taxi driver experience, in Paris. Really did color my view after that.

Never pickpocketed, though, so far, cross fingers. I've been in England, Scandinavia, Africa, and Paris.
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Re: Pick-Pockets

Post by LadyGeek »

This thread is now in the Personal Consumer Issues forum (pick-pockets).

As a reminder, political comments are off-topic.
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Seattlejo
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Re: Pick-Pockets

Post by Seattlejo »

They have never been successful pick pocketing me, but have tried many times.

Mostly in Italian cities and in Paris.

They use babies at their chest or cardboard in their hands to get really close to you and hide their hands. I wore a small fanny pack with inconsequentials as a decoy (money and passport were in money belt under my shirt). It was unzipped several times!

Waiting for a train in Naples, I saw thieves look like they were boarding a crowded train and then at the last second cut a fanny pack off with a knife and run.

In Paris, I witnessed three sketchy guys having a conversation. A few minutes later I heard a loud noise and saw one of them breaking a bottle. I quickly searched for the other two who were walking away from a crowd. I can only assume what they had been up to.

At no point in my travels did I feel in danger. Be smart and you will be fine.
spectec
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Re: Pick-Pockets

Post by spectec »

FelixTheCat wrote:What do you guys do to prevent pocket pickers? Money belt?
Money belts are OK, but here are a few suggestions:

1) Best thing I've ever bought is underwear with pockets. Good quality stuff can be purchased from Scottevest - if offers two pockets and is synthetic, so it dries quickly if you pack light and need to wash some out while on your trip. You can put money in the pockets and seal them with a safety pin when you're out and about. There's another company called "Stashitwear", and they have some really unique stuff at https://stashitware.com. If short on time, men can also buy athletic underwear which has a pocket for an athletic cup. If a thief goes after that, you have bigger problems than a few lost dollars. There are also bras for women which have hidden pockets, and there are add-on pockets available as well.

2) Next best is this item from Eagle Creek. http://shop.eaglecreek.com/rfid-blocker ... 1260_c_312
It is by far the safest way to carry valuables but still have them accessible. I keep my passport in it because my passport never leaves my person when I'm outside the US. Leaving your passport in a hotel safe is not even acceptable as far as I'm concerned. No matter who is at fault, if you lose your passport in a foreign land you are a person without a country until you get it replaced. Been there, done that with my wife, and take my word it can cause unbelievable stress.

3. At REI online, you can buy belts by "Bison Belt", which have an inner zipper-enclosed area for storing some currency. I usually keep a hundred dollars or so in my belt alone.

4. If weather permits, vest with multiple pockets, including several inner pockets that seal. Scottevest makes a great one. It's expensive, but very functional and safe.

5. Shirts with zippered "Napoleon Pockets". If you are keeping something really valuable in there, safety-pin the zipper when you are in crowded areas or situations where you're likely to encounter pickpockets. "Tactical" shirts and pants are also helpful - they are designed to carry concealed weapons, but handy for valuables as well.

6. Cargo pants - as someone has mentioned, the front pockets are low enough that a pickpocket has a hard time reaching them. Best thing is cargo pants that have zippered pockets covered by velcro-sealed flaps, but they are hard to find.

7. Lots of other stuff - some good and some not so good - to be found at Magellan, Eagle Creek, REI, and Scottevest. Incidentally, if you do use a money belt with the elastic waist band, don't trust the plastic buckle. In addition to safety-pinning the waist band across the buckle, I prefer to separately safety-pin the money belt to my underwear. I learned this years ago when walking through an airport after a long flight and noticed something falling out of my pants leg - it was my money belt that I THOUGHT was securely fastened around my waist.

8. Lose the fanny pack. You may as well put a sign on your back which says "Tourist - Ripe for the Picking". Same thing for the shoulder bags that have the wire-reinforced strap. That's an invitation for a broken arm, shoulder ripped out of its socket, or getting dragged along beside )and eventually under) a car or motrocycle.

9. I've heard people with whom I have traveled say "It's never happened to me", as though that makes any difference. It's never happened to anybody until it happens, but that doesn't change the fact that as an American you are usually a prime target. Tourists give themselves away with their tennis shoes, cameras, maps, ball caps, the way they eat, and numerous other subtle ways ways, even when in out-of-the-way places. A thief knows that if he/she can get your valuables away from you, there's very little chance of getting in trouble because you aren't going to stick around to press charges. Best to take precautions. I think the best thing is to not depend upon a single means for security. Use multiple levels of security by spreading a couple of credit cards, ID's, and your money at different places on your body.
Last edited by spectec on Sat Feb 21, 2015 2:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Pick-Pockets

Post by LadyGeek »

As a reminder, please keep this discussion actionable; meaning to describe personal situations, or to take precautions against pick-pocketing.
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HIinvestor
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Re: Pick-Pockets

Post by HIinvestor »

Personally, we have been very happy and comfortable with the moneybelt worn under clothing. I guess you could safety pin it to be sure it stays on, or ad some velcro. It seems much better to me than pockets in my briefs. Somehow, that region gets too hot and I can't imagine stashing a passport down there in women's undergarments.

Have read and heard about people feeling around to see if there is anything in a sock, so the sock stashes can be exploited in crowded settings and isn't one more thing I'd want to worry about in a crowded setting. Silk pockets that can be attached securely to a bra would probably be my preference when I'm going to areas known for pickpockets.

Awareness of your surroundings seems key--pickpockets love crowded spaces. Those are the times people have to be hypervigilant.
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steve roy
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Re: Pick-Pockets

Post by steve roy »

I was pick-pocketed on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, summer of '93. I was pushing a baby stroller, wearing shorts, and got bumped on my left side; at the same instant I felt the wallet sliding out of my right front pocket. (Teamwork!) I whipped around but couldn't figure out who had snatched it . The Mrs. and I were in a crowded crosswalk, children in tow.

We hustled to pay phones and cancelled all our credit cards immediately, then went on about our business. I was ticked off about the thievery for days, but got over it. Afterwards I became much more conscious of keeping a hand on my wallet in crowded urban areas.

It's helpful not to be pushing a baby stroller.
Last edited by steve roy on Sat Feb 21, 2015 3:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
bowtie
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Re: Pick-Pockets

Post by bowtie »

Well, in terms of the thread being 'actionable', I appreciate the multiple suggestions. I've never really traveled much and thought of it, but one of the first solutions I thought of after reading the first page here was simply to NOT travel. :D (especially not to popular places).
Johno
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Re: Pick-Pockets

Post by Johno »

Watty wrote:
larryinnewyork wrote:Wow, a lot of overseas stories.

Maybe the USA is still the land of opportunity.

More likely the land of mugging instead of pick pocketing.
National self-deprecating impulse aside it's worth IMO considering that it's much more common in a lot of foreign countries than most places in the US, either form of robbery actually. Not in all comparisons, some Far East cities are crime free for practical purposes as a visitor, and some US cities have much higher crime rates than others. But assuming you'd be less likely to be either pick pocketed or strong armed out of money in many European cities than say NY would be unwise if it meant letting your guard down in the European cities, which people might be less likely to do in NY. In a lifetime in NY and very close environs I've never been pickpocketed or mugged and it's unlikely in recent years in the great majority of the city's huge area, especially places visitors are likely to go.
Hug401k
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Re: Pick-Pockets

Post by Hug401k »

I guess the real secret it to appear to be a broke college student. :D I was never pick pocketed in Europe after being there 6 months (a 20 yr old female). I did wear a money belt. However, I watched a Japanese tourist almost get pick pocketed by a man in a suit on the Prague subway. I say almost, because I stepped up and bumped the Japanese man on the arm and made a motion to cover his pockets. The man in the suit looked at me and slipped into the crowd. Made me realize you have to watch everyone, don't faze out those who look like office commuters.
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