August 20, 2018

5 tips to outsmart pickpockets

Avoid getting robbed while travelling abroad. Some basic tips to keep your valuables out of the wrong hands.

Crowded sites, higher risk

You do not usually let just anyone invade your personal space. Some places, however, do not leave you much choice. Subways, public squares, concert venues, shopping malls and other high-traffic areas bring you into close proximity with many others, and require your heightened vigilance.

While some cities have the dubious honour of being known for their pickpockets (see list of 10 riskiest cities at the end of this article) you should stay on the lookout whenever you visit a place with lots of people milling around.

Pickpockets are generally experienced and organized, and often work as a team. One of their common tactics is to create a diversion while an accomplice empties your pockets. A few seconds and you can be stripped bare, so it is extremely important to be prepared.

Be discreet

This can never be stressed enough. Avoid flaunting your wealth while travelling. Things like luxury watches, designer clothing, flashy jewellery, and overflowing wallets attract attention… and pickpockets.

Simplicity and discretion will serve you well on your travels.

Keep your eyes (and hands) on your personal belongings

Have your personal belongings close by at all times. Always hold your bags against you and never leave luggage unattended or on the ground in public washrooms. If you do set your bag down, keep one foot on or inside the shoulder strap.

Also avoid falling asleep in train stations or on public transit when you are carrying valuables.

Protect your treasures

Visible, easily accessible pockets or open bags are Christmas come early for sticky fingers. Carefully close zippers or do up buttons after use.

Store important documents, such as your passport and credit cards, in a money belt under your clothes when it is not possible to leave them in a hotel safe. Only bring these items out with you when absolutely necessary.

Buy an anti-theft bag crafted with solid materials. It will prove to be more difficult to cut through with a knife.

Do not put all your eggs in one basket

Take a page out of the squirrel’s playbook and store your money, documents and vaIuables in different locations.

For example, you could carry a more accessible wallet for your daily expenses and a hidden travel pouch containing credit cards and larger notes.

Photocopy your official documents. It may also be wise to scan your passport, visa and credit cards and email them to yourself.

Insure your valuables

Are you travelling with a quality camera, computer or other valuables? Do not forget to insure them. Travel insurance will usually cover a maximum of $300 to $500 per item.

If you have higher valued items, your insurance company will refer you to your home insurance policy and might also cover the deductible.

Our representatives at are well equipped to offer you great advice and help prevent nasty surprises.

The 10 riskiest cities

In 2016, TripAdvisor published a list of the 10 cities where you’re most likely to be pickpocketed. Be on extra high alert when travelling to these places:

  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Rome, Italy
  • Prague, Czech Republic
  • Madrid, Spain
  • Paris, France
  • Florence, Italy
  • Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Athens, Greece
  • Hanoi, Vietnam

Even if your destination is not on this list, bear in mind that tourists are prime targets in cities around the world. Keep your eyes open and enjoy your trip!