How to Guard Against Pickpockets

Pickpockets seem to be more active in countries outside the United States, places like Paris, London, and other European counties.

A common time for this to happen is when buses or subways are stopping, there is a lot of activity, people getting on and off.

pickpocketing wallet

During the swarm of people getting on/off a bus or train, someone may be lifting your wallet or purse.

Pickpockets may look for times or places where people may have more money, such as store sales, Christmas shopping, fairs, casinos, etc.

Some work alone and some work in teams.  A pretty female may start up a conversation while someone else picks your pocket(s).  Then the stolen item may be passed off to someone else who quickly disappears.

In European countries it is said that 50% of thefts are of Smartphones.  The thieves prefer these over wallets and cameras.

Distraction Techniques:

Someone spills a drink on you and offers to clean up the mess while someone else robs you.


Pigeon Poop – someone secretly places or drops fake or even real pigeon poop on you.  Then someone wants to help you clean it off while your pocket is picked.  If you set your bag down during the distraction, someone may run off with it.

Pickpocket Prevention Tips:

  • Be aware of your surroundings.  If you see someone who looks out of place, or someone you haven’t seen before on a bus/train you ride frequently, they could be a pickpocket or thief.
  • Don’t leave your cell phone, purse, etc. on a restaurant table or store counter.
  • Try to limit personal information you keep in your cell phone, and set up a password so no one else can have access.
  • For men, don’t “pat” your pocket to see if your wallet is still there.  To someone watching, that tells them where your wallet is.
  • Put a big rubber band around your wallet.  This makes it harder for someone to pick your pocket without you feeling it.
  • Consider keeping only a few items in your wallet – what you can afford to lose (one credit or ATM card, one piece of ID, small amount of cash).
  • Keep most of your money and credit cards in a front pocket or zipped pocket.
  • For women, consider not putting your wallet in your purse, but conceal it in a coat or sweater pocket where it doesn’t show a bulge.
  • Don’t keep your Social Security number in your wallet.
  • Don’t trust strangers approaching out of the blue.Anti Theft Bag
  • Don’t travel with expensive jewelry on.
  • Beware of “fake police“, someone flashing a badge and asking to examine your cash because of suspected counterfeiting.  Real police don’t check the cash of random people.  If approached, ask to see ID and to take a close look at his/her badge.
  • Consider a MetroSafe Anti-Theft Shoulder Bag (gets great reviews).

Tips from the US Embassy in Paris


Share Button