This is not meant to scare you BUT to inform you and to help you prepare. Let’s face it, when we travel we tend to “drop our guard”. But, this is the time we need to be most vigilant. Europe (and to be fair, many large cities in the U.S.) has a problem with pickpocketing.
Here are important things to do/know to stay safe and with all your belongings in tact!
PRECAUTIONS/THINGS TO BE AWARE OF:
• Leave your expensive jewelry at home.
• Don’t carry around too much money or too many credit cards.
• Limit the amount of things you put into our money belt – just take what you absolutely must have.
• If you wear a neck wallet – make sure the strap is thick. Hide the strap as much as possible so no one sees it and is able to
grab it and try to rip it off.
• Be aware of your surroundings and the people around you.
• NEVER GO OUT ALONE – especially at night.
• Don’t stop in the middle of the block to look at a map– this screams “distracted tourist”. Your guard/attention is no longer on your belongings – making you an easy target.
• If you plan to use an ATM machine, make sure you use one in a bank entry lobby. These give more protection from prying eyes.
• Avoid narrow and seemingly empty streets.
• If you’re taking a backpack – don’t wear it behind you. They’ll slice your bag or unzip it before you know it.
• NEVER EVER take out your wallet, purse, etc. in public. Accept the inevitable that someone is always watching to see where you keep your money and valuables.
• Avoid purses with a thin strap – they rip and cut easily. Again, you shouldn’t have anything valuable in your purse. If you must carry a purse, try to find something that doesn’t look like a purse. If you wear a bag, wear it diagonally and clasp firmly in your arm to make it more difficult for someone to steal your bag. Never wear it in the back or at your side. Always keep the zipper
compartments of your bag(s) at your body. And, if you have a bag that has a flap over a zippered compartment – it’s a bonus.
• When you’re walking around with your camera, have the strap looped around your wrist and actually hold the camera within your hand. Don’t dangle the camera from your wrist or wear it around your neck. Better yet, when you’re not using your camera, place it in an inside pocket (if you have one). Definitely avoid carrying around camera bags. Thieves assume that you
have valuable camera equipment.
• NEVER EVER put your purse, bag, shopping bag, camera bag, backpack, cell phone, camera, etc. on the floor, table or chair beside you. Also, don’t hang them or your jacket on a chair in a restaurant (especially if you’ve put anything of value in the jacket pocket). If you do, your bag/valuables will disappear faster than you can “blink your eyes”. Hold on to your belongings!
You’ll find this a challenge when you’re shopping since your instinct is to put down your bags while you pay for your purchases.
• If something is stolen from you, for your own safety, don’t challenge the person you think did the thieving. Besides, since they usually work in pairs/groups, your item has been handed off to someone else resulting in the initial suspect looking innocent.
• Problem Areas: train stations, on the metro, cafes, beaches and any other area that attracts tourists. Thieves will look for easy targets – anyone who can be confused/distracted easily.
• Common Distractions: someone asking for directions, money dropped in front of you, donation requests, 2 kids playing with a ball. The ball hits the tourist and one kid takes advantage of the distraction. If someone approaches you – ignore them, walk quickly and don’t stop!
• Prostitutes: They’ll try to cozy up to you by linking arms or pulling you next to them. Sometimes they’ll try to tickle you. While they’re getting cozy, they (or their friends) will also be busy going through your pockets/purses/etc.
• Bird Mess: Someone taps you or tells you that you have a bird mess on your back or shoulder. While you’re getting the “stuff” off of you (and there will be stuff conveniently put there) – they’re busy “helping” you and making off with your possessions.
• Fake/Undercover Police: Becoming common. Several people are involved in this scam. They’ll approach you and say they’re undercover police (sometimes with false ID) who have been watching someone for quite some time as they believe they’re drug smugglers. They’ll then tell you that they saw this person approach you (usually this person has just asked your for
directions) and they want to verify your ID since you may not be a material witness. So, as you’re pulling out your wallet/purse, they run off with it. Police wear clearly recognizable uniforms. And, before you pull out any ID (no matter who asks) – ask to see theirs first and ask lots of questions. Usually there is no reason at all for a policeman to approach you to begin with.
• Look out for innocent looking child pickpocketers.
The Grand Getaway Travel Agency | Call: 803-407-8520 | Email: