How to Protect Yourself from Pickpockets

Short of gluing your purse or pants pockets shut, there’s no foolproof way to fend off pickpockets. But here are some strategies that can help lower your risk of becoming a victim

– Pickpockets don’t just come out after dark, nor do they hang around only tourist spots and transportation hubs. They strike at all hours, in all venues, especially where money changes hands. So be on alert at banks, currency exchange booths, outdoor food stands and open-air markets, among other venues. Pickpocket zones also include plazas, carnivals and similar places where there are crowds and lots of jostling. Of course, your pocket can be picked on an empty street; someone can “knock” into you and walk away with your wallet – so keep your distance.

– Avoid commotion. Pickpockets often create distractions to catch tourists unaware. Sadly, as cute as groups of children may be, they aren’t always so angelic. While you are fawning over them, one may be slipping her tiny fingers into your pocket. If you see a gaggle of kids or adults approaching, walk away swiftly and avoid eye contact.

– The most vulnerable places to keep your wallet are in back pants pockets, coat jacket pockets, backpacks and belt bags (especially if they are behind you). Police say pickpockets often avoid front trouser pockets, especially if they are buttoned or zippered. For further reinforcement, put a rubber band around your wallet; the band’s friction against the fabric of your clothes can act as an alarm. Chains that attach your wallet to another item of clothing also can foil pickpockets.

– If you are carrying your wallet in a purse or bag, place it deep inside a zippered or buttoned pouch. Wear shoulder bags across your body and in front (even better, slide your bag on first, then your coat, buttoned tight). Hold handbags close to your body, not dangling from a hand or wrist. If you are wearing a money belt or neck pouch, tuck it inside your clothing and conceal the strap or string.

– Divide your money into separate stashes and needs. In one secure place, carry enough money to cover that day’s expenses; if you are going to a market or busy place where you will be dipping into your wallet often, carry only what you need. Elsewhere (around your neck or in a sock, for example), place a second pile of money and other valuables.

– Don’t pat your pocket to check for your wallet: That’s like a big sign screaming, “Pickpocket me!” Also, never count your cash in the open. Put away your change as quickly as possible.

– Don’t flash your status. Leave off glittery jewelry and swap the high-fashion watch and sunglasses for dime-store brands.

– Carry only the essentials. If you are juggling multiple sacks and bags, you might not realize something is missing until it’s too late.

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