How to Outsmart Pickpockets and Thieves
You need not worry about being a victim of violent crimes during your European travel. But when it comes to petty theft like purse-snatching and pickpocketing – that is whole different story – and you have got to be extra careful about it. Thieves generally target innocent or starry-eyed tourists because they (tourists) are so easy to read. Typically, they just have all the important stuff in their wallets, purses or bags.
If you’re not constantly on guard – and you can’t blame being tired and too jet-lagged – you’re bound to be a victim more quickly than you can step on to your first tourist destination. Other excuses include exploring ‘charming’ nooks and crannies where fools and thieves abound or parking your rental car in a seldom-populated area.
Don’t ruin your whole trip if it happens to you. Just don’t let your guard down again. But you can limit your vulnerability if you follow these tips:
- Be prepared. All your valuable documents must be photocopied several times. These include your passport, car rental voucher, rail pass, among many others.
- Get theft insurance for your highly expensive smartphone, camera and other gadgets. Keep a backup file of everything, just in case.
- Do not roam around the streets with all our fancy bling for the world to see. And that includes your limited edition Louis Vuitton suitcase – that is some serious eye candy for thieves.
- Do not put yourself into risky situations such as deserted areas, poorly lit spots, especially late at night or when you’re just on your own.
- Wear a money belt and wear it under your clothes. It may look uncool or uncomfortable at first, but it is better safe than sorry.
- If it is possible, leave your valuables in your hotel room. Hoteliers are more equipped in warding off thieves more than you can when you’re out on the streets. Then again, don’t leave it out in the open so you won’t tempt the staff into scoring a deal from you.
- Adopt a “don't lose it” discipline. Always be consciously aware of your actions and your surroundings especially when in transit or when transferring from one place to another.
- Have a mental checklist when you pack and unpack your stuff – toiletries, laundry, electronic gear, charging cords, and all important documents. A quick overall search in your hotel room is a must before you leave.
- Travel smart not travel in fear. Hold on tight to your smartphone, for example, while out and about, or just keep it tucked away. It must be a second nature to you to be careful with your things.
- Secure your bag so that you can deter thieves even when they create a diversion or a minor obstacle on the bus or train. If you plan to sleep, fasten your suitcase to the seat or yourself.
- Steer clear of commotions especially in big crowds. If your must-see destination has a lot of people around, be vigilant at all times.
- Be extra wary of the surroundings especially if you are already tired from lugging your suitcase all around and trying to figure where you are already in.
- If you are travelling with someone, take turns in watching your bags. Always put it where you can see it and reach it easily. But don’t be too self-conscious; you’ll instantly attract thieves that way.
- Be careful on subways and packed buses. Thieves might be just right behind you and run off instantly as soon as they picky your pocket.
Don’t be paranoid. Just stay safe and be prepared. That is your best guard for having the most positive experience in your travel around Europe.