Avoid Being Pickpocketed with These Tips

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Lately, pickpocketing has been a hot topic. In a recent National Geographic TV special “Pickpocket King," expert Bob Arno slipped into a criminal ring in Naples, Italy. To earn respect, he stole a watch off of one pickpocket. Once respected, Arno learnt the latest techniques of modern-day Artful Dodgers. (See the video, below).

Pickpockets are everywhere. Today in London, a court hears testimony in the case of a family of pickpockets working the city’s subways. This past weekend, New York City caught two thieves who snatched iPhones from passengers on the subway. Last month, in suburban Deer Park, Mich., the customer of a Panera Bread restaurant had her purse fleeced, according to police.

To avoid getting robbed, many travelers have been swapping tips on the social networking site Reddit in the past few weeks. There’s even a reader Q&A; with someone who claims, persuasively, that he is an amateur pickpocket.

We did the reading and watching of all these pickpocketing tips to skim the best advice. Check out this rundown of some of the strategies travelers use to avoid getting pickpocketed.

• Don’t hang your purse or backpack on a chair in a restaurant. Secure the bag, and keep it within view.

• Keep your wallet in the front pocket of your pants. Better than back pocket or the inside pocket of any jacket.

• Some women wear pushup bras without the padding to insert a few extra items with cloth tape. (Your mileage may vary.)

• Don’t have all your key belongings in one place. Use clothing that has hidden pockets for stashing emergency belongings, such as passports and spare cash. Examples include

" target="_blank">Scottevest Travel Boxers, which includes an iPhone-sized pocket ($20)

• Ideally wear a money belt, around your waist and under your clothes. Nylon models resist sweat and water better than than cloth kinds. The most praised model is Rick Steves’ Silk Money Belt, from $10 on Amazon. Doug Dyment points out that some people may prefer a belt that hangs down inside your pant leg for greater comfort, though such a model can be less safe.

• Be careful of crowds watching a street performer. While distracted, you make an easier target.

• Beware of any strangers approaching you who start touching you for any reason. A classic trick is for someone to spray you with mustard while you’re not paying attention and then come along and offer to help you clean it off. While they’re cleaning it off and babbling to you in a foreign language, someone is working your pockets.

This is the pickpocketing video:

Fun fact: The term "sidekick" originally was a name for a pickpocket's partner. The sidekick's job was to filch items from the "kick", or the front side pocket of a pair of pants.


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