Beware of Pickpockets

Top 10 Countries to Have Your Wallet Stolen by Pickpockets

by Roman on October 21, 2009

10. Vietnam, Hanoi

VietnamFor most people Vietnam is known for the Vietnam War that took place over 40 years ago but it is also becoming a more popular tourist attraction by the year. As one of the poorest countries in the world Vietnam and its capital city Hanoi are home to a growing number of pickpockets who are on the watch for your money.
Most tourist attractions in Hanoi are located outside in crowded areas so it is very easy to become an unsuspecting target for a pickpocketing master who has probably pickpocketed thousands of people.

Check out the video below to see just how brave some pickpocketers can be in Vietnam.

Technique used to steal your money in Hanoi:
Brute force. A thief can use a moped or a motorbike to steal your handbag while driving. When in Vietnam or other Asian countries  make sure that your handbag is not too easy to snatch. A good idea is to carry your bag on the side where there is less people and traffic.

9. Greece, Athens

GreeceGreece and its capital Athens are one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. In addition to a blooming tourist sector the city is also facing a rapid growth in pickpockets who make a living off of unsuspecting tourists.
It doesn’t matter if you are visiting the Parthenon or the Acropolis – make sure you never lose sight of your bags when you are admiring the countless ancient monuments. Someone who seems just like another tourist can be on the hunt for your wallet.

Technique used to steal your money in Athens:
A number of Gypsy children surround you and shamelessly start robbing your things. This boldness will take you by surprise – in the mean time the children pass your things quickly between each other and run in different directions. Your wallet, mobile phone and camera will most probably all go in different directions. Sometimes the children pass your belongings to older women who hide them beneath their clothes. The police won’t look under a skirt!

8. The Netherlands, Amsterdam

NetherlandsThe night life in Amsterdam, legal marijuana and the red light district with its countless women are all great but only as long as you still have your money to pay for it all!
The pickpocketers in Amsterdam’s red light district take advantage of the “No camera policy”. No one is allowed to take pictures in the infamous area – this means that there are also no surveillance cameras that could help fight the crime.

A graffiti in Amsterdam

pickpockets love tourists

Technique used to steal your money in Amsterdam:
Someone pushes you from behind or from the side making it look like he just wanted to get past you on a busy street.
In reality there is another person on the opposite side who takes advantage of the fact that you are looking the other way to see who pushed you and steals your wallet and belongings.

7. Argentina, Buones Aires

ArgentinaBuenos Aires is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Latin America but it is also a heaven for pickpockets and thieves. Be on the lookout for groups of children following tourists and of course the usual running purse snatchers.

Technique used to steal your money in Buones Aires:
A group of children approach you with a piece of paper or a card with some writing on it. Their leader places the card under your chin to read and while you are focused on the text the other kids go through your belongings.

Below is a video of a pickpocket in action in Argentina

6. Italy, Florence

This renaissance pearl is facing major trouble with pickpockets. As people are losing jobs in the economic downturn more and more are counting on stealing as their primary source of income.

The reason pickpocketing is gathering popularity in Italy is that it is relatively easy to start – if you are beginning your career and get caught, just run away. It is almost certain that no one will follow you – people will be happy that they got to keep their things. After escaping successfully, just try to steal someone else’s wallet – this time you will be a bit smarter and there is a higher chance that you will get away with it!

Pickpocket warning sign in Italy
Pickpocket thief

Technique used to steal your money in Florence:
While you are looking around in the local shops you will focus all your attention towards the goods on sale. A careful pickpocket notices that and gently opens your bag or purse to go through its contents.

5. France, Paris

FranceFrance and Paris with its elegant Eiffel tower are one of the number 1 tourist attractions in the world. People from all over the world flock up to try out the famous French cuisine and meet the friendly locals. As it turns out – some people can be too friendly!

Technique used to steal your money in Paris:
Attractive young men walk around trying to find female tourists in order to give them a red rose as a present. This will make the lady happy and unsuspecting and she will be an easy target for pickpockets who are teaming up with the handsome young man giving away flowers.

If the thieves don’t find something valuable they might ask you money for the flower. Both ways you are in for an unpleasant surprise.

4. Spain, Madrid

SpainSpain is another European tourist destination that is overpopulated with tourists. In addition to Barcelona holding the top position in our list, the capital Madrid is flooded with pickpockets.

When on your way to a bull fight you better look out – what seems like an ordinary crowd can be a crowd full of people hungry for your wallet!

Technique used to steal your money in Madrid:
Someone with a camera approaches you and asks to take a photo of them. You will drop your bag for a minute in order to take the picture – at the same time someone from behind snatches your bag and runs away

3. Czech Republic, Prague

Czech RepublicCzech Republic – the home of cheap beer and all night partying! The capital Prague is known for its popularity among British lads who wish to enjoy the weekend but it is no place to be when you are too drunk and have lost all your friends.

In 2005 the city of Prague ran an ad campaign to notify tourists of pickpockets. Here is what 1 ad looked like:
keep an eye out for pickpockets
Here is what a victim had to say about how he lost his money in Prague:

I had just paid at McDonald’s and put my bulging wallet back in my left inside jacket pocket. I picked up the tray and was holding it, when I got distracted. Some teenagers with brightly coloured hair were ordering various ‘Happy meals’ and discussing the merits of the plastic toys that came with them. Maybe it was an orchestrated distraction, but it must have been the time that my wallet disappeared.
My wallet contained my passport, driving licence, credit cards, a wad of cash etc.
It was very unpleasant.

Technique used to steal your money in Prague:
A young women makes eye contact with you on the street. This temporarily gets your attention while you are being robbed by the beautiful girl’s accomplice.

2. Italy, Rome

ItalyPickpockets are an increasing problem in Italy. In addition to Florence (number 6 in our list), Rome is the countries busiest tourist center. But that is not all it is – it is also a heaven for pickpockets. The pickpocketing problem in Rome is so big that it is mentioned in almost all materials intended for tourists. The thieves however are almost never local – they are poor immigrants looking for a way to make a living.

The pickpocketing problem is especially big in public transport. The inner city bus number 64 is known as “the wallet express” – it is the best way to get rid of your money.

Below is a video of pickpockets in action in Italy:

Technique used to steal your money in Rome:
A young gypsy girl or a woman near you will appear to trip and accidentally drop her baby – it almost seems that she throws the baby into your arms.
You reach to save it from falling and in the process drop whatever is currently in your hands. The accomplices quickly pick up whatever you dropped, go through your things and leave.
You will of course realize that instead of a baby you are holding a doll.

1. Spain, Barcelona

SpainBarcelona is the number 1 tourist attraction in Spain! In addition to a number of sights it also has a dozen or so pickpockets for every attraction. If pickpocketing would be on the Olympics, Barcelona would be the definite gold medalist!

When you disregard pickpocketing, Barcelona is a relatively safe place to be. Spanish people are not very fond of drinking, they much more prefer smoking pot – and that makes people sleepy and friendly.

When walking on the famous pedestrian street La Rambla be sure to wear your backpacks in your front. Pickpockets work in teams – 1 person distracts you and another one opens your bag or goes through your pockets. They don’t hesitate to use scissors or a razor to cut their way in!

Technique used to steal your money in Barcelona:
A friendly local notices that your clothes are dirty and offers to provide you with a napkin so that you can clean yourself.
What really happens is that the local himself or his partner in crime has secretly spilled something on you to get your attention. After accepting the napkin and starting to clean yourself your mind is occupied and it becomes easy to go through your bag or your pockets.

What Google Thinks

Below is a screenshot of the places that Google thinks have the most pickpockets! Here is what people usually search for:

Google and Pickpockets

It looks that our list is dead on – 8 out of 10 places searched in Google are all somewhat featured in our list. As you can see – pickpocketing tends to be a larger problem in Europe than in anywhere else!

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