You’ve probably heard the stories too, of people who’ve been robbed on their holidays. They’ve lost everything: passport, money, maybe clothes and jewerly.
You don’t want to think about such a horror. You don’t want to have a bad memory attached to travel. You don’t want these experiences at all, wether your traveling or are at home! What can you do to prevent it from happening? What are signs to look for and how can you avoid being at the wrong spot at the wrong time?
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Ramblas – Barcelona, famous for pickpockets
Pickpockets behave differently from other people. Imagine your watching a show on the street, one that is performed for the tourists. Everybody is looking in the same direction and is enjoying the show. A pickpocket is not looking at the show, that person is looking at the tourists, and at when and where he can get something. These are the moments they wait for.
Normally, people look at others by looking into their eyes, but pickpockets will look at people’s bags and pockets. They are checking out circumstances for getting something out of someone’s pocket or bag.
People who are in your personal space
People who come too close to you and then accidently bump into you. Pickpockets do this to get time to go into your pockets or into your bag. You often feel when someone is too close to you. Try to make eyecontact, feel that person’s intention. If it is sincere, the person will look back at you and it won’t happen again. But a pickpocket doesn’t like to be seen. He doesn’t want to be recongnized later on so will not look back at you. If you do look eachother face to face a pickpocket will probably leave.
Change money trick
If someone asks you to change money with him on the street, don’t fall for it. Tell them to go to a shop. Maybe they saw you going towards a exchange office and they have a better rate? I will change to a bad rate, but then I’m sure to get all my money changed. Pickpockets are very nimble and quick with their hands and before you know it, you’ve lost some of your hard-earned money. Pickpockets have practiced this for years; you are not going to see them take your money even if you have your eyes focused on it the entire time. You won’t see it until you need the money or back in the hotel counting out what you still have.
A group of people
When multiple people surround you and starting to talking to you, they might seem to be making you a good offer. This can be dangerous. When one person distracts you with these offers and your attention is with that person, another person might have a different goal. A pickpocket has the space and oppurtunity to go into your pockets. You were raised to be polite, so you look at the person who is talking to you. They know that and use those moments. If I feel discomfort in such a situation I simply end the conversation.
It seems great, of course, when you get a good offer you can’t resist and people don’t want anything in return. I’ve done enough traveling to know there are people out there who are sincere and just want to talk and spend time with a Western person. But do make sure that when you interact with people on this level that your antenna is highly activated. If you have any doubts or see anything strange, you should choose not to participate. Don’t take any risks, there are many other great changes to get your experience.
Trust your Gut Feeling
The best thing you can do is really trust your gut feeling. That feeling doesn’t lie. We are not used to relying on that anymore. Most of us have even shut down parts of it because sometimes it didn’t lead to the right conclusion. You might feel it scares you more than necessary. Maybe that is true to a certain extent, but when I’m traveling I don’t need to make any bad memories. I’d rather miss out on a experience then one too many.
Do you want to read more safety tips?
5 Tips to Drive Safe in a Foreign Country
How to Travel Safe as a Female Solo traveler