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A New Phrase: ‘Attenzione Pickpocket!’ Goes Viral for Tourist Protection

By: Ray Wu

Italy is a relatively safe country that attracts over 100 million tourists every year, scoring fifth for popularity! However, some crowded and safe locations have increased pickpocket levels. Monica Poli, whose career has been dedicated to supporting tourists and travelers from pickpockets, posts videos that provide basic advice for them. She also coined the phrase, “Attenzione Pickpocket!”.

Recently, there have been about 135,000 pickpocket cases per year, a drop of 25% from 4-8 years ago! It is nearly useless to compare this figure to the volume of pickpocketing in U.S. because the country averages 400,000 per DAY! This means that, in the US alone, there are nearly 140 million cases reported per year. -- 10 times more than the number in Italy.

Monica Poli, a 57-year-old woman has gone viral on social media because of her courage to stop pickpockets from stealing valuables. Even someone spitting on her for revealing his crimes didn’t discourage her from keeping pickpockets from getting their way.

“We want to protect all of the tourists [and travelers] and let them know what is happening in Italy,” Poli explained during an interview. “If you are pickpocketed and you don’t go immediately to the police, the thief will stay free,” Poli said later (YAHOO news).

Pickpockets are lured to popular areas where it is harder to capture by video and where they have many easy targets. Monica Poli alerts everyone that if you’re on your phone, or chatting with a friend, you may be targeted because you aren’t paying full attention to your surroundings. She also believes that keeping your personal items out of your pockets and instead in bags is helpful in crowded areas. Monica also learned that if someone spills food, drops items, or bumps into you, pickpockets are ready to steal as soon as you are distracted.

“I have never seen someone get violent when called out, they usually run. But obviously, someone should only do what they feel safe doing,” Gillian Longworth McGuire, a travel writer points out (YAHOO news).

Thankfully, there are ways to help. It’s crucial to warn people who have valuables to zip their bag, keep it in sight, or call out pickpockets that have started their operation. It is also important to record if you don’t want to risk being attacked. You can also hold posters to alert victims.

“It was four years ago,” Poli said. “They pushed me back, but I continued to do the same thing. I don’t care. You are in Italy. You must respect the tourists”, Poli continued, trying to inspire others to do the same thing, after being assaulted by four women and receiving neck injuries.

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