By: Eric Xu
The new "Attenzione, Pickpocket!" meme is trending on TikTok and is helping raise awareness about pickpockets stealing from tourists. The creator, Monica Poli, spreads the news about this danger to tourists and also helps track pickpockets down and learn how to keep items safe from them.
Pickpocketing means “the action of stealing from a person's pockets.” (Oxford Languages, 2023) Currently, the attention to this crime is skyrocketing, and many tourists are subjected to this crime. This threat has caused Monica Poli to track down pickpockets and help people avoid them. She currently works in Italy, but she broadcasts these issues on TikTok, where her lessons are receiving massive amounts of attention. She also created the meme “Attenzione, Pickpocket!", which has caused more people to be aware of pickpockets. This has caused many people to create tips to protect tourists and also try to prevent pickpockets.
Pickpockets target all types of people, but most favor the ones who are not aware of their surroundings. It gives them an easier way of stealing items. They usually look for ‘“big-ticket valuables” on display like cameras, designer bags, phones, expensive jewelry or an abundance of shopping bags.’ (Washington Post, 2023) Usually, pickpockets are found lingering behind people or watching carefully at bags of pockets. Many work in teams, some distracting the victim and some stealing. Some work alone by creating a huge scene and using the chaos to steal and escape. “Sudden distractions are an even bigger tip-off: directions sought by a map-wielding questioner, food spilled on a tourist by an apologetic stranger, a heated argument that diverts attention.” (Slate, 2023)
There are many ways to protect yourself from pickpockets. One is to be more aware of your surroundings. It will reduce the chance that someone will be able to steal something from you. Another way to protect yourself is buying anti-theft bags that have zippers or can close tightly. This can help prevent people from stealing your items. Also, tourists should put their things inside of a hotel safe beforehand. Even with many precautions, sometimes pickpockets still manage to take our things. “Make copies and/or take photos of key documents, and store them online. Consider getting theft insurance for expensive electronics.” (Rick Steves, 2023) If you have been robbed, it is recommended to contact authorities and other people in the area. Usually, if a pickpocketer is caught, they try to run. It is not common for them to become violent.
Even though there are risks of being pickpocketed as a tourist, there are many ways to prevent that. As this issue is getting more attention and people are following these tips more often, the chances that one will get pickpocketed will greatly reduce.