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‘Attenzione, pickpocket!’: What Tourists Need to Know, and What Other Things They Need To Know

By: Benjamin He

So you’re going on vacation? Your children are pumped, your pets are with friends, and you’re relaxing in an adorable little street cafe…only, where did your phone go? You look around frantically, dig in your bag, only to catch sight of a man running away, a black rectangular object in hand…almost like your phone.

If this situation sounds familiar, or is a situation that you would rather avoid, I have fortunately compiled a beautiful guide for you.

Pickpockets generally look for targets who are completely distracted by something else. That means that they’ll generally keep an eye out for someone who doesn’t have an eye on their things. That means if you’re completely wrapped in your phone, or gawking at anything really, then you are potential pickpocket material.

Thieves are generally going to be looking for expensive stuff like phones, cameras, designer bags, expensive jewelry or an abundance of shopping bags. Pickpockets on camera are generally seen trailing or following someone or just eyeing those pockets a bit too closely.

These such catastrophes can be avoided with some extra protection. Money belts and belt bags can be worn under loose clothing and jackets, and cameras or phones can be placed in neck or wrist straps.

Then that begs another question: How do pickpockets distract tourists long enough to steal from them anyway?

Be wary of people lingering nearby if you’re on public transportation. Lazza Ramo, a 36-year-old pickpocket watcher in Milan, says tourists who store their luggage in overhead bins on trains are often targeted: “Once they reach their destination they find themselves without luggage, wallets, mobile phones.”

If you leave anything anywhere, for example, a backpack draped over a chair or a bag on the ground next to you, a pickpocketer may set their sights on you. Pickpockets may even work together to nab items.

“Look for a big hat or an open flowy shirt. They usually work in pairs or groups of three to four,” said Gillian Longworth McGuire, a Venice-based travel writer.

In a 2006 article released by Slate, teenagers appeared to be some of the more common pickpockets, due to the fact that they are minors, and the punishment would be less severe. Pregnant women were also frequent pickpockets, due to them receiving shorter jail sentences due to health needs.

How would you defend yourself against a pickpocket?

Well, there are many safe areas to store your belongings. Hotels, for one, are a pretty safe place to store your stuff. Limiting the amount of items you carry while you walk around is another important step, and having backpacks with zippers that zips it up securely also helps.

Resources such as anti-theft bags with zippers, locks and cellphone necklaces that are sold at department stores or online are commonly recommended.

So what do I do if I’ve been robbed?

Do not fret. If somehow you were utterly bamboozled by the clever pickpocket(s), there are ways to get help. When traveling somewhere, you should always try to get the place’s emergency number on your phone, just in case. ing, tourists should identify the emergency services number in their region and save it in their phone’s contact. In Italy, Greece, Spain and the United Kingdom, travelers can call 112.

Before trying to shout or yell at a pickpocket, McGuire recommended getting the attention of authorities and people surrounding the area.

“I have never seen someone get violent when called out, they usually run. But obviously, someone should only do what they feel safe doing,” McGuire said.

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