How to Prevent Being Pickpocketed

Unfortunately, not all people in the world are honest, and it takes only one person to ruin an outing. Whether you're traveling or venturing into a crowded place or an event near home, taking a little care to guard your valuables can help to keep your belongings as your own.


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    Always store valuables in a front pocket or a secret pocket. Make sure it is not sticking out of your pocket(s) either. Keep nothing valuable in your back pocket, as this is a vulnerable place for pickpockets.
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    Avoid walking through large crowds. Pickpockets can easily blend in and snatch wallets without anyone noticing.
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    Touching or fiddling with the pocket where you carry your belongings tells the pickpocket where you carry your valuables. This is a regrettable error and drops a huge hint of where you keep your things, not only to the pickpocket but also to the public.
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    Refrain from rummaging through your wallet or counting money in public. While you are looking through your wallet, it's easy for someone to snatch it out of your hands and make off with it. If you must use your wallet in any way, shape, or form, do so away from large crowds and in a safe place.
    • Count your money at home or in a hotel room. Never lay out money and credit cards on a table/phone booth/etc. in a public place, as somebody can snatch it. Counting money publicly also advertises its presence and its location.
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    Never hand money to panhandlers, unless you have loose change in your pocket. Taking your wallet out in front of a panhandler risks someone snatching it from you while you are looking through it.
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    Shorten the strap on any purse or bag you carry. Don't dangle the purse loose below your waist. The strap should be short enough that you can keep the purse and its openings under your elbow. A purse strap of metal chain is very secure, because it cannot be easily cut. Also, try to find a purse that has the zipper within your eyesight - not one that's behind you. Having a purse with a zipper in the back will make it easier for someone behind you to unzip your purse and make off with its contents.
    • Carry your purse across your chest. If the strap is long enough, put it over your head so the strap runs diagonally across your chest, with the purse itself under your arm.
    • Carry no valuable items in outer purse pockets. Use any exposed pockets for your Kleenex, your makeup, or your map. Store your wallet and phone in a place where they will be harder to reach.
    • Close zippers and clasps on purses and backpacks.
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    Pick up credit cards and other valuables as soon as the clerk returns them. When you're done with the card, put it in your wallet right away. When eating out, never give the credit card to the waiter take the time to go with him/her, as waiters sometimes make copies of the credit cards.
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    Whenever you are going out to a public place, only take what you need. Leave behind in the hotel safe some money and any credit card(s), ID, etc. that you don't need to take. That way, if you do get pick pocketed, you don't lose everything.
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    Use a money belt or an inside coat pocket. Concealment may not always protect you from muggers and sophisticated thieves, but it will make it much less convenient for the casual thief. This sort of defense is most effective if it is completely invisible, so avoid accessing such hiding places in public.
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    Consider making a mugger's wallet if you know you will go somewhere dangerous. A mugger's wallet is not your real wallet - it is merely a false copy to trick the mugger into thinking that it is your real wallet. Stuff a few receipts and expired credit cards or coupons into your mugger's wallet and keep your real wallet in a secret pocket. Put your mugger's wallet anywhere you like, but do not put it in a concealed pocket! By making this wallet, your real wallet will be safer.
    • If you're afraid the mugger will not fall for your fake wallet, put a few one dollar bills into your mugger's wallet.
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    Blend in. If you're tall and blond, there may not be much you can do to blend in in Japan, but do what you can to avoid looking like a tourist. Dyeing your hair or wearing a cap to appear subtle will help. Wearing sunglasses will help as well. Don't wear brightly colored shirts or anything that makes you stand out of the crowd.
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    Leave nothing unattended. Do not hang a bag or purse over the back of a chair (such as in a restaurant or Internet cafe), and certainly do not leave it behind while you walk off. If you have to go somewhere (ex: bathroom), bring it with you no matter what, or risk it being stolen!
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    Wear backpacks on your front if you must wear one in a crowd. It's best not to have anything important in your backpack, at all.


  • Remember that pickpockets do not wear disguises! They are normal people and blend in with the scene. Pickpockets can be young and old, male and female, rich and poor. Young children, teens, and even seniors can be pickpockets.
  • Always wear good shoes for walking, and be prepared to run from stalkers and pickpockets.
  • Also prepare an old/broken cell phone if you're mugged for your cell phone. Give it to the mugger instead of your cellphone you are currently using.
  • Always make sure that you know how to contact your credit card company so that if you are pickpocketed, you can get your credit cards cut off as soon as possible!
  • Always carry purses/briefcases/handbags/etc. in your dominant hand so you can defend yourself.
  • Don't wear an open bag with your wallet in it.
  • Never wear brightly colored clothing. It just brings attention to yourself and makes you more vulnerable.
  • Make sure you have no visible bulges on your clothing.
  • Carry color copies of your ID or passport with you. Leave your real ID at the hotel safe and only take real ID with you if you know for sure you'll need it.
  • Never take anything with you that you aren't prepared to lose.
  • It is good to discourage pickpockets. It is simple: you can tie your zippers with paper clips, or a twist tie. It can discourage them because they want to snatch something fast, and they don't want to take the time to undo a twist tie.


  • Always expect the unexpected.
  • If threatened by a mugger, just give them whatever they want, unless if you have a mugger's wallet. Don't try to make a run for it - you can always buy another bag or wallet, but you can never buy back your own life.
  • Be wary of strangers starting up a conversation with you, asking for directions, or showing something to you. They are likely creating a diversion so they can pickpocket you.
  • Be wary of your surroundings.

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Categories: Travel Safety & Security