How to Protect Yourself From Pickpockets in Europe

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How to Protect Yourself From Pickpockets in Europe. Your European holiday should be the positive experience of a lifetime, but staying safe is important. There are many precautions you can take to make sure nothing spoils your trip.

Things You'll Need

  • Backpack Lock
  • Luggage Locks
  • Luggage Sets
  • Money Belts
  • Address Books
  • Travelers' Checks
  • Backpacks
  • Mini Backpacks
  • Padlocks

Leave precious jewelry at home, along with other valuables that you don't need to have with you. Don't bring anything you can't bear to lose.

Pack as light as possible. It's much easier to keep an eye on your stuff when you're carrying only one bag.

Make an effort to fit in. The less you look like a tourist, the less likely you'll be targeted.

Make copies of all important documents before you leave home, including passport and traveler's checks. Leave one copy at home with someone you trust, and bring the other copy with you, stored separately from the documents.

Wear a money belt or pin your valuables into inside pockets of your clothing.

Split up your valuables. Keep cash safely pinned into an inside pocket, credit cards in a different pocket or money belt, and so on. If something does happen, you stand a good chance of keeping at least some of your valuables.

Watch out for "tag-team" and distraction tactics, in which one member of a team spills something on you or asks for directions, while the other steals your wallet or cuts your purse straps. Be aware of the people around you and follow your instincts.

Stay in well-populated, well-lit areas. Don't take shortcuts down alleys, and don't walk alone at night. Talk to the locals about safety - ask them which areas they avoid and which areas become dangerous after dark.

Carry as little cash as possible. Change traveler's checks as you need to, and never pull a wad of cash out of your purse or wallet to pay for anything.

Avoid getting into confrontations with would-be muggers or thieves; your safety is more important than your money. Report problems to local police.

Tips & Warnings

  • Bring a couple of extra passport photos with you; this makes it easier to replace important documents if they do get lost or stolen.
  • Bring a package of safety or diaper pins with you, and then pin the pockets of your garments closed, with your valuables inside. Just make sure you can access what you need without having to undress completely.
  • Buy something at a local grocery store, and carry some of your valuables in the plastic bag with the store logo. This is a great way to disguise your camera as a bag of cheese and carrots!
  • Even people who seem nonthreatening can be thieves or scam artists. Women with babies, groups of children and even English-speaking backpackers all have their own favorite scams.
  • Think twice before listening to sob stories, especially in airports and train stations. Some scam artists hang out in locker areas, telling people that their bags have been stolen and asking for bus, food or phone money. Others wait to see which locker you use, with the intention of breaking into it later.
  • Don't forget to bring all the emergency contact numbers you need, including the numbers for credit card and traveler's check replacement.

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