A number of years ago I was on a Mediterranean cruise, starting and ending in Rome. I remember talking with an Australian couple that first evening about how they had lost all their valuables - money, passport, personal items - in the main Rome train station, on their way to the ship. A very professionally dressed man had swiftly cut the bag that she was carrying over her shoulder, and disappeared before she or her husband could even react.
Another couple I met on board ship had heard about how good pickpockets were in Europe, and were absolutely convinced they would know if and when someone tried to take a wallet out of their back pocket. They decided to put this thought to test in Barcelona by placing a "sticky" wallet (made of rubber or some type of material that supposedly sticks to fabric and is difficult to remove) in a very tight back pocket. Well, the wallet was never seen again. They admitted that they had NO clue where or when it disappeared.
I've been to 8 out of the 10 top cities known to have the best pickpockets in the world. While no one is exempt from being targeted, I can say that I've never lost anything by following a few simple rules.
Barcelona is the known as the pickpocket capital of the world. Other cities that round up the top ten are Rome, Prague, Madrid, Paris, Florence, Amsterdam, Athens, Buenos Aires and Hanoi.
These cities can certainly change at any time, but the techniques used by pickpockets are pretty common across all of them (or any other city), no matter where you are in the world. The tops ones to watch out for:
How to avoid being scammed? Following are my simple rules.
And my #1 rule that has never let me down? Unless very few people are around me, I ALWAYS keep my day bag/purse in front of me. Always. When going through crowds, I hug it to my body. I don't open it in crowds. I do this while site seeing, at the airport, on a train. Whatever it takes to make it harder on the thieves.
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Laurie Marschall - Owner and Founder