Growing numbers of travelers are falling victim to pickpockets and purse-snatchers in many countries, even in those reputed to be safe. In these countries people would rarely, if ever, attempt to pick-pocket, but illegal immigrants from a number of countries perpetrate such crimes.
The best way to protect yourself is knowing what techniques are being used and taking the necessary precautions to avoid unpleasant surprises. Imagine being robbed of all your funds in a strange country where people speak a different language and approach problems in ways you never imagined possible, including the police.
Travel crime occurs everywhere in the world including Canada and the U. S. A., particularly in big cosmopolitan cities. Taxi drivers rig their meters, or pretend that they are out of order, or take you to your destination on a circuitous route. Sales clerks short change you, money exchangers cheat you, and servers tend to miscalculate – always to their advantage.
Tourists of all ages including experienced can fall victim to fraudulent practices.
Train stations are full of pickpockets who work in collaboration. One drops a coin or banknote and when you bend to pick it up the other picks your pocket. When passing through airport security checks do not pay attention to people who try to distract you.
The ketchup and mustard trick often-practiced works as follows – some body, seemingly inadvertently squirts ketchup or mustard on someone’s clothing in a line up and appears to be very upset about the mishap. He/she pretends to clean it; in the meantime a confederate picks your pocket!
Only take documents you need – passport, traveler’s cheques, credit or debit card and some cash. Make a list of all the cheque numbers, credit or debit card number, and a photocopy of the first few pages of your passport. Keep both in a separate and secure place.
The same applies to credit cards. Never take more than two credit cards and make sure you have the emergency telephone numbers to call, if need be.
According to statistics published, the average purse-snatcher gets about $ 550.00 and pickpocket about 700.00 pending on country or region and the level of wealth of the tourist. There is no need to carry that much cash, when most merchants accept credit and often even debit cards. In some developing or Third World countries all merchants demand cash.
Use the hotel safety deposit box when your stay extends to a week or two.
Most luxury hotels have now in-room safety boxes, and those that do not offer this convenience have safes to keep your valuables safe.
Specially designed shorts and money belts help, but experienced thieves have been known to cut the money belt in crowded buses and/or trains.
Generally, in eastern Mediterranean countries there are more pickpockets than industrialized northern countries. Experienced pickpockets travel all over Europe in search of best locations and opportunities. The central train stations of Rome, Paris, Berlin, Prag, Stockholm Munich, Frankfurt am Main, Vienna, Budapest and Belgrade teem with pickpockets and those who thick to be invincible fall victim in a matter of seconds.
When tragedy occurs, don’t waste time call your credit or debit card company to put a stop on all payments immediately.
Hopefully your passport was in another and secure place.