One of the scariest things for Americans traveling overseas for the first time is a fear of "pickpocketers". This is mostly a lost art in the United States for a variety of reasons (though digital theft is becoming more common), but overseas physical as well as digital pickpocket incidents continue to be all too common. While there is no 100% guaranteed way to protect yourself, here are some tips to help reduce the likelihood that you'll be a victim.
Start By Protecting Your Identity from Digital Pickpockets
With the rise of "smart cards" and other digital devices that you carry on you, traditional pickpocket thieves have gone high tech. In some cases, the goal is to steal your identity so they can process larger crimes later - or simply sell your information. Other times, the goal is to steal your bank information directly by connecting to RFID enabled credit cards. Luckily, most banks are replacing older cards with more secure ones that require there to be some sort of contact to be turned on. Previously all you needed to do was to get a reader / scanner near the card to activate it.
Luckily, there are wallets out there for men who want to protect themselves from even the chance of this happening. One vendor that we've spoken with recently is kinzd wallet and they make a variety of attractive and function men's wallets, including this ultra thin men's wallet with an ID card window and a zippered section for money too.
Don't Travel Alone
Pickpocket thieves are extremely clever and typically "mark" a potential target by looking for people by themselves that don't look like locals and have recently visited a bank or ATM. They are also watching for people who may have shown they have a large amount of cash - for instance pulling it out of their wallet to pay for a meal or item from a street vendor.
People who are traveling alone make easier targets because you don't have friends that could help alert you if they see something strange. Plus, it's simply easier for a stranger to get close to someone if they don't have friends around them already.
No Pocket Is Safe - But Money Belts Help
While you might think that pockets on the inside of your jacket or front pants pockets are more secure, they really aren't. However, old fashioned money belts can help you secure your cash and cards - though they make buying things more awkward and that could attract attention in themselves.
Make Sure to be Constantly On Guard - Even when Not in Crowds or "Bad Neighborhoods"
Thieves targeting tourists aren't limited to bad neighborhoods. They follow where they can find easy marks. That often translates to popular tourist areas and the pathways between attractions that might not even be crowded. Because of this, don't let your guard down and always stay aware of your surroundings.
When I travel (and even at home too), I check my wallet pocket every few moments as well as look behind me to see if someone is following me. Sometimes I feel paranoid but that's safer than being naive.
Steer Clear of Disturbances On the Street
One common scam that travelers will see is when a disturbance attracts your attention to see what's going on and cause you to be less aware of your personal security. This could be anything from a busker attracting a crowd around them to two guys shouting at each other on a street corner.
Avoid Public Transportation - Especially at Night
City busses and train stations can be prime spots for pickpockets to pray on unsuspecting tourists. This is because they offer lots of places to hide and a quick escape should they either be found out or successful in their theft attempt.
The good news is that most thefts happen when you let your guard down ... so try to always stay diligent. If you do so, you can dramatically increase your odds of not being a victim of theft while traveling.