Pickpocketing is a widespread crime that can affect anyone, anywhere. A skilled pickpocket can make off with money, a wallet, a purse/backpack without ever getting caught. This article will teach you how to lower your suitability as a target and what to do if you are a victim.

The most suitable targets:

  • students sitting in groups with their backpacks open
  • people at the beach
  • people waiting the airport with their luggage
  • riders on the subway, a bus, or other public transit
  • people who look lost, confused, uncertain
  • people sitting a restaurant with their bag slung over their chair or on the floor
  • people who have been drinking or are at a concert and distracted
  • people in crowded AND uncrowded areas — anywhere

What pickpockets look for:

  • purses
  • backpacks
  • wallets
  • cash
  • fanny packs

How they get your stuff without you realizing:

  • Team work: Someone may suddenly stop in front of you and the person behind you “bumps” into you and carefully grabs your things.
  • Distraction: It’s difficult to focus on two things at once, so a distraction keeps you from tracking your valuables. They create the distraction and take your stuff.
    • Someone might “drop” something and your instinct is to help
    • You may get hit with fake bird droppings and they’ll offer to help clean you up
    • Someone, even a child, may try to show you something (like a toy or drawing)
    • Someone may be acting flirty and casual touches are actually attempts to take stuff
    • At the beach someone may act like they are having trouble and while you run to help you leave your things behind; keep your things hidden, even if you think you aren’t going anywhere.
    • Someone may shout that someone stole their wallet; instinctively you may pat where your wallet is which lets them know exactly where your wallet is.
  • They may have a jacket or baby covering their hands so you can’t see them.
  • They may dress like wealthy business men and women or tourists so you don’t expect them.

What can you do? 

  • Carry stuff in a money belt or zipped pocket
  • Appear confident
  • Stay vigilant
  • Keep a visible dummy wallet
  • Keep important things in different pockets
  • Keep photocopies of important documents and credit cards in a safe at home or at your hotel if you are traveling.
  • Don’t carry your social security card
  • Don’t carry around any PINs or ATM codes

What should you do if you are a victim?

  • Call your bank and cancel your cards immediately
  • Call the police and file a report
  • Contact the Department of Motor Vehicles if your license was stolen
  • Contact the Social Security Administration if your Social Security Card was stolen
  • Visit this site to deal with identity theft



This information was gathered from this site.


Abby Orscheln – Safety and Security Intern