How To Protect Yourself From Becoming A Pickpocket Victim


“They left their backpacks on their seats and got off the bus to stretch their legs. All that time, they stood at the door to make sure no one got on and off with their bags. But when they returned to their seats, their bags were gone! Their bags were stolen through the bus windows.” A man told me about a couple he met whilst travelling in Brazil.

Another couple who had just returned from Paris told me how they were nearly pick-pocketed by a group of young gypsy girls.

“We had just alighted from the airport shuttle, had our luggage with us, and were still disorientated from a long flight. Five girls came out of nowhere and mobbed my husband and I. One of them distracted my husband and the other four cornered me. They were yelling and shoving newspapers in our face. Then, one of the girls put her hands in my unzipped sling bag. It wasn’t until another travelling couple made a commotion that I realised what was happening. I snatched my wallet back from their hands and shouted back at the girls. At the same time, my husband came to my rescue and someone else reported the incident to the police.”

Distressing accounts of getting pick-pocketed or robbed like that are some of the most common horror stories I hear from people returning from a holiday. For the couple who were pickpocketed in Paris, looking disorientated and walking around with their big luggage made them easy targets. On top of that, the wife made the mistake of leaving her handbag unzipped.

The advice of “don’t look like a tourist” has been thrown around so much but it is not wasted advice. Thieves may still target you if you look like a local, but obscurity makes you less of an easy target.

For more tips on protecting yourself, check out this useful infographic from Yumi Sakugawa of Wonder How To. Some of the tips illustrated may be common, but they are important tips that prevent us from becoming the low hanging fruits for thieving hands.

To add on to the points above, we also recommend to button or zip up your pockets and bags. If your pockets don’t come with buttons, well, it’s time to take out that sewing kit of yours. Besides that, if you are in crowded places like a walkway or a crammed commuter, hold your bags in front of you like a baby. Thieves have been known to cut bags from the bottom to steal the contents inside.

Pro-tip: Carrying around a big and heavy DSLR screams “I’m a tourist!”. Consider a more discreet camera like an action cam. For more light and easy gadget options, read ‘The Best Gadgets To Pack If You Are Travelling Light 

Here is one final piece of reminder to end with this article: No possession is ever worth your life.

Mei Mei Chu
Mei Mei writes to afford her wanderlust. Her (mis)adventures as a solo female backpacker have shown her the best and worst in mankind, and some of the funkiest toilets in the world. Read her honest travel stories at