Pickpocket Tips to Keep in Your Back Pocket!


I had my passport stolen once, although not in the way you’d probably expect. I was working as a flight attendant and my assigned location to stow my luggage was in a random spot on a Boeing 777. At some point during the flight my passport was taken. Fortunately I was arriving into the US from China so I didn’t have too many problems getting through customs. I don’t feel totally to blame, but I definitely think I could have protected my passport better so it wouldn’t have been easy to grab. It was probably sitting on the top of my bag and if I had hidden it or put it in a zippered pocket, it may have prevented the theft.

When I studied abroad in Rome one of my professors was pick pocketed twice. Now I know Rome is a city that is infamous for pickpockets, but twice?! He was the quintessential absentminded professor with his head in the clouds and absolutely no situational awareness. So while I don’t think it’s right that he was pick pocketed, I do feel that there are so many things he could have done to prevent this from happening.

With my professor (and YOU!) in mind, I compiled a list of my best tips to avoid getting pick pocketed while traveling.



  1. Leave your valuables in a hotel safe if possible, or at least hide your laptop or iPad at the bottom of your luggage.
  2. Spread out your valuables so everything isn’t in one purse or wallet.
  3. Walk to a safe and less crowded area to pull your money or phone out.
  4. When you sit down at a restaurant or outdoor cafe, loop your bag around your leg, arm, or even a chair leg. Pickpockets love restaurants because tourists are relaxed and let their guard down.
  5. Secure your bags when sleeping on a train.
  6. Some of the best pickpockets are women and children. Trust no one! hee hee Just kidding. But do remember that a pickpocket could be anyone.
  7. Enjoy the scenery but walk with a purpose in heavily congested areas.
  8. Dress to fit in.
  9. Wear a money belt or pickpocket proof clothing.
  10. In some countries it’s best not to wear your camera around your neck (I had a friend get his snatched right off him in Brazil)


  1. Train stations
  2. Pulling money from an ATM
  3. Outside of museums, monuments, or other high tourist areas
  4. Don’t walk in deserted areas at night if you can avoid it (think about safety when booking your hotel location)
  5. Riding on public transportation


  1. Rose for your Girlfriend – Someone will approach you to buy a rose for your loved one and will follow you around until you buy one. Give them a firm NO and walk away quickly. I’ve also seen thugs in NY offer you a free CD and once you take it they bully you into paying for it. Again, just walk away.
  2. Don’t Sign any petitions on drugs, on Tibetan monks, or just to be safe… on anything!
  3. Don’t let anyone offer to take your luggage on or off a train. They may try to bully you into tipping them or worse take something.
  4. Be careful with your phone on public transportation. Thieves love to snatch your phone and slip off the train right as the doors are closing.
  5. Be cautious of Distractions. From shoving maps in your face (or even a baby in your arms), to a fake dropped wallet, to bumping into you, or just some sort of mock scene to grab your attention. These distractions come in all sorts of forms.

What other tips do you have? And I’m sure a few of you have your own pickpocket stories… would love to hear them!

Happy Travels!

xo, Jenny

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  1. 8.14.15
    Pati said:

    Come on! Why do people have to steal a passport not even mentioning anything else. This year I was in Tokyo, Japan and I was so surprised how safe it was. It’s a capital city with over 13 million people and it’s really safe! I loved it 🙂 I could really relax in there 🙂


    • 8.16.15

      I know! It’s terrible! Yes, I felt very safe in Tokyo as well! So glad you got to make the trip there! Would love to go back!

  2. 8.14.15

    Excellent tips, Jenny! It happened to my husband a year ago in Lisbon–on our first day out. It was on the tram (you mentioned public transport). It was a group of women, a baby and an old lady that nudged my husband to get up and let her sit down…of course he did… being the nice guy he is. The woman behind him grabbed his wallet out of his pocket. Within 30 minutes they had charged up over $2000.00 at ‘perfume’ stores in the area. Thankfully Visa didn’t have us pay anything for that and replaced the card within a couple of days. You simply can’t get relaxed in areas like this.
    Happy weekend!

    • 8.16.15

      Bummer! That’s the sort of thing that ruins a trip, or at least colors your feelings about it! It’s so nice that credit card companies are good about returning your funds, but so frustrating that the thieves were able to get all that money!

  3. 8.15.15
    Anne said:

    Passport?! OMG I would be devastated. My passport is like a window into my soul. It tells my life story. Dreams, aspirations, traumas….the lot! It’s the only thing I have in my safe at home lol! I did get my purse nicked in St Petersburg but to be fair I was drinking with a group of friends and not paying enough attention…so be warned drinking makes you more vulnerable to this. I also lost my camera the same way (I swear my partying days are behind me…) along with all the photos from one of my most amazing trips. Sob sob!

    • 8.16.15

      I know! I was so sad about losing the stamps on my passport as that one was really full! Boo hoo! That’s such a bummer about the camera! I would have been devastated too! That happened to a friend as well and yes we were out partying too! Probably should have added that as a tip!????

  4. 3.17.23
    Hugh said:

    Losing your passport is a total bummer that’s exactly why I never carry mine in public except to go to the airport.
    Otherwise, it gets buried in the bottom of my suitcase.
    I was at a seminar for work a couple of years ago where one of the attendees had her wallet lifted out of her purse during the seminar in a closed off room.
    one of my colleagues spotted her carrying a Gucci purse and wallet.
    I happened to be behind her in line for coffee at the Starbucks in the hotel and happened to notice she had a wallet full of $50.00 and $100 bills and gold and platinum credit cards.
    When she discovered her wallet was gone, she let out a blood curling scream and started crying like I’d never seen before.