Pickpockets Would Prefer You Not Read This

Raise your hand if you have ever been the victim of a pickpocket or mugger when on a trip. Unless you are currently on your trip and in a public space – then keep your hand safely over the flap of your bag and just nod in agreement.

In a thread about the usefulness of money belts over on the Rick Steve’s forum, Charlie makes an interesting observation:

I have read numerous accounts from folks who were pick pocketed or purse snatched who were not wearing a money belt correctly. I have never read a report from someone who was wearing a money belt correctly that they were pick pocketed from their money belt.

The discussion seems to be split about 50/50 between travelers who wear money belts and those who choose not to. Up until reading this thread, I counted myself in the money-belt-seems-unnecessary category and preferred to keep my wallet in my front pocket and camera/phone/what have you in a zipped bag. But some of the stories of pickpocketing attacks have me reconsidering my approach.

I have a good friend who has traveled extensive in Europe … He keep everything – and I mean everything including wife’s passport – in his front pocket. A fat bundle held together with a big rubber band. “No way anyone could get it from my pocket without my knowing it.”

On his fifth trip in the Paris train station – they got it – everything. O’ he was correct. They didn’t get it without him knowing about it. It is just that when he became aware, he could not react fast enough. ~Frank

A group of nice looking college age girls started shoving everybody on the subway and were pushing my daughter off of the subway. I grabbed her arm and refused to let go, hurting her and frustrating the girl behind me who was shoving. I screamed at her and then suddenly she and her friends were gone. Before all of us on the car were done processing what the heck had happened, somebody picked up a wallet from the floor and asked who it was. The shocked couple right in front of me gasped. Their money was gone. ~rankster

While the likelihood of this happening to you is low, the possibility is worth guarding against if only because it would be exceptionally problematic to have your valuables taken during a trip – particularly an international trip.

Do you use a money-belt when you travel? Or do you have other methods you utilize to keep your valuables safe? If so, please share.

And if you have been pickpocketed or mugged when traveling, please share that experience as well – including details as to how the criminal act was carried out.

Read the thread in its entirety: Ok, I’ll fess up. No money belt.


  1. The smart pick pockets linger near the sigh to see tourists that pat the location of their wallet to see if its safe.

  2. I actually distribute my money/cards/valuables in 4 different areas. I use a money belt where I keep larger amounts of cash, 1 credit card, driver’s license, and a copy of my passport; petty cash (about $20 – $50) in my front pocket; wallet with a credit card and phone in a zipped pocket within a zipped section of my backpack; and then the rest of my money, my passport, iPad, extra camera, and other credit cards are inside my hotel safe.

    I’ve never been a victim, but I have been targeted in Paris. The “petition girls” in Paris tried to stop me, but I shook my head no when they asked me if I spoke English. Also, in the Paris subway, I was bumped by someone, then noticed that my backpack was unzipped, but they didn’t get anything.

  3. My mom taught me to use a safety pin to close your pocket of a jacket or where ever your stuff is. My GF used this trick in Prague and when a lady tried to pick her pocket she was foiled. The pick pocket even tried again while my GF caught her and the lady gave her a dirty look for foiling her plan.

    Personally, I like to keep my wallet in the inside pocket of my jacket that is zipped up or if it is in my front pocket, I generally keep my hand in or on it in busy areas I feel are prime for pickpockets… Subways, crowded street festivals etc…

  4. This is very avoidable. Use your ATM card to get cash at the airport upon arrival. Take a car or official taxi to your hotel in high-risk cities. Once in your hotel, lock all valuables in your safe. When leaving the room, only carry a copy of your passport, a small amount of cash, and 1 or 2 credit cards. In high-risk cities, consider carrying a fake wallet with expired credit cards and fake cash. Never carry the hotel room key jacket.

  5. Money belt for me for decades. Now that I’m staying in nicer hotels, I do enjoy leaving some things in the safe. But in transit I stuff all the valuable in the belt, but I’m usually wearing jeans. It’s not terribly attractive to have the bulge, but it feels more comfortable to me.

  6. I use a money belt when traveling to a place, lock everything away on arrival. When touring a place, I have only a days worth of money, photocopies of documents, phone and camera in my front pockets. I keep my personal space around me and observe who is nearby… Never been robbed in 20+ years, millions of miles, 60+ countries…

  7. Well, several things came to mind while reading this post. First, I have also been subjected to the Paris Metro shoving and distraction technique but somehow managed to get my wallet back intact. (It was on the floor and another passenger disrupted the scam before they could succeed.) That experience taught me that it was more luck than my clever tricks that had saved me in the past.

    Since I don’t want to wear a money belt, I opt for another strategy. I almost never carry my passport when I go out on the street. Many countries seem to require that you have it at all times but really, there’s no reason to take that chance. I carry a copy of the passport id page and keep the passport back in my hotel safe or such. As far as cash goes, I carry a little but not a lot…leaving the rest back at the hotel also. I carry one debit card (or credit) but leave another one back with the passport.

    As you can imagine, my plan is to be prepared to lose my purse or whatever and still be able to keep on with enjoying my trip. All I really have to do is report the credit card loss right away.

    My 2 cents…

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