A traveler recently recounted the following story to us and we thought it a good warning message.
My girlfriends and I were on a trip to Mexico. We’d had a lot of margaritas the night before and so we decided to have a slow day shopping in the marketplace, nursing our hangovers, and avoiding the sun. A group of locals was giving us directions to a cafe, when a young man sidled up next to us. He appeared to be with the others. While we were chatting about options for coffee, he stood very close to my friend and scratched his arm. As he did, I noticed his hand dipped quickly into her purse. I snatched his shirt to stop him from running away, so he dropped her wallet and took off. We let him go, but we certainly learned our lesson!
In this traveler’s situation, the potential thief:
In short, they made themselves relatively easy targets.
It’s important for travelers to understand that pickpockets can be cute or grubby children, pretty women, helpful bystanders, even the homeless guy to whom you give your change.
It’s also important for travelers to recognize how thieves work:
All of these are techniques used to confuse the traveler and allow the thief some time to snatch your travel funds and get safely away.
Pickpockets love travelers who:
Divide up your cash and cards
Put some of your cash in another place: your sock, an interior pocket, etc. That way, if your wallet is stolen, you’ll have other funds to rely on. If you take a backup credit card, that can help as well.
Secure your wallet
While wallets are not considered as safe as other options, like a money belt, there are ways to keep your wallet safer. One option is to wrap the wallet with a rubber band because it makes it harder for it to be pulled from your pocket unnoticed. Some travelers find wallets with attaching chains or cords work well as well.
Wear your purse correctly
If you’re wearing a purse or handbag with a flap, keep the flap against your body. Put your wallet into the interior (not an outside pocket) and the zipper closed.
Damian Tysdal is the founder of CoverTrip, and is a licensed agent for travel insurance (MA 1883287). He believes travel insurance should be easier to understand, and started the first travel insurance blog in 2006.