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Best self-defense against hordes of (children) pickpocketers

Best self-defense against hordes of (children) pickpocketers

Old Jun 28th, 2002, 04:10 PM
  #1  
Jennifer
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Best self-defense against hordes of (children) pickpocketers

I asked this question previously, but it was kind of buried in an area-specific post.

I haven't experienced it, but what is the best thing to do if you see a group of children who start "pawing" at you, trying to pick your pockets? Obviously, my passport, visa, credit cards, and other important things will be hidden under my clothing, but other than keeping a little lock on my purse or bag, what is the best way to "shoo" them off?

I certainly don't want to hurt any children, but I'm also not going to stand there while they tear at my belongings trying to strip me of anything they can tear off!

Seriously, does anyone have any suggestions?

Thanks!

Jennifer
 
Old Jun 28th, 2002, 04:15 PM
  #2  
Holly
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Kick 'em. If that doesn't work, grab their hands and bend their fingers back.
 
Old Jun 28th, 2002, 04:34 PM
  #3  
where
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Where are you off to? India?
 
Old Jun 28th, 2002, 04:39 PM
  #4  
Jennifer
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I'm leaving for Russia at the end of August. Perhaps the reports are exaggerated, but I've often read that groups of children are very prevalent in Moscow and St. Petersburg. I won't spend the majority of my time there, but I will be in both cities seeing some tourist sites.

Jennifer
 
Old Jun 28th, 2002, 04:57 PM
  #5  
thanksHolly
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I like the bending the fingers back idea !!!
 
Old Jun 28th, 2002, 05:09 PM
  #6  
Jennifer
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I like the bending back the fingers suggestion, too! Fortunately, I'm almost six feet tall, so I doubt any one child will overwhelm me, but hopefully if even people give a firm message, the children will figure out it isn't worth it. I only hope they aren't being punished at home because they didn't bring back anything. {sigh} What a horrible life for children.

Jennifer
 
Old Jun 28th, 2002, 05:12 PM
  #7  
Uncle Sam
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Try an Uzi!

US
 
Old Jun 28th, 2002, 05:30 PM
  #8  
Jen
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I have heard that spinning around ( so you are a moving target) and shouting "Thief! Thief!" will drive them away. (In this case, it might help to learn to say it in Russian.)

You don't want the situation to progress to the point where their fingers are anywhere that you are able to grab them. These teams work fast, by the time you grab one and do whatever, the others have got you and taken off.
 
Old Jun 28th, 2002, 05:51 PM
  #9  
zzz
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Just throw them a hard, steely-eyed stare, a la Clint Eastwood. Make them look for a softer target. It's like that saying about never running from a bear. Of course you run. You don't have to run faster than the bear, just faster than the guy next to you.
 
Old Jun 28th, 2002, 08:13 PM
  #10  
happy camper
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I was walking with several people in St. Petersburg, Russia when a group of youths came up to us. While the men in my group were shooing the kids away, the youths separated me from the group. I am a small female and was lost in their midst. One girl was holding a child in her arms & she stood directly in front of me to block my walk. I was rushing to get away and yelling "stop" when this "baby" reached out and took the can of soda out of my hand while the"mother"(?) reached for my purse. I grabbed the soda from the "baby" and pushed the "mother's" hand away. They were surprised! About this time one of my friends turned to see where I was and when he started back to help me the youths took off. They are brazen, even at a young age. They are very quick in their actions and you have to be firm to fend them off. This took place in a few seconds. This incident was in late morning and later that day we saw the same kids elsewhere in city.
 
Old Jun 28th, 2002, 08:23 PM
  #11  
Karen
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A Catholic sister told me to yell "Bastardo" as loud as possible if this happens in Italy.
 
Old Jun 28th, 2002, 08:52 PM
  #12  
Uncle Sam
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Good point,

Shout bastardo and then use the Uzi!

US

BTW, nuns talk like that!
 
Old Jun 28th, 2002, 09:14 PM
  #13  
Mary
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You guys are teasing Jennifer about a very serious problem. You don't want to hurt a kid, but then again you don't want your stuff taken! This happened to us in Rome as we were walking down the street. My husband yelled get away-loud, and shoved them-hard. No serious damage and they ran off.
 
Old Jun 28th, 2002, 09:16 PM
  #14  
x
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mayb you could carry something that you could squirt them with
 
Old Jun 29th, 2002, 08:47 AM
  #15  
Mandy
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They are looking for easy targets. Give them "the look" and if they approach you start yelling. If they touch you, push them away.

I saw a tourist in St. Peterburg walking down the sidewalk with a child at her side. The boy was actually scratching her arm while he was begging. She did nothing to get rid of him, just kept her eyes forward and walking quickly. Our tour guide (we were on the bus getting ready to leave) saw this and jumped out to help her, yelling at the kid in Russian. The woman had bad scratches on her arm, which we washed with Purell, an antibacterial handcream which I had in my purse.

I could not understand why she would allow the kid to do that. If he was attacking me, I figure I have the right to defend myself, no matter what his age.

We were in St. Peterburg for two days and this was the only incident we saw.
 
Old Jun 29th, 2002, 10:47 AM
  #16  
mj
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Jennifer,
I had the problem in Moscow walking out of the Intourist hotel - you'd think a NYer would know better. Once they see the "pity", they pounce, think lions sniffing out the weak in the herd. The fact that I'm tall/muscular didn't faze them a bit.

My advice, as others have said is: don't look vunerable and, if you think they've "marked" you, discourage them BEFORE they reach you. A good strong "Nyet", as they approach should ward them off. That, and picking up the ~10yo boy by the arm that was trying to pick my pocket worked for me - you might consider giving one a mild push on the shoulders if things start to get out of hand.

Two other points -
1. They'll sometimes send a "scout" over to you. Resist the temtation of giving to just that one as it brings the others running - my mistake.
2 Don't expect help - passers by view this as their chance to get away without being bothered. My incident turned out to be the joke of the day w/my Russian hosts.
 
Old Jun 29th, 2002, 12:37 PM
  #17  
jen
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Resist the temptation to use both hands to push them away or point your finger accusingly. Use your hands - at least one of them - to hold on to your purse and keep your clothing closed around your valuables. Use your legs to get you closer to other people (walk into a shop or restaurant, if you can). Twisting and turning is a very good idea. Acting unpredictably is also good: though it sounds weird, launching into a dance with a lot of kicking (use those long legs, girl!) is worth a try. Don't be afraid to grab a wrist or a collar and do some swinging. The police told me in Russia that the best way to recover pickpocketed goods was to use force to keep hold of a member of a kids gang and bring him or her to a police station. Word gets around fast and the other kids come in to make a trade. I don't know if I'd ever be able to do that, but it gives you an indication of what the police expect victims to try to do. Remember, the odds are in your favor: it probably won't happen to you!
 
Old Jul 1st, 2002, 11:02 AM
  #18  
Lee
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How about carrying a little spritz bottle filled with water and vinegar like we use for dog training? A little shot at them might work.
 
Old Jul 1st, 2002, 12:04 PM
  #19  
tourist
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How about whacking their heads with that water bottle you're carrying everywhere?

Are pepper sprays/ mace legal where you're going?

Carry matches, set a couple of 'em the nastiest on fire.
 
Old Jul 1st, 2002, 12:07 PM
  #20  
xxxxx
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I like the vinegar in the eye strategy. But can I get in trouble for temporarily blinding the brats? How about using it on their parents too?
I don't want to get arrested myself.
 

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