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pickpockets?

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Mar 22nd, 2012, 06:30 AM
  #1
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pickpockets?

I've read a lot about the issue with pickpockets in Rome and Florence. Is it really that bad? Do I need to use the 'slash-proof' handbags, chained wallets and hidden money belts?
sharonliz is offline  
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Mar 22nd, 2012, 07:53 AM
  #2
 
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Possibly the money belt but not a purse with a cable nor a chained wallet. What happens if the thief decides to keep pulling? Possible injury.

If you don't carry irreplaceable valuables with you and if you are used to big cities, you may not need to do anything that you don't do at home. This begins with not talking to strangers and staying away from or at least aware of people who try to get too close or make you feel otherwise uncomfortable.

The _big scam_ for the two person team is for one to distract you (stops in front of you so you bump into them or spills something on you) while the other lifts your wallet. If it is girls, one may ask you to sign a petition while the other lifts. If it is little old women, they may try to sell you something or get pushy while begging, with the same result.

The most likely _place_ is near the door on a bus or subway. You are worried about getting out, not paying attention, maybe pushing through the crowd, and then THEY get out with your goods just as the door closes. With you on the other side.
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Mar 22nd, 2012, 08:06 AM
  #3
 
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My friend and I used our regular purses (shoulder purses, not expensive ones like LVs or similar) while in Venice, Rome, Florence, Naples. We were fine. Just hold on to it tight when coming across large groups or really crowded areas.
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Mar 22nd, 2012, 08:08 AM
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There are pickpockets everywhere in the world - from major cities in europe -to upscale suburbs in the US. (I saw a woman in an outdoor cafe in Greenwich CT have her bag stolen off a chair by a kid on a bike.)

The key thing is to be aware of your surroundings and never let go of your belongings. Andything with a chain is a really bad idea - since the thief won't let go and yuo could be injured. What you need is a sturdy shoulder bag that has lots of inside pockets with zippers that yuo can put your valuable into. And then weaar the bag either bandoiere style or in front of your body - never hanging off the back of your shuolder.

If you are alert you should be fine.
nytraveler is offline  
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Mar 22nd, 2012, 09:10 AM
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Most people here wear fanny packs, though they deny it.
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Mar 22nd, 2012, 09:30 AM
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I always wear a money belt. My sister and I used to travel together, and the only time she ever gave me her passport and her ATM card to keep in my money belt was the time a very clever thief disguised as a waiter stole her purse.

He did get a camera, but not the really important stuff.

I've never had my pocket picked, but I have experienced the little girls outside of the Coliseum trying to distract us with a piece of paper held over their hands. We figured they were up to no good, so we yelled at them and they desisted.
Pegontheroad is online now  
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Mar 22nd, 2012, 10:07 AM
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Is it safe to let people take my camera to take a picture of my wife and I together? Would thieves disguise as helpful picture takers?
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Mar 22nd, 2012, 10:15 AM
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The nasty moment is when you are in a crowd looking over a wall, or waiting for a bus and you reach for a tissue to find someone else's hand in you pocket. I find it best not to smile.

Since this has only ever happened to me in Rome after a lot of hoidays all over Europe, I have to believe that you want to carry as little.

Don't wear a fanny pack, it is too easy to remove whole, dress down and wear layers.

Offering your camera to someone else to take a photo... are you mad? What is photoshop for?
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Mar 22nd, 2012, 10:24 AM
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Thieves running off with cameras must be one of the oldest schemes going. If you must do it, surely you have enough sense to pick someone out of the crowd (and there will be crowds!) who's unlikely to be a thief - American student, elderly Brit, someone in a wheelchair - you get the idea.
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Mar 22nd, 2012, 10:34 AM
  #10
 
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In buses & trains I've use my handy LeSportSac for the last 25 years or so. Nothing like a bag with 5 discrete zippers to keep pickpockets away. Over the shoulder and under the arm works for me. The bag doesn't seem to want to wear out.

I've caught a couple of folks trying to get at the bag, but it's a matter of guessing which pocket has what. It even works on Rome's notorious Pickpocket Express, the #64 bus in Rome.

Beyond that, being aware of your situation, knowing what's around you and where you are at all times, are really the best bets for foiling pickpockets.

Just don't act like a tourist, even if you look like one.
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Mar 22nd, 2012, 10:41 AM
  #11
 
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Agree - if I'm on vacation I always take a Sportsac as my purse. they are light, indestructible and have tons of zipper compartments to confuse an thieves that might get that far. (On business trips I just use a rgular purse.)

Have never had a problem yet.

(Caveat: I'm a native New Yorker and I have noticed that safety measures which are obvious to me seem to be a mystery to some other people.)
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Mar 22nd, 2012, 10:54 AM
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As a youngish female who tends to travel alone, I get asked to take other people's photographs a LOT. I don't mind though! I also get asked directions a lot, and I always feel bad because I have the worst sense of direction in the world.

I feel safest wearing my usual purse. I haven't traveled in summer though, when the crowds are at their worst.
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Mar 22nd, 2012, 11:23 AM
  #13
 
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Friend's camera with 800 shots of their trip was lifted in Rome.He was distracted for a moment and left it on the ledge to look at something. Another almost had his pocket picked during day at Mardi Gras, New Orleans. Another, thinking she was perfectly safe at buffet in upscale hotel in Denmark, put purse under floor length table cloth. She and hubby spent the day at the US embassy getting new passport. Guide told tour participants that thieves dress to blend in. Thief isn't necessarily the vagabond sitting on the curb. Two women were distracted by two women who insisted on showing them their bellies. They were pregnant and wanted money. A third companion yelled, "Watch your purses!" and the two Mommies fled.
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Mar 22nd, 2012, 11:30 AM
  #14
 
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Ever noticed though, how no one ever just loses their wallet whilst on holiday?

Something they only seem to do at home....

Peter
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Mar 22nd, 2012, 11:39 AM
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Wherever I go, I get other tourists asking me to take their picture. And I promise, they always get it back.

I love to take photos, so there's no way you'd get me to leave that behind. I've never had it stolen (knock wood). Even when I was in Mexico City over the winter holidays, I had my camera out constantly. Not a problem.

Like Bilboburgler, the ONLY place in all my travels where I've been pickpocketed, was Rome, on the notorious Bus #64. Fortunately, it was just cash and 1 credit card (Am Ex) in my wallet, and I was able to get a new Am Ex card right away at the office at the bottom of the Spanish Steps. (Well, after spending time in a police station getting a report made).

Money belt is good, but I've only used that once. For our Mexico trip I had a little pouch under my shirt.
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Mar 22nd, 2012, 12:26 PM
  #16
 
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Is it necessary to travel around with the passports, could it not be left behind at the hotel??
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Mar 22nd, 2012, 12:36 PM
  #17
 
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By law you are supposed to have your passport with you at all times in Italy, but the fact is hardly anyone does.

Barbara, you might want to start your own thread instead of jumping in on others. For one thing, you would have all your replies consolidated in one place.
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Mar 22nd, 2012, 01:00 PM
  #18
 
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I had an experience on the Paris Metro. It was crowded and no seats were available. We ended up standing near a door. I soon felt a finger(s) going up my pant leg. I moved over at first thinking the guy was looking for something else.

As we arrived at our stop the doors opened. As I tried to exit I was stopped by a roma who bent down in front of me and grabbed my ankles as if I was going to step on something of his. I then felt more fingers goind into my back pocket. I then realized what was going on and I gave the roma a knee to the chest and jumped off the metro as the doors closed.

They weren't very good at thier jobs as my wallet was still in my back pocket.
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Mar 23rd, 2012, 12:03 AM
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Something else people will deny:

That they don't know what a person of Romany descent looks like or cannot distinguish them from North Africans, Italians, Turks, Greeks, Albanians or Hungarians, or French citizens in general.
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