Pickpocketing Thieves Are Ruining Big Cities: How to Protect Yourself

Big cities are vibrant hubs of culture, business, and tourism, attracting millions of visitors each year. However, the very traits that make these urban centers appealing also make them prime targets for pickpocketing thieves. As incidents of pickpocketing continue to rise, residents and tourists alike are left wondering how to protect themselves in the bustling streets of metropolitan areas.

The Rising Trend of Pickpocketing in Big Cities

Pickpocketing is not a new crime, but its prevalence in major cities has surged in recent years. From the crowded subways of New York City to the bustling markets of Barcelona and Madrid, pickpockets are exploiting the high density of people and the often chaotic environment. These thieves are becoming increasingly sophisticated, employing various tactics to distract and rob unsuspecting victims.

Common Tactics Used by Pickpockets

  1. The Bump and Lift: Thieves intentionally bump into their target to distract them while swiftly lifting wallets or phones.
  2. The Group Effort: Groups of pickpockets work together, with one person distracting the victim while another steals their belongings.
  3. The Fake Help: A pickpocket pretends to assist a tourist with directions or a map, using the opportunity to steal from them.
  4. The Distraction: One thief creates a diversion, such as dropping something or causing a commotion, while their partner takes advantage of the distraction to pick pockets.

Hotspots for Pickpocketing

Certain areas in big cities are more prone to pickpocketing. Tourists should be especially cautious in:

  • Public Transportation: Buses, trains, and subways are common targets due to the crowded conditions.
  • Tourist Attractions: Popular sites like museums, monuments, and historical landmarks attract large crowds, making it easier for thieves to blend in.
  • Markets and Festivals: Busy marketplaces and public events provide ample opportunities for pickpockets to operate unnoticed.
  • Busy Streets and Squares: High foot traffic areas are perfect for thieves looking to exploit the hustle and bustle.

Tips to Protect Yourself from Pickpockets

  1. Stay Aware of Your Surroundings: Always be vigilant, especially in crowded places. Avoid distractions such as looking at your phone while walking.
  2. Secure Your Belongings: Use bags that close securely and keep them in front of you. Avoid placing valuables in easily accessible pockets.
  3. Use Anti-Theft Bags: Invest in bags with anti-theft features like slash-proof straps and RFID-blocking pockets.
  4. Divide and Conquer: Keep your cash, cards, and important documents in different places. This way, if one item is stolen, you won’t lose everything.
  5. Avoid Showing Off: Don’t flaunt expensive jewelry, watches, or large amounts of cash. This can make you a target.
  6. Travel Light: Carry only what you need for the day. Leave unnecessary items in a hotel safe or another secure location.

What to Do If You Get Pickpocketed

If you fall victim to a pickpocket:

  1. Stay Calm: Panicking won’t help. Take a moment to compose yourself.
  2. Report the Theft: Contact local authorities immediately. In many cities, there are dedicated tourist police who can assist.
  3. Cancel Cards: Contact your bank or card issuer to report stolen cards and prevent fraudulent charges.
  4. Track Your Phone: Use tracking apps like Find My iPhone or Android Device Manager to locate your stolen phone.
  5. Seek Help: Visit your embassy or consulate if you need to replace important documents like passports.


While pickpocketing is an unfortunate reality in big cities, being aware and prepared can significantly reduce your risk. By staying vigilant and taking precautions, you can enjoy the rich experiences these urban centers offer without falling prey to pickpockets. Remember, the key to outsmarting these thieves is to stay one step ahead. Protect yourself and your belongings, and ensure your city adventures are memorable for all the right reasons.