This is a long overdue blogpost, and I finally got my time to type it out on my flight from Beijing to Singapore. I have finished my two-months of all-around Europe traveling last June. And at the start of this year, I had been to Barcelona, Spain, the place that all of the best-in-class pickpocketing are at, and where Discovery channel had its interviews on pickpocketing skills filmed at. I have been to 55 countries without ever got pickpocketing, including the notorious Barcelona, so my comments on anti-theft measures have credibility on its effectiveness.
Know your enemies well
There are good summaries online describing the common tactics to pickpocket you. These are especially commonly seen in Europe. Before you travel, make sure you pay it for a read so that you would be well aware of it when you run into them in Europe, they are but not limited to:
- Bird poop scam
- Sign a petition
- Subway frauds
- Map trick
Make yourself look prepared
There is a famous quote that when you run into a bear, you don’t have to be the fastest in running, you only need to run faster than the one next to you. It’s the same in the anti-theft game. In the tourist place, there are thousands of people you only need to show that you are not the lowest hanging fruit then you are safe.
- Dress like an experienced traveller. Don’t put on luxury accessories with you on the street.
- Don’t go to the places where crime rate is high
- Be vigilent when you are using your mobile, it’s easily to be snatched on the street.
- Also watch your belongings at the place like train station and bus station.
- Don’t stand at the entrance and exit of the train.
- Don’t show you camera.
- Show your bitch face if needed.
Apart from the mindset you should prepare yourself as above mentioned. There are a few equipments and measures that I would use.
Fake wallets as a honeypot, put some small amount of cashes inside as well. This would be helpful if you are robbed. You must have some cashes inside otherwise the robber might get angry and hurt you.
Padlock for the backpacks, it would both be useful for your backpack and your hostel. It is more of security theater for your backpack, since the thief could use knife anyway, but this would show you are prepared.
- Hidden bag. The one I bought from deuter is a bag wrapping around your leg. Once you wear a pair of pants then it is hard to pickpocket you from the lower part of your body, since they have to bend down to reach it.
- The belt that could hold notes. This would be your life saver if you are being robbed. It’s unlikely for the robber to find out that you have money in your belt. Even in the security check in the airport, I only run into once that the airport security found that I have notes in the belt. (It’s in London, so I know the flight should be safe from London).
Put money into different places, and don’t put them in the wallet. I bought a bag of gum and finish it. Then I can put the money in the bag. For places that with high robbery rate, you could put money in a honey pot wallet just in case somebody robs you with a gun and it would be better to give them a small amount than being shot.
Sandbox bank account and bank card with very few money inside. This is also for robbery, but a bonus is to prevent ATM card recording.
Spare Mobile phone, so that you could still be able to access to Internet when one of your phone being stolen.
Check with your bank beforehand about the procedure to cease the credit card, especially when you are oversea.