For the longest time, I thought I wasn’t a target to pickpockets. I’ve heard that European pickpockets tend to follow Asian tourists because they think they have money, but I’ve never had a real encounter with this. This fact rang true for my parents, but not for me, as my parents had gotten their passports, credit cards, and money stolen while they visited Lisbon. I noticed that when I hung out with my parents in Europe, we were always targets! But when I’m alone, I’m okay. I concluded that perhaps because I was in my 20’s, I looked young and broke so nobody wanted to steal from me, haha. But not this time!
While I was in Lisbon, I decided to walk over to The Pink Street to find some food for lunch. I felt this slight noise around my right ear. I thought it was a bug but I decided o turn around. I saw a group of people looking shocked they were being seen. It looked like a family – a father and 2 daughters, and I glanced at my backpack and saw all my pockets were open except the largest pocket! Oh my God. They started saying “You should be careful, a group of guys were trying to open your backpack.” While they were talking I was frantically checking for my wallet and phone. I opened my wallet and one of the daughters was asking “Was anything taken?” And proceeded to grab my wallet and open its contents. I was thinking “are you serious?” And I told them to stop.
In that situation I couldn’t even comprehend what was going on. Though I was skeptical of what they were telling me, I just responded with an “okay thanks” after checking that all my belongings were there. Because they looked like a family, I didn’t think they had the indecency to steal. And as I walked away I realized “DUH”. They were the pickpockets trying to bullshit me saying other people were pickpocketing me.
I was grateful that nothing was stolen. And initially I was angry at myself for not yelling back. I’m not very good at that as I tend to act nicely in touchy situations and move on. And I even thanked the family because I was too slow to realize that they were the thieves, in the moment. Oh well – nothing ended up going wrong. If the occurrence weren’t in broad daylight things could have gone completely awry.
How to Prevent Pickpocketing
These are some tips I’ve gathered that will reduce the likelihood of getting your stuff stolen.
1. Obvious: Keep your stuff with you at all times
2. Put your passport somewhere safe. If you’re at a hostel, lock it up in your locker.
3. Put your valuables in the biggest pocket of your backpack.
4. Use locks or carabiners for your zippers. Here are some lockets or carabiners you can use:
5. Avoid crowds if possible
6. Put your hand on your belongings
7. Use an Anti Theft Travel Backpack. Many anti-theft travel backpacks are advanced with tear resistant material and hidden zippers. These make it harder for pickpockets to steal from you. Here are some suggestions for backpacks you can use:
8. Put cash in different places. Don’t leave all your cards and cash in one place as if you lose it, it’ll be very difficult for you while traveling. For example, you could try putting some cash in your shoe, in your hostel locker, in your suitcase, and wallet.
These tips should help minimize pickpocketing occurrences, but they are not foolproof. Make sure you are always extra careful in foreign countries. Always look behind you and check for your items when you go from one place to another. If you have more tips, please write them in the comments below!