Pickpockets in Europe: A Cautionary Tale

Pickpockets in Europe: A Cautionary TaleDelays, food poisoning, missing baggage… there’s plenty that can go wrong when travelling overseas. Unfortunately, if you’re travelling to Europe, there are also plenty of pickpockets that will try their best to ruin your trip.

AFF member OZDUCK is lucky to still have a wallet after pickpockets in the Spanish city of Barcelona attempted to steal it twice on the same day. Both incidents, which occurred on crowded public transport, were successfully thwarted. But many other tourists haven’t been so lucky.

Today we were coming down from Park Guell on a packed local bus when 2 men got on. One of them kept looking at me oddly and moving around in my vicinity, I didn’t immediately think of pickpockets but I certainly thought his behaviour was odd so every time he moved nearer to me I moved away. Eventually a Spanish couple who were getting off the bus asked me if I spoke English and then warned me, loudly, to watch my wallet around those 2 persons. The, possible, thieves got off the bus a few stops later.

After lunch we got onto a very crowded metro train. i felt a sort of tugging at my pocket but as I only had a cap in there I didn’t take much notice and assumed someone was just trying to get through. The girl who was behind me then stood in front of me for a few stops. As we were coming up to a stop her hand jumped up towards my shirt pocket where my wallet was.

Sadly, pickpocketing is rife in many parts of the world; although it does seem to be a particular problem at the moment in Spain. Other AFF members have shared their own stories of would-be pickpockets in Spain, Greece and Vietnam that have attempted – successfully or otherwise – to rob them.

Luckily, many pickpockets in Europe aren’t that good at what they do. Pickpocketing attempts are often thwarted by other people that notice what is happening, or even the target.

There’s no need to be paranoid about pickpockets when travelling. But you should remain aware of your surroundings and take sensible precautions. For example, one AFF member advises to carry only small quantities of cash and credit cards.

I almost never use a wallet when I travel. I find that placing a single card or cards in one front pocket and cash in another works best. NEVER put anything in your back pocket.

My other protection is a passport size pouch with lanyard to hang around my neck, which I wear next to my skin under my clothing.

As pickpockets in Europe typically target tourists, it can also help to blend in with the crowd and act like a local.

Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: Pickpockets in Barcelona

Pickpockets in Europe aren’t the only thing to look out for. Tourists in major European cities are also regularly targeted by scams. Some of the most recent scams in Europe have been discussed in detail on this AFF thread: Latest Scams in Europe 2018 please


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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]