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How To Avoid Being Pickpocketed

Nothing ruins your day like a swiped wallet. Safeguard your pockets with a handful of hints.


  • Step 1: The person you'd least suspect can be a pickpocket, including that adorable kid who seems to just want to be your friend.
  • Step 2: Be especially vigilant during the day — most pickpockets strike while the sun is out.
  • Step 3: The best defense against pickpockets is to wear a money belt. This slim accessory slips under your clothes—a thief would have to work pretty hard to steal it undetected there.
  • FACT: There are more than 150,000 reported cases of attempted pickpocketing in the U.S. every year.
  • Step 4: Watch out for set ups. Pickpockets often employ elaborate scams, like working in groups or pairs to distract you, "accidentally" jostling you on a bus or train, or even pretending to spill something on you so they can clean it off.
  • TIP: Stay off the cell phone. It makes you an instant target.
  • Step 5: Keep your valuables out of easy reach—not in your backpack or back pocket. Put your wallet in your front pocket (no matter how nerdy it looks). Or, if you're carrying a purse, put it in the inside zippered pocket, and keep the purse closed and firmly under your arm.
  • TIP: If you're carrying a wallet in your pocket, wrap two rubber bands around it. The friction will make it much harder for a pickpocket to lift the wallet out of your pants.
  • Step 6: Always look like you know where you're going. Pickpockets zero in on people engrossed in maps and travel books—because they're distracted, and because it marks them as tourists, who often have lots of cash on hand.
  • Step 7: Make photocopies of your credit cards and ID and stash them in a safe place. That way, they'll be easier to replace should you ever get pickpocketed. And never carry your social security card with you!

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