How to outsmart pickpockets when traveling abroad

Thieves and pickpockets often see Americans traveling in other countries as easy targets. Many parts of the world, including Europe, have very low violent crime rates, but petty theft remains a problem, especially in tourist hotspots. You're much less likely to be a pickpocket victim if you stay on guard and avoid putting yourself into risky situations.

Be prepared

Before you travel, make copies of your passport, rail pass, itinerary, and other key documents. Write down your credit card numbers, including the international phone number to call in case your card is lost or stolen, and make a list of your prescriptions (medicines and eyeglasses). Keep all of this information in a safe place and leave a copy with a loved one back home.

Minimize your loss in case of theft

If a thief steals your wallet or purse, do three things as soon as possible: (1) cancel your credit cards, (2) file a police report in the jurisdiction where it was stolen, and (3) contact the national credit reporting organizations (Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union) to place a fraud alert on your name and Social Security Number.

If you have a SafeTrip Travel Protection plan, call the Emergency Response Center at the number on your ID card for help 24/7 in replacing stolen travel documents.

5 ways to prevent theft

Take steps to make yourself less vulnerable to pickpockets and thieves:

  1. Steer clear of large crowds and commotions. Pickpockets often create a distraction, such as a fight, to create a smokescreen that allows an associate to steal your stuff when you're not paying attention.
  2. Be on guard in train stations.  Thieves love to pickpocket travelers as they go through metro turnstiles. By the time you realize your wallet or purse is gone, you're already on the other side of the turnstile, unable to do anything about it.
  3. Wear a money belt.  Keep your passport, cash, credit cards, luggage claim tickets, and anything else you don't want to lose in a money belt, which fastens around your waist, under your pants or skirt.
  4. Leave your valuables in your hotel room.  If you have to travel with your laptop or expensive jewelry, lock everything in the hotel safe.
  5. Secure your bag.  Always maintain physical contact with your stuff. If you grab a bite to eat at a sidewalk café, loop a strap of your daypack around your leg. If you sleep on a train, clip your suitcase to the luggage rack or yourself.

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