While Out & About

Don't Just Walk Away

LOOK BACK

Theft is not the only way you can part with your belongings while traveling. You might just put them on a seat next to you at a public venue, forget them and walk away. That brings us to our primary rule when leaving a taxi, a restaurant, a theater, etc.  Don't just scan over the area - really look with your eyes and your brain. 

See anything you've left behind?   

No?   OK - then it's all right to move on!!

NOW - BEWARE OF

Was that your purse on the table at that lovely curbside cafe? Did you see how fast those kids went after they sped by, snatched your purse and made off with all of your money, credit cards and passport?

 

Or was your valuable-ladened purse hanging lazily over a shoulder? Did it hurt when that young girl ripped it off you and ran away? 

 

Here's a common scenario - grabbing jewelry off your neck.

A man, supposedly reading a newspaper, walks toward you. When he's directly in front of you, he drops the paper, grabs your necklace and runs off. He will pass it off to an accomplice instantly - so even if the police grab him, your jewelry is long gone. 

Lessons Learned

  • Never leave your valuables loose from your body when in a public place. Put your purse, camera, or backpack in your lap. Or put it on the floor and step through the strap. 

  • Wear your purse over your body, not off one shoulder. And consider this - you'll not be as likely to leave it behind by mistake.  

  • Avoid distractions such as text messaging and talking on the phone.

  • If you must wear gold due to cultural or religious reasons, keep the gold covered or wear it in an unconventional manner. 

Pickpockets usually operate in a group.  Each of them has a unique function and a unique nickname: The Scout, the Bumper, the Pickpocket (AKA The Dip), and the Runner. 

So here you come,  walking casually away from the ATM after taking the time to count all your money, putting it into a wallet and dropping it into an open purse. The street is crowded with people just coming out of a matinee theater performance. A little girl, the Scout, slips in behind you and uses a piece of chalk to put a little x on your back. You are now the Mark.

 

The Bumper bumps up against you so the Dip can make the lift without being noticed. The Dip doesn't hold your wallet long. He gets rid of it by passing it over to the Runner who's approaching from the opposite direction. He walks away so as to not raise suspicions. There's no way you're ever going to see your wallet, money, or credit cards again.

Lessons Learned

If you see or hear anything that seems to be distracting your attention away from your immediate surroundings, hug your belongings tight before focusing on the scene. It could be a staged fight, make believe heart attack or a small child screaming. This may be the work of a pickpocket crew!

 

Beware an attempt to get you to set you pack/bag down to lend assistance to anyone - such as the woman who has dropped her grocery bag or the child who has fallen right in front of you.  Give assistance? Maybe. Set your belongings down to do so? Never. While you help, the accomplice slips in behind and away goes your bag.