We all know someone who has been pickpocketed while on vacation in Europe. As one of the most heavily touristed continents in the world, it is no wonder why travelers of Europe are at the highest risk of theft. I called Europe home for a period of time, and, as a petite, naive, and slightly oblivious young woman, I have always feared that I may be the “perfect target”; however, I have never been pickpocketed. Some may call it luck, but I have to credit all the preventative measures I took. Keep reading to find out ten easy hacks that will help protect your valuables against pickpockets in Europe.

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Stay Alert in Crowds

The majority of pickpocketing incidences occur in large crowds, such as those that form in front of tourist attractions. In these settings, pickpockets can blend in and move around virtually undetected, which makes it much more challenging to identify them and recover your stolen items. Commonly, in crowds, a pickpocket may purposely bump into you while stealing from your pocket or bag. Pickpockets in Europe are most likely to choose people who appear distracted or unaware; therefore, secure your valuables and closely monitor the people around you.

Picture of a crowded touristy area in Europe, which is a prime location for pickpockets.

Avoid Standing/Sitting Next to Doors on Public Transportation

Standing or sitting next to a door on public transportation increases your risk of being pickpocketed in Europe. Why? Because it provides the pickpocketer with a quick escape. By the time you notice something has been stolen, they’ll be long gone, and there is no way for you to catch them if your train has pulled away. Make their task a little more challenging by standing or sitting farther away from the door. This may discount you as a target and increase their risk of getting caught.

Picture of people sitting in a subway car. Sitting farther away from the door can protect you against pickpockets in Europe.

Keep Your Bag In Front of You

Pickpockets in Europe are on the hunt for easy targets, and the easiest target may be the person with their bag hanging on their back or side. If you keep your bag in front of you, your belongings will remain in your line of sight; this way, it is much more difficult for the pickpocket to reach into your bag without your noticing. Keeping your bag in front of you shows the pickpocket you are alert and, thus, not an easy target.

Use Internal Pockets of Bags

A pickpocket has to work fast, meaning all they have time to do is reach into your bag, grab the first valuable they feel, and get out of there. They may have the time and skill to open an external zipper, but an internal zipper is a huge roadblock. There is only a tiny chance they’ll be able to quickly open an external AND internal zipper without you noticing. Storing your valuables in an internal pocket of your bag provides an extra layer of protection against theft.

Bring a Decoy Wallet

Do you have an old wallet you do not care about? Well, it just found itself a new purpose. When a pickpocketer reaches into your bag, the majority of the time, they are looking for your wallet. If you followed the previous tip I mentioned, you will have put all of your money into a difficult-to-access internal pocket of your bag rather than a wallet. To throw off pickpockets, place your old, empty wallet into your bag as a decoy. In the event they can get into your bag, they will run off with your empty wallet rather than your valuables!

Keeping an empty decoy wallet is your bag is a great way to trick pickpockets in Europe.

Wear a Crossbody Bag

Wearing a crossbody bag is one of the simplest yet most effective ways to prevent pickpocketing. Firstly, because a crossbody bag is worn across the body, it is much more difficult for a pickpocket to reach into the bag without you noticing. In addition, many of these bags come with secure closures; as you’d imagine, this makes it harder to access the contents.

Use a Slash-Proof Bag (With Locking Zippers)

Using a slash-proof bag may put you one step ahead of the pickpockets in Europe, as one of their primary tactics is to slash bags and steal their contents. Many also have additional protective features, such as zippers that lock. With a slash-proof bag, you should have the peace of mind to fully enjoy the day, knowing that your belongings are secure with extra layers of protection against theft.

Slash-proof bags are constructed from highly durable materials to withstand wear and tear and are often waterproof; they are designed for travel and outdoor activities. I have linked a few incredible options below, one of which I use myself.

Get an RFID-Blocking Wallet

Do you have a credit card with a chip? While convenient, it puts you at greater risk of information theft, as these cards can be scanned without a card reader. A pickpocket may use an RFID scanner as they pass you on the street, and you’d be none the wiser. To prevent such incidents, purchase an RFID-blocking wallet. You also do not need to sacrifice your personal style in doing so; they come in many shapes and sizes. I linked some of the most popular RFID-blocking wallets below.

Don’t Interact With Suspicious Strangers

Not all pickpocketers work alone. Sometimes, one person will distract you while another rummages through your bag. In touristy areas, you’ll inevitably be approached; however, you mustn’t entertain the conversation. If the person seems suspicious, they likely are suspicious. Trust your gut, and only interact with people who you can trust.

Don’t Draw Attention to Yourself

Traveling internationally is not the time to choose to stand out in the crowd. Wearing vibrant colors, flashy jewelry, designer brands, and using expensive electronics will draw attention to you, some of which may be the unwanted attention of pickpocketers. I recommend dressing in neutral colors and choosing your accessories wisely.

Picture of me wearing neutral colors to prevent drawing the attention of pickpockets in Europe.

Budget travelers, such as myself, are significantly impacted by pickpocketing. Theft of any of our carefully allotted cash, credit cards, and passports can result in additional, unexpected expenses. In some cases, activities may need to be canceled, and the trip may be cut short. It is especially important for budget travelers to take the precautions I outlined in this article to prevent the derailment of their plans.

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Have you used any of these methods to deter pickpockets in Europe? Do you know of any other ways to avoid falling victim to theft? Contact me or let me know in the comments below!

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