Palm Vacations, Avoid Pickpockets When Traveling Abroad

Super Star candyshop999 at gmail.com
Fri Jan 4 04:57:33 PST 2008


Palm Vacations, Avoid Pickpockets When Traveling Abroad

Pick pocketing is one of the world's oldest professions and each year
thousands of travelers fall prey to this crime. While the majority of trips
to foreign countries are incident free, the potential for becoming a target
for pickpocketing does exist. Keep in mind; this is a crime of opportunity.
Using a little common sense and educating yourself on how criminals operate
can minimize the risk.

Travelers make attractive targets, especially when traveling overseas
because pickpockets know travelers typically carry more money than locals.
They generally focus on the public during times when they might be carrying
more money than usual, such as during store sales, at fairs, carnivals,
horse races, gambling casinos or near banks. Criminals also know that even
if they are caught, they still have a good chance of avoiding prosecution
because travelers very seldom return to their vacation destination to give
testimony.

Another problem with pickpocketing is even if you see or feel what is
happening, you have no evidence. The criminal will usually claim he or she
accidentally bumped into you or someone shoved them into you.

Pickpockets are not the unsavory characters one might visualize. They look
just like you and I and are experts at blending in. These individuals can be
male or female, children or grandmothers, and sometimes they even dress as
tourists.

How Pickpockets Operate

Contrary to what most people think, professional pickpockets do not place
their hands all the way into the victims pockets. Rather, the expert
criminal reaches into the top of the pocket, takes up a pleat in the lining,
and then makes a dozen or so more tiny pleats, folding the lining with swift
dexterity between his fingers. The shortening pocket lining moves the
valuable upward so that they emerge at the mouth of the pocket. The entire
act takes place in a few short seconds.

Sometimes pickpockets deliberately bump or jostle an unsuspecting person
because in order to remove a wallet from someone's pocket or purse the
pickpocket has to actually touch the victim or something close to the
victims body. In congested or crowded locations, it's not uncommon for
individuals to press up against you, so you don't even notice something
pressing against your pocket or purse. In most cases, the victim has no
knowledge what has taken place. In some instances, pickpockets carry jackets
or newspapers to conceal their hands while they operate.

Another favorite trick of the pickpocket is to knee the victim just below
the wallet and, at the same time, he raises the wallet so that the top
protrudes from the pocket. He then grabs the tip of the wallet that is
showing, and holds it while the mark walks away from it. Most of the time,
it slips right out of the victim's pocket without his knowledge.

The pocket slice is also a common technique. The pickpocket holds the
razorblade between his fingers and slices the back pocket so that the wallet
simply falls out or drops in their hands.

While some pickpockets work alone, many work in teams. A team may consist of
the following:

Stall- distracts the victim by stopping in front of him or stirring up a
conversation.

Dip- actually goes into the pocket and removes the wallet.

Shield- prevents anyone else from seeing what the dip does.

Dish- is handed the wallet from the dip and leaves the area.

Pickpockets rely heavily on distraction when committing this crime.
Remember, all it takes is a few seconds to separate you from your wallet.
Listed below are some of the common distractions that pickpockets use.

Scams

Children as thieves- In this scenario a group of children run up to you
poking and jabbing you with newspaper or cardboard while asking you for
money, However, this is a diversion. While you only feel the jabs of the
newspaper or cardboard, they remove anything of value from your purse or
pockets. The newspaper is used to shield their hands from your view.

Bump and Run- A pickpocket team sandwiches the victim between them, one in
front of you and one behind you, then as you are walking the "stall" in
front of you suddenly stops so that you bump into him or her. The accomplice
then pretends to accidentally bump into you from behind and apologizes while
removing your wallet.

Intoxicated woman- an attractive woman pretending to be intoxicated grabs or
hugs an unsuspecting male victim and steals his wallet while he is
distracted.

Warm welcome- in some countries a member of the pickpocket team approaches
the victim with open arms and a warm friendly smile on their face. As he or
she embraces you, an accomplice strikes you on the back, creating enough
distraction to steal your wallet.

Soiled Clothing- one member of the pickpocket team soils your clothes- using
a condiment such as ketchup or mustard, ice cream or a spilled drink. Then,
another member of the team brings it to your attention. At this point
another accomplice appears and begins assisting you in removing the stain
from your clothing while another member of the pickpocket team picks up your
purse or other valuables that you have laid down while you assisted with
removing the stain.

Snatch and Run- snatch and run thieves are usually teenagers who grab a
purse, wallet or fanny pack and take off running or speed away on a
motorcycle.

Other common scams involve making a scene, such as fighting or faking an
accident or injury, an attractive woman stopping a male target and asking
for assistance, or a thief dropping money on the ground and asking whether
it belongs to the potential victim.

Pickpockets have also been known to use ploys to locate your wallet. For
example, sometimes pickpockets will post signs that read, "beware of
pickpockets" or someone might yell, "somebody just stole my wallet" in a
crowded area. The general response of most people is to make sure they still
have their own wallet and/or valuables, so they'll pat whatever pocket it's
in. This tells the pickpocket just where to look.

Prevention

General

Be aware of your surroundings. Avoid looking lost, confused or distracted.
Individuals who seem sure of themselves and aware of their surroundings make
less attractive targets.

Consider carrying a "dummy" wallet in your purse or pocket, to confuse the
pickpocket and make him or her believe this is your real wallet.

Be careful in crowded areas, pickpockets have been known to deliberately
bump or jostle an unsuspecting victim in a crowd. This may be a distraction
technique.

Avoid carrying valuables in a backpack or fanny pack. Anyone can easily
reach into a backpack without alerting you. If you choose to wear a fanny
pack, only wear it in the front and make sure the buckle is near the pouch
in front so a pickpocket would have a more difficult time getting to the
latch without your knowledge. Also consider using a safety pin or paperclip
fastened to a rubber band around the belt strap or string, anything to make
opening the zipper more difficult.

Don't flash your money, pickpockets observe potential victims when shopping
and then later know exactly where to lift your wallet.

Dress down; don't attract thieves by looking wealthy.

Remove unnecessary credit cards from your purse or wallet prior to leaving
for your destination.

Do your homework, find out where the bad parts of the city or countryside
are before you get there, and ask the hotel staff for more specific
information once you arrive.

Be careful at banks and automated teller machines, pickpockets have been
known to hang around banks and ATMs at airports and shopping malls. After
victims make cash withdrawals, the criminals can see exactly where your
wallets or purses are stored and steal them later.

Walk with confidence and make eye contact to discourage pickpockets.

Men

Avoid carrying your wallet in your back pocket if possible. Front pockets
are safer.

Place your wallet in your pocket sideways or place a rubber band around it.
This makes it more difficult to get the wallet out of your pocket.

Don't "pat" your pocket to see if your wallet is still there. This alerts
the pickpocket of the location of your wallet.

Divide your cash up and place it in various locations such as socks or other
pockets so if your wallet is stolen, you still have some money.

Consider carrying your valuables in a money belt under you clothing.

Women

Avoid drawstring purses. A purse with a zippered compartment works best.

Carry your purse in front of you.

If your purse has a flap, wear the flap against your body.

Avoid hanging your purse on the back of a chair in a public place. Place it
in your lap.

Never leave your purse unattended.
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