Worst Pickpocketing Destinations in the World (And How to Avoid Being a Victim)

Travel News — By Carlo Alcos on September 28, 2010 at 12:30 pm

TripAdvisor recently released a list detailing the 10 worst cities in the world for pickpocketing crimes. I’m sure you won’t be surprised at which city topped the list. Ready? Barcelona. The method of collecting data was a search through their online reviews for the word “pickpocket” (and translations of it) over the past 12 months.

Here is the full list, with last year’s spot in parenthesis:

  1. Barcelona, Spain (1)
  2. Rome, Italy (2)
  3. Paris, France (5)
  4. Madrid, Spain (-)
  5. Athens, Greece (9)
  6. Prague, Czech Republic (3)
  7. Costa Brava, Spain (-)
  8. Lisbon, Portugal (-)
  9. Tenerife, Spain (-)
  10. London, England (-)

TripAdvisor also provides some tips to avoid being a victim. A few include:

  • Maintain vigilance, especially in crowded tourist areas and on public transport.
  • If you must carry a purse or bag, choose one that you can carry across your chest.
  • Store money and credit cards in a money belt around your waist or neck.
  • Never leave a bag hanging on back of your chair.

Rather common-sense stuff. Here are some more advanced techniques to thwart those itchy fingers or possibly even robbers:

  • Carry a dummy wallet – Load this up with a tiny bit of cash and expired credit cards and ID.
  • Split your money up – Between your socks, wallet, money belt, travel partner, backpack, etc.
  • Keep your hands in your pockets.
  • Look confident. Keep your head held high and walk as if you’re a local.

Or, if you want to get high-tech and vigilante about it, you can try out this pair of jeans, designed by Shyam Chaurasia — a Varanasi school dropout. Thin copper wires, disguised as regular stitching, provide the path for the current, which is generated by a 3-volt battery. He says,

Whenever you want to use the kit just attach the two thin wires of the jeans with the hand-held kit that stores the battery and other small electronic items and switch it on. Those who try to put their hands into the jeans will get an electric shock and remove their hands quickly in a reflex action. Those wearing the jeans need not worry as they will not get any kind of electric shock while wearing the garment even when the switch is on.

[Image: Mike Schmid / Flickr]

Tags: Barcelona, crime, pickpockets, travel


  • Frank Rizzo says:

    New Orleans is real bad!

  • grover says:

    Heh, I spent 8 months in Europe this year (just recently arrived back home), I’ve been to 5 of those cities listed, including the top 4. Didn’t have a single problem. But then I’m a 6ft Australian who can look “scary” (I’ve been told).

  • Billy The Kidd says:

    I travel to Europe frequently and have never had any issues with pickpocketeers. I have seen people, who look like tourists, try to isolate themselves. Say there is a big group of people walking, don’t walk in the middle of the big group but try to go to the outside of it. Also, don’t look so freightened or awestruck because it is easy to notice a first time tourist by their facial expressions. Those are just a couple things I can think of off the top of my head.

  • ks says:

    if you carry a wallet always carry it in your front pocket.
    Problem solved

  • Monomorphic says:

    In the US they just rob you.

  • Alex says:

    “The method of collecting data was a search through their online reviews for the word “pickpocket” (and translations of it) over the past 12 months.”

    Bit of a crappy methodology. Maybe Europeans are more paranoid about pickpocketing or more apt to complain about it online. Maybe they were saying ‘no pickpockets here’.

  • dave says:

    About putting your wallet in your front pocket…I was in Quito Ecuador walking through the city market and my wallet was picked from my front pocket. And I was wearing jeans! Basically got pinned between 2 guys. I shoved them off. Then the same thing happened about 30 sec. later. All that was in there was a $50 bill. A few minutes later some old dude came up to me and handed me my wallet. Heck, the story was worth $50.

  • Carlo Alcos says:

    @Alex No argument there.


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