Pickpockets in Action: How to Avoid Getting Ripped Off

It’s every traveler’s worst nightmare: getting robbed or ripped off. Pickpocketing and petty theft constitutes the bulk of crimes against travelers. Look around the airport next time you’re away and it’s easy to see why: thousands of unsuspecting travelers toting laptops, MP3 players, jewelry, their best clothing and plenty of cash and credit cards.

Pocket Full of Money

The BBC presents a TV show called The Real Hustle geared towards:

… demonstrating confidence and magic tricks, distraction scams and proposition bets performed on members of the public.

The show highlights ways in which money can be extracted, with a view to educating the viewer in how to avoid becoming a victim. Various terminology is explained, and the marks are fully informed of the cons/scams straight afterwards and repaid any money they’d lost.

Here’s a sampling of just a few of their best clips:

Airport Scams

Both of the techniques in this video are frighteningly simple, especially the second one.

The Paper Wallet Swap

Theft on a Bus

The Postman Scam

The Pinch-Push Pocket Pick

Prince of Thieves

Bob Arno, a.k.a. Europe’s Prince of Thieves, has dedicated his life to studying how petty thieves operate. This hilarious video demonstrates Arno in action:

His book Travel Advisory: How to Avoid Thefts, Cons, and Street Scams While Traveling gives you “the inside look at today’s con games, credit card scams, distraction schemes, and identity thefts plaguing unaware travelers everywhere”. In a recent interview with Kiplinger magazine, he confesses that he is not in fact a thief, but does provide a bit of advice on how to avoid them.

Lastly, an in-depth write-up on How Pickpockets Work is available at HowStuffWorks.com.

Of course, if none of the above keep your hard-earned cash out of the greedy hands of thieves, there’s always 13 Backup Plans For The Modern Traveler.

About The Author

Mike Richard
Founding Editor
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Mike Richard has traveled the world extensively since 2008. He's camped in the Jordanian desert with Bedouins, tracked African wild dogs in South Africa, and survived a near-miss shark attack in Mexico. He loves the great outdoors, good bourbon, and he (usually) calls Massachusetts home. He also enjoys speaking in the third person.

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