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12 Common Pickpocketing Tricks

 There is nothing like a trip abroad to clear our heads for a few days and enjoy the cultures, sights, and food that are found in various places around the world. Unfortunately, these trips also include unpleasant things that can’t always be predicted, such as being robbed of our belongings.


These cases certainly leave a bitter taste in the mouth, raising concern among people about their upcoming trips. In order to avoid these situations as much as possible and to travel with a calm mind and without fear, it’s important that you get to know 12 different ways that pickpockets carry out their tricks abroad.

pickpocket tricks

1. "The Accidental Bump"

This trick is usually done in prestigious places, where pickers have a chance to come out with overflowing wallets of tourists and residents. In this trick, the pickpockets walk down the street with a drink in their hands, “accidentally” bump into their target and spill their drink on them. The pickpockets apologize and try to help clean the target up while taking advantage of the commotion that is created so that their partners can make a grab for the wallet in your pocket or your suitcase and run away. If you find yourself in the midst of this trick quickly take hold of your bags and don’t let anyone try to help you clean up. 

2. "The Good Heart"

One of the best places for pickpockets to carry out their plot is in subway stations, which is a popular mode of transportation in various countries around the world. Pickpockets often frequent subway stations and take advantage of the overcrowding and people’s lack of focus.  The pickpocket will pretend something has happened to them and while people are trying to help them they discover that their belongings have been stolen. It is important to be alert to these situations, and if you insist on helping others, make sure that your wallet isn’t out in the open and that you aren’t leaving your bags unattended.

pickpocket tricks

3. "The Sneak"

Another trick that pickpockets use at subway stations is actually twofold, including free travel and also taking innocent people’s wallets. In this ploy, the thieves "cut"  through the subway gate supposedly to steal a ride, but that is not the only thing they leave with. When they're squeezing by people, the pickpockets take advantage of the close physical proximity to explore passersby’s pockets and make away with what they can. It’s important to be careful in such situations and make sure that your wallets are inaccessible or are hidden on your person.

4. "The Beautiful Woman"

This trick is aimed mainly at young men whose minds can be easily distracted when a beautiful woman is nearby. In these situations, a gorgeous woman, usually with ample cleavage, stands next to a man pulling money out of an ATM, and before he can actually take the money, the woman reveals a little more of her body. While the man is busy looking at her she takes advantage of this moment of distraction and takes the money out of the ATM. Sometimes the thieves manage to snatch the victim's credit card as well.

pickpocket tricks

5. "The Back to back"

You’re sitting at a cafe, enjoying the weather and the beautiful day, and when you want to pay the bill, you suddenly discover that your wallet is gone. Many people have experienced this unpleasant moment, which occurs because of a lack of thought that leads to negative results. In this café trick, pickpockets sit with their backs to the back of a person who has hung their coat on their chair. In this way, the thieves can rummage in the coat pockets and look for spoils without interruption and without anyone noticing. To avoid these situations, it is recommended that you keep your wallet close to your body so that no one except you will have access to it.

6. "The ATM"

When you are on a trip to another country, try not to pull out money at night or in places where there are not many people. In such situations innocent people find themselves robbed by a group of thieves, usually young people, who pretend not to know each other and only wait for the moment when they can "beat" their victim. Once the person who wants to withdraw money types their PIN number into the ATM, the young people pull the person aside by force or distract them while their friends, enter the highest amount that can be withdrawn from the machine, and run away with cash in hand.

pickpocket tricks

7. "The Selfie"

This is a modern day trick that allows pickpockets to steal wallets in large and crowded audiences. In this trick a few pickpockets pretend to photograph themselves, creating density in a particular place that allows one of their friends to pry through the pockets of old passersby without them realizing it. Some even think out of the box and ask others to photograph them, and while the designated photographers do this, another pickpocket close by robs them of their possessions while their busy taking the picture.


8. "The Helpless Old Lady"

It's hard to find someone who wouldn’t want to help an elderly and helpless woman, but it turns out that not all of them are as sweet and innocent as they seem. If an older woman asks you to help her up the stairs to her house or across the street in a foreign country, make sure your watch and purse are still there. Sometimes it’s the old woman who makes the steal, and at other times it’s someone who helps her take advantage of the kindness of others.pickpocket tricks

9. "The Escalator"

The escalators are the perfect place to take wallets and valuables from passers-by without them realizing it. When pickpockets want to do this, they usually drop something on the floor just before everyone gets off the stairs. When they bend down to take the item that’s "fallen", a human traffic jam is created behind them, and their accomplices, behind the crowd, try to get what they can in the confusion that has been created around them.

10. "The Table Trick"

In general, it isn’t recommended to put mobile phones and wallets on the table, something which holds truer when you are in a foreign country since pickpockets see it as a golden opportunity to clear the table for you. They do this in a very sophisticated way by approaching their victims and placing a map on their belongings asking for directions. As you try to figure out what they are asking or how you can help them, the sticky hands of the pickpockets have already packed up their map with your belongings underneath. Pickpockets can pull this trick off in a variety of ways and not just with a map, and they do so even when tourists put money on the table to pay the bill, which will now no longer be paid.

pickpocket tricks

11. "The Double Thief"

You’re walking down the street and suddenly you hear someone close to you yelling "Thief!" What's the first thing you do? Most will say they will feel their pockets to make sure everything is in place. Although “John” knows that our property is still on us, it is a trick to find out exactly where your wallet or cell phone is, so that the thieves can pickpocket you later on. A similar trick occurs next to signs that say "Beware of pickpockets," which cause people to react similarly and make sure everything is in place, which actually signals to others exactly where their valuables are.

12. "The Fireworks"

Pickpockets have been getting more sophisticated in their mean of stealing and have even begun using scary tricks to distract people. In many places, young people throw fireworks to create panic, which causes people not to pay attention to what is happening around them and therefore they become more vulnerable to theft. In the densely crowded and confusing surrounding, pickpockets find opportunities steal.

pickpocket tricks
Vacations around the world are meant to give us pleasure, and being robbed certainly ruins that experience. It is important to be alert in unfamiliar city streets, keep your money spread out in different places on your person, and don’t be afraid to refuse to help strangers, especially when they appear to be part of a group. Be alert to what is happening around you at all times and don’t give anyone the opportunity to take what belongs to you and that you earned honestly.
cover image source:  Kate Sumbler​
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