Pickpocketing might be a rarer crime these days, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t people out there willing to nab your stuff when you are at your most vulnerable. Thankfully, there some steps, from seasoned experts, that you can use to prevent yourself from becoming just another victim. Here are a few DIY tips that don’t require a criminal justice degree to prevent yourself from being the victim of pickpocketing.
1. Maintain your awareness
One of the most common traits pickpockets look for in a target is someone with a short attention span. Your inability to focus on something for more than five seconds gives pickpockets a huge window of opportunity to pick your pocket. Some of the most common distractions are actually caused by the person trying to lift your stuff to give them closer access to your goods while maintaining the ruse they are helping you instead of trying to help themselves.
The best to avoid becoming a mark is not to let someone get too close to you whether they spill something on you or try to distract your attention away from your valuables even for a second. You might look like a jerk for pushing someone away from your personal space, but it’s better than having to explain to your wife why your credit card doesn’t work because you went over your limit at the ‘Spearmint Rhino”.
2. Protect your stuff
Believe it or not, your back pocket is not the safest place for your wallet. There are a lot of guys and gals willing to endure the shame of touching your butt in order to lift your money and credit cards.
The best thing you can do isn’t just moving your stuff to the front pocket. You can put another obstacle in the pickpocket’s path to prevent them from making “the dip,” a pickpocket term for the common wallet lift. You can also place a rubber band around your wallet to not only keep your wallet from being slipped out of your pocket but to alert you that someone is trying to lift your stuff. You can buy a wallet that comes with a chain that attaches to your belt or a belt loop and if you don’t want to look like a suburban punk who got lost on the way to the Vans Warped Tour, you can hide the chain by cutting a small hole on the inside of your pocket.
3. Keep your stuff off of bathroom floors
It’s a wonder that anyone would voluntarily keep any personal items on the floor of a public bathroom since they are carry more unidentified germs and bacteria than Mel Gibson’s beard. It’s an even bigger mystery since pickpockets, especially those in ladies’ bathrooms, pray on these easy opportunity to take stuff from you just by reaching under the stall or over the door as it dangles from the hook.
The simple way to avoid this simple distraction is to keep your personal items closed and with you as you do your business. Pickpockets often use loud noises or drop items to create a distraction as you look away to find the source or reach something for them, so it’s best to just keep it with you where you can keep an eye on it even if you fall for the distraction. It can also come in handy if there is no toilet paper and you’ve still got a left over lunch receipt or your cousin’s Christmas photo to take its place.
4. Avoid crowds
The best way to become a victim is to make yourself one and you don’t want to spend every waking hour find the most technologically advanced locks to put on your doors. Thankfully there is a happy medium.
If you have to go outside with your valuables and money, steer clear of large crowds that allow for grabby hands to dig into your pockets while you aren’t paying attention. Bumping into victims are one of the most common methods of lifting a mark’s stuff and crowds are a perfect way to help a pickpocket create a distraction for them without them even knowing it. Unless, of course, the pickpocket hired the crowd to distract you, in which case they are going to have a hell of a time splitting your six bucks and the ripped movie ticket they lifted off of you.
5. Stop being so paranoid
Probably the worst thing anyone can do is become so enveloped with nerves that they forget the reason they went outside of their house while there was still sunlight in the first place.
Being paranoid is the best way to let your guard down and give an actual pickpocket the opportunity they are looking for, so don’t think that everyone surrounding you is out to steal your wallet or take your stuff and sell it back to you on eBay. If you find yourself getting to the point where you can’t function, take a deep breath and work your way to a less public place where you can collect your thoughts and gather yourself before people start suspecting you of being a closet coke-head.