World's Top 10 Worst Cities for Pickpockets

Annotated list here, but they are:

  1. Barcelona, Spain
  2. Rome, Italy
  3. Prague, Czech Republic
  4. Madrid, Spain
  5. Paris, France
  6. Florence, Italy
  7. Buenos Aires, Argentina
  8. Amsterdam, Netherlands
  9. Athens, Greece
  10. Hanoi, Vietnam

We’ll be in Hanoi in a few months. Will have to watch our backs.

All I can say is that the one (1) time I have had my pocket picked, it was indeed in one of those cities. (I’ve visited seven of them.)

Oops! Forgot the link.

I’ve visited six of them, some more than once, and the only place my pocket was picked was in Madrid. I never even made it out of the airport. I was left with 14 cents in my pocket and no credit cards. Had to turn around and return home.

But the following year I returned (wearing a neck wallet), and had a great time.

Oh. I read the title as being the worst places for a pickpocket to try to do his work. I was going to see if where I lived made the cut, as I’ve lost my wallet and had it returned to me, money intact.

So is this a list of places to go for your apprenticeship and journeymanship if you want to get into the world of Professional Currency Relocator? Because none of those cities are anywhere near me and damn it, I’d really like to become a PCR. I could really do some damage I think and rock The Old Guard’s worlds with my fancy new and youthful techniques, or something.

I can well believe Barcelona is #1. Not been there myself, but some years ago the wife attended a conference in that city. She was not hit, but while she was standing in line at the check-in counter in the airport on her way back to Thailand, some guy came passing through and cut between her and the man standing in line ahead of her. When the man ahead of her reached the counter, his passport and wallet were gone! They guy who breezed through earlier had lifted them! The police said it happened all the time in the airport.

The wife said another delegate to the conference was out sightseeing and carried some sort of little bag. Not a backpack, but a bag of some sort. He was on the mass transit, and across from him sat this well-dressed man. Looked like he could have been a wealthy banker maybe. Just as the doors were about to close at one station, Mr. Suit suddenly jumps up, grabs that bag and springs through the doors with it just before they closed!

The wife said they received a lot of warnings from the conference organizers about pickpocketing.

I’ve been to every one of those those cities, and I’ve been the target of attempted pickpocketing in Paris and Buenos Aires. I can completely understand the mention of those other cities. In BA, my Lonely Planet guide explicitly described the scenario. In the oldest part of town, someone will squirt mustard on you. Two women will come up to you and apologize for the assholishness of the perpetrator and try to help clean you off whilst stealing your wallet. I recognized this con and managed to tell them to fuck off. I still have the t-shirt with the noxious stains on it.

In Paris, on the subway, my George Costanza wallet deterred the obvious pickpockets who were clearly tossing a coat in my path as I was entering the car. Christ, I hate the two bit con artists in Paris.

I’ve been robbed in Saigon and Caracas, though, but not pickpocketed.

I find the neck purse for your passport and serious money/credit cards to be a sufficient deterrent, unless you get mugged or held up. It’s not a bad idea to carry a fake wallet with a small amount of cash to surrender in certain circumstances.

My husband had a pickpocket try for him in Rome, at the Porta Portese’s flea market - basically the biggest flea market you’ve seen, and insanely crowded. She was also a tall, stunning redhead so that helped him easily identify her in the crowd, as she made more than one attempt. He at first felt someone definitely put a hand on his rear, right over the back pocket area, and caught sight of this woman as the possible culprit. And no, as much as he vaguely hoped, she wasn’t being affectionate. He had an eye out for her, and tried to look interested in what was being offered at a particular stall. He had his right hand dangling at his side, and as he felt a hand poke into the top of his right back pocket, he slapped his hand up over hers as he whipped his head around to look her in the eye, and just shook his head ‘no’ slowly. She pulled away and took off into the crowd.

We both had thin traveler’s neck purses under our clothes, so once when we did want to get money out at the flea market, we just stood off to the side and embraced like we were being lovey-dovey - the one person’s arms up to block hands/view of the other fishing out their purse.

Of the cities on the list I’ve only been to Rome, but I had no trouble there over 2-3 days. I used a travel wallet that hung inside my pants off of my belt. Reading the stories here, I’m surprised that someone didn’t at least try.

I’ve been to 4 of those cities. I’ve luckily avoided any problems, thanks in part to my mad skillz acquired while living in Santo Domingo during the last few years.

The speaker system at the Metro in Rome constantly blasts warnings about pickpockets, and everybody I know who’ve been to Italy warned us about it when we visited. A couple of very-well traveled people I know told us that Rome is the only city where they have had any kind of similar trouble, in one case one of our friends was stranded in Rome for days after her passport was stolen.

I’m not surprised that two Spanish cities are up there. If a person is caught for stealing a small amount (and no violence) they are taken to the police station, questioned and released. As such there is little disincentive for unscrupulous people who are short on cash to give it a try.

That said, I enjoy going to Spain. It’s a safe country, just keep and eye on your bag/wallet.

I had my pocket picked twice in two days in Rome.

Note to self: travel in armored car if you ever go to Barcelona.

Forgot another story - I wasn’t along for this one, but my husband was traveling with his parents, and they were checking into a hotel in Rome. They’re talking with the guy behind the desk, had lots of bags, a couple on the floor… I think what triggers the realization was that the man behind the desk finally asks for passports. The little bag containing them and a camera is no longer with the luggage they had. Someone slipped by during the check-in process and snatched it, as they were distracted by checking in, looking around at the new hotel, etc. When he and I went to Rome together, we had photocopies of our passports kept in safe places, and the passports themselves in our little travel neck bags whenever possible.

I stumbled around barcelona for days without a problem. I can’t tell you how many clueless tourists I saw stop at every random intersection to study their giant map, with their valuables hanging out the back. Don’t be clueless and you’ll be fine.

Friends have lost their wallets in Prague and Paris, and Barcelona is no surpirse. My vote for the other end of the list (in no particular order):

  1. Muscat, Oman
  2. Dubai, UAE
  3. Doha, Qatar
  4. Kuwait City, Kuwait
  5. Manama, Bahrain
  6. Sana’a, Yemen
  7. Damascus, Syria
  8. Amman, Jordan
  9. Beirut, Lebanon
  10. Tehran, Iran

I knew Barcelona would be up there. What a bloody tip of a place. A nest of scum and villainry. Lots of people I know who have visited it have hated it for the same reason. Is there a particular reason why Barcelona is worse than other big European cities for pickpocketing, mugging etc?

Myself and a few Aussies used to amuse ourselves in Barcelona by buying cheap wallets, then seeing who could be first to have it stolen. Winner gets free drinks.

Its a good laugh to think of the horrid little pick pocket opening his newly stolen wallet to find a note telling him he is a twat.

Been to seven on the list. Never been pickpocketed or robbed, in all my travels. I guess I just got lucky.

Saw a guy pull a knife on another guy in Barcelona last year, though.

Heh. Sounds like a pretty inept pickpocket, for two reasons:

1.) Multiple attempts at the same victim make you more likely to be noticed, especially when:

2.) You’re really hot.
This woman would have been smarter, IMHO, to make just one pass and walk on to the next mark. Smarter still to try and make herself look less attractive - baggy clothes, maybe even dye her hair an unremarkable shade.

IANAP (I Am Not A Pickpocket), but this just seems like common-sense stuff.