Anti-Pickpocket Tips For Your Next Backpacking Adventure

Hop online, and you'll notice that social media platforms are bursting with anti-pickpocket videos. From a Venetian woman's passionate warning of "Attenzione, pickpocket!" to brave locals tackling young thieves preying on oblivious tourists — the menace of pickpockets is taking center stage this summer.

Now, this all might sound a little daunting, especially if you're thinking about hitting up a famed European destination this summer. However, there's no need to let these concerns dampen your travel buzz. For example, TikToker @betweenengland, also known as Kylie, has a simple hack that can save you — or your loved ones — from falling prey to these urban poachers.

Having traveled to more than 40 countries, she's found that a crafty combination of a carabiner and a sewn piece of elastic on the strap of any fanny pack or cross-body bag can prevent it from unclipping easily. That way, would-be thieves have to think twice and exert even more effort to get to your belongings — all while giving you an edge in ensuring that your personal property stays safe.

Pickpocket signs to watch out for

With popular travel destinations for U.S. citizens like Italy, France, and Spain topping the charts when it comes to pickpocket incidents, it's no surprise that staying safe from thieves and scammers is the topic on everyone's mind. This concern has only grown more pressing as many anticipate a surge in international travel — especially during this summer season, when travel from the United States to Europe is expected to increase by 55%.

Fortunately, spotting the signs of potential pickpockets can be a lot easier than you think. For one, stay wary of overly friendly strangers or those who insist on invading your personal space. Pickpockets will sometimes try to gain your trust or disorient you by being extra chatty and inquisitive. Once they've made sure you're warming up to them, it'll be easier for them to slide their hand into your purse or pocket and run off with the goods.

It's also crucial to be aware that pickpockets often operate in teams. So while one person might cause a distraction — like an abrupt stop or a spilled drink — their accomplice swiftly goes for your belongings. That said, whenever you encounter unexpected interruptions, especially in crowded areas like subway stations and near popular tourist attractions, make sure to clutch your belongings and remain alert.

Staying safe from pickpockets

Tourists, especially those engrossed in new environments, are prime targets for pickpockets because their unfamiliarity with their surroundings makes them less likely to notice unusual behaviors or potential threats. Luckily, keeping your valuables safe is a matter of playing it smart.

That said, one of the best ways to protect yourself is to choose bags with zippers. For an added layer of security to help keep your belongings safe, consider using small padlocks or safety pins to secure zipper handles together. This way, you can deter opportunistic thieves looking for the easy way in. In addition to this, another great way to keep your eyes on your things at all times is to wear your backpack in front of your body. Although it might seem a little unusual at first, having it in your line of sight can discourage thieves from even trying to rummage through it.

Furthermore, switching up where you keep your money is smart. Instead of storing all your cash and cards in one place, split them between different pockets or bags. This way, even if a thief succeeds, they won't take everything at once. Along with this, remember to be cautious when using ATMs, and use machines inside banks rather than those on the streets. Lastly, when it comes to protecting your passport, make copies and keep them separate from the originals. In the unfortunate event that you do lose something, having backups can ease the replacement process.