Rick Steves Reveals The Only Three Destinations Where He Has Been Pickpocketed

Sometimes, preparing for the worst is, unfortunately, not enough to prevent the worst from happening. Rick Steves has been an expert on European travel for decades. Despite his insights and tricks for avoiding pickpockets on vacation, even he has been a victim of theft while exploring the land across the Atlantic. In 2023, Steves revealed in an interview with Johnny Jet that he had been pickpocketed not once, not twice, but three times during his travels, and each incident took place at a different destination. "Paris. Brixton (a bad neighborhood in London) and Lisbon," he listed in the conversation. "I like to venture into the edgy areas when I'm doing my guidebook research just to see what's comfortable and what's safe for my readers because I kind of like the dodgy neighborhoods. If you're sloppy, you can get pickpocketed or purse snatched."

The travel guru, who hails from Edmond, Washington, explained that Americans are especially likely to be victims of pickpocketing and similar crimes when vacationing in Europe. "Thieves target American tourists not because they're mean or they don't like us. We're just common-sense victims because we've got all the good stuff in our purses and wallets. So you know you're going to get targeted."

Letting his guard down may have cost Rick Steves

In a 2017 blog post, Rick Steves shared that Paris was the first place he got pickpocketed, and although he was educated on petty theft in Europe, he admitted that he didn't give safety too much thought while traveling. However he usually wore a money belt during his sightseeing ventures, but during his outing in Paris, he ditched the belt and relied on his pockets to keep his money safe instead. "And it cost me," he reflected in the post. "I went back to the hotel, referred to the emergency section in the appendix of our Paris guidebook, and set about canceling my credit cards. I lost my driver's license, two credit cards, and some money."

In an article for USA Today, Steves shared some lessons from the experience and tips to avoid theft while traveling . First, safeguard any items in your bag as if they were going to be stolen. Lock your devices, make copies of important documents, and get travel insurance that covers you if your belongings are swiped during your trip. Then, eliminate any flashy or expensive items, keeping them in a safe place in your hotel room. Designer bags and pricey electronics will only attract scheming robbers. Finally, be alert in crowded areas and on public transportation. Steves explained that all it takes is a "petite bump and a slight nudge getting off the Metro in Paris" for snatchers to grab your bag or wallet.