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Clear bags to deter thieves?

(We're going on a 5-week trip through central Europe this summer.)
Maybe this is stupid - but I have to have food with me all the time, and I thought of putting our food and water bottles in a clear plastic tote (like this one https://www.amazon.com/Cross-Body-Messenger-Shoulder-Zippered-Adjustable/dp/B01NAJELJ3/ref=sr_1_1?s=sporting-goods&ie=UTF8&qid=1495832833&sr=1-1-spons&keywords=clear+tote+bag&psc=1). I figure if the pickpockets can see there is nothing of value in the bag, maybe we don't need to worry about it being all super-secure like our daybag with the camera, money, etc. will be.
Is this stupid?? I would just use a cloth tote but I don't want to worry about somebody snatching it....

Posted by
6247 posts

Well, if you have the clear bag with your food etc, and another cloth bag with all your valuables, perhaps you are making it easier for the thieves, by telling them which bag has the stuff they want. ( i.e. the cloth bag)

They know you will have a camera and money etc. somewhere with you.

Posted by
6412 posts

on 2nd thought
don't try to outwit professional thieves who can read potential like a book

Posted by
10846 posts

Sort of clever. like it.

But still relax. I am in Central Europe a few times a year, every year, and I deal with quite a few tourists in the region each year, and the only pickpocket reports I have heard first hand were in Prague and on a tram in Vienna. Both perpetrated by young ladies in long colorful skirts. Never heard of a snatch and run scenario. But anything can happen I guess.

So, simply split up your assets, keeping the largest portions deeper, and forget it and enjoy the trip.

Posted by
2467 posts

Do whatever makes you feel better. But once you get there, take a look around you and see how many other people are walking around with see through bags. Personally, I prefer to blend in as much as possible, not stand out.

Posted by
5504 posts

Overthinking the "safety" issue?

Don't put your clear bag in a rental car with automatic transmission that your park in France. If this doesn't make sense read: https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/trip-reports/safety-in-france-8315d38d-d5e7-45e6-b340-cd381f51db89

Humor aside, situational awareness and vigilance along with not having both hands full may be a better deterrent than a clear bag with your picnic lunch. That and protect your documentation and cards (under shirt neck pouch or money belt) while not carrying thing you don't want to lose.

Posted by
4506 posts

Ariel,
Ha! I actually thought about this before, but then also realized the simple fact that the thieves know who the tourists are, and they know we carry money and valuables they seek.

Just keep your valuables safe in a money belt (or deep storage) and enjoy your trip!

Posted by
11575 posts

Thieves do not care about your food/water and will be looking for the bag where you keep your valuables. Someone snatching your food/water is frankly no big deal and nothing I'd even think about: that stuff is easily and inexpensively replaced without hassle. It's the valuables you need to keep your hands on.

Don't let yourself be so distracted over things which are not really important at the potential expense of things which are? And do be aware that your bag of food/water will not be allowed inside all attractions so you may have to check it at some of them.

Posted by
6543 posts

My best defense against pickpockets is to always have empty pockets. And being 6'3" and 235 pounds doesn't hurt.

Americans are generally very cordial and courteous when traveling. But if you get "in my space" I'm a complete jerk. It's all in the attitude.

Posted by
2336 posts

Carry your food, water, guidebooks in any sort of bag you want. Expect that is it's accesable it may be rummaged by a thief even if it is clear, and maybe more so. What do you care? A clear bag does what? They don't know that you don't have money hidden behind that baloney sandwich. I constantly have to re educate my wife about this. She will leave a bag in the backseat of our rental car and when I tell her it needs to come along she'll say "it's only guidebooks and magazines'". Yeah but the guy who breaks the window does not know that. Pickpockets are opportunists. A great day is the fool who carry's a large wallet in his back pocket. Those are few and far between so the thief has to be less picky and more skilled. Carry all the things you don't want to lose in a money belt-money, credit cards, passports, phone, etc. With all due respect to my large fellow poster, your size and deameanor is not a deterrent. My 6'3" brother in law was pickpocketed within minutes of arriving in Athens. He looks mean as hell and was sure nobody could invade his space without him knowing it. They got everything-money, phone, watch. He scoffed at wearing a money belt. As with any profession the skills of pickpockets vary but see this and hope his counterparts are not in your vicinity as you tour: http://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/video-the-art-of-pickpocketing

Posted by
23 posts

Thanks everyone! You've convinced me the clear bag is not a good idea. We'll just fit everything in our daypack.

Posted by
1737 posts

"all super-secure like our daybag with the camera, money etc."

I hope you plan to use money belts for your money and don't put any in your day bag. All credit cards, money, passports go in a money belt not in the day bag. Many different styles to chose from.

Posted by
661 posts

Use a "Pacsafe bag" and you will be fine.

Posted by
3263 posts

When I lived in Germany, I shopped with a cotton string bag similar to this. I loved that bag and used it for many years until it finally decided it was time to go.

I'll be renting apartments in Rome and Venice this summer where I'll need to shop in a similar way. My first time at the market, I'll see what the other shoppers are using and buy something similar. You might consider an alternative like that, but like someone else said, if you are also carrying a bag that looks like a prime target, a locally purchased shopping bag won't necessarily be anti-pickpocket insurance.

As you can tell from the picture, it is see-through. I typically don't take much of anything with me, tending to take more cafe breaks than most probably. I may have to adjust a bit next trip because in the summer I'm sure I'll need to carry water.

My formula will be a money belt like this one worn under my clothes, a small crossbody purse like this one for easy access and a locally purchased shopping bag if needed.

BTW we have a friend who needs to eat all the time. The first stop on any trip after picking up the rental car is at a convenience store for a cheap Styrofoam cooler. The second stop is at a grocery store to stock it. Her husband knows that when she says she needs to eat, they have to stop right then to get something out of it for her. I don't know how she'd cope on a European trip.

Posted by
11613 posts

I used a Pacsafe bag once, the strap frayed miserably in the third day, but I continued to use it for most of the trip because it looked like someone tried to grab it and the bag won.

I stopped using it because ir was hot and heavy.

Posted by
23 posts

Susan and Monte, our money belt (neck wallet actually) will have everything except the cash needed for the day, because I don't want to have to get into it every time we need cash. I intend to put a day's worth of cash in a coin purse inside a zip pocket inside our crossbody daybag.
Someone said (on another topic on the RS forum) that they keep everything strapped/connected to them in some way. I am going to be as close to that as possible, and hold the bag in front of me when I can. Hopefully that will be good enough! And of course, an air of confidence helps I've heard.
Lo, I like the idea of the cotton string bag. I will really need a small amount of snack-type food unless we are going on a longer hike.

Posted by
10846 posts

I still want to encourage not over thinking this. You will reduce your odds of being a victim more by avoiding the obvious than you will with all the neck pouches and money belts in the world. Take a look around you when you get there. I would suspect you would have a difficult time finding a local person wearing a money belt or even being particularly concerned about being pick-pocketed unless they were on a crowded tram or the Charles Bridge.

I just picked one town in Central Europe and googled a few photographs. I love the internet, you can learn so much from photos.

For instance, do these people look like they are worried about pick-pockets?:
https://i.redd.it/egel1qfo0tiy.jpg

Ooops, sorry, wrong photo. Look at this one. Judging by the dress, age, etc, i would suspect 80% or more locals:
http://c8.alamy.com/comp/C262KN/street-scene-with-people-and-trams-budapest-hungary-C262KN.jpg

Posted by
1355 posts

Clutching your bag does not exude confidence. As James intimated - relax.

Posted by
440 posts

just put valuables somewhere the thief if there is one can get to them

Posted by
23 posts

James, thank you for the laugh! :) Also for the advice. I guess I just want to be able to relax and enjoy, so the more safely I have things tucked away, the less I will feel I have to "look out". I will try my best to not hold on to my bag unless we are in a crowded metro/train or the like.
Prague and Paris are really the two cities I'm concerned about. For Germany, Switzerland and perhaps Venice I assume I can take it a little easier anyway.

Posted by
10846 posts

Yea, Prague and Paris can be a little higher risk. Still, I bet if you just add one layer of complexity to your being a target and then show just a tad bit of common sense in crowds you will be just fine.

By the way, your trip may be to central Europe, but except for Prague, you are not going to Central Europe.

Go enjoy, split your stuff so i you do get hit (and the odds are way, way, way against it) you don't loose much and then don't worry. Enjoy.