Pick Pockets & Money Belts.


I watched an interesting show this weekend on National Geographic called Pick Pocket King. It follows Vegas act Bob Arno to Naples Italy in search of the "art" of pick pocketing. I found it to be an extremely interesting episode because pick pockets seem to be a hot topic throughout this forum. Bob Arno finds a group of men who will teach him their techniques including how they pick pocket money belts. I've posted the link below. It's quiet long but the money belt (which really was intriguing) is at the 17 min mark.

I'm sure that it's a one in a million chance that someone has theft associated with their money belt, but it was very neat to see how easily they can pick it. Now, obviously in the episode, they are demonstrating, so it's hard to say how easily it could be done on a train/bus/sidewalk but nonetheless, I found it to be something worth sharing.


Posted by gone
2081 posts


I think ive seen some of that on PBS. to me its sort of interesting. But i would believe just like Magicians, they dont tell the whole store or wont give up their best secrets.

also, to me, if they can touch you, they cant get anything. Its one of the reasons i keep my distance when possible.

happy trails.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
9481 posts

I am with Ray on this.. I have a "bubble" around me and I try not to let people in it.. if they can't touch you they can't pick pocket you.. this is tough sometimes on packed metros. but sometimes let the train go and get the next one... or at very least keep away from the DOORS .. at the back of the car with your back to wall.. don't let people surround you . They will go for the easiest marks. Don't be one.
not funny but funny..
Don't fight with your husband in public.. lol.
My dads wife got pickpocketed while entering the metro.. she knew it the instant it happened but it was an instant too late.. she and my dad were squabbling and obviously were distracted. and all of a sudden someone pushed in behind her as she went through the turnstile.. her purse was swung behind her.. another no no.. the thing is both my dad and step mom totally KNOW the rules.. my dad grew up in Paris and my step mom lived in room for a few years.. but they just had one of those distracted stressy moments that pickpockets look for..

Posted by Amanda
Dreaming of Europe
47 posts

Hi Ray & Pat

Yes, I too keep my distance from others. I'm not one who likes people in my personal space regardless of where I'm at (I hate when it happens at the grocery store). I try to avoid areas that will be thoroughly packed. I'm also a bit claustrophobic in really crowded places, so I definitely stay away from metros, but I love to walk around and take in the city so its a win win for me!

Posted by Douglas
Oak Park, Illinois
3592 posts

but they just had one of those distracted stressy moments that pickpockets look for..

But that is just the thing, we might say we avoid the crowds and keep a bubble around us, but we can't always do that and it is the moments that we are on a crowded train, or standing in line, or get bumped into while moving through a large group of gawkers that pick-pockets thrive on.

But if we are using some kind of secure system (money belt, neck pouch, travel purse, etc...), then it is almost impossible for a thief to pick our pockets - at least for the most valuable things.

Posted by Nicole P
Truro, NS, Canada
1759 posts

Speaking of personal space, I'm just thinking about an experience on the Eiffel Tower - as we were in the line slowly shuffling to get to the elevators to go down, this woman kept bumping into my back...and we weren't sardine packed - there was lots of wiggle room. Hubby could see I was getting madder and madder, so I finally stood off to the side and made the 'Please Jesus go ahead before I lose it' angry hand wave. And she's all like 'What?!' like she was confused by my sudden gesture and didn't understand that being pressed shoulder to knee against my back is unacceptable in this not that crowded situation (well, it isn't in any situation). Maybe she was a really horrible pickpocket! No, nothing was missing...except my composure. She looked of middle Eastern descent - maybe they have no concept of personal space? (generalizations...I know I shouldn't make them) Or maybe she was just a really rude middle aged lady with bad eyesight(or maybe she really REALLY liked me...lol).

Posted by Bob
Reading, PA, USA
374 posts

For lack of personal space you should make a trip to China. Their idea of personal space is about 2 inches or less.

Posted by Terri Lynn
Nashville, TN, USA
738 posts

I wear my money belt in front under my clothing. There is no way anyone could grope me for 17 minutes without being killed or seriously injured!

Posted by Amanda
Dreaming of Europe
47 posts

Hi Terri,

The picking of the money belt wasn't for 17 min, it was at the 17 min mark of the video. I gave it for those who didn't want to watch the entire episode. They actually picked the money belt in under a minute.

Posted by titaniump111
1 posts

Wonder what the laws are regarding defending yourself with regards to being "pick pocketed"? If I break the offenders arm with some crazy mutant ninja moves...should I run and disappear into the crowd like they do? I'm almost sure they would turn around and say I attacked them....lol..if the cops showed up. Sure they would have spotters in the crowd as well to corroborate any actions that would help their case. Run for the nearest embassy?

Posted by Douglas
Oak Park, Illinois
3592 posts

*> Wonder what the laws are regarding defending yourself with regards to

being "pick pocketed"?*

First, you'll almost never know it happened. They work on stealth and speed and most victims aren't aware of it until they reach for their wallet later.

Second, getting violent could very easily land you in jail. A sharp "NO!" and a swat is more than enough to shoo them away.

Posted by Norma
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
5303 posts

If you are thinking of "defending yourself" with violence, remember you are dealing with criminals who likely have knives on them. Nothing is worth getting a knife in the gut.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
9481 posts

And pickpockets often work in teams.. they are not always ALONE so you hurt one and you may have taken on more then you bargained for( plus you will be arrested for assault.. someone stealing from you does not mean you can attack them )

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
14148 posts

Only if you live in Florida, then you can kill them.

Posted by Nina
SFrancisco, CA
3 posts

Re : personal space on a crowded train or a bar. A few years ago,I had my purse not stolen, but open and emptied while holding to my husband on a crowded metro train in Prague. (We were packed like sardines)There was absolutely no space!

As for having a well concealed money belt taken: we were sitting with our 19 year old daughter in a bar in a small Italian mountain town. Our daughter sat with some young people on the bar stool when a guy slowly sneaked a knife under her sweater and cut the belt of the money belt, then he smiled at her and ordered her a drink... Fortunately, we sat at a corner table and saw the whole thing. My husband jumped and grabbed his arm...