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pickpocketing experiences

I've been reading about pickpocket theft for ages, both here and on other sites, but with people wearing tighter pants/jeans these days, how realistic is it to have your wallet taken from you if you have it in your front pants pockets and you're wearing jeans (not trousers, where the pocket openings are usually along the edge/seam). I keep my wallet in the front pocket of my jeans and I really can't picture someone shoving a hand into that pocket and grabbing my wallet, let alone being able to yank their hand back out once it's in there. Purses, bags, backpacks, jacket/coat pockets, yes, but actual pants pockets (especially front ones), I can't picture. Has anyone ever experienced a front pocket theft?

Posted by
3551 posts

My husband was pickpocked in rome last yr. we think it occurred on a crowded bus. His wallet was in his pant pocket. He did not feel,anything. He is an aware person, but refused to use a money belt eventho we discussed it many times. He said he felt safe in Rome. Fortunately a sm amt was lost but dmv, cc and lotsa hassles. In less than 1.5 hrs over 5000 was charged. The banks were very cooperative saw e unusual spending pattern and refused further charges.
It is really best to use neckpouch and money belt and relax. Keeping handy euros sure in a pocket but nothing else.
It is really lousy when this happens espec. on vacation.

Posted by
715 posts

You would be amazed at how skilled a pickpocket is. I carry my wallet/ money clip in my front pocket. However, no credit cards or debit cards, just the days cash. Everything else is in my money belt. No worries, just be aware of your surroundings.

Posted by
2532 posts

As is often pointed out here in the forum, a determined and skilled thief is very tough to prevent,
so what we are more concerned with is preventing crimes of opportunity and discouraging the tyro --
it's up to your own comfort level to decide how far to take that.
I rarely use a money belt, but I wouldn't say I never use one. Depends on what the conditions involved will be.
I was once lunching in a food court with a local acquaintance and had my daypack hanging from the chair I was sitting in,
and she -- being more familiar with the place -- pointedly told me I should move it between my feet or onto my lap. I guess it wasn't unusual for a snatcher to actually run through the space. I had no experience with the place, so deferred to her caution.

Posted by
107 posts

I had a pickpocket in Florence attempt to snatch my wallet out of my jeans front pocket; but, all I had in there was a handkerchief that he must have assumed was a wallet. Luckily, I had a secure neck wallet. He must have been a rookie since I felt the hand tug out the handkerchief. The ruse was a lady with a baby walking up to you asking for money to help feed her baby--the baby was actually a life-like doll. On a more pronounced scale my partner had her luggage stolen while getting on a train in Rome to Sorrento. The thief posed as a train employee/porter. When she handed him the luggage so she could climb on the train, he simply ran away with the whole piece of luggage. I know of many other friends who were the victims of pickpockets or common thievery in Europe. So, it can and does happen. Invest in a neck wallet and keep it under your shirt.

Posted by
14165 posts

If you are on a metro and they use a distraction like pushing into a crowd or jostling when getting on you may not be aware of it no matter how tight your pants are.

On my RS tour last year one guy felt a hand in his pocket as we stepped onto a crowded Metro in Rome and another (a law enforcement guy) felt a hand in his pocket when we were pushed from behind while boarding a Metro in Paris. Interestingly the guys were the targets, not the women and their purses. Neither of the targets had anything of value in the pockets.

And, not that I am an expert on pickpockets, it is a much more subtle gesture than shoving a hand into that pocket and yanking it back out. It is more like carefully and skillfully sliding a hand in when someone has just been bumped and are thinking about that rather than being bumped from the other side.

Posted by
2349 posts

"Interestingly the guys were the targets, not the women and their purses." Maybe because the women think they're a target with their purses, so take extra safety measures, but the men feel confident that their front pants pocket is safe? Maybe the pickpockets have a greater return from men's pockets.

I am cracking up at the image of someone pulling a handkerchief out. Like a magic trick.

My husband bought some black tshirts with a front chest pocket. He kept his big money in a moneybelt under the tshirt, and his walking around money in the chest pocket, and wore a sweater over it. He felt comfortable in crowds. Do you want to feel comfortable and worry free, or do you want to keep your wallet in your front pants pocket?

You don't have to decide now. Take a moneybelt with you, and if you feel like you need it, use it.

Posted by
3984 posts

We had a college student who was with our group have his passport and money stolen out of his front pants pocket in the doorway of a church in Rome. He had just commented to a friend that they should be careful about the woman and "baby" in the church doorway. He bragged (out of her range) to his friend that his valuables were safe because they were in his front pocket. When the boys got into the church he reached into his front pocket to show his friend that everything was ok only to find the contents of his front pocket gone.

He spent the rest of the day in Rome getting his passport replaced. We had given all 45 students their choice of neck pouch or waist money belt and told them to use them. For some it's live and learn the hard way.

Posted by
23434 posts

Has anyone ever experienced a front pocket theft?

How many examples do you want? collect anecdotal accounts of pickpockets from this site and others. Front pockets, tight jeans is no protection. One gal even reported losing money from bra. Most start with, "I could never believe this could happen." A front jean pocket is slightly better than a back pocket. If you standing still in a room, your are correct that no one can put a hand in your pocket. But you are not in room, your are jammed in a subway car or a bus, being push from front and back - maybe a little too hard - but you will never feel the hand. See me a PM and I will send dozen, first person, examples.

Posted by
14580 posts

"...a front pocket theft?" Only once, twenty years ago in 1995. That was because i was not aware of or alert to the pickpocketing, had put the bills in a billfold (wrong), facing length wise into the pocket (wrong again). They should have been in a wallet horizontal to the bottom lining of the front pocket. I grab the gypsy girl's hand, created a scene by hollering and screaming, which caught her off guard, she lets go of the billfold, by which time a couple of bills had been removed. This was in east Berlin. Now, I don't put all the cash, credit cards, etc in one place; they're all concealed, separated into different pockets, some with zippers on a jacket or pants. Luckily, only one theft like this in 21 trips.

Posted by
32245 posts


"Has anyone ever experienced a front pocket theft?"

I haven't personally experienced that type of theft, but one of my colleagues lost "a substantial amount of money" from a zippered front pocket while on the Metro in Rome (and his experience was not the only one I've heard of).

I typically keep my daily spending money in an easily accessible pocket, so that's what the scammers will see me accessing when I pay for something. My wallet is attached with a steel chain, so if they do manage to snag it, they won't get far.

Posted by
420 posts

This past June on the train platform in Pisa. It wasn't even crowded. A man slipped his hand into my husband's front pocket thinking he was grabbing his wallet. Instead he grabbed a a 16 oz Nalgene wide mouth water bottle. My husband and I wore Pacsafe Venturesafe 150 crossbody/sling bags. They were perfect.

Posted by
10302 posts

Husband caught a hand going into his front pocket as he rode the down escalator in a mall in Nice. Inexperienced teens, but a second one was behind the first ready to receive the wallet if the first one had succeeded. A French friend living near Nice just lost a card out of a deep front pants pocket while giving someone directions.

Posted by
4 posts

I know someone, a older guy that got pick pocketed on a train in Rome. They said this woman shoved her breasts up against him in the front while someone from behind took his wallet. Just as the train got really crowded, then they took off.

Posted by
19152 posts

So far I've stayed out of countries where pickpocketing is rampant, but a friend of mine once went to Venice, and she related how someone in her hotel had had his wallet pickpocketed. It was in an inside velcro pocket of his jacket, duck-taped shut, and they still got it.

Posted by
7209 posts

OMG - insert BIGGG Eye Roll here! This whole thread is laughable.

Posted by
104 posts

I travel with a "Travelon Brand" (available through neck wallet and I don't worry about pick pockets. The strings holding the neck wallet are slash proof and there is the upside of having your eyes on your money/credit cards at all times.


Posted by
150 posts

Three weeks in Europe, leaving this week. Neck money pouch with debit and passport, no purse, no issues. Train stations are the worst. Young kids with nothing going on in their lives, no education, pick pocket tourists. I walk like I own the place, watch and stare. Today in Lucca a young man suddenly dropped to his knee to tie his shoe while his partner stayed close. I simply backed up, walked around them and when they came around again I just stared at them. The police moved these guys out of the station, but there were more just like them in Pisa. Travel smart, very smart, ladies, purses are not needed and always use a money belt or neck pouch.

Posted by
16 posts

Just got back from two weeks it Italy. Lots of panhandlers, mostly "old" women. Some with "babies", many with photos of children (I swear I saw the same photo more than once in two different cites, gotta be my imagination). The men lay in the streets with a guy layed across the sidewalk forcing people to step over. While in Rome near the colosseum in a very tight crowded street a small monk bumped me like he was trying to get my attention, I turned and he just smiled...I checked myself. I carried a money belt, zippered and velcroed pockets on all pants and shirts and constantly felt myself and did body scans...musta looked like a weirdo. I carried an old clunky Canon AV1 from 1980 that says look at the dork. I wore bright colors so my wife could find me in the I stuck out. The worst part about the trip was the rude and overly persistent street hawkers selling junk in the piazzas...they won't leave you alone to just relax. You push one away and another glides have to keep moving.
All in all it was a great trip. I think we did good but some of these reports make me question my Velcro pockets that even I have a hard time getting into. Next time I'm going naked...then the hawkers will leave me alone.
Funny thing is this thread made me go check my wallet and passports, as I sit in my own kitchen, just to make sure. All my cards are still there.

Posted by
518 posts

"The worst part about the trip was the rude and overly persistent street hawkers selling junk in the piazzas...they won't leave you alone to just relax. You push one away and another glides have to keep moving. "

We were in Rome, Italy a little over a year ago and we found ourselves walking at very brisk paces in such areas. Literally powering through, avoiding all eye contact. And then we started realizing we were missing much of what we wanted to see (i.e., the piazza). Eventually you adapt some sort of happy medium and yes, the usual precautions (money belt, zip pockets, etc.) all do go a long way.