Pickpocketing, mugging, theft. It is common in many countries with Barcelona, China and South East Asia being up there with the highest stats for tourists losing their valuables to these criminal “master minds”.
It is important when you are travelling (either alone or with others) to be savvy and keep your wits about you at all times to protect your belongings.
ANYONE can be vulnerable or a target for theives. Don’t think that because you are walking in a group or chatting to a friendly person giving you directions that you are not at risk, because potentially anybody is, anywhere, at any time.
I once had a client who was travelling with her husband in Ho Chi Minh City who went out for a lovely meal. When they left the restaurant a passing moped grabbed onto her handbag to steal it. Without thinking, she panicked and held on to it, resulting in the moped dragging her for 200 yards down the street leaving her with a broken pelvis and several vertebrae in her back. Tragic! She had to be repatriated home on a flat bed and was unable to sit up for months requiring much surgery.
When I was just 14 on a school trip to Barcelona, I had 20 euros buried deep inside my coat pocket. It was taken from me and I didn’t feel a thing. I was also mugged two years ago whilst on holiday in Bali, Indonesia with friends. I considered myself to be savvy and held tightly onto my over the shoulder strap bag, but a passing moped snatched the bag which broke on my neck leaving me collapsed to the floor and with superficial burns to my neck.
These people are professional, guiltless and ruthless. I do pity them because it must require you to have little emotion through desperation and poverty to live this way.
The best solution to avoid this happening to you that I have found to be very successful is to wear a money / phone belt under your clothes when venturing outside abroad. The one I use which is excellent quality and discreet is called a spibelt and can be ordered online. There are many others that are fine too, but I have not tried these. The spibelt is designed for sport use to wear on the exterior of clothes, however I find it is fantastic for keeping money, phone and keys in and can be hidden discreetly underneath your clothing.
As saddening as it is, the Oliver Twist still happens every day in tourist spots in Asia. Children are brought in and trained especially to target tourists as they appear so innocent and we want to trust them… Well don’t. Their little hands can slip into bags and pockets to easily. Also be extra vigilant when out clubbing or drinking as the pickpockets flock around until 4am waiting until closing time for bars and the hoards of vulnerable drunks to spill into the streets, ready to be their prey.
If somebody passes you in a vehicle to snatch something, just let them. Money and passports are replaceable (if very inconvenient) broken bones may not be.
Think about how you appear. Do you have an expensive phone in your hand? A camera or a purse visible in your handbag? Expensive jewellery? These are all flags to a thief.
Ultimately you can try everything to be street wise and still fail, but it is better to do everything you can to prevent it happening to you.
Dont be a target.