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7 Pickpocket Personalities: Know Them & Avoid Them

7 Pickpocket Personalities: Know Them & Avoid Them Photo

Photo by Ishtar

Posted on March 30, 2010 in Travel Tips

Meet seven pickpocket personalities seen round the world and hear from IgoUgo members who had run-ins with the scammers and their common schemes. Some travelers outsmarted the thieves and some did not; learn from their mastery and mistakes.

The Airplane Seatmate
C.Kowalczik was targeted by a pickpocket before his Orlando trip could even begin. Just after his flight landed, he noticed a man duck into the rear bathroom. The man emerged once passengers began to stand up and collect their bags, and he took a place behind C. Our traveler felt a bump and checked his back pocket, where he “found more than just car keys:” he found four fingers. The thief even attempted the same trick in C’s wife’s handbag before they could deplane--at which point the pickpocket sprinted away.

The Ring Bearer
Many a traveler has felt sticky fingers on the Paris Metro, but who among us has received two rings on our fingers from two friendly Parisians in one day? Smart traveler tvordj did, but she says it's a trick: “When you’re bent down to pick it up, they’re checking out where your wallet is and the state of your handbags.” She was lucky enough to lose only a few cents in the scam--and even left Paris one (fake) gold ring richer.

The String Theorist
Amélie Poulain may have roamed Montmartre’s romantic streets, but Amelia_T warns of the Paris neighborhood’s darker side: “Avoid the guys tying string to people's fingers.” While you’re distracted by the charming “magic trick,” an accomplice will help himself to your pockets’ contents.

The Birdbrain
Usually getting hit with bird droppings is bad luck enough, but for dharlan, it was just the start of a scam in Seville. A young couple “rushed up, pulled out paper towels and a bottle of water, and started helping” clean up--while stealing his wallet. They went on to charge $10,000 before he could cancel his credit cards. Turns out the bird mess was actually chocolate milk; mustard and other liquids have also been used.

The No-Talent Footballer
It was a foul experience for travelprone in Barcelona when a group of men tossing around a soccer ball threw it at her leg. As one came to retrieve it, he also scooped up her husband’s wallet. Fortunately the footballer dropped it, but though the couple “did not lose anything material, [they] did lose a measure of self-confidence and openness to experience.”

The Lost Soul
Fifteen minutes into her Rome trip, awbw was ripped off by someone who stopped to ask her for directions. “Due to his positioning” she “had to turn away slightly for about 5-10 seconds to reply.” Gone were her passport, tickets, green card, money, credit cards, and jewelry. “The bag had been securely hooked over my suitcase handle,” she says, “or so I thought.”

The Hair-Raising Hairdresser
Strolling Rome’s Piazza Navona comes highly recommended by kythe, but she warns, “DO KEEP MOVING.” Her friend had her hair braided by someone who tried to take her money...and tried to cut out the braid. The friend got away unscathed, but “use common sense and be aware of your surroundings,” says kythe.

Comment by thiefhunter on March 30, 2010

These are cute examples. Learn how to recognize and avoid these and similar characters at Thiefhunters in Paradise. Pickpockets and other thieves tend to specialize, and certain scams occur in specific places. Know before you go!


Comment by MilwVon on March 30, 2010

Very scarey things can happen out there. Thanks for the reminder to be aware of our surroundings and the people near us.


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