Three European Cities Where Pickpocketing is an Art

Guard your valuables closely in these three cities

Young woman walking through the city
Steven Lewis/Unsplash

Every experienced traveler understands that danger is always around the corner. However, even the best international travelers may not know is that the most inherent dangers come in the most subtle ways. While strong-arm mugging and violent crime targeted at foreigners is still a problem (especially in developing nations), pickpockets continue to find ways to stealthily depart travelers from their possessions.

In many major European cities, pickpocketing is not just a petty common crime: it is considered an art form by the best practitioners, and a major nuisance to visitors and city police. When planning a trip to one of these three top European destinations, be sure to keep a close hold on your valuables - for you never know when a pickpocket may strike.

Rome: pickpockets abound in old Italy

A destination for tourists and pilgrims alike, Rome is one of the top cities in Europe where tourists are targeted by pickpocket thieves. Because many of the historic attractions and long lines for public transportation, pickpockets have many opportunities to strike.

Pickpockets have been known to not only frequent tourist attractions like the Coliseum and Vatican City, but are also strike on public transportation. One of the most common places pickpockets strike is aboard Bus Number 64, commonly used by travelers to get to attractions. One common pickpocketing scam involves identifying a target and using a distraction to capture the victim's attention. When the traveler drops their guard, a pickpocket will go in for the steal. At the next stop, the team will gets off the bus with their newly acquired items.

Rome isn't the only Italian city where travelers should remain on guard. According to TripAdvisor, Florence is also another top location for pickpockets. 

Barcelona, Spain: pickpocketing capital of the world

Some international travelers consider Barcelona as the pickpocketing capital of the world, but not just because of the number of petty thefts that happen in the city every year. Pickpockets on the streets of this major Spanish city have developed and perfected many ways of lifting items off distracted travelers. Furthermore, thieves go out of their way to single out tourists as easy targets.

Pickpocketing in Barcelona usually starts as a crime of opportunity, especially along the famous Las Ramblas pedestrian zone. Pickpocket thieves will do something to distract targets, such as engage conversation, show off a clever soccer move, or even spill something on them. This causes the traveler to drop their focus as a pickpocket goes in, walking away anything of value they can get their hands on.

Barcelona is not the only Spanish city that is known for pickpocketing. Travelers visiting the Madrid are often targeted, because of the distractions offered by the museums and historical sites.

Prague, Czech Republic

Prague is known for it's incredible sights and historic baroque influences. Although the city is considered a world treasure, it is also considered a fertile hunting ground for pickpocket thieves looking to target tourists.

Charles Bridge is one of the top attractions where tourists are targeted. The 30 baroque statues that line either side of the bridge often provide plenty of distraction for a pickpocket to steal a wallet, camera, or anything else a traveler is carrying. In addition, six of Prague's top attractions are outdoors, including Karlova Street, Old Town Square, and Wenceslas Square. Experts say each of these attractions offer a prime opportunity for pickpockets to strike, because there are so many distractions for travelers to get lost in. 

No traveler goes leaves their home with the intention of becoming a victim of crime. However, some people end up coming home with less than they arrived after having their personal items pickpocketed . By understanding how pickpockets work, being alert of one's surroundings, and keeping a copy of important documents in a secure location while traveling, travelers can reduce their chances of being victimized while traveling in Europe. 

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