Travel could finally return to normal, with tourists talking more about the scourge of pickpockets than the pandemic.
Like COVID-19, pickpockets like tight crowds. After COVID killed international tourism for nearly two years, they had to find another job. But as the swans return to Capistrano, the pickpockets have returned to their traditional haunts.
A new survey reveals the sites where tourists report the most pickpocketing activity. Unsurprisingly, the list is led by the most famous and popular attractions in Europe. From Rome’s famous Trevi Fountain to Barcelona’s Ramblas, pickpockets are back and working hard to make travelers miserable.
The money.co.uk study analyzed Tripadvisor reviews of popular attractions around the world. The results reveal a Top Ten for possible encounters with pickpockets.
The list is led by Las Ramblas, the famous pedestrian path in Barcelona, Spain. Barcelona is a beautiful city with many cultural attractions and a vibrant spirit. But as it attracts travelers, pickpockets are also attracted to it. Las Ramblas teems with tourists strolling through its shops, bars, cafes and restaurants, tempting targets in this resurgent summer season. A whopping 3,271 reviews mentioned pickpockets.
The second site on the list is the beloved Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. When unsuspecting tourists look up, it presents pickpockets with a huge opportunity. Some 2,569 reviews refer to the problem of pickpockets. Travelers are advised to take particular care of their belongings when waking up in the street from the metro station at La Tour. While police arrested 19 suspected ringleaders in 2019, pickpockets returned like mosquitoes on a summer night.
Rome’s famous Trevi Fountain is said to be the third most popular site for pickpocket attacks, mentioned in 2,206 reviews. The area is filled with crowds and bustle. People try their luck by throwing coins into the fountain over their left shoulder. The distraction makes tourists the main prey of pickpockets, while others find the 3,000 euros from the fountain an easier score.
European landmarks make up the list of ten other pickpockets. The Charles Bridge in Prague comes in at number four, followed by the famous Church of the Sacred Heart (the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Montmartre) in Paris.
Italy is popular with tourists, so it’s no wonder site number six is in Rome. Home to heroic gladiators and unfortunate victims, the Colosseum today is filled with pickpockets. Purse cutters work in Prague’s picturesque Old Town Square, seventh on the list.
The 8the place on the list is held by the Louvre, home of the Mona Lisa. Who knew paintings spoke to pickpockets? Paris is also home to the ninth most popular pickpocket pick, Notre-Dame de Paris, known for its “hunchbacked” bell ringer.
Tenth place is occupied by another famous cathedral, the Sagrada Família in Barcelona, where pickpockets ply their unholy trade.
The study also looked at the travel sites with the highest percentage of pickpocketing remarks out of the total number of reviews. A whopping 17.02% of Tripadvisor reviews of Mercado Municipal de Benidorm, an open-air market in Alicante on the Spanish Mediterranean, say “beware of pickpockets”.
The second place among mentions of high percentage pickpockets is the Athens Metro public transport system. It’s a convenient way to access most historic sites in Athens, but pickpockets are mentioned by an alarming 15.20% of reviews.
The third highest percentage is held by Colon Street in Cebu City in the Philippines. Historic Colon Street (named after Christopher Columbus) is the oldest street in the Philippines and is full of cinemas, restaurants, bars, shops and other establishments. But some 11.65% of reviewers cite a problem with pickpocketing.
Of course, pickpocketing and theft can happen in any city, including his own. The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) recently warned residents and tourists against wearing high-end jewelry or watches due to street thefts.
Can you stop being pickpocketed? Probably not, but you can improve your chances.
True, you do not want to stand out in the crowd. My dad taught me to always carry my wallet in my front pocket. Another idea: wear a money belt or a passport holder around your neck. When you go out, leave your valuables in your hotel room, preferably in the safe.
Take photos of your valuables and documents. Consider travel insurance (Squaremouth is a broker representing 100 companies) or see if expensive electronics are covered by your theft insurance. Back up key files to the cloud or to a hard drive.
While travel insurance won’t take away the pain of trying to replace your passport, credit cards, driver’s license, plane tickets, phone, watch or jewelry, it can help minimize possible losses if you become a victim. If you are robbed, file a police report so you can file a complaint.
When sitting in a restaurant or bar, wrap your bag around your leg. Don’t keep valuables in the back of the bag out of sight when it’s on your shoulders. Most importantly, stay alert in the crowd. Watch for distractions and restlessness.
Common sense can help prevent pickpockets from separating you from your belongings.