There are three good reasons why pickpockets love to prey on tourists: they are distracted, they carry cash and they carry cameras. As a new parent travelling with a baby you are more distracted than most, which puts you even more at risk. This article is not intended to make you paranoid, but instead to help you be more prepared and avoid being pickpocketed.
Through our travels, we have learned some of these lessons the hard way. There were times when we made stupid mistakes and paid for it. Other times, we did everything we thought we should and the thieves still made away with the goods, leaving us feeling violated and frustrated.
Sometimes, you will just get caught off guard. It happens. During our visit to Barcelona, we knew better than to be caught off guard. But guess what? We were distracted by our new surroundings and travelling with our new baby and someone got into our backpack. Thankfully, we were well prepared having used our steps below and the thief was rewarded with a backpack containing only diapers.
If you are a victim of theft, do your best to not let it ruin your trip. Cameras can be replaced (trust us, we know!). Here are a few simple, yet effective steps you can take to reduce the risk:
1. Keep your cash in a secure location:
For Men: Carry a small wallet in your front pocket. Never, ever put your wallet in your back pocket as it is extremely easy to steal from there. Instead, buy a very small wallet, enough for one or two credit cards, your driver’s licence and a small amount of cash and carry it in your front pocket at all times.
Carry most of your cash in a zippered front pocket. The only place harder for a pickpocket to get to than your front pocket, is a zippered front pocket. Keep a little cash in your small travel wallet in case someone demands your money, but keep most of your currency tucked away in a zippered front pocket. This will be nearly impossible for them to get at.
2. Use your stroller to hide your valuables.
When you are on the move, put your camera, backpack or purse, etc. in hard to reach places in the stroller: the storage area at the bottom is very hard to reach while you are moving. Remove your valuables if you will be stopped for any period of time as a good thief may still get at your things.
3. Strategically position the zippers on your day bag.
Leaving the zippers at the top of your bag makes it extremely easy for a thief to get in. Instead, leave the zippers at the bottom of the side of your bag which makes it most inconvenient for them. For example, if you have a water bottle on one side, place the zippers on that side behind the water bottles.
4. Never place your bag down then tend to your baby.
If you need to tend to your child, never place your bag down and look away. Likewise, never place your camera on a chair next to you. When you look back to retrieve your items you will likely find them gone. Have your significant other hold the bag or camera instead.
5. Use your day bag to protect your DSLR.
A favorite tactic of thieves is to grab your camera by the strap and run. Prevent this from happening by running your DSLR strap through the clipped front strap of your day bag. This takes away the grab and dash opportunity. If for some reason you put your camera away in your day bag, hook the strap through another strap on the bag so it will be harder to take if someone does manage to get into your bag.
6. Be extra cautious on public transportation.
If you are taking public transportation and find yourself jammed in like a sardine, carry your bags on your front. If another passenger makes an unusually big effort to sit/stand next to you, turn away such that your belongings are facing away from them.
7. Pay attention to each other’s belongings.
If one person is taking pictures, the other person should be aware of who is nearby and watch for any suspicious people approaching.
Remember, pickpockets will always target the easiest victims first. If you take these simple, yet effective steps, you make yourself a much harder target and therefore greatly reduce the risk.
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