How to Keep Your Wallet Safe


( – Which of the Following Tactics is Commonly Used By Pickpockets to Steal?

  • Sandwiching
  • Fake Drowning
  • Fighting
  • All the Above

Answer: All the Above. Here’s why…

For most people, keeping valuables in a wallet or purse is an everyday fact of life. Cash, identification, and credit cards are all stored safely away, or are they? Unfortunately, there are people out there who survive by stealing these items from others.

While cash can be replaced, it can be far more costly in the long run to lose identification and credit cards to someone with nefarious intentions. Drained bank accounts and stolen identities are nightmare scenarios that should be avoided if possible. With that in mind, what can a person do to protect themselves against pickpockets?

The following video from Bright Side has a few helpful tips to keep your wallet, or your purse, safe from pickpockets:

First, the video lists a few common myths surrounding pickpocketing. Let’s take a look at those.

Myth #1 

The first myth about pickpocketing is that it’s possible to feel someone who is trying to steal a wallet. Pickpockets use a variety of tools to distract their targets, making it easier for them to steal. Remember, many of these thieves are professionals at stealing from others.

Myth #2

The second misconception is that inner pockets are safe from pickpockets. This isn’t true. A good pickpocket can get a wallet from a jacket pocket or front jeans pocket just as easily as from any other pocket.

Myth #3

The third myth is that avoiding large crowds will reduce the chances of encountering a pickpocket. While being in a busy area may increase the likelihood of encountering a pickpocket, it’s important to know that these thieves tend to operate in teams. Often, they will create scenarios in order to steal from a target, regardless of how many other people are present.

Common Pickpocket Tactics

One way to avoid becoming a victim of pickpocketing is to recognize the tactics they use against their targets. Here are a few:


Usually performed with two or more pickpockets, sandwiching occurs when the first criminal sets up a distraction, such as spilling a bag of groceries. When the “mark” stops to help, a second thief will “accidentally” bump into them, and make off with their wallet.

Fake Drowning

This tactic is used on the beach when one thief pretends to be drowning, getting people to rush into the water to help. As they do, the rest of the team swipes up valuables left behind while everyone is focused on the water.

Fake Robbery

Utilizing a bit of trickery, one of the thieves will cry out they have been robbed — which leads to the bystanders instinctively checking their wallets and purses. As they do, the pickpockets are shown exactly where each person is keeping their valuables.

Using Kids

Nothing is too diabolical for pickpockets, it seems. Some will use children to distract a target in order to steal from them. As the child shows off a toy or drawing, a second member of the team will sneak up and steal from the mark.


Fights are known to attract crowds of onlookers, which creates a perfect environment for thieves to exploit. By starting a staged fistfight, they can bring people to them and keep them distracted all at once.

Targeting Tourists

Tourists are notorious for being targeted by pickpockets. This doesn’t mean a traveler is safe by staying away from seedy locations while traveling, either. Pickpockets go to places that tourists frequent.

So how can a person defend themselves against these devious criminals?

  • Become a hard target. Keep a wallet in the front jean pocket or in a bag that closes (making it harder for a criminal to reach in and grab it). Make sure no part of it is sticking out of the pocket or bag.
  • Avoid big crowds. Pickpockets are masters of blending into their environment, essentially using the grey man concept against their targets. While they do operate outside of crowds, it is easier for them to work in large groups of people.
  • Avoid checking on your wallet. Constantly touching your wallet is a great way to show a potential pickpocket exactly where you keep your valuables. On that note, never count money in public. The same concept applies here — it paints a target on your back.
  • Purse prep. Shorten the straps on your purse so that it rests between the elbow and the ribcage when worn over the shoulder. This makes it more difficult for a purse snatcher to grab it and run. Also, keep valuables inside the main pocket. Outer pockets are easier to access. Keep zippers and clasps closed.
  • Deploy a duplicate. When visiting an area known for pickpockets, keeping a fake wallet is one way to keep the real one safe. In fact, it can be used in such a way as to ensure a pickpocket goes for that one (such as touching it when someone cries out they’ve been robbed). Use the criminals’ tactics against them!

Keeping one’s belongings safe is incredibly important in this day and age. Not only are thieves looking to steal from unsuspecting marks in person, but they have turned their sights to vehicles, as well. To see how criminals have begun using technology to steal cars, and how to stop them, check out our article here.

~Here’s to Your Survival!

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