The 10 worst cities for pickpockets

Jenai Laignel / 23 August 2013 ( 09 November 2015 )

Although instances of pickpocketing are few and far between when you're travelling abroad, it's always advisable to be extra careful with your valuables.



Travel website TripAdvisor has come up with a list of the ten worst cities for pickpocketing and advice on how to beat the thieves.

1. Barcelona, Spain


Pickpocketing in Barcelona is almost a generally practiced and accepted sport. Las Ramblas, the famous wide, pedestrian walkway full of life, music, and people at all hours of the day and night, is the perfect place to get your purse poached.

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2. Rome, Italy


With its ancient buildings and astounding historical and cultural attractions, Rome is full of tourists admiring outdoor attractions like the Trevi Fountain or the Pantheon, making it easy for pickpockets to lift a camera or purse.

3. Prague, Czech Republic


One of Prague's most romantic sites, Charles Bridge is lined with baroque-style statues and thousands of tourists who crowd its ancient stones each year, making it perfect for pickpocketing.

Before taking in the view of the Vltava River and the Prague Castle beyond, be sure your valuables are strapped down.

4. Madrid, Spain


Back in Spain again, El Rastro fleamarket and the crowded metro are often cited as spots where pickpockets operate. Travellers should also have their wits about them that in the city's many museums, where distracted tourists are often preyed upon.

Related article: How to avoid a holiday lettings scam

4. Paris, France


From the base of the Eiffel Tower to the steps of Sacré-Coeur, the City of Light draws enormous crowds. Trouble is often found below ground, in the city's metro system, where travellers should be especially cautious.

6. Florence, Italy


It's certainly easy to be distracted by the majestic beauty and awe-inspiring works of art all around Florence. When you're admiring Michelangelo's David, or its replica in the busy Piazza della Signoria, be aware that others may be admiring your wallet.

7. Buenos Aires, Argentina


A common scam in this vibrant and culturally rich city involves you being suddenly covered in "bird droppings" (likely mustard), while a "friendly" local (likely a thief) happens to be standing by with napkins to help you clean up (and clean you out).

8. Amsterdam, Netherlands


With so many fun things to see and do amongst the friendly and laid-back atmosphere of this city, it's easy to drop your guard and let the pickpockets take advantage.

9. Athens, Greece


As mentioned before, it's the outdoor attractions that can often be the worst places for thieves. When visiting the Parthenon, or anything else in this magnificent historic city, keep the bags close to the vest while your eyes admire the rest.

10. Hanoi, Vietnam


The capital of Vietnam has its charming Old Quarter, littered with monuments and colonial architecture, making it a beautiful and unique place to visit, but also a place to stay alert for mischief.

Top 5 tips to avoid being pickpocketed...


1. Never keep your wallet or valuables in your rear pocket, even if it is buttoned down – it's by far the easiest target.

2. Beware of the distraction tactic in crowds – dropping something near you, squirting something on you, or simply jostling you.

3. Pickpockets often work in pairs or groups and can be difficult to spot. Be cautious with any strangers – sometimes people who don't look like they'd be a threat, such as children or the elderly, can be part of larger operations.

4. Stay alert in confined spaces and near passageways. Try to avoid standing near the doorways of trains as groups of pickpockets can rush at you when the doors open.

5. Before you set off on a trip, only take what you need, leaving the rest on the hotel room safe. The smaller the bulge of your purse or wallet, the less likely pickpockets are to covet it.

Remember, if the worst should occur it always pays to be insured. Saga Holiday Insurance and Travel Money will give you the peace of mind that you're covered – whatever happens.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.