Everyone knows someone’s someone who got robbed while on holiday. Especially in the U.S. and Europe, tourists are common targets for petty criminals looking to snatch a quick buck. But don’t let that deter you from having a blast! As long as you keep your eyes open and stay vigilant, you can avoid trouble.
Here’s a list of some of the more common overseas crimes:
They’re so fast and skilled, they’ll slip the cash out of your wallet before your very eyes! Pickpockets “attack” in crowded places, so it’s best to either keep out of those areas, or be very watchful of your valuables.
#2 Child “Beggars”
It’s normal to feel bad and want to donate, but if you cave, you’ll be falling right into these criminals’ trap. These children usually carry cardboard signs, and come in large groups. They’ll approach people and when people stop to listen, they’ll pickpocket them while the rest distracts the victim.
#3 Bugged ATMs
Another common scam is bugged ATMs whereby the card slot has a sleeve to block your card from being read. What the thieves do is stand behind you and wait for you to key in your PIN repeatedly. After you decide that the machine ate your card and you walk off, they’ll retrieve your card and withdraw the money.
#4 “Police” searches
If you get approached by a strange person—even if he’s in a uniform—and he asks to see your ID, don’t entertain him. He may also ask to count your cash in a random spot check, ignore him. The police don’t do such searches!
#5 Scooter Snatch Thieves
Annoyingly noisy scooters zooming dangerously close to the sidewalk? Steer clear! These snatch thieves may be eyeing your bag, and may reach out to grab it. If they managed to grab hold of it, it’s the safest to just let go. But to avoid this altogether, don’t walk too near the road and always hold on to your bag tightly.
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Now that you’re aware of the usual threats, read on for our tips of how to stay safe.
#1 Avoid commotion
Bish, bang, boom! It may be tempting to go over and “kaypoh” but don’t—crowded places are playgrounds for pickpockets and sometimes, they even cause the commotion as a smokescreen.
#2 Spread out your cash and wear a money belt
This way, even if you do (knock on wood) get pickpocketed, you’ll have spare cash elsewhere! Money belts aren’t the most fashionable, but they keep the money close to you, and can be hidden under your clothes.
#3 Don’t touch your wallet unnecessarily
Every now and then, it’s normal to subconsciously run your hands over your pockets to check if your wallet is still there. Make a conscious effort to avoid doing that. It alerts nearby thieves to where your valuables are, and if they can, they’ll try to steal it.
#4 Hold on to your belongings
Most thieves don’t want any trouble. Ideally, they want to pick you clean, and disappear before you notice anything. So if you make it difficult for them by looping your bag around your arm or hooking it to your seat, they’re unlikely to try anything funny.
#5 Just let it go
Lastly… Don’t confront the thieves if you’ve already fallen prey to their tricks. They usually travel in groups, which means if things get ugly, they have back-up nearby. As a tourist in a foreign land, know when to let it go for your own safety.
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