There are apparently tons of pickpockets in Italy... some look like homeless women bent over and hiding themselves in dirty clothes, some are children, some are mothers carrying fake babies, and others look like tourists, business people or even priests. In general, pickpocketing or other attempts to steal from you will take advantage of crowded areas and when you are most confused in new situations. Be careful in train stations, on buses and standing on lines in crowded tourist areas. Stealing is repulsive to me... this coming from someone who lived in Manhattan for over 30 years and has as had to suffer many thefts: car stereo, bicycles (2), motorcycle, cars (2), camera equipment, a box full of coins (stolen by a window washer), car stereo system, and yes... even a wallet.
So, other than keeping aware at all times and never looking like a distracted, confused tourist (fumbling with a ticket machine for a train, texting while waiting in a line, or looking at a map while standing in the middle of a piazza), what can we do? There are lots of security devices for travelers. The leg wallet is something I thought might work for keeping extra cash, the emergency credit card or our passports. When I got it I was amazed at how well it fit... sort of like a snug sock. I'm certain it won't slip off. There are two zippered compartments that can fit a decent amount of stuff. My wife also had a teeny bra wallet (a satin sack to hold a couple of cards) but this leg wallet will work for most of what we need to secure. To be honest, the bra wallet was pretty useless since I held pretty much everything safely in my leg wallet.
UPDATE: The leg wallet was a great way to secure three passports, extra cash and a couple of back-up credit cards. It never slipped down my leg and as long as I was wearing long pants, no one knew I had it on. It was much better than the money belt wallet I also brought, which I never used. My only complaint was that on very hot days it tended to chafe a bit on the top end where its elastic was.
The Pacsafe Luggage Citysafe 200 Gii Handbag was my wife's choice in battling thieves. She calls herself "Mama Mule" because whenever we go somewhere (especially in summer when me and Lucas don't have jacket pockets) she winds up toting the water bottle, my cellphone, a camera, snacks and whatever else we need for the day's outing. The mulebag has become essential to her.
The Pacsafe (there are smaller and larger models) is designed for safety. The strap has a wire in it so it can't be cut. The strap also has locking latches which are easy to open, wrap around a table leg (as you are having lunch) and lock again. Most of the zippers can be locked. The fabric is tough, water repellent and cannot be cut with a razor. Inside there is a compartment that has RFID protection. If you don't already know (we recently learned about it), lots of credit cards and passports now contain a chip "for our convenience" so we don't have to break a sweat by swiping a card... just sort of wave it, or recently, sticking into a slot and waiting even longer for the transaction to be completed... yea right. For $100 a thief can buy a scanner, plug it into a laptop, put the whole thing into a messenger bag and scan people's card info within 3'... sometimes further. (What are they thinking? Just because you CAN doesn't mean you SHOULD build these things!) RFID protection is a shield against this (although I heard that wrapping your cards and passports in aluminum foil works just as well).
This bag holds a lot but the water bottle pocket on the side was a bit snug for our tall Thermos brand bottle. Still, it is yet another barrier against the filthy, sticky fingers of little thieving kids and bogus priests alike.
UPDATE: For travel, Lisa thought the bag was heavy, bulky, unattractive and she couldn't find things inside easily. Personally, I think she missed her good old mule bag, which was actually a tad bigger. Also, she might have thought it was heavy because at times she was carrying an extra water bottle--something that I couldn't fit into my messenger camera bag (which itself was always overloaded with most of our tech stuff).
This is another Pacsafe product... a camera strap that has a wire in the strap (can't be cut easily) and the same locking dog latch type of fastener as the mulebag above. Having a snack in a cafe? Lock the strap around a table leg and feel confident that no one will run past and take off with your camera. I'm thinking of replacing the strap on my messenger bag with this.
UPDATE: I wound up not using this strap for my camera. Instead, I used a hand strap which I prefer for shooting... the camera hangs onto the end of my hand as an extension of my arm. Much less likely to tangle when putting the camera back into the bag. Remember, I'm a pro shooter and just happen to like having my camera attached to the end of my hand. If you are used to straps, this is a great product.
Now this is for airports and train stations. The Maxpedition Gear Steel Cable Lock. When sitting waiting with our luggage all grouped together, it's easy enough to slip the cable through all the luggage handles and lock them together. No one can do a grab and run with a single bag. You can even cable all the luggage together in the car trunk--a thief would look the fool trying to make a quick getaway dragging 4 or 5 carry-ons and backpacks down the viale...
UPDATE: We did use this lock all the time when hanging out in train stations. We'd cable all the bags together and huddle around them, putting the bags against a wall. The cable lock made it less likely that anyone could actually snatch and run off with a single bag.