- Be aware of your surroundings. If you happen to turn down a seedy looking street in Rome or Florence (there can be many of these), just be wary if someone is walking behind or too close to you. Keep a special lookout at night. But more so for pickpockets, keep on heightened alert when you are in crowds. Muggings and other violent crimes are few in Italy. Getting pickpocketed can be prevented but if you plan properly, it won't be the end of your special holiday in Italy.
- Think of the wallet you carry during the day as your dispensable wallet… if you lose it or it gets stolen, make certain your lose isn’t going to be that big. Keep only enough cash for the day in it. You might even go as far as keeping one or two of those sample credit cards in there to fool any mugger. In the rush they’ll see something that looks like a credit card and run like hell.
- Keep everything valuable in a money belt, bra pouch, or my favorite… a leg wallet. This includes credit cards, passport and such.
- Consider the old standby, the hotel safe. Many rooms come with one right in the room, but I’m not so comfortable about using them. If you do have something to protect, ask if the hotel manager has a safe.
- For me, keep your wallet in your front pocket and when in crowds, hook your thumb on that pocket with your fingers always checking to see if your wallet is in there. You might place a few rubber bands around your wallet to make it less slippery to pull out of your pocket.
- Consider specialty clothing… for instance, I purchased a great travel vest that had a hidden pocket so well hidden that I didn’t find it right away.
- For women, consider buying a travel purse. Many come with a steel cable running through the strap. This makes it impossible for a crook to cut it or pull and break it away from you. They also have locking zippers, hidden pockets, flaps that cover the locked zipper compartment and even a special pocket to protect your credit card and passport’s smart chip from being accessed.
- Turn the flap side of your purse toward your body. When sitting in a restaurant, unhook the locking strap (many models have this feature) and lock it around a table leg to prevent someone running by from snatching it.
- When walking on sidewalks, walk well away from the curb—more than an arm’s length. A typical method thieves will use is snatching purses while driving by on a scooter. Be aware of this when standing at the corner crosswalk!
- As happened to me one time in Paris, be very careful when standing to ogle something in a shop window. While you concentrate on that pretty dress or fancy pastry, a pickpocket will slip into your handbag or back pocket. I grabbed one guy’s hand out of my camera bag when I saw him sneaking up to me in the shop window’s reflection.
- If you catch one in the act, shout loudly, “Ladro!” (Theif!) They’ll run away fast.
- When traveling in inclement weather or in the colder months, consider wearing longer rain gear with inside pockets. Keep your valuables in there tightly buttoned up, especially in crowds, subways or buses.
- When traveling as a couple, make sure you split the valuables between you. In case one gets cash or credit cards stolen, the other will have the backups.
- If you keep one credit card for day use in your wallet, keep a second backup in your leg or bra wallet.
- If you are trendy and are going to wear one of those chic scarves as Italians do, think about buying one before you leave and sewing a little pocket into it to keep spare cash or card.
- Do not leave your luggage in the luggage area at the end of train cars! Keep them in overhead racks right where you are sitting so you can make sure no one leaves the train with one of your bags.
- When waiting in the station for a train, find a spot where you can stand with a wall behind you. Don’t stand where someone can grab one of your bags or come close enough for pickpocketing. Think about using a small luggage cable to lock all your bags together. It’s hard for a thief to run off with 4-5 bags cabled together.
- The most critical times to protect from thieves is when you are tired from a day or two of traveling by air, rail and car. Try to be alert even though you are sleep-deprived.
I hope this helps protect you while you are on your own Grand Voyage. Rome is no worse than Manhattan, Florence is just plain packed shoulder to shoulder with tourists, Naples is… well, Naples. Just be careful and have a great time!
For more... read:
Keeping Things Safe against Pickpockets & Thieves
Travel Tip: Before Losing a Wallet in Italy...
Keeping Safe in Italy: Gypsies, Scams, beggars and Italian Toll Booths?
Rome Taxiphobia: Much Ado About Nothing
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