How To Keep Pickpockets Out Of Your Pants

If you’ve been properly pickpocketed, you won’t realize you’ve lost your wallet until you need it next — most likely long after the crime has occurred. You’re more vulnerable to pickpockets when you travel, because many thieves make a living by stealing from wandering tourists who carry more cash than others.

A Frommers post from last year says where you hold your wallet will determine how likely it is that a pickpocket will be able to make off with your money.

Places you shouldn’t keep your wallet include a backpack, purse or your back pocket. When your wallet isn’t near your hands or in your line of direct sight, thieves can distract you and make a clean break.

Frommers recommends keeping your cash in a pouch under your clothes. If you don’t feel like going that dorky, the front pocket of your pants also works, and the inside pocket of a jacket isn’t so bad either.

How to Avoid Being Pickpocketed [Frommers]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Darrone says:

    Frommer’s recommends the travelers money belt for all your most important documents.

  2. Firevine says:

    Exploding wallets. If you get pick pocketed, it pulls the pin on the wallet, and it explodes. Courtesy of ACME Manufacturing.

  3. Cat says:

    keeping your cash in a pouch under your clothes.

    But not in your underwear.

    Putting your money in your wallet in your back pocket is just asking for it. And damned uncomfortable to sit on.

  4. shibotu says:

    I sometimes wear a tiny shoulder bag under my coat just for money and hotel keys so it’s not even dorky visible.

    Plus, don’t be embarrased to yell & use your arms to block pickpockets if they try to move in too close.

    • Sneeje says:

      That’s fair, but unlikely to ever be useful. The procedure for pickpocketing usually starts with a bump for distraction and usually occurs when you are focused on something (statue, art, bus schedule, etc.). In addition, the person pulling your wallet is usually not the person bumping you.

  5. Portlandia says:

    I keep my money and passport and camera in this:

    It’s a secure travel back that has reinforced cables in the strap and a wire mesh in the body to prevent slashing. The strap also has a secure latch that is difficult to undo for additional protection so when I sit down at a cafe or bar I can latch the bag to the table to prevent a grab and dash.

    It has proven me well on many trips.

    • James says:

      I like that. Wonder if I could cram my DLSR in there.

      Yeah cafes and pubs, where people relax and unwind after being “around touristy areas with pickpockets” tend to be target areas too, where people set that crap down next to their chair whille sipping a latte away.

      • Portlandia says:

        James, I fit my DSLR (Canon T2i w/ 18-55 lens) in there and my G12 at the same time, no problem. It was a little snug but it worked. (I bring both since the G12 is better/easier with some shots than my DSLR)

      • Portlandia says:

        Also, I had a co-worker who set her purse down on the ground in Rome on the first day there and it was, surprise, gone within minutes.

        At Cafes this bag is great. It gets looped through table legs or the arm of a chair or on an extra chair or a railing, wherever is out of the way and secure and I don’t have to worry about it.

        I took it on my trip this November to Peru and didn’t worry about it for a minute. My travel partner liked it so much he bought one when we got back. I travel A LOT so a little peace of mind goes a long way.

        • Outrun1986 says:

          I put my purse between my legs and the table when I am eating, anywhere. Its too easy to grab when its on the floor. My purse is small enough to sneak inbetween that opening easily without any discomfort. I doubt a thief could get it out of there without seriously distracting me first.

    • Fantoche_de_Chaussette says:

      Crooks can spot the uber-expensive armor-plated goody bags a mile away. So you won’t get pickpocketed; you’ll get an armed robbery instead.

      And the steel-cable strap is a particularly good way to get a dislocated shoulder from the slash-and-grab motorcycle-based bag thieves that are common in some places.

      Stay inconspicuous. Go with a money belt. And don’t carry anything you can’t afford to lose.

  6. James says:

    Even inside pockets of jackets are susceptible to an expert in distraction. They’re typically loose and baggy. Anyone leaning forward on a crowded subway for example,looking away could easily be a target.

    Things that zip are best. I have a “man purse” with a zippered pouch under a flap that clasps. Anyway fumbling with a zipper is sure to get noticed.

    If I don’t have that on me I use front pocket – and it’s not just when traveling. If I’m around big crowds at home (leaving a concert, crowded bus, etc) I trained myself to just move it to the front.

    And watch for attempted distractions, where you’d be caught off guard, set something down perhaps. And never keep all your cash/cards in one place when traveling. Split between a friend, or locked in hotel.

  7. evilpete says:

    A decoy wallet in the back pocket works well in high theft areas

  8. Robofish says:

    I have never kept my wallet in my back pocket. Always in my front ones. Back pocket always feels uncomfortable.

    • teke367 says:

      Exactly, I’ve always done this, not because of pickpockets, but because sitting down with your wallet in your back pocket is uncomfortable.

      It just always made more sense to me.

    • Costner says:

      George Costanza learned that the hard way.

      I also keep my wallet in the front pocket- have for years ever since I started riding motorcycles because a wallet in the back pocket can slip out when you are riding on a bike (which I suspect explains why so many Harley riders use those wallets with chains on them).

      I keep cash in one pocket, wallet in the other, and I haven’t lost either in all of my travels. I used to keep my wallet in the back, but it slipped out a few times (thankfully I always noticed or dropped it at home where it was recovered).

      I do have to laugh at how nervous people are about pickpockets though. It really isn’t nearly as common as people believe, so just use common sense and you will be fine.

  9. CubeRat says:

    Jacket pocket isn’t a good option. A friend of mine had her jacket pocked picked; the thief sliced her jacket with a razer blade.

    When I was a kid, a good friend of my Dad told me he always carries two wallets. One was very small and had his cash/credit card; the other had just a couple of bucks and lots of business cards, senior discount cards, etc. If he was robbed, he just handed over a nice, thick wallet. The ‘fat’ wallet was always in his back pocket, the small one, in his suit jacket.

    His wife always had her cash in an envelope; her purse had a wallet in the same style as her husband.

    This couple traveled a lot in retirement, and had been robbed several times, but never injured. Very smart old ducks.

  10. MichaelRyanSD says:

    well Phil, I suppose this article is “consumerish” because in a way it deals with money. Good on you bud

  11. Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

    The inside jacket pocket ain’t so hot either. I went into a bucket of blood in Boston when they used to have the “Combat Zone” and had a drink at the bar. Two very sociable young ladies came up and engaged me in conversation while I had my cheap scotch and after I left I found I had been cleaned out. They lifted my billfold, emptied it of folding money, and PUT IT BACK! Since then I am a front pants pocket man.

  12. FreeMarketFan says:

    Zipped up jacket – inside breast pocket – I like my odds.

    Also, I’m aware of my surroundings and just don’t spend my whole time on the train with my headphones on , oblivious to the world.

  13. mavrick67 says:

    I keep mine in my shoulder holster next to my .357.

  14. Maltboy wanders aimlessly through the Uncanny Valley says:

    I’ve heard that a thick rubber band wrapped around the wallet deters pickpockets because it grabs as it’s pulled out of a pocket.

  15. El_Fez says:

    Money pouch all the way baby! I keep all my vital records around my neck when traveling and I’ve never been nicked yet! Also, wearing a really long coat (like a duster or trenchcoat) helps too. They cant get to your pockets without lifting your skirt, as it were.

  16. Dallas_shopper says:

    I carried my wallet in my purse on multiple trips to London and Paris and was never pickpocketed. The key is to carry your purse across your body with a firm grip on it, and a closed zipper. They’ll pick an easier target.

  17. Darkneuro says:

    I keep my cash wadded into my front pocket and my wallet (men’s wallet, with a chain attaching it to me) in my back pocket. I’ve never been pickpocketed.

  18. HalOfBorg says:

    I’m perfectly safe. I look like I’m worth about 35 cents (really only a quarter).

    They don’t steal from me – they leave me money.

    I’ve had several people steal my identity, and they all gave it back.

    My car was stolen twice. First time it came back washed. The 2nd ‘joy ride’ left them so depressed they only made it a couple blocks.

    • Outrun1986 says:

      One time my car was broken into, my fault for leaving a door unlocked on my street, the thief looked through everything in the car, but took nothing!

      • Cigamit says:

        Can you really count it as “broken into” if it was completely unlocked?

        • Qntmcat says:

          Pedantic, I know, but police and judges consider opening an unlocked door and walking through it “Breaking and entering”. It’s more about “breaking” a noticeable boundary that marks a clear division of area for which there is an expectation of control. Even walking through an open door can be construed to be B&E if, say, a sign is posted next to the doorway indicating that the area is “controlled”, e.g. “Employees Only”, “Authorized Personnel Only”, etc.

      • hoi-polloi says:

        Once someone busted the window of my Jeep to get at a bag in the back. The contents? An old winter coat and a new bag of socks I didn’t like, on their way to the Good Will. They didn’t even touch the stereo. The only thing they took was around $2 in change.

        • loggg says:

          I’ve only had one break in. They took some change and a ratchet set from my car, but left the radio. It was a cheap radio, but I didn’t think it was that cheap!

  19. Mark702 says:

    Do not that many people keep it in the front pocket? I do and have never had a problem with even an attempt of a grab. Not to mention that I do it for comfort, not security, since being in the back pocket is terribly uncomfortable, and physically harmful to your posture and spine over time. I don’t know why anyone uses the back pocket, it’s stupid in many ways.

  20. PaulR says:

    Don’t put money in your wallet.

    This bears repeating: DON’T PUT MONEY IN YOUR WALLET!!!

    Either get your money stolen or all your ID/Credit/debit cards but not both.

  21. Rachacha says:

    I purchased a pair of dress pants and had worn them several times before I noticed a hidden pocket inside the front pocket. The hidden pocket was sealed with a hidden zipper just inside the front pockets. It is a great place to place things that need some extra protection.

  22. Nobody can say "Teehee" with a straight face says:

    I’ve always wanted to modify my jeans pockets to put a little bit of leather with tiny nails coming out of them, ripping up any stray hand that would try to steal into them without my knowledge. You would have to grab the wallet from outside of the pants pocket and push it up to get it out.

    I travel a lot internationally to high crime areas, but haven’t been pickpocketed yet. I always steer clear of people on the street who might “bump” into me, and whenever I’m in a huge crowd I always have a hand in my pocket holding my wallet.

  23. Outrun1986 says:

    When I eat I keep my purse on my lap between my legs and the table, I also make sure the strap is not hanging I think it would be pretty hard to get it out from that position, and that a thief would not try for it rather they would go for someone who puts it on the floor which is a more easy grab. I don’t ever leave my phone on the table when eating, that is an easy grab for almost anyone especially when the user is distracted by the food being eaten, but I see people do this all the time. Also if I am at a booth I keep it between myself and the end of the booth, if I am eating with other people its easy to sandwich a purse inbetween 2 people.

    I also use a purse that has a flap and a zipper on the inside, too many purses have just a flap with no inside closure. If you open it up you are leaving a good opportunity for a thief to just reach inside that big opening or if you are walking all they have to do is lightly unlatch it and they can stick their hand right in and grab something.

    • Yorick says:

      I’ve known a couple women who will wrap their purse strap around their leg when at restaurants. Can’t get their money without pulling their leg, as it were.

  24. foodfeed says:

    I switched to a pouch or zip lock while in Europe, easier to manage coins and slide in a front pocket.

    • nautox says:

      Is it me or is Paris the Pick-Pocket Capital of the world?
      I would walk 20+ feet behind my family and watch the pick pocketers who were watching them.
      After a while its not tough to pick them out of the crowd based on their body language and the fact their eyes are watching people instead of the scenery.

  25. balance776 says:

    front left pocket for the wallet.
    if you try to pick my pocket there, im sure i’ll know about it ;)

  26. Apeweek says:

    Dummy wallet.

    When I travel, I have an old wallet full of worthless old expired or sample cards, and two dollars in cash, kept in an obvious spot while the real wallet isn’t. Good for pickpockets or muggers.

  27. nodaybuttoday says:

    I use a bag that goes across my body with a thick strap (just bought one that claims to be strong enough so someone can’t cut it) and the zipper is closed towards me. I just got wallet for my husband for when we travel that has a chain attached to it and it’s zippered.

  28. Outrun1986 says:

    Here is one that no one mentioned. If you are catholic you know that when you go to church a lot of people get up in the middle of the mass to receive holy communion from the minister at the front of the church. A lot of people have been returning to the pew only to realize that their purse had been lifted because they left it behind while in the line. With our setup its not too difficult for someone to enter one of the doors of the church and grab a purse or 2. Always bring your purse with you when going into the communion line.

  29. Jeff asks: "WTF could you possibly have been thinking? says:

    I guess my chain wallet will have to do. But it snaps closed, is chained to me and I haven’t lost it in 25 years.

  30. quail says:

    The New Orleans Police always warned tourists about pickpockets. They said the front pocket is good for guys, but is not a full deterrent. If your wallet is there, you should keep your hand in your pocket too. It’s the only way to be 100% safe in the crowds. A good pickpocket can get anything off of you they want.

    There used to be hordes of travel clothing catalogs in the 90s. Just about every pair of pants or coat in them had one or two hidden pockets to deter thieves.

  31. aaron8301 says:

    I keep a Ruger SR9 on my hip. People stay away from me. Doesn’t matter where I keep my wallet on me.

  32. Ihateyourhighhorse says:

    I’ve always kept my wallet in my front pocket.

    not because of pick pockets though. It was always just the more comfortable and logical place for me.

  33. shmoos says:

    In Canada we have a company called Tilly’s Endurables. They make jackets and pants with hidden pockets. They are well made and wash beautifully. A must for travelling. They have a an American website. They are not cheap but well worth the price.

  34. TheCorporateGeek Says Common Sense Is The Key says:

    I never keep a wallet in my back pocket. It’s always kept in the front one. A funny one……we used to only carry ID and cash when we went to Tijuana to drink, we kept it all in our shoes (Shitty Shoes At That) Works wonders!