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Menghan

Travelled to 32 countries / regions

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Lived in Italy for 6 years from 2011-2017

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Europe > Italy > Useful Info
Updated on Jun 18, 2018 Useful Info

How to avoid being pickpocketed in Italy and what to do if they do get you

The gist: They are sneaky, fast, undetectable, and will almost always be a step in front of you (but actually behind).

Where they hang and how to spot them

  • They are often in crowded spaces, public transportations, and touristic spots
  • Most of them are gypsies and you can spot them by the way they dress. Most of them are women and teen children
  • In south of Italy, Naples especially, they are everywhere on buses, if you see someone with a shirt covering an arm, chances are the hand underneath is up to go good
  • Metro:
  • Sometimes they appear in a group, they will go behind you all together squeezing you onto the train but never get on themselves
  • Sometimes they are fake/real pregnant women walking beside you
  • Look out for gypsies wearing sneakers (boy they run fast!)

How to avoid them and the tragedy

  • If you spot them by their looks, go as far away as possible, switch the car of the train
  • Wear your backpack on the front, never at the back unless you just have non-important stuff. Even if you use a lock, they will cut through your bag
  • When you sit outdoors, do not leave your phone or wallet on the table, they pass and pick it so fast you won't even realize
  • Sometimes they approach you near train or metro ticket vending machines pretending to help, DO NOT ENGAGE, find a staff if you need help as they will either ask money afterwards or someone is already pickpocketing you
  • Do not bring a lot of cash out with you, always separate your wallet and passports most places accept cards or have ATMs close by especially in the city - it's the city where you need to be more careful
  • Do not use open purses

What to do if they get you

  • ***If your wallet is gone, look in the nearest trash bins. They often only take out the cash and throw away the wallets in case they get caught. If you are on a moving train, trace back to your previous stop(s) Contact the staff they may help you to look
  • Yell for help: Italians HATE gypsies and pickpocket-ers. I caught one and some of them even helped me to chase her down. There are always undercover cops that will come help too
  • Go to the police and file a stolen goods report (La denuncia in italian). This is time consuming but necessary if documents are involved. They won't help you get your stuff back though

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So this actually happened to my dad, who never ever got pickpocketed in his life until this point: just before the train door closed, a guy pretending to have dropped something but sneaked a metro ticket under my dad's foot, my dad thought it was his and bent down to pick up, when he got him his pants back pocket was emptied. Again, you can never be too careful