Athens - Greece
A large number of pickpockets probably don’t look like the young men you are imagining. In fact, most pickpockets are young boys and girls from 10-18 years old. Furthermore, pickpockets are usually well dressed, attempting to fit into the crowd around them. More often than not, pickpockets work in groups. While one member tries to take your stuff, one or two other people will do something to distract you. Once they have stolen an item from you, they usually split up, making it even harder to chase down the culprit.
While you should always be on guard, it is especially essential to be on guard in places with lots of travelers, lots of crowds and lots of exposure. Especially be careful at:
All pickpockets use distraction. Below are a few well-known methods of distraction that pickpockets use to steal from tourists.
The Good Samaritan
Pickpockets will wander around metro and train stations with lots of stairs. When they see a traveler with lots of baggage, they will offer to help and grab your back. This will disorient you while their friend snags something from your purse or pocket. Just remember, not all “good samaritans” have innocent motives.
The Charity Worker
This scam almost always involves a group of young girls with clipboards. They’ll approach you and point to a clipboard and ask you (either by pointing or in their foreign language) so sign for a charity. If you sign, they’ll ask for a donation to the charity. Of course the “charity” is fake. On top of donating to a fake charity, many times while the tourist is signing, there is an accomplice trying to pickpocket the victim.
The Restaurant Distractor
Another common tactic involves using a large map or a newspaper to cover the distract and cover the victim’s line of sight while they are pickpocketed. A map will be shoved in your face or placed on the table and asked about while you are being robbed This is a very common way that people steal mobile phones from tables in cafes, bars and restaurants.
The Ticket Taker
Always be suspicious of people who try to help you at ticket machines. While you are trying to sort out the public transportation, someone will offer to help. They wanted to buy two 5-day passes, which cost about 30€/each, so the man offered to use his credit card because he told them foreign cards don’t work in the machines. He will then ask for cash and instead purchase one-way child’s ticket (which looks very similar to a 5-day pass) that costs about 1€ and he pockets the 60€. By the time you figure it out, your pickpocketer will be long gone.
The Street Performer
Now, we aren’t talking about the actual performers, but street performances that gather large crowds of tourists. These large groups of tourists draw pickpockets too, so be on guard