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Pickpockets and handbag thieves

Avoiding pickpockets and bag snatches

Pickpockets and handbag thieves often operate in pairs in busy places. It is therefore important to always be aware of your surroundings and the people nearby. Cafes, restaurants, pubs, clothes and shoe shops are places where people tend to be careless with their bags. Be aware of who's around you when you're shopping.

Pickpockets often operate in pairs and use distraction techniques to avert your attention whilst they steal from your bag.

  • wear your bag across your body, so that it opens on the side facing you
  • in winter, wear your coat over your bag to hide it - you're any easy target if you leave your bag facing backwards over your shoulder or carry it over one shoulder
  • never leave your bag unattended in a shopping trolley or basket or on the back of a pushchair - always keep it with you
  • avoid carrying valuables in the outside pockets of rucksacks
  • if you use a wheelchair or motorised scooter, keep your valuables in front of you, rather than hanging them on the back of the chair where thieves can dip into them
  • keep your bag or briefcase where you can see it or feel it - on your lap or touching your feet, not hung on the back of your chair when you're eating or having a drink
  • keep your keys in a different pocket from anything that has your address on it
  • don't keep the PIN for your cash card with you
  • keep the emergency number to cancel your credit cards with you so that you can phone immediately if you have to