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Don’t let the fear of pickpockets in Europe stop you from having a blast at your dream destination. With these tools and some preparation and vigilance, you’ll be sure to have a memorable and safe time!
Pickpockets in Europe: How to Stay Safe
Table Of Contents
Travel Fashion Help! A reader asks:
I haven’t traveled to Europe in ages, and my husband and I just booked a trip to London and Paris. I’m trying to be sensible about what I bring; I’m reading a ton about keeping valuables close, but also to buy bags that are slashproof to keep it safe from pickpockets in Europe. Do you have any safety advice for how to avoid pickpockets in Paris and London?
If you have never visited London or Paris before or thought about safety in Italy, then you might find yourself overwhelmed with the crowded streets and busy metro lines.
As with many major cities, the most common problem for tourists (or locals) is theft. In fact, pickpocketing in Europe is at an all-time high, with cities in Spain topping the list. Besides making sure you’re always aware of your surroundings, you also can take certain packing precautions when traveling Europe or other parts of the world.
We asked TFG readers for their top tips on how to prevent pickpocketing in Europe. This is what they came up with.
Traveling to London, Ireland, Italy or Paris? Be sure to read my e-books to learn everything about travel to these top destinations!
Pickpocket Proof Bag: Anti-Theft Purse
As you sightsee and travel in Europe, you will need to carry cash and credit cards, your phone, maybe a camera, too. One of our favorite ways to avoid pickpockets in Europe is with an anti theft purse.
These bags come in different shapes, sizes, and styles, so you are sure to find the perfect one for you!
Travelon Anti Theft Classic Messenger Bag
Best Pickpocket Proof Bag: Travelon
Travelon makes TFG’s favorite pickpocket safe purses, and we love this classic messenger bag. When it comes to finding the perfect pickpocket proof bags, you’re going to want to go with a trusted designer like Travelon.
The Travelon Anti-Theft Classic Messenger Bag has all the components of what you’re looking for in a purse if you’re worried about how to protect from pickpockets in Europe: it’s a cross-body bag that’s slashproof, has locking compartments, and RFID-blocking card and passport slots. Best of all, it looks like your average purse, meaning it doesn’t stand out!
Looking for the perfect anti theft bag for you? Take a look at our round-up of the best anti-theft travel bags for women!
Travelon Anti Theft Classic Mini Shoulder Bag
Why are Crossbody Bags Great For Anti Theft?
Crossbody bags are the best way to prevent pickpockets in Europe because they allow you to keep an eye on your valuables. While crossbodies are purses that are hard to pickpocket, make sure to keep them in front of you at all times when you’re out and about. That way, you’ll be able to see your valuables, no matter where you are!
The Travelon Classic Mini is another great bag for when you’re looking for how to prevent pickpockets in Europe. Its convertible strap means that it can be either a crossbody or a shoulder bag, plus the strap can be attached to a post or a chair!
Follow these tips if you are pickpocketed while traveling!
Travelon Anti Theft Cross Body Bag
If you’re walking along the side of a road with your pickpocket proof bag, make sure you’ve placed the purse on the other side of your body — away from traffic. Having your bag on the opposite side of the road can help prevent roadside thefts.
If you’re not a huge fan of the synthetic bags built by Travelon, you could instead go with a leather crossbody bag. It will help you to both protect your valuables and look stylish!
The sling bag is another popular style that readers love, as they’re worn close to the body and are always in sight. Travelon’s sling bag is a favorite that readers have used to successfully deter Paris pickpockets, Barcelona pickpockets, Rome pickpockets, and more!
Read more about why female travelers love cross body purses for travel!
Travelon Anti Theft Signature 3 Compartment Crossbody
How to Prevent Pickpockets: Use a Slash-Proof Bag
If you’re in a popular tourist area, chances are it will be crowded. This makes it an ideal hunting ground for pickpockets!
One of the ways European pickpockets do their best work is by slashing or cutting a bag open. If you’re surrounded by a large group of people, this can be done quickly and without immediate notice. And by the time you do notice, your belongings are long gone!
Enter slash-proof bags!
Read my review of the Travelon crossbody bag!
Pacsafe Metrosafe LS250 Anti-Theft Shoulder Bag
Slash-proof bags come in various sizes and styles, including shoulder bags, messenger bags, backpacks, and crossbody bags. They all add an important layer of security to ease your mind when traveling through Europe.
The straps of slash-proof bags often have mesh metal built into them. Plus, most come with RFID blocking pockets that help prevent pickpockets from scanning your passport or credit cards!
Don’t carry your passport with you when sightseeing! Lock it in your accommodation!
Travelon Anti-theft Purse Backpack
Choosing a bag with sturdy, slash-proof material is one of the best methods of preventing pickpockets in Europe.
In addition to the Travelon anti-theft purses, TFG readers also recommend PacSafe slash-proof bags when asked about how to not get pickpocketed, because they perform super well and last for years! If you’re more inclined to use a backpack, Travelon also makes a pickpocket proof backpack.
Read my review of a packable Travelon backpack!
How to Carry Cash in Europe
Getting yourself the right purse isn’t the only precaution that you can take for avoiding pickpockets in Europe. You also can get an anti pickpocket wallet!
Compass Rose RFID Secret Bra Wallet (similar)
Hide Your Cash with a Secret Bra Wallet
Our most recommended alternative to a money belt is a secret bra wallet, which is the perfect anti theft device to keep your valuables safe. A secret bra stash attaches to your bra to keep small personal items safe, such as extra money, credit cards, or a hotel key.
When you go to the ATM machine, store the majority of your money in the secret wallet and place only the amount of money you’ll need for the day in your regular wallet.
Travel Neck Pouch with RFID Blocking
Prevent Pickpockets with a Neck Wallet
If you’re wondering how to protect your wallet from pickpockets, a great way is to wear it around your neck! Neck pouches or neck wallets are perfect to hold your passport, credit cards, and cash when you’re out and about, taking in more touristy sights. These anti pickpocket devices will help you keep things away from pickpockets in any European destination.
And for those days when you’re actively traveling (like those days spent on flights or trains) and need to carry all of your valuables, keeping everything under your clothes with a neck wallet is a seamless way to keep things safe throughout your journey.
TFG has a great roundup of our favorite neck wallets, plus some tips and tricks for the most effective ways to use them!
Travelon RFID Blocking Double Zip Wallet
Traditional Anti Pickpocketing Wallet
While a neck wallet is a great anti-theft device, it won’t give you easy access to your items. Instead, you can keep a small amount of cash in a wrist wallet.
With a wrist wallet, you won’t have to pull out your neck wallet in public areas. You should never access any of your under-clothing anti-theft products in public, or in front of anyone. Pulling it out means alerting pickpockets to the fact that it’s there, which defeats the purpose of hiding your valuables under your clothing!
While it’s highly recommended that you keep your passport safely locked away at your accommodation, if you do need to have it on you, an RFID passport wallet is a good option to keep it extra safe. Keep it zipped up in the most secure pocket of your bag!
Watch this video to learn 10 anti-theft travel tips!
Other Anti Theft Products
Beyond purses and wallets, there are a few other great anti theft products that can help you keep your money and other valuables safe while you’re abroad (or even at home)!
A money belt is essentially a smaller, more secret fanny pack that you hide in front of your body, under your shirt. It can hold your money, credit cards, and even your phone!
If you’re looking for clothing designed to protect your belongings, our readers share their recommendations for concealed pocket clothing!
SCOTTeVEST Penny Winter Rain Coat
Travel underwear is perfect for avoiding pickpockets in Europe. These clever anti theft devices have secret pockets for cards, money, hotel keys, and other valuables. Some readers have also mentioned using anti-theft clothing from SCOTTeVEST, like this highly rated rain jacket that has a whopping 19 hidden pockets! They also sell a chic trench coat with 20 hidden pockets and a light cardigan that has a 4 hidden pockets.
A scarf with secret pockets is awesome for hiding some of your more lightweight travel essentials, plus it adds a cute and comfy element to your outfit!
Samsonite Omni PC International Carry On
Lock Your Luggage
It’s definitely worth it to invest in luggage that has lockable zippers, like the reader-favorite Samsonite Omni PC. This is super important if you’re going to be in a busy or touristy area with your suitcase, traveling on trains and buses, and even at your accommodation.
If your suitcase doesn’t lock, you should take the extra step of securing the zipper of your bag with a small padlock. Try to find something small and subtle. Having an obvious padlock on your backpack or bag could serve to make you more of a target!
These locks are never a guarantee, but they definitely help to prevent opportunistic theft. Here at TFG, we recommend that you only buy a suitcase that has lockable zippers or a built-in locking system.
Please read my top ten tried and tested anti-theft travel tips for more information on how to properly use these items!
Product Comparison Chart
|BRAND | MODEL||FEATURES | REVIEWS||RATING | PRICE|
|Pickpocket Proof Bag: Anti-Theft Purse|
|Travelon Anti Theft Classic Messenger Bag||It’s a cross-body bag that’s slashproof, has locking compartments, and RFID-blocking card and passport slots. Best of all, it looks like your average purse, meaning it doesn’t stand out!||Check Price|
|Travelon Anti Theft Classic Mini Shoulder Bag||The Travelon Classic Mini is another great bag for when you’re looking for how to prevent pickpockets in Europe. Its convertible strap means that it can be either a crossbody or a shoulder bag, plus the strap can be attached to a post or a chair!||Check Price|
|Travelon Anti Theft Cross Body Bag||If you’re walking along the side of a road with your pickpocket proof bag, make sure you’ve placed the purse on the other side of your body — away from traffic.||Check Price|
|Lo & Sons Pearl Crossbody Bag||If you’re not a huge fan of the synthetic bags built by Travelon, you could instead go with a leather crossbody bag. It will help you to both protect your valuables and look stylish!||Check Price Bag|
|Travelon Anti Theft Signature 3 Compartment Crossbody||One of the ways European pickpockets do their best work is by slashing or cutting a bag open. If you’re surrounded by a large group of people, this can be done quickly and without immediate notice.||Check Price Bag|
|Pacsafe Metrosafe LS250 Anti-Theft Shoulder Bag||The straps of slash-proof bags often have mesh metal built into them. Plus, most come with RFID blocking pockets that help prevent pickpockets from scanning your passport or credit cards!||Check Price Bag|
|Travelon Anti-theft Purse Backpack||Choosing a bag with sturdy, slash-proof material is one of the best methods of preventing pickpockets in Europe.||Check Price Bag|
|How to Carry Cash in Europe|
|Compass Rose RFID Secret Bra Wallet (similar)||Our most recommended alternative to a money belt is a secret bra wallet, which is the perfect anti theft device to keep your valuables safe.||Check Price|
|Travel Neck Pouch with RFID Blocking||If you’re wondering how to protect your wallet from pickpockets, a great way is to wear it around your neck! Neck pouches or neck wallets are perfect to hold your passport, credit cards, and cash when you’re out and about, taking in more touristy sights.||Check Price|
|Travelon RFID Blocking Double Zip Wallet||An RFID passport wallet is a good option to keep it extra safe. Keep it zipped up in the most secure pocket of your bag!||Check Price|
|Travelon Hidden Waist Pouch||A money belt is essentially a smaller, more secret fanny pack that you hide in front of your body, under your shirt. It can hold your money, credit cards, and even your phone!||Check Price|
|Other Anti Theft Products|
|SCOTTeVEST Penny Winter Rain Coat||Some readers have also mentioned using anti-theft clothing from SCOTTeVEST, like this highly rated rain jacket that has a whopping 19 hidden pockets!||Check Price|
|Samsonite Omni PC International Carry On||It’s definitely worth it to invest in luggage that has lockable zippers, like the reader-favorite Samsonite Omni PC. This is super important if you’re going to be in a busy or touristy area with your suitcase, traveling on trains and buses, and even at your accommodation.||Check Price|
|TSA Luggage Padlock||These locks are never a guarantee, but they definitely help to prevent opportunistic theft. Here at TFG, we recommend that you only buy a suitcase that has lockable zippers or a built-in locking system.||Check Price|
|Pacsafe Travelsafe Portable Safe||If there’s no safe at your accommodation, a lot of readers highly suggest bringing your own portable safe that you can lock to a stationary object in your room.||Check Price|
|LONGCHAMP 'Le Pliage||When asked how to avoid pickpocketing in Rome and other Italian cities, a lot of readers suggest combining anti-theft accessories with chic bags like this Longchamp to blend in.||Check Price|
|Travelon Anti-Theft Convertible Waistpack||At TFG, we highly recommend a money belt over a fanny pack because they are smaller and built to be hidden. But fanny packs (or waist packs) can also help prevent pickpocket incidents in Europe.||Check Price|
Watch this video for more tips on how to keep your stuff safe while traveling.
More Important Information to Prevent Pickpockets in Europe
Pacsafe Travelsafe Portable Safe
Best Way to Avoid Pickpockets: Leave Valuables
No valuables, no problem! The one way to ensure any precious items will be safe from pickpockets in Europe is by not taking them with you on your trip! Some TFG readers even opt to leave their engagement or wedding rings at home for fear of losing them, forgetting them in their hotel room, or simply not wanting to attract any unwanted attention with their bling.
Another option is to keep your valuables and passport locked away in your hotel room when you’re out sightseeing. Make sure to leave, at the very least, one ATM card in the safe with your passport, so in a worst-case scenario, you still have access to your ID and money. If there’s no safe at your accommodation, a lot of readers highly suggest bringing your own portable safe that you can lock to a stationary object in your room.
It’s important to split up your cash and cards, too. The cash you need for the day should go inside your purse (preferably a pickpocket proof bag). Then stash additional “emergency” cash and credit cards in anti-theft items such as the bra stash. Everything else (including your passport) should stay safely tucked away inside your hotel safe, a portable safe, or your locked suitcase.
Hotel Safe Tip: Check your hotel safe as soon as you get into your room. If you have any issues with it throughout your trip, tell the hotel immediately.
Look Like a Local: Try Not to Stand Out
While locals aren’t immune from pickpockets in Europe, most pickpockets in Europe do tend to target tourists more often. You can avoid unwanted attention by steering away from overly touristy places. Plus, you’ll want to make sure your anti theft devices aren’t obviously anti theft, because locals wouldn’t carry an “anti-theft bag.” Carrying a normal-looking purse will help you blend in.
Also, most locals probably wouldn’t walk around with an outdoor backpack in the middle of the city. We love using backpacks to explore cities, but choose a cute pickpocket safe backpack that offers the convenience of a traditional backpack without making you stand out like a sore thumb. When asked how to avoid pickpocketing in Rome and other Italian cities, a lot of readers suggest combining anti-theft accessories with chic bags like this Longchamp to blend in.
Learn to Pack Light Stylishly with my e-book!
Be Vigilant to Avoid Pickpockets
Ensure you’re extra vigilant on the metro and while walking on crowded, tourist-packed streets. No matter how distracted you get, do not lose sight of your belongings!
Refer to our packing lists so you can bring the right clothes and dress appropriately for the city style, weather, and your activities!
Travelon Anti-Theft Convertible Waistpack
Are Fanny Packs Safe in Europe?
At TFG, we highly recommend a money belt over a fanny pack because they are smaller and built to be hidden. But fanny packs (or waist packs) can also help prevent pickpocket incidents in Europe.
If you want a hands-free option for your travels and go with a fanny pack, make sure you wear the back in front of you. Wearing it behind you will make it easier for Europe pickpockets. Travelon makes an anti theft fanny pack that is slash proof and has locking pockets.
What Destinations Should I Bring My Anti Theft Bag To?
While we know there tend to be issues with pick pocketing in Europe, you should really make sure you have anti pickpocket devices with you on all of your travels. It’s better to be safe than sorry! These tips for how to stop pickpockets in Europe can apply to all kinds of destinations!
Do you have any tips on how to avoid pickpockets in Europe? Please share in the comments!
For more Europe-related articles, please read:
- 10 Step Packing Guide for Europe
- 10 Step Packing Guide for Italy
- 10 Step Packing Guide for a trip to Paris and Italy
- How to Choose the Best Walking Shoes for Europe
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Great tips! Thank you. I have a couple of tricks to offer.
I made a lanyard for my wallet out of a chain necklace and two key rings that match the hardware. The chain is long enough to tap on payment devices without removing the chip card. I was more concerned about setting my wallet down absent mind during a transaction and walking away. It’s also pickpocket proof. I sew split rings into the lining of my bags to clip on my keys and wallet using a short piece of shoelace for the anchor.
When I carry my backpack on transit days, I always use a rain cover on it. I buy a rain cover in a neutral color with no branding, even if the pack has an integrated rain cover, because they usually are in attention grabbing colors and display expensive brand names. This is important to avoid becoming a target. The cover prevents pickpockets, snags by containing the straps, dirt, rain and unwanted attention.
I choose a slightly looser size for the cover in case I have shoes or anything clipped to the outside of the pack that need to be covered, too. If I check the backpack, I zip tie or lock all openings, put on the rain cover and add a luggage compression strap, because it is too slippery for baggage handlers to manage easily.
Excited to try my new Travelon Messenger Bag on my next European trip! Thanks for the rec!
Money belt for sure and considering the Travelon bag. I like the idea of stashing bigger bills in bra. Egypt trip in November!
Got the travelon mini crossbody you recommended- also going to get a moneybelt-
will be aware of my surroundings- especially in Rome and Barcelona
Just returned from Barcelona. I witnessed a pickpocket twice in the metro. First time, he tried my pocket of jean jacket tied around waist. Second time a man with cargo shorts on. My advice is be very aware when metro is very crowded and right before a stop. I caught them both times and yelled it out, “hey, you’re trying to pick my/his pocket!” They got off the train very fast.
Hi Danielle, I am sorry to hear about this, but pleased they were not successful. ? Despite this, I hope you still had an awesome trip!
First of all: I doubt that pick pocketing in European cities is worse than in large American cities (like NY). Just use your common sense. A few tips: don’t display large amounts of cash. Keep larger bills separate. A trick I learned living in the South of Spain: always keep a few coins in your pockets- this way you can give money to a street musician or beggar without having to get out your wallet. Make sure your bag zips up well, anything that is opened to easily is not ideal in a crowd. When there is a commotion or people are getting too close to you in a crowd tug away your purse under your arm. Never leave a purse hanging on your chair in a restaurant. Move it away from the pathway of others. Best: keep it in sight. Most important of all: if you feel something is off chances are it is. Trust your instincts.
Pickpocketing in European cities is MUCH worse than in the USA. In fact, most the worst cities for pickpocketing are in Europe, specifically.
On trips where I use a regular back pack I add a diaper pin to the fob on the zipper. It makes it very difficult for someone to open the zippers . I was almost pickpocketed on the crowded Metro in Paris. I looked down to see someone trying to unzip my cross body bag and slapped their hand away.( hope it hurt). Ever since I’ve used a diaper pin and not had any issues.
I have a couple of Scottevest jackets that have lots of secret pockets. They’re great and pretty stylish.
Those look cool. What do you do in hot climates?
I like the RFID blocking, but my biggest complaint is that I’d like the entire purse to block RFID, not just a couple of card sleeves.
More manufacturers need to figure out an easy way to do this. Who has time to reorganize all of their cards (which I always use a small coin purse/wallet) to accommodate them?
I have an RFID blocker in my normal purse at home (as part of a purse organizer) but it is not easily transferred to my travel purse.
I use a money belt that I have made to be rfid protected and it sits inside my pants. I usually slid it to the side. In all the years I’ve traveled with it, I have never had a problem. I also wear my wedding ring and no problem. But like others be aware of your surroundings and use common sense.
Good thinking Anne!
This is a great reminder as I get ready to head to Europe in a couple of months. Thank you.
On every trip I go on I always have a cross body bag with a zipper or flap. It works every time!
When I was in Europe last year I did a scarf with a little picket sewn into the seam. It was just big enough to fit a passport some cash and a card or two without it weighing the scarf down and making it obvious that there was something in there! It was too hot for the day time but for our evening strolls it was perfect. (Not that I was carrying my passport around a lot, just in transit)
Thanks for the feedback Wesley ?
These are some good tips, I’ll be using them when I travel.
I love all the tips here. You just never know what may happen. My friends that are well-travelled have been in situations where they’ve either had something taken from them (unknowingly) or have been ‘setup’ to be distracted – water was lightly sprayed towards my friend on one side, by the accomplice, so her attention was diverted and then the other would-be thief tried to grab her bag during the distraction. I also agree with the other comments. Use common sense…and ultimately enjoy your vacation!
Thanks for your feedback Lucy 🙂
I live in London and used to live in Paris – as long as you use some common sense both are completely fine! If you’re on a busy tube / metro train, keep an eye on your bag (take one that zips), and I don’t like to keep my passport on me anywhere in the world if I can help it, but otherwise I think a lot of these items are complete overkill. Locals in both places will be wearing jewellery (including some quite fancy stuff!), and stashing your cash in your bra in either place is ridiculous in my opinion. These are developed countries we’re talking about…
Thanks for the advice Ciera. It is best to feel as comfortable and confident as possible, and finding products that make you feel that way is important. Hopefully nothing will happen when visiting Europe! Thanks for reading!
I thought I posted this a couple of days ago??
Yes on saturday October 21, 2016. why?
I feel like simply using common sense goes a long way. Don’t leave money in your pockets or leave your purse hanging on the back of a chair. Just be aware of your surroundings. I have a purse from Henri Bendel that converts from a crossbody to a backpack. It is amazing for travel!
Totally agree with the common sense Rachel! Trusting your gut and instinct will definitely go a long way! Happy travels!
In addition – I have made a couple of waistcoats with inner pockets that I use for sightseeing days. I carry one small purse with some cash and a couple f cards in RFID sleeves and nothing else that matters in that way; I leave them behind. My internal pockets will hold a phone, small camera or sunglasses. I carry a light tote with reading/guide material, sunhat, rainhat, umbrella etc. (For full travel days, when I’m carryingeverything, I have one of those neck pouches, which I leave packed with passport, other cards, tickets [except for those I need for the specific journey]).
That’s a great idea Jennifer! I love the idea of putting inner pockets in coats! Happy travels!
very good tips and article, i always try to follow all of these when traveling
Thanks for reading Lau! Glad to help! Safe travels!