I was in Prague for a weekend recently. I read about the pickpockets there and was prepared! (Had all my important cards and cash in my bag, only bare minimum cards and some money in wallet). I also put the wallet(a thin card holder) in the front pocket of my jeans. As you may have guessed, I was pickpocketed !! Have to tell you, they are skillful.
It was in a tram or while I was walking up towards castle. Sure I have a habit of checking my pockets every now and then. That's how I realized withing minutes of its gone.
I went to the police station and got a copy of my complaint to make it easy for getting my lost documents. But the trip was ruined.
There is good police presence in Old Town Square, it is perhaps less noticeable throughout the city.
But beware, when you visit Old Town Square and are staring up at the clock tower to see the figures on the astrological clock,,,,,,,that man trying to edge closer might be trying to get a better picture,,,,,he might also be trying to take all the goodies in your wallet or pocketbook, so be careful.
The other location you should be very careful with is the Charles Bridge, there are tons of people there, just be mindful of your possessions.
I had no real interaction with the Police so i can't say whether they spoke any engish or german. I also didn't see the police chasing anyone. Hard to say, maybe there was a pickpockets convention going on and they weren't there they day i went?
Prague is the most over-rated destination I have ever been to - it has all the negatives of eastern Europe, plus the negatives of western Europe - namely, brash advertising & cctv.
CCTV may have its uses, but it has been proven 100% ineffectual against deterring nuisance street crime, such as beggars, pickpockets, dodgy money changers, & the like, who lose not a second in approaching any foreigner at the main arrival points.
Although these down-&-outs are not particularly aggressive or dangerous, their numerosity is more than a nuisance & what always annoys me about them, is that by preying on foreigners, just 1 crime a day, probably means that despite their appearance, they're better off financially than those locally, who work for a living.
What do the local police & bus station security do about this?
Stand around like scarecrows & just observe without intervention...
As for the 3 main negatives akin to everywhere in eastern Europe, these are:
1 - pavements subsiding/in disrepair
2 - ankle deep in litter that blows around inf the wind picks up
3 - human excrement in public parks - for some reason, eastern Europeans use park benches as lavatories - now would some1 please explain to me what is romantic about sitting in a public park surrounded with human turd?
You do not get this in Copenhagen, Berlin, or London, so why all this romantic nonsense about a dump like Prague?
I am on a home exchange in Prague for 3 months and travel extensively by tram and Metro.
This past Monday, May 9 2011, I was boarding the Metro at I. P. Pavlova station.
A group of very well-dressed, "businessmen" surrounded me after I had just got into the car, blocking my movement. I suspect there were 5 of them, but counted only 4 in my immediate vicinity. I tried to push past the tallest of the group, but he told me in English, "I am getting of at the next stop" and would not budge.
A short, older man (appeared to be in his mid 70s) beside him, pretending to be a "lost" tourist, began asking me, in Czech for the name of the next stop.
Meanwhile, another man stood immediately to my left, holding a leather portfolio right up against my pocket, his hand hidden from view underneath. I could feel his hand twitching as he tried to slide it into my pocket. Fortunately, I wear special travel pants, tailored by a well-known Canadian manufacturer, with a velcro-sealed inner secret pocket. It is VERY hard for even me to open.
The entire group got off the train at the next stop, while I continued on.
When I left the train, I checked my backpack, a Lowepro Trekker camera bag. One of them had undone the snap, but could not successfully open the zipper which is under a separate flap.
Lesson Learned... be aware there ARE pickpockets at work on the public transit. They appear to be normal businessmen and blend into the crowds successfully.
Just use common sense. Ladies, DO NOT CARRY A PURSE. Gentlemen, DO NOT CARRY A WALLET IN AN ACCESSIBLE LOCATION. AND BE AWARE OF YOUR ENVIRONMENT AT ALL TIMES.
Everyone (especially on this website) goes on about the pickpockets, thereby giving every visitor to Prague a serious complex about the problem before they get there.
Let me put the record straight....
YOU'D HAVE TO BE A PROPER NUMB NUT TO GET PICKPOCKETED HERE !!
Yes, there are Gypo's, but you can spot them a mile off.
...if you walk around with your passport and wallet hanging out of your back pocket you deserve to lose it.
The only Gypos we saw were in Wencelas Square after dark - gangs of ugly, brown toothed women sat in shop doorways offering sex.
If you decide to proposition them, then God help you anyway.
(Same goes for the money exchanges... why would anyone in their right mind go to a neon kiosk next to a lap dancin' bar to get their money changed?)
If you don't understand the above statements, please see your doctor before flying to Prague
I have been visiting Prague for the last 20 years and it pains me when I see someone who has just discovered his pocket has been picked. Sadly all of these incidents are easily avoided. Here are the rules:
1. Don't carry a wallet or a purse. I never do. I carry my ATM card and some cash. If they get stolen its no big deal. I carry also a photocopy of my passport. This is all you need if the police ask you.
2. Know the pickpocket hotspots. Klarov tram station. Strossmayerorov Namesti tram station. Malostranske Namesti tram station are apalling places of pickpocketry on and around public transport. So are the old castle stairs. Tour busses bring groups to the castle at the top of the hill and meet the tourists below after they have walked down the old castly stairs. This is the most concentrated pickpocket zone in Prague.
Lately pickpockets have been working the parking lots of Prague shopping centres such as the one at Tesco Zlicin. They watch for women to put their purses on the roof of the car while loading up the boot. They post small children who crouch low and snatch your purse before you know what happened.
Also pickpockets are diversifying into car theft. And they dont even break your window. If you are using a radio key they simply capture your signal, clone it on the spot and retransmit it through device anyone can buy at an electronics store. In 30 seconds you Porsch can be long gone. I caught a group doing this to my car in Tesco.
I am always amazed that people who come to Prague by train are so unconscious of how dangerous the main train station is. The park around the station is known by Czechs as Sherwood Forest. This is Pragues mugging centre, and a great place for heroin addicts to shoot themselves up. The train station is a nest of pickpockets and con artists masquerading as Euro student tourists.
3. Know the methods. In the old days the "fat family" reigned. It was a family of about twelve who ranged in age from six to seventy. All were stumpy, with no obvious neck between head and torso. They were very load and by shouting herded tourists into their pikcing zones. The new generation is much more subtle. Usually a good looking young man and women who seem Italian and well-dressed. They are the true soft-touch wallet lifters who don't even distract you. They just want you not to notice them. The only ones who really scare me are the groups of young men who get on a tram and start physically crowding you. The moment they get on, you must get off. Often the tram driven will announce POZOR KAPSARY because he knows them well. These gangs are inevitably gyspsies and very dark complected. They are the roughest of the pickpockets and the least respected among the gypsie community. Be aware however that many Balkan nationalities are in Prague working as pickpockets. They are light skinned and harder to notice.
4. Beware of false policmen in plainclothes. No policeman in plain clothes will ask you for id. They tried this on my once and I told them they were not real policemen and they moved on quickly. Their scame is to tell you that your papers are not in order and that you must pay a fine of a few hundred dollars.
Dont let the pickpockets ruin your trip. You dont need to be paranoid. Just alert. You can take your camera because they only care about cash. And outside of Prague there are no pickpockets with the exception of Karlovy Vary.
We were able to spot the team of two pickpockets who followed our tour group for half an hour, looking like other tourists with a coffee in one hand and tourist guide in the other. They dispersed for a short time when I quickly swung around and said smile boys and took their photo! They were spotted again when crowds of tourists were watching the astronomical clock 'working the crowd'.... i watched them, not the clock, and saw them signalling to each other when they got a successful 'hit' ..... scarey indeed. Also sitting down in the city square saw pickpockets watching tourists and then getting up and following them, again working in pairs. One night getting on a night cruise saw a few of them under a bridge pathway going through the bags and wallets they had lifted from tourists. Sorry, as much as I enjoyed the wonderful architecture of Prague, this gave me a very uncomfortable feeling about the place, it's so blatent and obvious!!! Wear a money belt always!!
Prague is known not only due to its beauty, but also for pickpockets. When it is so much people around, it is not hard to use thankful situation and grab valuable things without any reaction of stolen one. Places, that could be not so safe, include Charles Bridge, Old town hall, mostly used metro lines, possible Wenceslas square as well.
Thing about Wenceslas square: here is possible to see some people, who just stand without any action (mostly gypsies, black people), so as I got explained, these are not waiting someone to rob, but to invite to night clubs or offer some drugs. Wenceslas square is quite watched by police, so these people act silently.
It is really good to be careful for our stuff so we can't call other ....
In everywhere you can find some poeple as a robbers or pickpockets who are in need or because of many reasons which we do not know about them so I always prefer to becarful unless called someone robber or pickpockets,....
They are working on all "touristy" lines. Do not fool yourself by thinking: "I'm young smart girl - can see any danger a mile away" or "we are three young guys - we are safe". Pickpockets fine tune their techniques and knowledge of psychology for years!
"Solo artists" can steal your wallet or choose goods from wide offer you have in your backpack. There was shot from the surveillance camera on the news: Young couple was sitting on Mustek str. and kissing, behind them was guy going trough the pockets of the boy's backpack. Thief without a hurry checked all pockets before found what he wanted and people where passing by all the time! Young couple did not notice anything - the police had to tell them after arresting the thief.
There is common technique for "team of 3". First team member stands in front of you "to get into tram", the second - behind you. When tram opens the door first member takes step or two and suddenly stops asking people inside "does this tram go to XYZ?". You bump into him, person behind you (often a young girl) bumps into you and steals your money the same moment - you not likely to notice anything. Your wallet is directly transfered to third member of the gang who walks away immediately - even if you notice anything, person behind you does not have anything!
There is "family business" - mainly gypsy groups. Big group of adults and children enters the tram. Suddenly you can't move even that tram is half empty in the front. They start "family quarrel" - maybe "husband beating wife" scene or a child will openly touch something belonging to you and "terrified mother" will discipline the child and apologize to you with great exaggeration. This all is meant to distract you while other members of the gang rob you. Even if you didn't have much money, you will lose your expensive camera with pictures in it, your passport and cards, so instead of visiting Castle you will go to embassy for temporary document to be able leave the country.
Put all valuables deep in such way that you really feel when somebody is trying to take them. Be aware, that even if you notice and start shouting it may not help you much as even tram drivers are afraid of these gangs. Gang will be away before police arrives.
If you have backpack - stand in tram/bus in such manner that nobody is behind you or take it off. Be careful when somebody "without a reason" gets overly friendly and starts intense chat with you or tries to "help you" by touching you.
Prague is known for having lots of pickpockets. It's best to really watch yourself, because skilled pickpockets can do their thing without you noticing at all. If you must carry a purse, make sure it's small and make sure you're holding it against yourself. One is most vulnerable to this on Charles Bridge, so really take caution there. It's a very crowded 'attraction,' even in the off-season.
I read the reviews and took a small amount of money in my front jean's pocket. My wife laughed at me till here purse was pickpocketed duriing a tour of the main castle district. Cash and credit cards all gone. Don't believe you are vigilant enough. Carry only a minimal of anything. Palace guards acted dumb when asked for help. "I speak Czech or Duestch" they said till I asked for help in German and he walked away.
pickpockets are common at the train station and in crowded tourist areas. in the train station watch your valuables at all times and avoid the seedy characters that may approach you. the charles bridge is world famous for it's pickpockets. try to visit the bridge in the morning or early evening when it is not too crowded. never carry a wallet in your back pocket in crowded tourist areas.
Please all be careful when taking photos in prague or when on tours... I did a tour (a walking tour) from the castle & over bridge etc & a lady that was in my group had a backpack on her back & when her husband turned around for 2 mins - someone unzipped the pack & took her wallet out and was gone.. please be careful!!!
Also.. be careful at night... heaps of people on the bridge at night and therefore - keep an eye out!!!
You have read about pickpocketing in Prague, I am sure. I have, too. Fortunately I didn't encounter any dangerous situation. Since I travelled in winter (January) it was not crowded. That probably helped. It was a bit weird to even see that sign in the Metro (picture), but it didn't make me feel safer, either.
I have heard horrible stories about pickpocketing from friends and co-workers. Avoid the crowds if possible, don't trust the folks in your hotel, but don't get paranoid. It would ruin your trip.