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.
Petty crime, such as PICKPOCKETS and Purse snatching is a major problem. While the rate of violent crime rate is low, it is increasing. Remain vigilant, expecially after dark in and around popular tourist attractions, major hotels and the main railway station. Ensure personal belongings, passports and other travel documents are secure. Remain cautious while travelling on public transportation. Identification should be carried at all times, preferable a photcopy of your passport. For emergency assistance, call 112.
Prague isnt a dangerous city by any means, just act with caution as you would in any big city.
Keep your valuables close to you or locked away.
Ive not experienced this myself (thank goodness) but I did hear from a few people that pickpockets are very active in crowded areas, such as public transport, Charles Bridge and the Old Town Square.
I would like to warn people that pick pocketers are also prevalent in RESTAURANTS.
After only being in Prague for 15 minutes my husband's wallet was stolen containing several credit cards & a mix of currencies totalling over £200. We heeded warnings and his wallet was in a zipped inside pocket of his jacket. However when we went into the restaurant, where we thought we could relax as it looked quite respectable, he took off his jacket and placed it over the back of his chair. When he went to pay the bill the zip was open and the wallet had gone.
The restaurant was empty apart from 4 other people over the far side. The only person to come anywhere near us was the waiter, so we are 99.9% sure it could have only been him, as it was definitely in my husband's pocket seconds before entering the restaurant.
The restaurant was U Zlatych Andelu, or GOLDEN ANGEL, on Celetna, under some arches. To add insult to injury the waiter also almost doubled the cost of the bill but we were so worried about the wallet we did not realise until later in the day. AVOID THIS RESTAURANT AT ALL COSTS!
We then spent over two hours at the Police Station, which was FULL of other people who had been pick pocketed in RESTAURANTS, having left their jackets over chairs, with wallets, cameras, etc. in zipped inside pockets. One of these was McDONALDS. Unfortunately I can't remember the others.
We contacted the credit card companies immediately and they told us that attempts had been made to obtain cash on our cards WHILE WE WERE STILL EATING!
Not a very good start to our holiday but we did enjoy Prague itself, even though we couldn't trust anyone for the rest of the stay.
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?
I would advise anyone going to Prague and reading through these comments to take them to heart, but do not let them cloud your experience. Pickpockets are a real threat, and while I had no personal troubles, there is ample opportunity to be distracted in a city this beautiful, and plenty of opportunities where these crafty individuals can do their thing.
Common sense is key, especially on the trolleys. They can get really crowded and uncomfortable, but if you just mind your belongings, you should be ok.
Enjoy that city! And if you are going and need a companion, let me know!!!! (Just joking--sort of.)
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.
You hear about pickpockets in most towns and cities the world over. I am always extra careful I carry my bag over my head/arm/shoulder. I dont have my bag hanging by my side but directly in front of my body.
A colleague of my husbands visited Prague last week, he had been looking at my Prague page and he and his wife and friends were really looking forward to their visit. However, on his return he told my husband that when they were waiting for the metro and looking at a map someone approached and asked could they help. They said they were fine and got on the metro where they were surrounded by this man along with some others who pushed right up to them in an intimidating way. Afterwards he found his wallet with cash and credit cards had gone from his pocket.
What sad times we live in.
If arriving from any of the main train station, beware of groups of 3/4 pickpockets operating in the train station.
I haven't experienced it personally but I was told by a local czech lady while arrving at Prague. They are highly organised and skillful, especially aiming at lone backpacker.
Their usual trick is to get you fully surrounded, with one man blocking in front of you, 2 by your side and the last man operating from behind.
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.
you gotta play it smart here. trams metros busses are prime spot for pickpockets. dont let people crowd around you and push you. i've seen a group crowd around an elderly woman and she fought back - as well as get help from others on the tram. it's not excessive, but dont carry you wallet in your back pocket. dont leave your purse unzipped. dont have your valuables in your backpack easily accessible especially if you wear it on your back at all times.
simply be smart and safe.
also - i know in america it's very common to leave your purse on the back of your chair in a restaurant. do NOT do that here. your purse could easily disappear. even in nice places.
there have been a couple of times when i've warned people and they didn't listen and guess what happened. yup. they got ripped off.
be smart. be careful. but dont be paranoid :-)
While on the tram, watch your stuff closely! I had TWO epxeriences within a 8 hour period on the tram!
The first I was with some friends and I warned them about the tram and to watch their things- they didn't do well enough. Within a 2 minute period, my friend had her wallet and sony mavica (big digital camera) stolen right off of her! They are quick and good at what they do.
I also had a man get on the tram with me and he was standing as close as he could to me. He kept looking at my bags. He kept trying to get his hand behind me so he could get in my bag. I actually said to him, "you need to get away from me"- He was very gutsy and wouldn't stop trying, even when he knew I knew! He was doing hand signals to another guy on the same tram, and it was uncomfortable and dangerous.
He didn't pick me, but please, please, please be careful.
Prague is a very picturesque city, straight out of a fairy tale...most people spend most of there time trying to capture it with their cameras, making this a premier spot for pickpockets, especially young children. Be especially careful while hanging around the Charles Bridge...wear a money belt, or cross your purse strap across your chest.
At the start of both of the tours I went on we were warned about pickpockets. There are also signs up warning tourists (and I guess locals as well) about this. The main targeted areas are all those that tourists go to: Old Town Square and the Astronomical Clock, so just watch your belongings as you stare at the clock, or if you're on the Charles Bridge, at Prague Castle or on the Metro.
Split your money up so that it is in two places. Keep your bag to the front of you and keep an eye on your belongings at all times.
Another standard warning here that you have to be careful of anywhere in the world. This one regards pickpockets. This one is harder to be on your guard against (not changing money on the street is something you can definitely not do if that is your wish!).
This warning was displayed in the Tourist Information Office. General rules are to keep your bags closed, don’t put them down in bars (or at least brace them between your feet if you do). Don’t keep your wallet in your back pocket. Also beware of things like bum-bags, where a thief can cut the strap after staging a mock collision with you. A classic is on the top of an escalator using others to help – somebody in front stops abruptly, you go into the back of them, and the person behind you piles into the back of you relieving you of your possessions whilst they are at it.