Pickpockets and Purse-Snatchers, Rome
You've all heard it before: pickpockets. Never had a personal encounter, but I ran into someone who said that one the subway, they put their hand in their pocket, and a few minutes later were holding hands with someone =P
Cover charges for resturants, especially those in tourist traps, and ridiculous charges for water. Typically, food in the touristy restaruants aren't so great either. I had much better luck with the Pizzarias around my hotel.
Don't try to drive in this city... ridiculously narrow streets, crazy taxis (isn't that true everywhere), lots of one-way streets... Besides, cabs are dirt cheap; US$15 from one side of the city to the other.
While Italy enjoys a very low violent crime rate it has a huge problem with personal property. People will break into cars just for a few smokes. Never let your belongings out of your site. It is better to have a small wallet or waist belt to hold belongings. On trains, never leave your seat without your belongings. Another problem is the gypsy children and adults. They will usual come up to you with a piece of cardboard or newspaper and bump into you. They grap your arms, while sticking their other hands into your pants for the wallet. Once they are gone, there is nothing you can do. I have seen it many times. On trains, do not accept drinks from strangers, especially in the north. There have been an increase in druggings over the past 2 or 3 years.
Pickpockets are rampant. Two young girls tried to get into my waist pack by one holding up a piece of cardboard while the other pulled the zipper. I had it in front of me. This is often done, usually with a newspaper. We were on a quite, empty street on a Sunday morning when approached. Thankfully, I just kept stepping away from the girl as she shoved the cardboard at me. My pack was unzipped, but she had not gotten anything vital.
Be very careful with your wallet and purse in the train station and metro. Pickpockets tend to frequent these areas. Look alert. My friend almost got his wallet stolen in the train station and he is 6'4'.
These are the things to look out for in anything remotely as a crowd:
Never carry more valuables on your person than you can afford to lose. carry money, cards, and passport in a shoulder holster under your shirt. Keep your hand in your pocket if you have a small amount of money, and pay attention to the straps on the camera bag, rarely carried. There are versions to go around the neck or hang from a bra, and some still like moneybelts.
Groups of teenagers, especially (it seems) young girls. If a group approaches you, avoidance is best: shouting will chase away most; kicks will deter the most-determined.
Distractions - especially the Gypsies and their kids. (Apologies for what may be a politically incorrect stereotype -- surely most Gypsies are hardworking and honest.)
Scooters - keep purses and camera bags on the building side, and away from the curb.
Avoid looking like an easy mark - look like you know where you're going.
Fanny packs (bum packs, if you're British) are an invitation to theft.,br>
As far as shoulder bags and belt packs are concerned (as well as purses): Assume anything you have over your shoulder or on your back can and will be opened, cut open, cut off, torn off, etc.
(Cynical, aren't I? Rarely happens, but it does ... at home and abroad.) Keep as little of value in places other people can get to as possible, and keep most of your money, credit cards and id securely tucked away out of harm's reach.
When sitting at a table, or on a seat on the subway or bus, for example, don't put your bag down on the ground behind you unattended. Hold it in your lap if possible. If not, loop the strap around your chair leg, or your chair.
I am sorry to have to put this warning here, as so many people also have written about it, but I feel it is relevant as it happened to us. We arrive in Rome by train, getting of at Staz. San Pietro. We then take bus #64, which travels across the city to Termini, and get off where we plan to start our day. This bus is well known for the number of pick pockets and thieves. On one of our trips into Rome this year, a young lady, with a baby carried in her arms, tried to slash open my back pack. An American guy, also on the bus with us, shouted a warning to me, and I was able to move my bag. This bus gets extremely full and it happened as we were about to get off and were standing in the aisle by the door. There were many people standing also, and even though I had my bag in my arms in front of me she still tried to get at its contents. Maybe we are nieve, I do not know, but it really shocked and upset us. I did have a money belt on underneath my top, and only had a small amount of cash in the bag, but our camera's were in it and other things aswell. So PLEASE be careful.
Don't carry all your money (as everywhere). Take a map. Beware in narrow streets, motorbikers don't care if you're alive, as long as they reach their destination. And air really is quite dry in Rome. It's almost every day sunny - take sun glasses if you have sensitive eyes.
Don't keep your money in a purse of backpack. Get a moneybelt that goes under the clothing. Take out a day's allowance and keep that safely in your purse. Be weary of your belongings when riding the bus or subway.
Only one word: pickpocketers !!
Beware especially when you are on buses and metro... act carefully and always control who you have around.
Always better to keep documents and the money separated... and well... just be careful as in most of the big cities around the World.
Read about it on guide books, and experienced it. We were about to ride the subway, it was about 4pm, crowded, being someone from third world country, I cautioned my Japanese friend, 'suri ni ki wo tsukete!' (beware of pick pocket!). And a few seconds later as we are getting into the subway, that friend called me 'look, that woman with a baby opened my bag' and as my friend was saying that the pick pocket went through the crowd to the door and got off before the door closed.
People warned us about pickpockets, and 'forward' men, but the scariest thing we encountered was the traffic!! You cannot decribe it except to another person who has been to Rome. Traffic lights mean nothing, pedestrian zones are a joke, and if the cars and trucks don't get you, the moped people will!! they just seem to go wherever their bike will fit, and people just scatter left and right. My friend put it this way, ' it's like the scariest rollercoaster ride ever(crossing the street), with the biggest rush when you make it to the other side!'.
Cases of violence against tourist are still rare, but it´s wise to leave your unneeded documents and excess money locked up in the hotel safe and keep what you take in an inside pocket. Handbags are particulary vulnerable, agile thieves, often operating in pairs on vespas or motorbikes, whisk past and snatch them from the shoulder, sometimes even cutting or breking the straps to do so. It´s good idea to make photocopiesof yours tickets, passport and other documents.
I talked to a British Lady who got her purse taken by pickpocket's on the infamous 64 bus.Be smart and use a money belt it saves alot of hassle. I saw a couple of gypsies in action when I was on the bus.One of the locals, an older man even yelled at them in Italian.
PICKPOCKETS and Gypsies!!! There can never be enough said about gypsies and their (so-called) babies! There are many tricks they use to pick pockets, so always be on the alert when you see gypsies around.
Somewhere among these people you can find me!! Just guess!!
Some members of our group were attacked by 2-3 man who worked together. One asked a question (very friendly) in the meantime the other threw one of us against as wall, and the thirds took someones coat she wore with the buttons fastened and with is her purse. Purse gone, light injuries etc. etc.. In buses you can't be careful enough. Don't wear a rucksack on your back, the cut the strings!! I have seen it done myself.
As long as you walk in a group the danger is minimal, but when you are watching, waiting ,are looking at shopwindows...The camera the woman in this picture is carrying so carelessly could easily be snatched away.
There is safety in numbers!
PLEASE, SEE MY NEXT TRAVELOGUES ON ROME, POMPEII AND HERCULANEUM.......