Pickpockets and Purse-Snatchers, Rome

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  • Trevi, site of our misfortune
    Trevi, site of our misfortune
    by Maria81
  • Pickpockets are spotted all over
    Pickpockets are spotted all over
    by stev0305
  • Pickpockets and Purse-Snatchers
    by sandravdp
  • thirstytraveller's Profile Photo

    Is Rome safe?

    by thirstytraveller Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Yes, of what I experienced during a week there. I had absolutely no safety problems of any kind. The only extra measure I took compared travelling to other European cities, was that I sometimes removed my backpack when in metro or train stations. No problems travelling back to the B&B I stayed near Via Prenestina 1 am, neither in infamous Termini area any time of the day. And I travelled a lot by metro, trams, urban railway and buses.
    So in my opinion, Rome is a safe city. If you, however, should have problems, contact carabinieri or polizia.

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  • pocketers

    by abagley Updated Apr 4, 2011

    2 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    people that sell stuff on the steets while you look at their stuff they try to take your money your bag or your wallet be carful becuase when they see a bag or a wallet that they like they will take and also if they see police be sure to move out of the way so the police do not see them selling stuf they are not so posed to be selling on this is on pretty much evry street in all of eurpoe if you see the people selling stuff on the street the best thing for you to do is call the police right away tell them where you are the steet name closest to tell them to walk to where you are

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    by Sassafrasskass Written Mar 11, 2011

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    During our visits to the Colosseum we were approached by many "gladiator" performers.

    We watched & tipped, no big deal.

    However a friend of ours, as well as other tourists, were taken advantage of.

    Be careful when distracted with these performers or while taking pictures of this beauitful site.

    Some pick pocketers may see this as an opportunity to 'score'.

    Be more aware :) that's all.

    There are good ones & bad ones- just be careful!


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  • Be aware and nothing will happen.

    by Summerrain6 Written Mar 17, 2010

    Yes, there are a lot of strange people in Rome and yes, there are uncomfortable situations.
    But if you are aware of the dangers, nothing will happen to you. Just watch carefully for you bag, wallet etc., walk quickly, and in buses never stop looking around, so none of these guys has a chance to steal anything from you.
    Rome is not unsafe. It may be full of strange guys, but it is safe if you walk with open eyes and watch your belongings.

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  • Pick Pockets, WATCH YOUR BACK

    by plasma800 Updated Feb 15, 2010

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    Little pickpockets are amazing! It's a must that you always be on guard.

    Here's my tips.

    First things first, absolutely DO NOT be a target.
    1) Dress accordingly. Romans are very savvy with their dress and almost no one dresses down. If you are standing on a street corner in shorts, flip flops, a University of Iowa T shirt and a Nascar #3 hat you are going to be hounded constantly. Street beggars, normal beggars and the pick pockets are going to be all over you like flies on... well you get the point.

    Dress up a little and Dress smart. Nice comfortable slacks, nice black shoes that are good for walking in and a decent and not overtly loud button up shirt. No one buy young kids where jeans or T shirts and if they do, they are very very hip! If it's cold a nice black overcoat and a scarf is a must!

    So don't stand out!

    2) Do not keep anything valuable in loose pockets and DO NOT leave anything super valuable in your hotel room. If you can wear a jacket, use a very thin wallet or money clip to hold just a few bucks and a credit card. Keep it in your inside cost pocket. If it's in your back pocket, it's gone, promise! And of course never set anything down.

    3) Don't look lost. Check your map before you leave the hotel. Know where you are going and look like you have some place to go with a purpose. The thieves love the lost people. If anyone tries to help you, be on guard, chances are they are distracting you! If you DO need to check a map, which does happen, try these tips.
    a) Buy a book or magazine in Italian and slip a thin map inside. Have the map already folded to the area you are going to be in. Stop, put your back against a wall and pretend to read a book. Lots of people stand around reading books while smoking a cigarette, fits right in.
    b) go into a cafe and order a coffee, find a small table, sit down and look there. Better yet, use the bathroom and look there.

    If they see you standing around with a tourist book and a map, chances are you're going to be hounded. Lots of people do it, let THEM be hounded.

    4) Watch each others back. Anytime two of you are a few feet apart, look around. It works like this. My girl went up to a stand to by postcards. I was smoking so I stood back a few feet. Within seconds a young boy (16, 17, 18) approached her from behind and visually checked all of her outer pockets and the shook his head no... (to someone, not sure who) and then pretended to look for postcards too. She saw my visual warning by the look on my face and immediately went inside the stand, he followed straight away and so did I. Once I had him pinned between her and I, he wanted out bad and I wouldn't let him. He asked in Italian how much for a single postcard and the stand worker ran his butt off, but he had to get around me and I played the oops im in your way again game? I'm sorry Oops again? Either way, watch each other carefully and always.

    5) When taking photos, have one person watch, the other take pictures and of course don't let anyone take your camera to take pictures unless you can confirm he's from Texas or something.

    6) Watch the crowds! Try to stay out of thick crowds if you can help it. If you find yourself in a crowd, hang onto EVERYTHING!

    Just always be on guard and understand that the airport and train station are muddled with them and at every tourist attraction in Rome, especially during high season is going to be full of them.

    Watch the kids too, they gang up and distract you. They throw baby dolls at you and you think it's a real baby and your camera is cut and gone. Or purse.

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    Stay Alert!

    by von.otter Updated Dec 8, 2009

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    An Old Niche near the Spanish Steps, 05/07
    4 more images

    The photos here have nothing to do with the warning here about pickpockets but to enjoy these beautiful sights and others that Rome has to offer, protect your peace of mine: Stay alert! Tourists and locals who are distracted are prime targets for thieves. Always be aware of your surroundings.

    During our visit in May 2007 we were walking near the Capitoline Hill. It was broad daylight, in a fine neighborhood. Out of nowhere we were surrounded by what appeared to be a mother carrying a baby and three older children. All were aggressively begging for money. I managed to break away, and cross the street. While Tom had his back to the wall; I called out to him to make a break for it. One of the children tried to touch him; he swatted her away and ran across the street to join me. We were lucky; we escaped unharmed and with our belongings in tact. Usually these pickpockets hound the Termini or other transport hubs.

    Be alert wherever you are. In Rome, as in all major European cities, one can walk everywhere at any time without being harmed. Safety is not an issue. In Rome, pickpockets are the concern. They are more active in the main train station Termini, and also on public buses and trams, especially on bus 64, called “the wallet express.” Men always carry valuables in your front pant pockets.

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  • aukahkay's Profile Photo

    Avoid pick-pocketing - no wallets in pockets

    by aukahkay Written Oct 14, 2009

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    This is how I dress to avoid pick-pockets

    A lot has been said about pick-pockets in Rome. Throughout my stay in Rome, I did not encounter any problem with pick-pockets and neither did I feel threatened at any time. Like any other big city, Rome may have its fair share of petty crime. However, the risk of falling victim to petty crime can be minimised if you take simple measures to avoid being an easy target.

    I do not carry a wallet when I go sight-seeing. Everyday, I will take out two 50 euro notes and put them in my left buttoned shirt pocket and smaller denominated euro notes eg. 5, 10 euros in my front trouser pocket. I place the credit card in the right buttoned shirt pocket. Coins go into the other trouser pocket. In this way, I only take out whatever amount of money is necessary when paying for purchases to avoid attracting unwanted attention if I had whipped out a wallet stuffed full with euro notes. I carry a small sling bag which I always place in front of me while taking public transport. In the sling bag will be my camera, cellphone and maps.

    I lock up my passport and the rest of my cash in the hotel safe deposit box. This is my practical and simple suggestion to guys especially those travelling independently like myself.

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    by WheninRome Written Feb 14, 2009

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    Beware of pickpockets was drilled into us prior to our trip. We had no trouble at all, although I think once somebody may have unsuccessfully tried to get into our backpack. We wore money belts containing the bulk of our money, credit cards and passports and I put just enough euros in my wallet for the day so that if my wallet did get stolen they wouldn't get much. But like I said, we didn't have any issues.

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  • pacific_sol's Profile Photo

    Pickpockets at Termini Station

    by pacific_sol Written Feb 6, 2009

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    I saw a pickpocketing attempt (I don't know if it was successful or not) at Termini. I had noticed a scruffy homeless man who appeared to be drunk as I was walking through the station, since I had to watch my step so that I wouldn't run into him. A few minutes later, I saw him "trip" and fall onto a business man who was purchasing train tickets from the automated machines that are in the lobby (by the big bookstore inside the station). The business man was facing the kiosk, and so he never saw the drunk man approaching him. The business man was very surprised when the drunk fell on him, and the drunk pretended to be apologetic and shuffled away. I got suspicious since the drunk did not trip very convincingly, so I immediately thought that he must have at least tried to pick the man's pocket. If I were to use the machines and had someone else with me, I would probably have them stand behind me as I purchased tickets just to make sure that no one tried to pick my pocket this way.

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  • ECYM's Profile Photo

    Beware of pick-pockets

    by ECYM Written Jun 25, 2008

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    Look - sling bags instead of backpack...

    We were told by friends of the many horrendous pick-pocketing incidents in Italy. Fortunately we have not encountered or seen any pick pockets during our 23 days trip in Italy. Perhaps we are dress fairly casually, and we did not wear any valuables and we are travelling alone. On a caution note, both of us opt for sling bags as our day bags so that our valuables are always in front of us instead of backpack.

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  • klasher's Profile Photo

    The Books don't lie!

    by klasher Written Feb 5, 2008

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    I read extensively on the subject of pickpockets and how to spot them. We were carrying a very expensive camera and planned to keep it the entire vacation. While waiting for the train to take us from the Colloseum to Circus Maximus, we spotted a man in an ill-fitting suit with a folder in his hand. He seemed far too preoccupied with his surroundings and slowly ambled towards us. Acutely aware of our precious moments recorded on our camera, we moved to another area of the station. He again slowly moved towards us. I am sure he wanted our camera-but just being aware of everyone around you and assuming that everyone wants your money, belongings-whatever; will keep your stuff where it belongs.

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  • Women, Do not carry anything that can be picked

    by reefdvr Written Jan 29, 2008

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    Pick pockets are everywhere. Police will do nothing, don't expect it. Keep copies of your passport in all your luggage, replacement will be less painless. Know your Embassy's phone number for replacements.

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  • wilocrek's Profile Photo

    Common Sense!!!

    by wilocrek Written Jan 28, 2008

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    I have been to Rome several times in both Summer and Winter and have found that simply using common sense in most cases is the best safety tip of all! However here are a few others that I have used successfully.

    - Though some people use money belts, I have found having a jacket with a zipper pocket works well. In the summer I took to wearing shorts with zippered or button pockets and kept the majority of my cash in a envelope in those pockets. In my wallet I would only have one credit card and just a little cash. When needed I would refill my wallet with cash in a discrete manner. That way if I got robbed they got a wallet with just a little cash and one credit card that I would cancel immediately. I kept my other cards in the hotel safe or a seperate pocket. As clever as pickpocket may be I doubt many of them are good enough to unzip or unbutton your pockets without you knowing unless you are really distracted. That said.......

    - Be aware of your surroundings. I just assumed that people were looking to pick my pocket, so when I was in a crowded metro I kept my hands close to my pockets and was aware of people around me and of anybody who brushed up against me for even a moment. If you have a bag or purse make sure its in front of you instead of to your side or on your back...again common sense. Using these very basic methods have proven to be effective in all my travels and specifically while I was in Rome. No reason to walk in fear, rather walk aware instead! Overall I found Rome to be very safe, even at night....enjoy yourself!

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  • Beware of pick pockets by Trajan ruins!

    by carrots1969 Written Sep 23, 2007

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    Recently returned from Rome and on my last day encounted a group 5 - 6 female pick pockets. They were waiting by the trajans forum,behind the "workman huts" out of view to main road. Watch out as the work in pairs or more..surround you and try to distract you with a large piece of cardboard so you cant see her trying to open your bag. I first saw them at 11am and later in the day,5pm, when i returned to the area they were still there. I was worried about walking along back streets! didnt think this would happen in front of a major tourist site

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  • ruki's Profile Photo

    Pick Pockets!!!!

    by ruki Written Sep 4, 2007

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    Like many big cities and this have a lot of pick pockets. They use Vespa motorcycle..You must be careful especially when you are in the public bus, tram, on the streets...station.. Watch your wallets, documents!!!!!
    The best way is to keep money on different places, in your pockets, bags and other places and go always with group.

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