Pickpockets and Purse-Snatchers, Rome
Pickpockets are now an issue in most European cities but I have a fairly foolproof way of protecting myself. Whenever I'm on the street or using public transportation I don't carry a wallet. Instead I put one credit card, some cash and a copy of my passport in the top of my left sock. Over the years I've never once had my sock picked. LOL!
It didnt happen to me yet however i heard my dad saying on our trip on bus 64 that goes from the vatican to termini that on this bus there are many pickpockets.I also overheard once that the airport of fiumicino, that is where my father works, it s a bit dangerous at night so please dont fall asleep and leave your baggage unattended.
You've read about them, and believe me, it is as bad as you've heard. Most days, I kept a lock on my travelling bag (a shoulder sack the size of a large purse) but one day I skipped it. I wanted to carry my Fodor's, but it didn't fit with the lock, so I left it off. This meant that our bag was slightly open, just a smidge. Stupid me. I may as well have worn a sign that said "ATTACK ME" in thief-speak.
Twice that day, my boyfriend and I were accosted by pickpockets. The first time, we were coming out of a church, and a little boy came up to my boyfriend trying to sell him, literally, a piece of cardboard. While my bf looked at the kid in confusion, his mother snuck around behind him and started picking his pocket. Luckily I saw her; she snuck a map out of his pocket before I shoved bf out the door. It was a free map, so we just ran. There's no reasoning with that kind of brazen theft.
Later, while walking slowly up a steep hill, a flock of children surrounded bf, who was carrying the offensive bag. They pinned close to him, so that he would have to push one of them over to get away. These were little kids, okay, you don't want to have to push them over. But they started reaching into bf's bag, RIGHT IN FRONT OF HIM, so he had to shove them pretty hard to get away. It was mortifying.
Moral of this story is, no open bags. Not even a little bit.
Rome like many wonderful European cities has much to see and do.. The ancient culture and unique architecture is such an exciting way to spend a really wonderful holiday. Rome like all capital cities in the world is not without its dangers and has a bad reputation for crime against tourists. Tourist crime in the world is getting more prevelant with many more people travelling. Being robbed of your wallet by a pickpocket or having your purse or bag snatched, will devistate the best laid plans that you have for your holiday. These people are where the tourist are in groups or crowds.The favourite places of operation are crowded areas of Train, bus, stations, Airports, busy market places and music functions, crowded restaurants and bars .So, Always Beware of your surroundings:and local scams that you hear of!!
Do not put your bag down without some form of personal restraint.
Do not have your bag over your shoulder put it over your neck.
Never "flash cash" keep a low profile with your money.
Try and have a stash on your body preferably a form of money belt.
Never keep ALL your money in one place.
Always have a back up card or cash or travellers cheques (seperately)..(these T C's may be an old way but are good security.SO,if you dont use them this time carry them again next time..I do and they are a good item to carry.because if you lose them you get them back!!
Remember these people are good at what they do!!!they do it for a living.
They are by far the most likely source of crime you're likely to see when visiting Rome (we were unlucky - or stupid - ourselves in this respect, losing about 50EUR to one of them at the Trevi Fountain).
Pickpockets would naturally follow the tourists around, so you're much more likely to fall victim to them around crowded sights like Piazza Navona, Fountain of Trevi, the Colosseum, Piazza di Spagna and the Spanish Steps. Another popular choice are buses serving major tourist attractions (we've been told those going to the Vatican are among the worst, but have no experience of this ourselves, luckily!). The more crowded a location is, the easier their work (and the more difficult they are to catch), so keep that in mind.
A couple of basic precautions should help reduce your chances of having your pockets picked, however:
- No carrying money in your outside pockets (our mistake!)
- No carrying money in an open handbag (the more elaborate the fastening, the
- Money belts can also be risky (unless worn under clothing) as they are obvious and not that hard to slip off you in the crowd
I first experienced a pickpocket a few years back while in Paris. I read many of these reviews and thought my wallet was safe in my front pocket, like so many reviews say. My guard was down for a second in a busy metro station and it was gone. Fortunately, I didn't have too much in it and immediately cancelled my two credit cards. I kept "a hand" on my wallet thinking that was making it more safe. It was what probably called attention to me as a prime target.
Anyway, you don't have to get too paranoid about it and just take some common sense measures and you should be fine. Definitely spread money around you and either use a money belt or neck wallet. I like the men's shirts that have buttoned front pockets on them. And they seem to be in fashion now as well. Additionally, bring along a few safety pins. Pin down the zippers on your backpack, bag, etc. Sure they can undo a pin, so try putting one facing one way and the other the opposite way. A simple, inexpensive and easy way to deter pickpockets. Only a minor hassle for you to undo the pins but better than the alternative. The whole idea is to make it harder for them to get your stuff and have them go find another easier target.
Confronted by gypsy women and/or children but don't want to shove them out fo the way if they violate your space? And you're not the type to yell and act crazy to scare them off? For less than $10, get a pocket air horn from off the Internet and keep it with you if you have room on your person or in your bag/purse. With one push of a button, it'll emit a 115dB sound that can be heard up to a mile away. Maybe a little overkill but oh well. Comparitively, anything over 140db's can cause ear damage so hold it at full arms extension. Watch the gypsies/kids scatter like ants. Of course you'll draw attention from everyone else (including possible police)around, but who cares as you'll claim you were being robbed.
Camera-wise: I never bring a camera worth more than $200. You can get a point and shoot camera for less than that. It will take stunning pictures. Unless you are a professional photo-journalist, leave your expensive stuff at home. Same principle as with jewelry, clothes, etc...Invest in an extra SD card (very inexpensive) or two. Swap them out often. That way if your camera is stolen, you still have some of the pics on the SD card you left back in your room. Same principle as keeping money, credit cards in more than one place as well as multiple copies of your documants. Or, if you have some downtime back at your hotel room, copy the pics you took to a laptop if you brought one or download them to the Internet. So if your camera goes, you'll still have some/most of the pics/vids. You probably backup files on your home computer, so same principle here.
I am a fan of the decoy wallet. A thief knows they usually have one shot at you and they have to act fast. They'll go for the decoy. No matter how good they are at lifting a wallet, even though you might have it well secured, no one has x-ray vision and can see what is in your wallet. Well, unless you're not smart and whip it out and show everyone carelessly in a crowded place. Let 'em make off with the decoy. Stuff it with all kinds of junk. If you are ever in Las Vegas, don't turn down those x-rated cards they try to give you on the Strip. Collect a few and stuff 'em in your decoy. Surprise!
I'd read tons of stuff on the internet that warned me about the danger of pickpockets in Rome, so I was pretty alert throughout my trip last summer. In fact, I worried about it a bit too much that my friends thought maybe I was being paranoid. And when I started to think that what I heard was exaggerated, it happened. On a crowded subway full of tourists, a gypsy woman carrying a baby in her arm walked in and stood right in front of our group. I felt that there was something suspicious about the way she dressed (she had a large piece of cloth hanging on her arm, the one that was holding a baby), so I kind of kept an eye on her. And within minutes, I saw her sneaking her other hand under that cloth trying to unzip my friend's bag (my friend was carrying her small backpack on the front, thinking it would be safer). So, I looked her right in the eyes and told my friend to step away. No one else on that train realized what was happening, though, and the woman got off at the next station. I am glad that I'd had done my research and took precaution because you know, having your valuables stolen is not just about losing your money or passport, but it will leave you with a horrible experience and negative memories about that place.
Anyway, my point for this long essay is it is better to be on guard, especially when you are in a crowd at tourist spots. In August, almost everyone in Rome walks with a map in their hand, so there is no point pretending you're not a tourist, but at least, don't be an easy target. Look confident. Beware of a group of kids outside train stations. If they come to surround you, yell out something and chase them away. Most pickpockets will either try to create some sort of distraction, or they will use props, like newspapers or unusual large shoulder bags, to cover up their tricks, so watch out if a stranger approaches you with one. It is not wise to keep all your money in one place. I think the safest way to hide your money and credit cards is in the safety wallet that you wear underneath your clothes, but it tends to get annoying and sweaty. Another thing you could do, if you're carrying a handbag, is to use a small safety pin to prevent the bag zipper from slipping open.
However, don't let your worries ruin your holiday. Apart from these petty crimes, Rome is a rather safe city. Opportunists are everywhere in the world. Just be careful and nothing bad will happen.
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.
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
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.