Pickpockets, etc, Venice
The best advice I ever got as a tourist was from the Rick Steve's guidebook, which I took to Venice in 2007. He says to NEVER put valuables in tote bags, purses, or pockets in any country you visit ( I say, even in the USA where I live). Instead, buy an inexpensive silk body belt pouch and put money, passport, credit cards, etc. in it, and wear it under your shirt/blouse. It is invisible to thieves. Carry non-valuables (maps, guidebooks, tissues, water, snacks) in your tote bag. I traveled in Sept. so it was not terribly hot, but if in a beach resort this can still work with a loose and lightweight top or shirt, male or female. Carry cameras, tablets in your hands and NEVER lay them down even for a second, even when using the loo. Leave extra cash and copies of all credit cards in hotal safes or in locked luggage in your room. Sound like a lot of trouble? Not nearly as much trouble as losing your money, passport or cards in a foreign country!!! This was my first trip to Europe, and it went off without a problem thanks to this one simple precaution. Every travel agent, airline, and travel website should feature this concept in prominent language so inexperienced travelers can be forewarned.
Just came back from holiday in Italy and during a day visit to Venice I was pick pocketed within 5 mins. My gut feeling is that it happened on the Bridge of Sighs just before St Marks Square. The bridge is really crowded and I took a photo on the bridge letting my guard down. I visited one police station then was told to go to another then told to come back after an hour and fill in a report.the whole day was ruined as was our holiday. I had my wallet in the front of my trousers on a buttoned up pocket which turned out to be useless. Such a beautiful place marred by criminals. BEWARE !
I strongly advise against carrying pepper spray and similar. Only very low doses (10%) are currently legal in Italy and they are more likely to enrage a thief that disable him (or her). Furthermore, laws in Italy change rapidly and at the very least you would lose a lot of your precious vacation time if arrested for carrying or using an offensive weapon (which is what a can of pepper spray is).
More to the point, mugging is rare in Italy but pickpockets are common and extremely skilled. It's more than likely that you won't use your spray because the thief will be long gone before you realise what's happening. Much better to organise your valuables so that pickpockets can't get at them. There's a very useful article on anti-pickpocket strategems here: http://www.bella-toscana.com/pickpocketsinitaly.htm and a bit more in relation to Naples here: http://www.naples-napoli.com/pickpocketsinnaples.htm
We are two Australian Police Officers on holiday through Europe. We are aware of the dangers of pickpockets and thieves but this trick was a new one to us.
We were seated on our first class Italian Train departing from Roma termini. Four girls aged about 19 years, three carrying babies, entered the train. They were well dressed and did not standout abruptly but appeared romanian in descent.
They approached two japanese/american tourists seated in their chairs with many suitcases on the upper shelf. They questioned the seat number, arguing that they were in their seats and they should be in the carriage before this one. As the American stood up to reach for his suitcase..with passengers squeezing past on the aisle, one of the girls relieved him of a wad of 50 euros in his back pocket. The conductor appeared and ushered the girls of the train.
I warned the American to check his pockets as they were reknown to be thieves. He did and yelled, "They stole my money". We chased the girls and the offender dropped the wad of cash to avoid being detected with the stolen goods.
The girl began screaming, "My baby..don't hurt my baby" to avoid any action against her.
A few Italian male passengers also stood to assist which was good to see.
The American had all of his cash returned.
BEWARE OF PEOPLE QUESTIONING YOUR SEAT NUMBER. WHILST THIS CONFUSION DOES OCCUR, THEY MAY RELIEVE YOU OF YOUR VALUABLES. NEVER CARRY ANY CASH OR WALLETS IN YOR POCKETS WHILST TRAVELLING! INVEST IN A MONEY POUCH WHICH CAN BE WORN OVER YOUR SHOULDERS AND UNDERNEATH YOUR CLOTHES ON YOUR FRONT.
Graffiti's, a sign of barbarians, are now also found in Venice what was not the case ten years ago.
Here a photo of graffiti's on the Rialto Bridge.
Maybe it is time to reopen the prisons of the Palazzo Ducale.
Whenever I travel through areas here or overseas that I'm not very familiar with, I wear cargo pants WITHOUT exception! I'm a photojournalist and need spare pockets for camera accessories. The cargo pants I use have two VERY large pockets with double flapped buttons just above the knees. I use small safety pins, one on each side of every button in my front pockets. Then I place a VERY cheap "dummy" wallet slightly bulging with blank paper in my right rear pocket.... pocket buttoned only. Sometimes I include a note with a sarcastic remark calling the would be thief an ignoramus or vacuum headed fool (in the local language, of course!)...and a graphic showing the universal one finger salute! In case they get angry and approach me later for a second helping of insult and embarrasment, I am at the ready with pepper spray in hand (inside my pocket)... with the safety off, ready to met out all the excruciating pain they desire to experience! Seriously though, I do the above. Pepper spray IS absolutely legal in Italy. And once you spray somene's face with it, they are almost immediately blinded by eyelids swollen completely shut and experience pain no one wants to endure, incapacitating them for 20 minutes or more. You don't need a permit of any kind. Oh, and I DO safety pin most of my pockets.
For those of you taking expensive camera equipment I have some advice also. Being a photojournalist means that most of the time when I travel either here in the U.S. or overseas I have some very expensive camera equipment with me. To protect it I replace all straps that come with my camera and equipment/lens cases with wide straps that have two steel cables embedded in the material to stop anyone with scissors or a knife from slashing the strap. If they just so happen to have heavy duty wire cutters, they will be delayed enough for me to "cleanse" them with my pepper spray (while shielding my face from backsplash or backmist). I am always careful... eyes and ears both wide open as I walk!
This is just a tip about pickpockets in general. Recommend wearing cargo pants that have at least 4 pockets in front. Double safety pin each one... on pin on each side of the button or velcro patch. If you're a professional photographer like me, get PacSafe security straps that have TWO steel cables running the FULL length of each strap. If you have a 3-point camera case harness, get three belts. One for the camera itself when it's out in the open, and two belts for the harness itself. Attach them to the metal o rings, beyond the plastic quick connectors most harnesses have. Also bring a money belt and wear it UNDER your shirt or blouse, jut above the stomach. And one last final thought, BRING PEPPER SPRAY! 10% pepper spray is absolutely legal in Italy for self protection. If you walk any darkened street at night, have it IN your hands, ready to release the safety and fire! If you do all of this, you should have no problems in Venice!!
Venice is not a dangerous city so you can walk safely by its canals and campos, just be careful with pickpockets, they use to stay near to the main places and attractions, keep your belongings on safe. The pigeons on St Marks Square, they fly, fly and crash with you, they pissed on you or they attack you if you have some food.
Venecia no es una ciudad peligrosa y puedes caminar tranquilamente por sus calles y canales. Lo que si tienes que gastar cuidados es con los carteristas, suelen estar en los alrededores de los principales lugares. Otra cosa de la que debes cuidarte es de las palomas en la plaza de san marcos, vuelan, vuelan y chocan contra ti o se hacen sus necesidades encima de uno.
make sure you dont hold anything in your pockets as you wont find it there when you get back to you hostel!
I got pickpocketed in venice in a very crowded alley but luckily I never carry anything but dirty tissues in my pockets- they are very quick! and I didn't see anyone, but I felt it!
While travelling on a overcrowded waterbus between Academia and Rialto my friends camera and purse were stolen while caught in a crowd rushing toward the embarcation ramps. When on a waterbus filled with people, very comon on rainy days, you will have to be very careful about your luggage or bags as many people will take advantage of a moments lapse in concentration. The reality is of course once something has been stolen you will likely never see it again.
Our visit to Sorrento began with a train from the Naples Centrale Termini called the Circumvesuviana. This is a local train serving all of the southern suburbs of Naples on to Sorrento. It seemed so convenient. It was a mistake. We were warned to beware of thieves and pickpockets in Naples. What had not penetrated was the idea that the thieves size you up in Naples and follow you on the train to Sorrento. Somewhere on that train was a pickpocket waiting for me to debark in Sorrento and struggle with our baggage off the train. I believe it was then that he got his hand in my front pocket and stole my wallet. I did not notice the loss until we were in the taxi on the way to the hotel. You do not want to go through what followed and I will spare you all of it except to warn that you absolutely must call your credit card companies immediately. The thieves had six charges on my VISA within ½ hour of the theft. Fortunately, VISA and I have an understanding about my purchase patterns and all of the charges were refused.
Simple solution, take a taxi from the Naples train station. We did on the way out and it was the best 70 Euros I’ve spent.
BEWARE OF PICKPOCKETS when boarding boats or leaving, keep your wallet in your front trouser pocket.
DON'T CHECK YOUR POCKET WHEN YOU SEE THE BEWARE PICKPOCKET SIGNS
BECAUSE PICKPOCKETS WILL THEN KNOW WHERE YOU KEEP YOUR MONEY.
This is a problem in most tourist spots but especially in Venice. St. Marks Square is a jumble of people and twisting streets. If someone grabs your wallet, purse or bag they would be gone before you knew what hit you.
Keep wallets in front pockets. Backpacks, purses, fannypacks, etc are invitations for those not so honest persons in the world. Don't hang bags, cameras, etc over a chair while you eat.
I don't want to sound like it is any worse than other crowded areas, just be vigilant so that you don't have a trip ruined by something that is avoidable.
As always, be careful of pickpockets and gypsy children operating in and around the places of interest here in Venice.
Even if you were to wear a waist pouch, it doesn't mean you're safe from the preying eyes and hands of these pickpockets! I know of a friend who had his waistpouch belt slashed by a professional pickpocket here....
Italy in general is famous for its pickpockets. Keep your wallet in your front pocket. A purse that has a zipper and fits right under your arm is best. Look alert and aware. Also do not keep all your eggs in one basket. Passport one place, money in the other.