Pickpockets, Saint Petersburg

12 Reviews

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  • Pickpockets have polished the art for centuries.
    Pickpockets have polished the art for...
    by sennaya
  • Nevskij Prospekt
    Nevskij Prospekt
    by orre79
  • Nevsky Prospekt replica
    Nevsky Prospekt replica
    by morgane1692
  • Hold on to your camera

    by sra97 Written May 23, 2012

    Friend of mine just told me something scary. After going around Russia and St Petersburg, my friend said her fellow tourist went to take a pictures and found instead of her Canon powershot hanging from its wriststrap, there was just the neatly severed wrist strap. The thief had extremely skilfully selected a moment to home in and surreptitiously cut the wrist strap and make off with the Canon.

    I don't know how widespread this is.

    Even if the victim had noticed it would have been too late, as the thief would no doubt pass it to an accomplice who could probably out run Usain Bolt.

    As a photographer and traveller who's never had his camera nicked, I offer some advice. Put some black gaffer tape over your camera's brand name, thus obscuring the 'Nikon' 'Canon' etc. logos. This not only stops you from attracting attention (and therefore get you better candid shots anyway) but would deter a lot of thieves as they may not risk a theft if all they're getting is a 'cheap Chinese copy.'

    Don't use wrist straps.
    Keep your hand on your camera at all times.
    Don't accept offers by others to 'take a picture for you'
    Compact digitals give comparable quality to SDLRs these days and are a lot less conspicuous.
    Dropbox gives you 2Gb of free space. You can upload your daily shots each day to 'the clouds' to your Dropbox folder from the hotel computer (or your laptop) and you'll have a nice safe backup. You can replace your camera but not your shots.
    Neck straps look 'touristy' but they are probably the most secure way of keeping your camera safe.

    Just a few idle thoughts that I hope will save someone a lot of grief.

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  • sennaya's Profile Photo

    Pickpockets part 2- be smart and safe

    by sennaya Updated Apr 4, 2011

    4 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Neck security pouch, when you carry cash or ID

    People in Russia are generally friendly and will stop and give you directions.
    Be careful when approached. Foreigners are approached more often for another reason.

    A sneaky trick is to be in a car. Two guys crusie around looking for a victim. As they approach one rolls down the windo as if to ask directions of someone, then gets out of the car and approaches the mark.

    He will point down the street and ask something, then touch your shoulder as if to get your attention to look that way. DO NOT LET ANYONE TOUCH YOU. They touch in one place and feel in another. They are very light fingered and you won't know what happened until they have driven away.

    One guy approached seeming unable to talk, muttering nonesense sounds, pointing, to get your sympathy and put down your guard. He tries to write words onhis hands to show you and get you to lean close to him. Then he grabs his coat shoulders and points, then grabs your shoulder and points, or looks away. Meanwhile his hand is looking in your pockets!

    He is not handicapped, he is just fooling you.
    Yell No or Nyet. Get away, push him away. Just get out of his reach.

    If you do get ripped off you do not have many options.

    You call the police. As a foreigner you can call a special number for foreigners where you can speak in English. The police will probably not come to you. You can go to the police office and file a report. Maybe it takes an hour. Maybe it is possible that they fidn your wallet on him someday. But probably not. As always in Russia, be prepared for the attitude that it is your fault that you let someone streal from you.

    If you have any credit cards do not waste time in the police office. Immediately find a phone and cancel your cards. Then go to the polcie office. The professional crimial will try your cards within the hour.

    Usually you can feel safe in Russia, just be careful and don't worry.
    We recommend the necklace pouch under the shirt for passport or money.
    Be prepared and enjoy a hassle free trip!

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  • greekcypriot's Profile Photo

    Pickpockets at the Metro Station!

    by greekcypriot Written Nov 5, 2010

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    The Madonna at Kazan Cathedral

    Be aware when you are in the Metro station or anywhere with crowds.
    My Russian friend insisted that this very rarely happens in Russia. I was so aware and I was telling her that I have read about it and that she has to be careful with the way she holds her handbag.
    The same day, somebody at the metro picked her wallet and she lost more than 1.000 rubles and her credit card, luckily without money as she had withdrawned all her money the previous day.

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    Nevsky prospect - keep away from Gypsies

    by mumymama Written Mar 30, 2009

    3 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    The Gypsis are quite agressive in the Nevsky and underground - avoid them, as well as the pickpockets, who use to push you before they steal your purse. Police is quite lazy and bribable here - have no confidence in its help.

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  • sennaya's Profile Photo

    Pickpockets part 1- be smart and safe

    by sennaya Updated Jan 19, 2007

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Pickpockets have polished the art for centuries.

    In every big city in the world it is possible to get targeted by a pickpocket.
    It happens in St. Petersburg too.
    It has been practiced by professionals, homeless boys and gypsies for hundreds of years.
    Better be prepared and not worry about it happening to you.

    Never leave your wallet inyour back pocket, those belong to everyone else.
    Wear tight pants and put inyour front pockets. Better yet in a zippered pocket inside your jacket. Or better yet wear a necklace pouch and keep your self buttoned and zippered up.

    The professionals use simple tricks and sometimes a partner.
    Never let someone touch you on the street.
    The oldest trick is to bump you seemingly innocently in one place while their hand reaches to another and you never feel it.

    Sometimes two people will pose as street sellers, come up on both sides of you and try to show you some trinket to buy. One guy bumps against you on one side, the other reaches into your pockets and the other side, then he bumps you and lets the partner reach into your pockets on his side.

    They need to get close to you. On the metro, waiting for buses, standing with other tourists near attractions, all are common places to be hit. Stay aware of who is around you!

    See part 2 for more and what to do!

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    Kazan Cathedral in St. Petersburg, Russia.

    by markovp Written Feb 26, 2006

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Be very careful when traveling near or visiting the Kazan Cathedral in St. Petersburg, Russia. I witnessed an lone elderly traveller being robbed by a mob of Gypsies about two meters in front of me. The Gypsies were mainly women and young children. If you must go near this landmark travel in a goup only.

    A friend of mine was also robbed on the local bus on our way to the local museum also not far from the cathederal.

    Incident three involved the local Police who took half my money from my wallet late one night on the pretext of searching me for drugs.

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    Metro thieves

    by expressmale Written Jun 24, 2005

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    I was the target of a pick pocket on the Metro. I was wearing denims with tight deep pockets and at this time had my passport and wallet together in my leftside pocket. The time was about 6.30pm and busy, I decided not to take the first train as it was very full, I waited and others did too, including the thief ( yes I know who he was dark skinned in leather jacket). The next train arrived and when a few people got off I went to get on and seemed to get stuck, a big space was there but felt jammed and could not get to it. This was the thief at work pulling and pushing to remove my wallet, release and gone. The doors were shut, I put my hand to my pocket and felt my passport only.

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    They are only children, but they work in cohorts!

    by orre79 Written Apr 1, 2005

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Nevskij Prospekt

    I have nothing against any specific ethnical group, and believe me I have met many through the years. But in this city I have noticed how a few gangs of gypsies systematically work the main street hunting down easy targets like tourists. Before you have noticed your wallet is gone...
    How can I say such a thing, only because I have seen it wíth my own eyes. As I saw them twice a day for almost a year on my way to the university. When my family came to wisit me, they didn't melt in too good and where attacked. but a safetypin stopped them that time... In the evening they are collected in nice cars, so I doubt they are really in the need of money for bread as they say.

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  • mayafly's Profile Photo

    It's not really that dangerous...

    by mayafly Written Aug 14, 2003

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    A lot of people ask whether travelling in Russia is dangerous. It's not. A little common sense goes a long way. One thing St. Petersburg does have is a lot of petty crime (larger crime seems to be reserved for those involved in the mafia, such as high-profile businessmen, not foreign tourists). Keep your money and passport in a safe place on your person and keep copies of your passport , visa, and credit card numbers and information in a separate location in case your stuff does get stolen. While credit cards are still not widely accepted in St. Petersburg (except at the fanciest locations), it is fairly easy to change traveller's cheques, so you might want to bring some, although it's always good to have a little cash handy in case.

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  • morgane1692's Profile Photo

    Watch your back, seriously!

    by morgane1692 Updated Dec 18, 2002

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Nevsky Prospekt replica

    In broad daylight, while I was walking along crowded Nevsky Prospekt, the main drag here, some sleazy dirty creepy punk of a cigarette-smoking pickpocket nearly made off with my camera...from my backpack which I was wearing at the time! Later that afternoon, I was walking in the same general area with my Russian host and she nearly had her purse stolen right off of her arm!! So be very aware of your surroundings here, the pickpockets and thieves are brazen!

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  • jorgblaser's Profile Photo

    Pickpockets - Letters

    by jorgblaser Written Nov 21, 2002

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Before leaving your country, please be sure that you can read russian as in the underground, nothing is written in latin.

    And be aware that there is lots of pickpockets. Take good care and also dont speak unnecessarily to people in street (they wont speak to you as they are quite cold!)

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  • margaretvn's Profile Photo

    Be very careful of pickpockets...

    by margaretvn Written Aug 24, 2002

    1.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Be very careful of pickpockets when visiting museums or the opera or ballet. They are so clever and so quick. Valuables should be locked away in the hotel safe and money hidden on your body under clothes.

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Comments (1)

  • globalSista's Profile Photo
    May 17, 2013 at 3:51 PM

    My three females friends and I were visiting the St.Peter/St. Paul Fortress (St. Petersburg, RUSSIA last Wednesday, May 8, 2013...just before entering through the main archway, I stopped to snap a picture of the artwork on the building, put my Casio Slim XL camera in my jacket pocket and the camera case in another side pocket, then stopped to pick up an informational flyer located at the archway. Within a matter of seconds, I felt a man bump me and I thought to myself "these Russians are so ruder" little did I realized that he just stole my camera and the case out of my jacket pocket.

    My camera SD had hundred of pictures taken by me as I traveled through Amsterdam(Anne Frank Haus), Budapest, Hungary(Szentendre Village), Slovakia(Castle), Krakow, Poland (Auschwitz & Birkenau Jewish Concentration/Extermination Camps & Schindler's Factory Museum) from Nazi World War II), and Russia, Hermitage Museum.
    Theft in Broad daylight! I did not like Russia, the people were rude, unfriendly, most I encountered did not speak English and did not want to help. To be honest as an African-American woman, and experienced world traveler, this is the first country that I feel unease the entire time I was there. I was very relieved to be going home after 5 days in St. Petersburg.

    I believe in signs and cues from the universe... I had at least three about Russia before going. (1) I tried to get my money back but it was too late from the tour operator, (2) I was held up for more than 15-20 minutes at the Russia airport because the style of my hair was different on my passport, (3) I never got excited about going there as I normally do for many of the places prior to leaving home.

    Even the Russian tour guide repeatedly told us to watch out for "pickpockets" . This has been a learning lesson to be more aware of my surroundings and not get caught up in the excitement of taking pictures.
    The thieves wait for us tourists who are caught off guard in the moment and they make their move!
    Some final words to the thief who stole my camera...KARMA! the universe does not forget and you will get yours, hopefully sooner than later!

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