I think this tip is applicable in all the major touristy areas, but especially in the Grand Bazaar. Do not ignore warnings! The risk is great. Luckily I read warnings before I ventured in the Bazaar, and sure enough I felt fingers reach in my back pocket for my wallet, to turn around and make direct eye contact with a Turkish Teenage Boy. Luckily I kept my wallet in a zippered pocket. You must take the necessary precautions while in the Bazaar, consider that at some point you will have at least one person making an attempt to steal from you. The bazaar is enjoyable, just be at heightened awareness.
My wallet was pickpocketed on 8 May in a tram going to the terminal at Kabatas. the 3 gang members got on at Silecki and although the tram was packed they squashed me up even more and leapt of the tram at the next stop Tophane. They were only in the tram for about a minute. I immediately realised that my wallet had gone including cash and cards. The first time I have had anything stolen whilst travelling (and I am 58). My wife was with me and we managed to cancel all my cards within 30 minutes of the theft by phoning Australia (15 minutes of that was holding on time to get the call answered at one bank's customer service centre) but they still managed to get into 1 card and buy $5,000 worth of "building materials". So these gangs are very well organised and have the facilities to speedily access your cards.
My tips are: Be especially careful in packed public transport; If you have to stand and hold the rail above your head, do not have anything valuable in your pockets; carry only what you really need for the day leave the rest in the hotel room safe; enter all card call centre numbers with overseas prefix in your mobile phone so that if necessary you can phone to cancel extra quickly; where possible ensure your partner has different card numbers so that even if yours are stolen you can still continue your holiday.
When the tram is packed you might feel people squishing you-- be careful my wallet which was on a clip in my pocket disapeared. I have travelled all over the world and this is the first time it happened -- lesson learned. The police were useless and the Tourist Police even worse. They were hostile and indifferent. Fortunately I only lost cards and a little money. I cancelled everything instantanously.
be careful when you pay for something on the street. I was going to buy a set of postcards and opened my wallet to pay the guy, when he shoved all these items in my face above my hands and wallet so that i couldn't see my wallet. With his two small fingers that were free from holding the postcards in my face, he tried to steal the money out of my wallet when it was open and i couldn't see it. He was pretty sneaky, obviously had done it before. But I am slitghly paranoid when it comes to opening my wallet in the first place so he could take anything out because i was holding it so tightly, but i felt his little fingers trying to tug at it. Beware of this type of incident,
It is safer not to leave the main thoroughfares in Istanbul.
We turned down a street near our 4 star hotel. A group of four young men passed us, and suddenly two of them started fighting, really thumping each other. A third started to join in, while the fourth held back.
They expected my husband to interfere, so that the fourth could then mug him.
I kept my back to the wall, like a coward, fearing for my husband. He was more streetwise than me, and knew he was being set up, so just ignored the scuffle.
I was scared, and we never moved away from main roads again.
Actually not everywhere in Istanbul but most of the places you should be aware of your vallets, cell phones, etc. Especially in local buses. Also late at night in some places it is not safe to walk alone. It is better to ask to hotel officers where you stay...
My mother put her bag down on another chair and luckily i was walking back when noticed a young girl getting ready to snatch it,with another older guy also getting ready to block any pursuit i guess,so keep all belongings close and in eyesight.
When i first planned my trip to Istanbul i heard about Pickpockets and i was very worried.
The bazaars are very crowded and so are the streets.
Watch your bag all the time and don't leave him alone.
When you are going in a crowded place like the bazaars , Istiklal street and the ferries try to keep the bag close to your body and pay extra attention.
Take care your bag's n beyoglu. Be cafefull and don't carry your important things n your bag like passports.
After midnight don't go to back streets of Beyoglu. If u want fun, go to upright bar's. After midnight, walkin n back streets of beyoglu is dangerous and nobody wants to go there...
Here is the dish on istanbul. I'm a turkish-american and travel to istanbul regurarly. The people you have to look out for are children, and young teenagers (that look like they might be on drugs...thinner ect. ) If they approach you, they might ask you for something like a smoke, or a light. But the best thing to do is just keep walking away from them, but try to keep an eye on them. Some of them carry knives. If your with a woman, try to walk so that her purse is nestled in between you two.
Transvestites- there are many transvestites around istanbul, especially in the Taksim area. They are easibly noticabile. Best thing to do with them, is avoid eye contact and try not to stare at them, they dont like that. And they can turn dangerous.
Driving- never leave purses or expensive items visiable in your car. I've seen people pull up at redlights, and kids have jumped through windows, opened up doors and stealen things.
Other then these dangers and others :( Istanbul is great. Just use common sense, and be aware of your surroundings. If someone does hassale you, there usaully is some good Turks that might step in and help you out.
The area around the Grand Bazaar, Spice Bazaar, Suleyaniye Mosque, and Rustem Pasa Mosque can get very crowded and congested, especially in the narrow alleys and walkways. A tourist with a backpack or other easily accessible bag or purse is an easy target for pickpockets, and we narrowly avoided being victimized when my wife caught some guy blatantly unzipping her backpack and trying to reach inside. Imagine his surprise when my wife used her stern teacher voice to command him to leave her alone! Fortunately he backed off quickly and several locals asked whether we were OK, but from then on we became very vigilant about carrying bags through crowded areas of the city.
Stopped by a youn man I was asked to change coins for Euro notes, 20 euro coins.
Once accepted, the man counted the 20 euro in his hand(the amount was made by 2,1 0,50, 0,20, 0,10 euro coins), took the note and gave me only the smaller coins, saving in his hand the rest!
Once I was aware I took his arm and he asked for sorrow.... he was not a dangerous looking man!!
I' m going to copy, paste this warning and recommendation in all my pages dedicated to major cities of the World: included Higuerote, Venezuela. Pounder73 just wrote in his Madrid's page an Universal Truth (hope he was not quoting any Holy Book without making proper reference to it).
"Although it didn't happen to me here, some other travelers I ran into in Madrid complained incisively about pickpockets around the plazas. The differences between them and I - they were leisurely walking around, looking like tourist, looking more up and around, than where they were walking. I, on the other hand, always walked like I knew where I was going, and when I wanted to look at something, I would stand to the side, and look. It makes a big difference."
Pickpocketing is still a problem though more serious efforts done by local authorities nowadays. Criminals use many methods. Most dangerous one is using car. Consequently i would like to recommend a few precautions:
-Be careful in crowded bazaars and streets-especialy Eminonu and Sirkeci areas have hundreds of thieves in weekends.
-Women have to be careful while carrying handbags. Be ready to defend yourself and try to keep away from road while walking.
-Street urchins and homeless became most serious problems in Istanbul streets. Some of them use thinner etc. and can be very dangerous. They may want money or cigarette etc. Keep out of them and do not walk through darker streets in late hours.
-Late night is a time to be careful as many big cities of the world. Beware transvestites and prostitutes on motorways and streets(Beyoglu and around). Most of them may carry knife etc.
Kids may look adorable and cute, but be careful. I was once seated on a mosque patio drawing when a group of kids arrived. They started looking at the drawings, then asked for pen… then a few more arrived and surrounded me. I had my rucksack by my side, but was paying not much attention to it. In a while I felt opressed by so many kids around and decided to go. As I started to walk I noticed that 2 of the zips of my bag had been opened. I didn’t miss anything, but could have been worse…