From Barcelona To Paris To Rome, Pickpockets Greet Returning Tourists
Travel may finally be returning to normal, with tourists talking more about the plague of pickpockets than the pandemic.
Like COVID-19, pickpockets love tightly packed crowds. After COVID killed international tourism for almost two years, they must have found other work. But as the swans famously return to Capistrano, the pickpockets have returned to their traditional haunts.
A new survey reveals the sites where tourists report the most pickpocket activity. Unsurprisingly, the list is led by Europe’s most famous and popular attractions. From Rome’s famed Trevi Fountain to Barcelona’s Las Ramblas, pickpockets are back and hard at work making travelers miserable.
The study by money.co.uk analyzed reviews on Tripadvisor of popular attractions around the world. The results reveal a Top Ten for possible pickpocket encounters.
The list is led by Las Ramblas, the famed pedestrian walking pathway in Barcelona, Spain. Barcelona is a beautiful city with many cultural attractions and a vibrant spirit. But as it attracts travelers, pickpockets are drawn to them as well. Las Ramblas is packed with tourists strolling its shops, bars, cafes, and restaurants, tempting targets in this resurgent summer season. A whopping 3,271 reviews mentioned pickpockets.
The second site on the list is the beloved Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. When unsuspecting tourists look up, it presents pickpockets with an enormous opportunity. Some 2,569 reviews reference the pickpocket pest problem. Travelers are advised to particularly keep an eye on their possessions when waking up the street from the Metro station to the Tower. While police arrested 19 alleged ringleaders in 2019, the pickpockets have returned like mosquitos on a summer night.
The famed Trevi Fountain of Rome is said to be the third most popular site for pickpocket attacks, mentioned in 2,206 reviews. The area is filled with crowds and commotion. People try their luck throwing coins in the fountain over their left shoulder. The distraction makes tourists prime pickpocket prey, while others find the 3,000 euros in the fountain an easier score.
European landmarks make up the remaining top ten pickpocket list . Charles Bridge in Prague comes in at number four, followed by the famed Sacré-Cœur church (the Basilica of Sacré Coeur de Montmartre) in Paris.
Italy is popular with tourists, so it’s no wonder site number six is in Rome. Home of heroic gladiators and hapless victims, the Colosseum is today packed with pickpockets. Cut-purses work picturesque Old Town Square in Prague, seventh on the list.
The 8th spot on the list is held by the Louvre, home of the Mona Lisa. Who knew paintings spoke to pickpockets? Paris is also home to the ninth most-popular pickpocket pick, Notre-Dame de Paris, known for its ‘hunchback’ bell ringer.
The tenth spot is held by another famous cathedral, Sagrada Família in Barcelona, where pickpockets ply their unholy trade.
The study also looked at travel sites with the highest percent of remarks about pickpockets compared to the total number of reviews. A whopping 17.02% of Tripadvisor reviews of the Mercado Municipal de Benidorm, an open-air market in Alicante on the Spanish Mediterranean, say “watch out for pickpockets.”
Second place among high-percentage pickpocket mentions is the Athens Metro public transportation system. It is a convenient way to get to most Athens historic sites, but pickpockets are mentioned by an alarming 15.20% of reviews.
The third-highest percentage is held by Colon Street in Cebu City in the Philippines. Historic Colon Street (named for Christopher Columbus) is the oldest street in the Philippines and is packed with movie houses, restaurants, bars, stores, and other establishments. But some 11.65% of reviews cite a pickpocketing problem.
Of course, pickpocketing and robbery can occur in any city, including one’s own. The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) recently warned residents and tourists against wearing jewelry or high-end watches due to street robberies.
Can you prevent being pick-pocketed? Probably not, but you can improve your odds.
Certainly, you don’t want to stand out in a crowd. My father taught me to always carry my wallet in my front pocket. Another idea: wear a money belt or a passport holder around your neck. When going out, leave valuables in your hotel room, preferably in the safe.
Take pictures of your valuables and documents. Consider travel insurance (Squaremouth is a broker representing 100 companies) or see if expensive electronics are covered on your theft insurance. Backup key files to the cloud or a hard drive.
While travel insurance won’t prevent the pain of trying to replace one’s passport, credit cards, driver’s license, airline tickets, phone, watch or jewelry, it may help minimize possible losses if you do become a victim. If you do get robbed, file a police report so you can make a claim.
When seated at a restaurant or bar, loop your bag around your leg. Don’t keep valuables in the back of the bag out of your sight when it’s on your shoulders. Most importantly, keep your guard up in crowds. Watch for distractions and commotions.
Common sense may help stop pickpockets from separating you from your possessions.