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September 29, 2021

Attention travelers: The top 10 pickpocket cities

Nothing can ruin a vacation faster than having your pocket picked, warns Smarter Travel’s Carl Unger.

Unfortunately, in some European countries in particular, pick pocketing seems to be the second oldest profession, with several cities popular with North American tourists garnering a reputation as a place where dollar-heavy wallets go to be snatched.

Those spots include …

1.    Barcelona, Spain
2.    Rome, Italy
3.    Paris, France
4.    Madrid, Spain
5.    Athens, Greece
6.    Prague, Czech Republic
7.    Costa Brava, Spain
8.    Lisbon, Portugal
9.    Tenerife, Spain
10.   London, England

No matter where you travel be wary of tactics to distract you. Dropped change, a spilt cappuccino or a beggar waving a cardboard sign in your face are tried and tested techniques to steal from you, warns Bob Arno, a Las Vegas-based security consultant and the author of Travel Advisory: How to Avoid Thefts, Cons, and Street Scams While Traveling.

It’s when you’re in a crowd, that you’re most at risk, he believes. If you’re out as a single person walking around, you’re actually not much of target, he says. Pickpockets like to work the crowds, largely because they provide ready-made distractions.

Arno, who has spent more than 20 years bouncing around the globe to study pickpockets, believes so-called "diversion theft" is on the rise in many locales because overworked police officers are often preoccupied with other issues, including terrorism.

To further protect yourself, Unger recommends: carrying as little as possible; putting nothing in your back pocket; wearing a bag that goes across your chest; attaching luggage when sitting either to yourself or your table or chair -- all suggestions echoed by this poice advisory

Have you been stung? What do you do to protect your wallet when traveling?

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...