Avoiding vacation pickpocketers

Travel safety involves understanding the dangers and protecting against loss. Theft protection is at or near the top of the senior checklist for safe, enjoyable vacations. Avoiding pickpockets is a primary focus.

Although not classified as a violent crime, it can be similar to home burglary, as it leaves victims feeling that their space was "violated." When putting this in travel safety context, pickpockets can ruin an otherwise exciting vacation. Veteran thieves target unsuspecting tourists and are highly skilled at their "profession."

To ensure that a vacation is a success, theft protection against these criminals is a top priority. Often working in teams -- sometimes with small children -- one person distracts the tourist (dropping something or asking for directions), while the other picks the pocket for cash, credit cards and wallets. Travel safety plans should include taking steps to avoid this crime.

First, keep your cash and credit cards in different places, never together. This simple theft protection tip makes it much more difficult for a pickpocket to ruin a vacation.

Second, do not bring attention to yourself by "acting" like a tourist. Do not adopt a "deer in the headlights" look when temporarily lost. Do not stand on the corner studying a map. Act like a native to disrupt an evil doer's search for a target.

Third, leave your favorite fanny pack at home and use a flat money belt or passport wallet. Travelers can wear these under their clothes, removing obvious pickpocket targets from sight.

Fourth, do not carry open tote bags or purses that simply snap closed. Always carry those with full zippers and wear their straps diagonally across your chest. This travel safety tip minimizes the pickpocket's ability to grab cash and wallets.

Finally, in the event your theft protection efforts are unsuccessful, leave some emergency cash or a credit card in your stateroom or hotel room. This "fall-back" plan will minimize vacation disruption and maximize travel safety.

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