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10 Ways to Avoid Being Pickpocketed or Robbed Whilst Overseas

Being pickpocketed or robbed can ruin your holiday mood, and can mean you lose time by having to deal with police reports and contacting your insurer. But while pickpocketing and theft is an ever-present concern for both holidaymakers and business travellers, there are a number of steps you can take to minimise the risk of having your wallet or valuables snatched. Here are our top 10 ways to give pickpockets and thieves the slip.


  1. Security starts in your hotel room. Keep your most valuable items either in your room, or in the hotel safe. Things like passports, expensive electronic devices and large quantities of money should always be kept in your hotel; if you don’t take them out, they can’t get stolen.
  2. Use a money belt concealed under your clothes. If you carry a handbag or purse on a strap, wear it across your chest and keep your straps short. Try to keep the zip or opening in front of you.
  3. Don’t make criminals aware you have money. Never count money out in the open and aim to visit cash machines during the day, not at night. Using an ATM abroad can be costly, so many of us choose to take out large quantities of cash to reduce the fees we pay – but unfortunately this means many holidaymakers are carrying far more money than they need for the immediate future. Consider taking the bulk of your money back to your hotel, rather than walking around with it.
  4. Never carry a wallet in your back pocket, as this can easily be taken. And if your wallet is removed, it may feel as if it is still in place.
  5. Card cloning is an increasing problem in many countries. Ensure the cash machines you use do not have any unusual looking devices attached. As part of the card-cloner’s apparatus, a small pinhole camera will be set up to record your PIN; criminals will need the PIN to use the clone, so make doubly sure you cover the keypad when you enter your number. Check your bank account online regularly to ensure everything is in order. With DirectAsia.com travel insurance you are covered for unauthorised transactions up to the maximum limit of $200 in total.
  6. If you are planning a night out, consider taking only the money you need. This way, if you do get pickpocketed or robbed, you will only lose that amount. Leave bank and credit cards in your hotel, and leave your key with reception (unless you feel you cannot trust the staff, which might be the case in some poorer countries, or in cheaper accommodation). Remember that alcohol can make you less aware of your surroundings, so take it easy!
  7. Never leave your belongings unattended, even if you are just going to the toilet. Even if you know the people you are with, they are less likely to take good care of your things (especially if they have had a drink or two), and if you don’t know your companions too well, don’t worry about offending them by taking your stuff with you.
  8. While it is rare, drink spiking is a method used by some thieves to make you less aware of their activities; such drugs make it easy for them to steal and can wipe hours from your memory. In crowded bars make sure a friend keeps watch over your drink if you need to go somewhere (the toilet, for example). If you feel it necessary, finish your drink before you go to the toilet, then get another when you return.
  9. Create a ‘thief’s wallet’. This is an old wallet that you fill with one or two expired credit cards, some receipts and a few notes in the local currency. If you are mugged, you can give this to the mugger, and with luck they will accept it without too much analysis. This idea is also good if you think your hotel room may be a target – which might be the case in poorer destinations or if you think the lock could easily be broken open. Robbers work fast to avoid detection, so if they find what they need quickly they may not look around for other more valuable items. Find hiding places for money (under the fridge, in the air-con unit, under the mattress), and for any expensive electronic devices. Even hiding your laptop or phone in your pillow case could be enough to avoid their detection. Don’t make it easy for criminals.
  10. Watch out for people who stop in front of you suddenly; there may be another person to the side or behind you who will try to pickpocket you. This trick places your attention on the person you almost walked into, and you don’t notice that their accomplice has swiped your wallet or phone!

What To Do If You Are Pickpocketed or Robbed

If you have travel insurance from DirectAsia.com, there is no need to panic in the event of a theft. Making a claim with us is fast and hassle-free. Firstly, contact the local police within 24 hours and report the crime. You must obtain a copy of the report which should detail the lost items with serial numbers if applicable/possible.

If you are overseas, call us on +65 6603 3699

We will need the following within 30 days of the incident:

  • Completed Claim Form
  • Copy of passport showing departure and return dates
  • Copy of itinerary

If you haven’t got travel insurance for your next trip – get a quote from DirectAsia.com today for full peace of mind.

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