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How To Enjoy Hostel !! > Money matters



Pick pocketing is one of the oldest and most widespread crimes in the world. The appeal is its relative safety: A skilled pickpocket can make off with just as much money as an armed robber, without much danger of confrontation or risk of being identified in a line-up. By the time the victim even realizes what has happened, the pickpocket is long gone. And since no weapons are involved, pickpockets who do get caught face minimal jail time.

All of this is bad news for the rest of us. When you're traveling, a pickpocket can easily ruin your trip, lifting your money, credit cards and identification in a few seconds. And there's very little hope of getting any of your stuff back. Thieves can rob people blind without them even knowing it. find out what you can do to avoid being a "mark" (a con or pickpocket target) and what you should do if your wallet is stolen. There are all sorts of pickpockets in the world, working at various skill levels. The lowest level is made up of simple opportunists. These pickpockets don't employ any special technique; they simply seek out people who have left themselves vulnerable. For example, college students often study in crowded public areas, with their backpacks sitting open next to them. A pickpocket simply sits near a student and surreptitiously reaches into the victim's backpack. Opportunists also target people sleeping at the beach and people waiting around with their luggage in airports.

Getting a wallet out of somebody's pocket or purse is a little more difficult because the pickpocket has to actually touch the mark or something close to the mark's body. The basic approach is to mask the illegal physical contact with expected, benign physical contact. In a crowded subway car, for example, it's normal for strangers to press up against you, so you don't even notice something pressing against your pocket or purse. If the pickpocket is good, the mark never feels a thing. Usually, pickpockets carry jackets or newspapers to cover their hands while they work. In the pick pocketing world, distraction can get pretty elaborate. Two members of a team might stage a fight while the third member takes advantage of the inattentive crowd. Child pickpockets may try to show something to a mark, like a drawing or a toy, while other children sneak up from behind. Another common trick is to surreptitiously spray someone with bird droppings, or a convincing facsimile, and then offer to help clean it off.

One of the most effective distractions is sex: An attractive woman, usually pretending to be drunk, will touch an unsuspecting man affectionately, and lift his wallet or watch while he's distracted. Sometimes, pickpockets don't want to distract you from your money; they want to bring your attention to it. For example, one member of a pickpocket team might yell out "Somebody just stole my wallet!" in a crowded subway station. Most people's automatic reaction is to make sure they still have their own wallet and valuables, so they'll pat whatever pocket it's in. This makes the pickpockets' job a lot easier -- it shows them exactly where to look. Pickpockets will also stake out ATMs or cash registers and watch where people put their money. Pickpockets will also "fan" victims -- casually brush by to feel where the mark's wallet is before trying to steal it.

Pickpocket Prevention

It's difficult to spot every pickpocket, no matter how careful you are, because pickpockets generally camouflage themselves. They are very careful not to fit the common conception of criminals. Many dress like wealthy businessmen and women; others carry babies, who they use to hide what their hands are doing. Some even mimic tourists, their prime targets. The best defense against pickpockets is to make it hard to get to your valuables. It's not a good idea to carry your wallet in your back pocket, because it's fairly easy for a pickpocket to sneak up behind you. Front pockets are safer, but the best option is a money belt under your clothes. Fanny packs are extremely vulnerable, particularly when the pouch is on your back rather than your front. Backpacks and purses are also attractive to pickpockets. If you need to carry a purse, you should hold it under your arm and cover it with your hand in crowded areas.

Another good defense is to employ some distraction methods of your own. Carry an easily accessible "dummy" wallet in your pocket or purse so pickpockets never seek out your real wallet. Even if you do take all of these precautions, you could still fall victim to pickpockets. You can minimize the damage if you're prepared. Keep a list of everything in your wallet or purse, especially all credit card numbers. This makes it a lot easier to straighten everything out if somebody does steal from you. Pickpockets can completely ruin a trip to a foreign country if you aren't prepared. When you lose your identification, you could even get stuck in that country until everything gets sorted out. To make the process as easy as possible, you should keep photocopies of your credit cards, your passport, and any other forms of identification. If you do discover that your credit cards and identification are missing, at home or abroad, it's important to act quickly. Call the credit companies and cancel the cards right away. Then file a report with the police. Pickpockets are going to be around for a long time, and there's not much law enforcement can do about it. For impoverished people with few other options, and for lifelong criminals as well, it's a relatively easy way to steal a good amount of money with minimal risk. But if you're informed and prepared, they'll most likely move on to a better target.

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