The Parthenon draws a record number of visitors. Where there are tourists, there are also pickpockets. Pay close attention to your purses and wallets when queuing for entry into attractions or while you're distracted taking pictures of the lovely scenery.
There's not one particular area of Athens that's more prone to pickpocketing than any of the others, so you'll always want to be on guard about your purse or wallet. Whether you're on public transit or at a tourist hotspot, it pays to be cautious about your belongings when traveling through the city.
Florence is famous for its numerous art galleries and architectural monuments, but the city's many squares are teeming with tourists. That creates the perfect location for pickpockets, which are happy to grab your phone right out of your hand.
It's also common for pickpockets in Florence to dress like tourists to make identifying them even more difficult for visitors. They're especially common in places where people will be distracted—so always be on guard when you're doing things like getting on or off public transit or visiting a tourist attraction.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Buenos Aires is a tightly congested South American city with nearly 3 million inhabitants--perfect for pickpockets to nab your valuables. Beware of people who "accidentally" bump into you or spill things on you. It may just be a ploy to distract you, giving them enough time to make off with your purse or wallet.
It's probably best to avoid using your phone when you're on the street or in particularly busy areas of the city. That may sound like a hassle, but having your phone nabbed by a thief in a foreign country is going to be way more of a headache on your vacation!
Amsterdammers, by and large, are friendly people willing to help you if you need to ask for directions. If you're suddenly approached by an overly attentive person when you didn't ask for anything, you may want to keep an eye out for an accomplice coming up behind you.
While, in general, Amsterdam is a very safe and crime-free city, there are times and places you'll want to be particularly aware of pickpockets. When the crowds come out at night to visit the Red Light District, that's when the theft in the city really amps up. Be safe if you visit this area after the sun sets!
The open-air markets and narrow streets of Hanoi can quickly become congested with passersby, bicycles, and motorbikes. Beware of bumps and nudges, and don't be flashy with your valuables. Like many of the other cities on this list, the risk of pickpockets is especially high in busy, crowded areas.
Pickpocketing has gotten so bad in Hanoi (and Vietnam in general) that tour guides have started organizing to study the tactics of pickpockets and identify offenders in the hopes of reducing crime in the city's major hotspots. Who knew that crime fighting was part of the job description for hospitality workers?
Nearly every location in Rome is one of the world's greatest photo opportunities, but don't leave your valuables unattended when posing for a picture. Likewise, choose carefully whom you ask to take your picture. Your camera might not be handed back to you.
You'll be most at risk of pickpockets in the areas associated with tourists—like the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, and other famous spots around the city. However, these thieves are always on guard for their next mark, so always do your best to blend in and not look like a tourist if you can manage it.
Prague, Czech Republic
There are many beautiful old bridges in Prague, and they're said to be one of the most awe-inspiring cities in Europe. But when you're visiting the Charles Bridge or the old Prague Castle, these close quarters place your bags and pockets in easy access to thieves.
Another common tactic for thieves in Prague is to get you while trying to exchange currency. You'll see plenty of street vendors offering currency exchange, but you should never take them up on that offer. A bank (or really anywhere with a physical building) will be a much safer bet for exchanging your money.
El Rastro, a major flea market in Madrid, Spain, offers great deals on numerous wares, but what many visitors don't bet on are the pickpockets. Beware of children, who typically work in groups by distracting your attention and having a partner lift your belongings.
Other danger zones for pickpocketing in Madrid include Puerta del Sol, Palacio Real, and the Sabatini Gardens, but really, any place where tourists commonly flock to is high risk. Due to the fact that Spain rarely punishes non-violent theft with prison time, it's unlikely that Madrid's problems will improve any time soon.
If there's one thing to take away from this list, it's that major tourist attractions also bring would-be thieves. Because many tourists carry cash, especially international visitors, areas around the Eiffel Tower and the numerous museums are a hotbed of pickpocket activity.
An additional tip is to stand near the middle of Paris Métro train cars, away from the doors. Pickpockets have been known to snag items just before the doors close on unsuspecting victims. Stay aware of your surroundings, even in the hustle and bustle of the metro, to avoid one of these blink-and-you'll-miss-it thefts!
This list doesn't treat Spain too well, having two cities in the top three. The city is one of Europe's most popular, and the weather means that most people are outdoors taking advantage of the gorgeous Mediterranean sun. This, however, also brings out pickpockets preying on unaware tourists.
While pickpocketing may be a major problem for the city, more serious violent crime is rare. So, if you can just manage to keep ahold of your belongings, your trip to Barcelona should be fun and safe. Use common sense and stay aware at night and in crowded areas and you should be fine.
Vatican City, Italy
We’re listing The Vatican as its own place for a couple of reasons. First, it is technically its own place in Rome. Second, pickpocketing is so much worse in the Holy City than anywhere else in Rome. Walking around the museum gives pickpockets plenty of opportunities to slip your belongings out of your pockets and purse since people are packed in like sardines.
You would think that the Pope could keep his home in order, but pickpocketing still takes place in religious places like this! St. Peter's Square is ground zero for theft in Vatican City, but really, any place where tourists will be stopping and staring at the art and architecture is at risk.
Visit Kyiv but be careful as you walk around. In general, people are really friendly but avoid anyone that approaches you without you initiating the conversation first. One of the more popular scams is one where someone approaches you, claiming they were a tourist that's been robbed.
As of 2022, it's probably a good idea to avoid Ukraine entirely for reasons beyond pickpocketing, but it's still worth mentioning how much of a problem Kyiv had with petty theft in the past. The pickpockets here treat stealing like a full-time job and know all the "best" tricks of the trade.
We always want to think that the United States is better and different, but when it comes to pickpocketing, San Francisco is no different than any other international city on this list. Pickpocketing has been on the rise in the city in recent years, so if you're visiting, you'll want to take the same precautions against getting robbed as anywhere else.
If you do find yourself pickpocketed in San Francisco, you should probably just make peace with the fact that you'll likely never see what was stolen again. These days, it basically takes a miracle for San Francisco to investigate and charge serious, violent crimes, much less pickpocketing!
Chicago is not exactly known as the safest place in the United States, so it really shouldn't be a surprise that pickpocketing can be a concern there when you visit. According to some studies, the rates of pickpocketing in Chicago have risen at least 20% in the last few years alone.
Some of the danger zones for pickpocketing line up with other cities on this list—places like public transit and tourist destinations are always going to be a hotspot. However, the city also struggles with pickpockets hitting restaurant patrons, so always keep an eye on your wallet when you dine out!
New York City
Pickpocketing is a big problem in New York City, but it doesn't happen everywhere equally. Obviously, one of the biggest hot spots for pickpocketing is going to be Times Square (or really any busy tourist hub), but that's not the only place you could get robbed in the city that never sleeps.
Subway theft is another major issue for NYC. From 2021 to 2022, robberies on the subway system jumped almost 90%. Additionally, major violent crimes on the subway jumped more than 50% in the same time period, so it might be best to just avoid public transit in NYC for the time being.
Much to the embarrassment of Londoners, the city is known as the pickpocketing capital of the UK. However, this shouldn't come as much of a surprise, as it's the largest city in the area, and those places always seemed to be plagued with pickpockets. Keeping a stiff upper lip isn't enough to keep your valuables safe—you'll need to keep a watchful eye on them too.
According to visitors who have been pickpocketed themselves, Oxford Street seems to be the most common place to have your valuables swiped. While it is possible to get pickpocketed in London, the thieves there aren't particularly aggressive, so a little common sense and caution should go a long way to keeping your stuff safe.
Ah, Detroit. While most American cities have no issue with pickpocketing, Detroit has a big problem with it. It’s awful around tourist areas and event venues. Keep your belongings close to you and on hand, especially your purses, as bag snatching happens on occasion.
Pickpocketing isn't the only problem that Detroit struggles with—other forms of crime are more common here than in other places as well. While downtown and midtown Detroit are generally safe, other areas of the city can be a bit more questionable in terms of safety.
Beale Street sees plenty of tourists every year, but this means that there are more opportunities for pickpockets, especially since some of the tourists are more than a little inebriated. Hold your purses tightly and keep your wallet in your front pockets.
In addition to pickpocketing, car break-ins are higher than average in Memphis as well. So, if you plan on driving on vacation, make sure that you're car is always parked in a safe place. A secure parking garage is probably your best bet to keep your valuables safe in your car.
Mexico City, Mexico
Most people that have been to Mexico City will encourage you to leave your valuables at home. It isn’t advisable to wear anything expensive because it just puts a big target on your back. It’s also a good idea to keep a copy of your visa and passport in your hotel for safe measure.
The Metro is a particularly risky place for pickpocketing, especially at certain times of day. Late at night can be a safety risk, but you're also more likely to be robbed during rush hour when everyone is packed together like sardines. You should leave as much as possible at your hotel if you plan on traveling during these times of day.
Beijing is one of the most beautiful places you’ll ever see, but it can also be dangerous for tourists. As long as you keep a watchful eye over your belongings, you won’t be an easy target. Places like the Great Wall of China, Tiananmen Square, and the Forbidden City are some of the most pickpocketed areas.
Thieves in Beijing are not going to be as brazen as in some other locations. It's highly unlikely that someone is going to walk by and swipe your purse off your arm in full view of everyone. However, anything of importance you're carrying with you should never leave your sight, and avoid putting it down if possible.
Caracas is full of diversity, but it’s also full of pickpockets. Furthermore, the United States encourages people to stay away from this place due to crime, civil unrest, and abysmal health infrastructure. Visit at your own risk.
Pickpocketing is the most common form of minor crime in the city, but if you're in Venezuela right now, petty theft is probably the least of your worries. This is one destination to avoid for the time being for reasons much larger than a few pickpockets.
Cairo has over 16 million people and tons of history that everyone should learn. That being said, your visit to the Egyptian Museum, the Pyramids of Giza, and the Saqqara Pyramid Complex could turn bad when you find out your pockets were picked clean!
In recent years, Egyptian authorities have taken some pretty unusual and drastic measures against would-be thieves. This includes setting up official courts in Ramses station—one of the country's busiest railways. This way, pickpockets, fare skippers, and all sorts of other petty criminals can be tried quickly after the offense has occurred.
Cordoba is a trendy tourist spot, but a lot of tourists claim pickpockets are horrible in the city. Jewelry, phones, and credit cards are some of the most common targets for criminals that will grab what they can in crowded areas and on public transport.
Pickpockets have been known to go to some pretty ridiculous extremes to swipe valuables in Cordoba. One traveler on Trip Advisor warned that thieves in the city discreetly tossed some bird poop on them, quickly swooped in to graciously help them clean it off, and swiped all the money in their purse in the process.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Kuala Lumpur has over seven million people and some of the cheapest five-star hotels in the world. Just make sure that you’re paying attention when eating your delicious food or visiting a tourist spot! Pickpockets are especially active and work in groups.
In addition to pickpockets, ATM skimmers can also be a problem in Kuala Lumpur, so you'll want to take extra precautions about that too. Nothing will ruin a vacation faster than stolen cash, so use your head and don't take any risks you don't absolutely need to.
Belize City, Belize
Belize City isn’t big and isn’t incredibly popular with tourists. Could it be because pickpocketing is such an issue there? Along with pickpocketing, the risk of being mugged is pretty high. Don’t walk around alone, and if something happens, don’t fight back.
The risk of violent crime, in general, can make a visit to Belize dangerous, as can the potential lack of police support. While the police there take crimes against both visitors and citizens seriously, their forces are often understaffed and overworked, which means reuniting with your stolen items might never happen.
La Paz, Bolivia
La Paz has plenty of tourist spots like the Plaza Murillo, the Witches’ Market, and the Bolivian Presidential Palace. While you’re traveling from place to place, keep a watch on your items. One of the most common tricks used by criminals is spilling something on your clothing while another person grabs your items.
While pickpocketing is common in crowded areas, it's best to stay in well-populated places after dark to avoid the risk of violent crime. Bolivia can be a beautiful place to visit, but you definitely need to take precautions to keep yourself and your belongings safe and sound.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Rio de Janeiro has a very high risk of pickpocketing since tourists and teenagers are easy targets. They’re usually lurking around on beaches, public transportation, or crowded streets. Centro is generally safe since there are police walking around, but we would suggest being careful at all times.
Most pickpockets in Rio are not seasoned career criminals but are rather kids and slum-dwellers looking for a quick and easy opportunity. So, no one is going to be pulling an elaborate scam on you, but the threat of a grab-and-run is much more real.
Pickpocketing is really common in Moscow, specifically in crowded areas. The toughest part about Moscow is that most of the criminals are children. If you see a group wandering around, hold onto your things tightly.
Like everyone else, pickpockets can spot a tourist a mile away, so do your best to blend in and not stick out like a sore thumb. Definitely be on high alert if a stranger approaches you and asks you for a small favor (like borrowing a lighter or pen) in English. They're likely to give you a hug as a way of saying thanks—and as an opportunity to slip your wallet out of your pocket.
Acapulco is pretty safe other than the pickpocketing issue. Most pickpocketing activity happens around public transportation, but it isn’t unusual for police to receive a report of their purse being snatched while wandering around.
More violent robberies are also possible in the city. There have been reports of gangs spotting tourists withdrawing money at an airport ATM only to follow them out and rob them at gunpoint. Mexico can be a beautiful place to visit, but it's also a destination with quite a few risks.
Baltimore has a pretty bad issue with pickpockets and purse snatchers for tourists and locals alike. When visiting the city, keep your belongings close and stay vigilant. Mugging is another problem the city has had recently, but it’s a much less common problem when compared to pickpocketing.
Robberies are much more likely to occur at night, so that's when you've really got to be on your guard. Areas like West Baltimore, Rosemont, and Kresson Street should be avoided entirely after the sun sets, or you're likely to run into trouble there.