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Jewellery Insurance

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Overseas Pickpocketing Scams to Avoid

Q Report Team
Updated on October 06, 2022
3 min read

If you’re planning to travel overseas, chances are you're envisioning a relaxing and exciting adventure with family and friends. However, travelling doesn't always go to plan, and pickpockets are one of the fastest ways to turn your dream holiday into one to forget.

Although there are no absolute defences against pickpocketing, by being aware of some of the tactics that thieves employ and taking steps to avoid them, you can minimise your risk. The following are some of the most common overseas pickpocketing scams to avoid.

The Sandwich

The sandwich technique is often used in airports, shopping malls, and other locations that have escalators. Thieves will work in teams to pull off this pickpocketing scam, with a couple standing in front of you to block you on the escalator and another person behind who picks through your pocketbook or backpack while you’re trapped and distracted.

Tip: To help protect yourself against the sandwich scam, keep your bags in front of you while you’re on an escalator. You can also firmly ask the people who are blocking your way to step aside and let you through.

The Sale

Like many pickpocketing scams, the sale scam relies on distraction and teamwork. One or more people (sometimes young children who are being used in the scam) will try to “sell” you something by aggressively approaching you and waving it in your face or pushing it up against you.

While you’re distracted and trying to move away, a thief will come up from behind and pick your pockets or steal your bags, wallet, or jewellery.

Tip: Be aware of this scam when you’re walking on streets overseas or shopping in markets. And don’t let your guard down and assume it’s a harmless situation just because it may be a young child who’s acting like they want to sell you something.

The Photographer

While you’re relaxing on an overseas beach, a couple may approach you and ask you to take their photos. This is a common and seemingly harmless request, so you might say yes and take their camera or cell phone and be distracted by focusing on the screen and figuring out exactly how to operate their device. In the meantime, their accomplice steals any valuable items you may have left on your towel or in a beach bag.

Tip: To help protect yourself, be extra vigilant when you’re approached by a stranger. Even at the risk of being rude, you should be very careful about making sure your belongings stay with you.

The Lost Group

A small group may approach you, saying they’re lost and need help finding their way back to their hotel. If you agree to help them, these fake fellow tourists will gather around you, open a large map, and ask you to help them with directions back to their hotel. As your attention is on the group and the map, another thief will steal your wallet or even that luxury watch around your wrist.

Tip: As with many pickpocketing scams, this one starts with strangers approaching you. Be vigilant when this happens, and make sure your belongings are secure.

The Brazen Theft

Many pickpocketing scams rely on distraction and subtle movements. Others, however, are more brazen. Some thieves will grab your items and run if you set your pocketbook, wallet, or shopping bags down on a table, extra chair, or counter. Others will grab fanny packs or purses or use a sharp knife to cut their straps and run off with them.

Tip: To avoid falling victim to these brazen thefts, leave your valuables locked in your hotel safe and if you wear a fanny pack, wear it in the front and underneath your clothing.

The Not-So-Accidental Spill

A thief may spill something on you, like sauce or coffee, if you’re in a crowded restaurant, coffee shop, or another venue. They’ll act apologetic and offer to help you clean up, but it’s all an effort to distract you. While the first thief is being “helpful,” their partner is picking your pocket.

Tip: By realising that this is a possible pickpocketing scam, you can be vigilant if it happens instead of automatically assuming it was an accident.

Protecting Your Jewellery Overseas

Protecting your jewellery with specialised insurance from Q Report is essential whether you’re travelling overseas. Your jewellery insurance policy will protect your pieces from loss, damages, and theft, even overseas, letting you bring and wear your pieces with confidence and giving you much-needed peace of mind.

Get a jewellery insurance quote from Q Report today to make sure your collection is protected no matter where you are.

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