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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre Urban Life & Travel Talk 
Thread started 06 Feb 2013 (Wednesday) 18:37
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Protecting against pickpockets?

 
kaitlyn2004
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Feb 06, 2013 18:37 |  #1

I'll be going to Spain and Paris soon and am more concerned about pickpockets/thieves than I have been in my visits elsewhere.

I have the Flipside 300, which I love that opens from the inside so nobody is going to be able to take anything out of my backpack... right?

A few things:

1) Any input on the best way to protect my other items like wallet, phone, etc.?
2) The flipside 300 has a strap on the outside for tripod holder. Would someone even attempt to steal this off my back? How could I best protect it?
3) Is it safe to for example set up a camera on a tripod and use remote shutter for a shot - or is it indeed risky that someone would even run through and just steal it and run?

Anything else to be aware of/consider?


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plumgoo
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Feb 07, 2013 09:28 |  #2

1. Wear pants that have front pockets, and make sure to put your cash/wallet/cell phone in them. And it you feel especially anxious, wad-up a tissue and put it into your pocket on top of whatever object there is, this way any possible thief will have to dig past it to get to your "valuables".

2. Yes, people have been releaved of their bags from their very backs, snatch and grabs. By a slightly longer strap (at any luggage shop) and carry it via one shoulder then across the chest and hang from the other hip.

3. No, do not do this. I live in a European city, and I have seen thieves running down the street with tripodded cameras in tow, so I assume that they walked up to whatever camera was left alone and grabbed it. If you have a camera, keep it in the bad, in your hand, or attached to something that is attached to your hand.

Also, in cafès or restaurants, pull up a chair and leave your camera bag on it (next to you), with the strap wrapped around the back of the chair.

America has their own types of criminals, but in many European cities there are pick-pockets and snatchers, it's not an acceptable thing (the Police are very active in touristy areas), but it does happen.


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gotak
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Feb 07, 2013 23:30 |  #3

I think I mentioned already my experience in Paris. Be a jackass and don't be nice and help other people take photos. Just pretend you don't understand or is in a hurry. In a crowd it's so easy to ask someone to take a photo for you as a way to distract them. And that's exactly what a pair of thief tired to pull on me but of course the bag was empty plus I never took my hand off the front so they didn't even get in.

Any bag is a target just assume that. Generally I think you'll find fewer pick pockets interested in your camera stuff. Snatch and run yes but picking your pocket for a large heavy bit of kit is an easy way to get found out. Plus such things are a lot harder to stash. They aren't out to get 1 job done but dozen before they leave so they are going to target wallets and cell phones.

I have heard of stories about bags being snatched from the chair next to you out on the patio. So if you are paranoid do your eating and drinking inside the cafe.

In general the less you carry the less they will target you. I got noticed because of my big shoulder bag. If you can make do without a camera bag I would suggest it but it's hard if it's going to rain so..... Tripod can always be carried in it's own sling bag and things like batteries are small enough to slip into a jacket pocket.

Museum pass would also help you be safer. Waiting in line for tickets is just being a sitting duck to be sized up and hit (and now they know where you kept your wallet cause you took it out to pay). Buy the pass at one of the main attraction (a the louve it was at the tourist center away from the central hall where the ticket booths are, took me 15 minutes of asking to find out) when you arrive or order it online (But cost an arma and leg to ship).


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Dan ­ Marchant
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Feb 08, 2013 13:26 |  #4

kaitlyn2004 wrote in post #15580818 (external link)
2) The flipside 300 has a strap on the outside for tripod holder. Would someone even attempt to steal this off my back? How could I best protect it?

Thieves don't need to open the zip if they cut the case with a razor or cut the straps and (shove you over) then run off with the bag.

The best defence is to remain aware at all times. If travelling with friends/family watch each others backs. Remember that distraction is often key so be very aware if someone talks to you, bumps into you or stops suddenly in front of you (halting you just long enough for an accomplice to pickpocket you.

If using a tripod keep looking around for fast moving people approaching. If someone walks up put your hand on the camera. Likewise if walking with the camera over your shoulder rest one hand on the camera/lens. People have been known you detach a lens and make off with that.


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KCMO ­ Al
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Feb 18, 2013 13:37 |  #5

Use common sense. My wallet was picked the first week of my assignment to Prague. After that, I did not carry a wallet at all. I carried my ATM card and a small amount of cash in my front pocket...no bulge to attract attention. Backpacks are definitely targets. I watched a band (1 man, 2 women) at the Astronomical Clock gathering in Prague. When I saw them target a woman whose backpack was open, I went up and stood next to her staring at them...they moved away. At a restaurant, I always put my leg though the strap and had the bag on the floor in front of my feet. I've heard many stories of purses being picked while they were strung over the chair.
If there is something brazenly stolen, make a big fuss. I saw a thief apprehended by citizens after he stole a womans purse in Prague. Police were called but never came.


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KCMO ­ Al
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Feb 18, 2013 13:41 |  #6

One more interesting fact...I always used the hotel safe for my wallet. However, as usual, I forgot the combination. The hotel sent a "technician" up to help. The "technician" was a maintenance man who input 0000 and opened the safe. There's always a backdoor code that almost everyone in the hotel knows. This just means that you should check the safe every time you return to the room just in case a "technician" has been by.


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j1mmyj4m
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Feb 18, 2013 13:45 |  #7

KCMO Al wrote in post #15623956 (external link)
At a restaurant, I always put my leg though the strap and had the bag on the floor in front of my feet. I've heard many stories of purses being picked while they were strung over the chair.

The leg through the strap of the backpack is excellent information. I've never thought about doing this before. Thanks.




  
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Lbsimon
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Feb 18, 2013 16:15 |  #8

All big cities in Europe with large tourist concentrations are magnets for pickpocketers. Some, like Barcelona, Prague, or Paris are worse than others. I traveled to many places in Europe, and indeed was targeted a couple of times. But believe me, it is not worse than New Orleans!

Be aware of your surroundings, don't let a strange spill coffee on you and then "help" you clean up. Don't ask strangers standing next to a ticket machine how to buy tickets, they are standing there waiting for you. Carry your wallet in a front pocket. In fact, in summer I have a travel wallet that attaches to my pants belt, it sits in front, and it is hard to open. I carry a camera backpack, but most of the time, while I am walking, the cameras are on our shoulders. In a restaurant I stick the backpack under the table, and put one strap over my leg.

Really, simple precautions, and you should be fine. Specific questions - just ask, I will try to help.


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Chiefy
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Feb 18, 2013 16:23 |  #9

I spent four years touring Europe as part of a posting to Germany. I also used the Flipside 300 to carry my gear to locations. If you wear it outside then wear it properly, if you sling it on one shoulder they can cut the strap and run with it. I also always put my wallet into a zipped inside pocket of my jacket, never in the back pocket, if I do not wear a jacket then the wallet goes into the front pocket.

All that is to say - in over 30 countries I visited I never had a single issue with anyone stealing anything. Don't let the worry needlessly ruin your trip! Take precautions and you should be ok


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Feb 18, 2013 22:17 |  #10

I caught four people trying to open my camera bag in Colombia last month, it pays to pay constant awareness to your surroundings. I even had one pretty lady attempt to distract me while the guy went for the bag.

Situational awareness, using rubber bands around your phone and wallet plus storing them in the front pocket helps tremendously, the rubber sticks to the inside of the pocket.

I use small key rings around the zippers pulls,then pull them of to one side and place a small cheap 99cent carabiner ring thru both.

I carry a large climbing aluminum carabiner in case I need to lock the bag to a chair while eating.


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Scrumhalf
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Feb 18, 2013 22:50 |  #11

Lbsimon wrote in post #15624608 (external link)
Be aware of your surroundings, don't let a strange spill coffee on you and then "help" you clean up.

Yep. My colleague at work almost fell for this trick at the Brussels train station. One guy tries to help you take your jacket off and get cleaned up while his partner quietly walks away with your luggage or backpack or whatever. He gave chase and managed to get the thief to drop the bag and escape.


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CalPiker
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Feb 25, 2013 00:44 |  #12

Check out the gear that PacSafe makes. They make bags and other protective gear that make it more difficult for thieves and pickpockets to take your stuff. Their bags / straps are slash resistant and have metal cables in them to prevent them from being cut. Their bags have some pretty cool anti-theft features to them too.

If you carry a wallet, keep it in your front pocket and wrap a rubber band around it. You will feel it if someone starts to remove your wallet. For better security, get a hidden belt wallet. This straps around your belt and tucks into your pants. PacSafe even makes those (external link). I don't work for PacSafe, but I do own that wallet. It works fantastic!

Also, I keep a few bucks in one of my pockets for buying small things. So if someone is watching and they see me take that money out or put it in, they will only get a couple bucks. My other money is in that hidden wallet. If I know I will need more, I will generally take it out of the hidden wallet where I know I am not being watched (cab, bathroom stall, back of the store, etc.). Taking some extra precaution and do a little distraction and you shouldn't have to worry much about pickpockets getting much, if anything. Have a good trip!


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marcosv
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Mar 06, 2013 16:09 |  #13

Consider putting a thick rubber band around your wallet. The extra friction makes it harder for a pickpocket from pulling it out of your pocket.

As for your gear, be very careful when you take your packs off. I've known people who lost stuff at restaurants. The tables can be a lot closer together in Europe. They put their bags down under the table and some guy next to their table grabbed stuff while they were eating.

I don't think thieves in Europe are as brazen as in Vietnam, but, a friend's wife had her valuables stolen from two guys on motorbikes while on vacation over there. She had the stuff around her neck under her shirt. They lost a $5k ring and a memory card with all of their pictures. So consider alternative hiding places.

You can buy cords/strps embedded with a steel cable to minimize thieves using knives to snip your strap and grab your bag. But, if someone is going to cut your strap with a knife, I am not sure if I want the resulting struggle for my stuff to potentially lead to greater injury.

Lastly: have personal article insurance on all of your camera gear.


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L.J.G.
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Mar 06, 2013 16:38 |  #14

I use one of those money pouches that straps around my waist for my cash, card and passport. It can get uncomfortable but you can't even see it when my shirt hangs down. Just be very wary of people who mysteriously bump into you front on, you can bet they are feeling for one.

As for the camera gear, I usually only carry my body and 2 lenses in a shoulder bag when out and about and my hand never leaves it in a crowd. Always be aware of what is going on around you, taking particular notice of anybody you think is taking notice of you or you see more than a couple of times unless they are clearly sightseers like yourself.

Velcro is another great invention. My wife sows it onto some of my pockets. Yes, they can be cut, but anybody who crushes against me or my wife to do that will just get shoved away anyway. I do not like people crushing against me from behind and make a point of quickly turning around and facing someone behind me who does it. If they had any designs on picking my pocket that move usually stops them straight away. Just being careful is usually enough, they can easily pick out the ones who are clueless or careless with their belongings.


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