If you’re a regular TikTok or Instagram user, you have probably come across viral videos of European locals enthusiastically screaming ‘Attention! Pickpockets!‘ when denouncing petty criminals who were about to rob inattentive tourists in popular European destinations, such as Venice and Paris.
While those people in the videos are normally spared the headache of getting their wallet stolen, thanks to the reverberating alert, many more are not so lucky, falling victim to theft within the first days of their long-dreamed European vacation.
Luckily, awareness seems to be increasing among tourists, who are becoming more and more cautious when walking busy areas, but the question remains: which countries are the worst for pickpocketing in Europe?
The Top 5 Worst Countries For Pickpocketing
@neapolitantwitcher Attenzione pickpocket a venezia #pickpocket #attenzionepickpocket #attenzione #venezia #borseggiatrici ♬ original sound – Best Napoli Twitch
According to insurance comparison website Quotezone, based in the U.K., ‘thousands of travelers’ have been victims of petty theft when traveling in Europe, particularly its ‘top destinations’, as tourist hotspots are ‘convenient places’ for criminals targeting wallets and purses.
As the viral TikToks show, pickpockets can look like anyone and do not necessarily adhere to obsolete stereotypes of petty criminals wearing baggy, ragged clothes and sleeping rough in train stations.
They can be of any race and ethnicity, including Caucasian teenage girls dressed casually who look like tourists themselves, and spotting them before they strike may be challenging for those who are not yet familiar with the way they operate nor the suspicious behavior.
Before we give you a lowdown of those red flags, however, here are Europe’s five worst countries for pickpocketing, with the most occurrences ‘per million visitors’:
According to Quotezone’s European Pickpocketing Index, paradisaical Greece is the fifth-worst country for petty crime, with larger cities like Athens and Thessaloniki leading crime rates.
Tourists must maintain a particularly high level of situational awareness in busy sites like the Acropolis Hill in Athens, where the Parthenon and other landmark Hellenic temples are located, as well as the capital’s touristy Plaka District, where robbers operate frequently.
Greece’s Aegean islands, particularly Santorini and Mykonos, are not typically targeted, as they are harder and more expensive to get to, and there are not that many places to evade cops. Crime rates are very low compared to the mainland, but still, you should never let your guard down traveling in Greece.
Though it is often perceived as an exceedingly safe destination among Americans, Germany in fact ranks fourth on the index, with pickpockets disturbing the peace across Berlin, and major state capitals like Frankfurt am Main, in Hesse, Munich, in Bavaria, and Hamburg.
Robberies often take place in train stations, especially when luggage is left unattended, even for a split second, and crowded squares, though you are unlikely to be approached in a violent manner or even notice your items were stolen until after the thief is long gone.
According to the U.S. Department of State, Americans must exercise ‘increased caution’ when traveling around the country, though general safety advice applies, such as keeping an eye on your personal belongings and avoiding unnecessary displays of wealth.
The Netherlands is the third riskiest for pickpocketing, though it is only Europe’s ninth-most visited country, proving crime levels are abnormally high, mostly in larger conurbations. These include Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Eindhoven, and others.
In Amsterdam, the most visited city in the province of Holland, pickpockets often target tourists on trams, buses, and ferries, as well as crowded areas like the Centraal Station, the three main canals, which form the Grachtengordel, and the Red Light District at night.
Tourists are advised to avoid distractions and beware of robbers in crowded situations. Not carrying valuable items that you don’t need with you at all times, such as your passport, not putting your wallet in your back pockets, and ensuring your bag is zipped up will normally suffice.
France is Europe’s second-worst for pickpocketing. Data gathered by the agency in question suggests that there 283 pickpocketing events per million visitors, one of the highest rates not only in the continent but the entire world.
Several attractions are pickpocketing hotspots in Paris, such as the green space leading up to the iconic Eiffel Tower, the public square facing the Louvre Museum and its adjacent Tuileries Gardens, the Sacre-Coeur Basilica, in the heart of the Bohemian district of Montmartre, the busy Ile-de-la-Cite, where Notre Dame is located, and many more.
Out of all French cities, however, the country’s second-largest Marseilles is a particularly dangerous one, with higher rates of not only pickpocketing but also assault reported. The picturesque Cote d’Azur, home to Nice, Cannes, Antibes, St Tropez, and the independent principality of Monaco, can be affected as well.
Italy is perhaps America’s favorite European getaway, what with its delectable regional cuisines, pastel-colored Ligurian villages, paradisaical Mediterranean islands, and unmatched cultural wealth, but it is regrettably the most dangerous for petty crimes.
Almost all viral borseggiatrici TikToks were, in fact, filmed in Italy, a majority of them in the historical Venice, though most Italian cities are impacted, with up to 1,906 visitors having reported stolen items upon visiting the Gallerie Degli Uffizi, in Florence, and several others by the Duomo di Milano, in Milan, and Rome’s Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, and Pantheon.
In total, the research concluded that there are 463 pickpocketing mentions for every million visitors, the most out of any European country. So how can you keep safe and avoid being scammed or robbed when traveling to these destinations?
How To Keep Safe Amid The Rise In Pickpocketing
As the U.S. Department of State advises, maintaining situational awareness at all times when exploring tourist sites is advised. This includes keeping belongings on you, as opposed to leaving them on table tops or resting beside you on benches, avoiding placing wallets in back pockets, and other similar measures.
Though this is not official advice, living in Paris myself, I would urge you to familiarize yourself with pickpocketing stereotypes.
They may be harder to spot, as criminals now do a better job at blending in, but you can still steer clear of them by noticing any group of individuals, particularly young adults or teenagers, who are walking in groups, moving silently through crowds, and who seem maybe too observant.
They dress casually and look like any other local, so it may be harder to spot them, but more often than not, train operators will notice their suspicious activity and issue a warning on loudspeakers so commuters are extra vigilant.
You should also wear your bag on your front taking the Paris metro, or keep it safe between your legs, never on your back, as this could result in you getting robbed when carriages are crammed with people and there are pickpockets in transit.
Distance yourself from individuals who seem to be getting too close or breaching your personal space without need, and follow other general instructions informed by authorities.
Violent crime is generally not a concern in Europe, unlike other global destinations, but there’s no denying petty crimes are becoming increasingly more common, though these are easily avoided if you follow the safety tips above.
↓ Join Our Community ↓
The Travel Off Path Community FB group has all the latest reopening news, conversations, and Q&A’s happening daily!
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR LATEST POSTS
Enter your email address to subscribe to Travel Off Path’s latest breaking travel news, straight to your inbox.
This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com