Beware of Pickpockets

The holiday shopping season seems to start earlier and earlier every year, and with that so do the pickpockets. On a typical day in Chicago the streets are filled with hundreds of shoppers, tourists and business people who can be seen talking on a cell phone, texting, taking pictures or wearing earphones as they listen to music on their electronic devices; everything except focused on their surroundings. These distractions, together with larger crowds, make you a perfect target for a pickpocket or a scam artist.

By following a few basic and common-sense rules, you can ensure that your holiday shopping experience doesn’t get ruined by a pickpocket.

  • Look at your surroundings; if you are on a crowded train, bus, or walking in a busy area, focus on where you are going as pickpockets are looking for people who are distracted. Tip: Keep an eye on your wallet. If you carry a purse make sure it is closed tight and in front of you, not behind you as that makes it an easy target for a pickpocket.
  • Do not carry your checkbook or more credit cards than you will use during that shopping trip. If your wallet is lost or stolen, this will limit the damage. Tip: Make a copy of the front and back of all credit cards, and put the list in a safe place at home.
  • Do not carry large amounts of cash. Even if you are committed to paying for purchases with cash, be aware that pickpockets take advantage of crowded areas and distracted people. Tip: Make frequent trips to the ATM to replenish your stash of cash.
  • Place wallets and other valuables in a front pants pocket. If this is not feasible, choose a pocket that has a button or zippered closure. Tip: Carry a smaller wallet when shopping.
  • Women should not carry their wallet inside a purse. Wallets should be small enough to conceal under a sweater or in an interior pocket. Tip: If you do carry your wallet in a purse choose one that has a good closure.
  • Never leave your purse unattended, even for a moment. Tip: Always have your purse on your person, even in a restaurant.

Remember, pay attention to what’s going on around you and use common sense about how you carry your wallet.