Anti theft items

Going on Classic Italy tour in September--14 day tour. Has anyone or does anyone feel the need to carry an anti-theft purse or anti-theft backpack? I will use a cross body purse, and my husband will carry a backpack on days we feel we will need one, but wondering if getting anti-theft items are necessary. I appreciate any input.

Comments

  • edited July 2018
    My spouse has used a Pacsafe brand purse/handbag for all our trips and feels comfortable with that product. I keep a few small items in well protected front pockets with both zipper, and button closures. I carry a Pacsafe tri-fold wallet, and it has a short chain that be be looped around a belt or other stable object. Search for pick pocket proof pants. I keep my camera in front of me and don't allow straps to be easily grabbed. We have been close to several attempts by gypsies to pick us off in Paris and Rome.
  • Yes we do. I highly recommend reading the section on Rick Steves website about Theft and Scams in Europe.

    I carry a small cross body Pacsafe bag with locking zippers, steel mesh in the fabric layers and a steel cable in the straps. You can find a variety of styles and brands of anti-theft bags at Amazon, Travel Smith, Magellan, etc. My husband uses either a money belt (sort of a flat fanny pack worn under clothing) or travel pants as Ashved described with secured pockets.

    We also use the room safe whenever possible and only carry the minimum with us on daily touring.

    In general we try to minimize what we carry except that we have multiple accts - different credit cards and debit cards from different credit unions. That may seem redundant but not so much after my brother in law had his wallet lifted on a Paris train. A group of men got on board and started acting very aggressive. Turned out it was a distraction and someone got his wallet. They immediately (and expensively) called back to the US to cancel his credit card and debit card. Because they share an acct they were left without a credit card at the start of a 2 week trip. Thankfully, their debit cards had different numbers so my sister's would still work so they could get money.

    Should you follow the anti-theft guidance? Kind of depends on how risk averse you are.
  • edited July 2018
    The key to protecting your belongings is to be aware of your surroundings. A purse with special protections (armored fabric, metal reinforced straps, special zippers, etc.) does nothing if a thief snatches the whole thing- pulls the purse off your shoulder/arm or breaks the belly strap on a fanny pack. While there are solo thieves, many work in pairs or as a group, and sometimes use juveniles. While one gets your attention another steals your stuff, outright or by carefully cutting into your bag. Whether singly or in a group, they like to work where there are crowds to disguise their work and make an easy getaway- crowded tourist stops, public transportation, etc.

    Another caution, unless you intend to do some serious shopping, leave most of your cash and extra credit cards in the hotel safe. Neither my wife nor I use any special purse or wallet, but we carry what we take on walking tours close to our bodies, and constantly stay aware of our surroundings. We have never had a problem (I never had a problem in over 20 years in the Navy visiting some pretty sketchy ports all over the world.) In fact, we have never even been approached by anyone that appeared to be a thief. If we see someone checking us out from a distance, we engage them by staring directly in their eyes and letting them know we are aware of their presence.

    I know it has happened, there have been stories posted here, but in over 10 tours, none of our fellow Tauck travelers ever had anything stolen, either. On one recent trip one lady reported cash being stolen, but it turned out she left an envelope with all her cash tucked in a book she was reading- the book and cash were still in her cabin. That being said, noted travel writer and videographer, Rick Steves who has covered this topic numerous times over the years, was himself a victim in 2017 in Paris. You can read about it here.

    Let me also add a comment about the wallets, purses, and passport folders with special RFID shielding. They are one step away from a scam. Those selling these products rely on the typical customer not knowing how RFID technology works. While technically possible to read RFID cards (not normal chip or strip credit cards which CANNOT be read remotely!), it is VERY difficult and requires special equipment to collect the info. The equipment, which is often a specially equipped laptop, must be very close (less than 5') to your RFID device and can only collect the info when your device is being used (at a gas pump, cash register, passport reader, etc.). Also, the thief must have additional sophisticated equipment at home to extract and decode the info. Then it requires the thief use your info- to open an account in your name to get goods or money. This is too complicated, too much effort, and too expensive for the typical thief- it is more the subject of spy novels.
  • AlanS wrote:
    The key to protecting your belongings is to be aware of your surroundings. A purse with special protections (armored fabric, metal reinforced straps, special zippers, etc.) does nothing if a thief snatches the whole thing- pulls the purse off your shoulder/arm or breaks the belly strap on a fanny pack.

    Which is why I have a cross body bag. Short of taking me with them, there isn't much they can do since the strap can't be easily cut. It's big enough to hold my phone, the little bit of money and cards I have with me, plus a few essentials like tissues, lip gloss, etc. I also spent an entire Oct Rhine/Moselle cruise without carrying any bag. I had a Lands End hooded jacket with internal and external pockets. Valuables zippered inside and other items in the outer pockets. It even had a pocket the Vox unit fit in so I didn't have it dragging on my neck. A travel vest would work the same for summer wear.

    I am risk averse and don't want a holiday spoiled dealing with something I feel I can do a lot to prevent.
  • I think the steel enforced straps could be useful but agree with Alan about the card reading stuff.
    Being aware of your surroundings is a good lesson, but these thieves, who are often in gangs are super good at their game. They often pose as other tourists, taking pictures with each other etc etc. we have had a couple of runs with gypsies in Paris, they did not outwit us, and know people who have been robbed, including a man who tried to stop thieves taking his wife’s bag, they punched him unconscious and broke lots of bones in his face. Someone else we know of had her bag taken in the Louvre when she put it down for a second, the police were very unsympathetic saying if she put it down, what did she expect would happen.
    In Italy, Rome, I was nearly knocked off my feet when a gang of fake handbag sellers were being chased by thieves and I know people who have been robbed or had their credit card skimmed. Years ago a friend had his hand burned with a cigarette end , they would not let go of it and tried to rob him, I could go on. I have been to Rome twice and have no yen to go again but would go to other Italian regions in a heartbeat. You are not immune but it is less likely.
    Try not to look like a rich American, I am never ceased to be amazed by the amount of flashy jewelry people wear. I confess we both wore our decent watches on our last tour in Iceland but it is not usual for us. We have been known to not even wear our wedding rings.
  • edited July 2018
    On my first trip to Paris in the 1970s, I was up early and walking on the Rue de Rivoli (where all of the expensive stores were located) right before the stores opened for the day. There were few people on street then at that time in the morning. I heard shouting going on. It was one of the store merchants with a bat in his hand shouting at an older gypsy woman and her 4 kids to stay away. Nothing happened and they went on their way. I learned later that it may have been a ploy by the woman and her 4 kids, i.e. the woman would be facing you while two of her kids would come at you on each side, grab the sleeves of one's shirt or something like it, while the other two kids would do the same on your other side with one of them grabbing your wallet or purse. Yes, nothing much changes in this world except the need to always be vigilant. :-)
    Oh btw, on a recent Tauck tour to Milan, Italy I also was walking on the Main Street of our hotel in the fairly early morning when I was approached by another gypsy woman who tried to grab ahold of my shirt pocket and I had to physically push her away. She was persistent though with others walking on the street then. Our hotel manager said that it was a problem, but not much than anyone can really do about it. Sigh.
  • CaroP wrote:
    Going on Classic Italy tour in September--14 day tour. Has anyone or does anyone feel the need to carry an anti-theft purse or anti-theft backpack? I will use a cross body purse, and my husband will carry a backpack on days we feel we will need one, but wondering if getting anti-theft items are necessary. I appreciate any input.
    CarolP. Lots of good ideas about products to manage risk and be aware of your surroundings. Wherever there are a lot of tourists, there are also folks who want to take advantage of you. Several times we have heard others scream "my wallet, my wallet" and know that they have been pick pocketed. There is no need to fear traveling. Have a great trip.
  • We’ve had incidents with pickpockets in Venice and gypsies in Paris. Nothing was ultimately taken but I’m a big guy and can be very imposing when I want to. My suggestion don’t carry anything in your back pockets. Wear cargo pants or shorts with zippered pockets. Anything you are carrying should should be kept in front of you such as camera or sling bag.

    The gypsies in Paris will have a kid approach you and ask if you lost this “gold” ring. They then show you a clunky gold colored band. Just keep walking and tell them to bug (insert your own colorful word) off. They will leave you alone. Don’t engage in conversation as you never know where their partner(s) are.
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