When travelers visit big cities they are told to avoid certain sketchy areas to prevent being the victims of crime – but in some of the most popular cities around the world, pickpocketing has become such a common art it occurs anywhere, at any time, and in broad daylight. Thai tourists Nina Spencer and her friend Toi learned this lesson the hard way on a trip to London.
The pair were walking through Cambridge Circus, filming themselves on a selfie stick as they toured the famous capital, when, in what seemed like a split second, they were robbed. After they had crossed the road, Toi looked inside her Louis Vuitton handbag and noticed her designer purse containing £400 in cash and her credit cards were missing. Distraught Toi and Nina played back at their video footage from the day and were shocked at what they found.
Thai tourists Nina Spencer and Toi were walking through London vlogging
The footage shows a well-dressed woman in a black jumper and black sunglasses on her head looking over Nina’s shoulder while a second woman, in a black leather jacket holding a red smartphone, eyes her friend’s handbag.
At the same time, the woman in sunglasses can be seen in the video using a large black shopping bag to hide the thief’s hand in action.
The pickpocket dips her hand into Toi’s bag and stealthily pulls out the purse, without either woman noticing.
The two women are then joined by a third accomplice in sunglasses holding an orange jacket. She walks around the back of the unsuspecting women to quickly gather the stolen purse under the coat.
All three women then walk away quickly walk in a different direction.
Nina said she reported the theft to police but according to Viral Press they have not had the wallet returned. “We don’t think it’s possible to have the money back now. But we just want to be helpful and let the police be aware of things going on in the city,” she said.
There is an average of 600,000 incidents per year in the UK. Pickpocketing thefts increased by 20% in London between 2010 – 2012. The most highly targeted cities around the world for pickpocketing according to TripAdvisor data are: Barcelona, Spain, Rome, Italy, Prague, Czech Republic, Madrid, Spain, Paris, France, Florence, Italy, Buenos Aires, Argentina, Amsterdam, Netherlands, Athens, Greece, Hanoi: Hanoi, Vietnam.
People had their own theories and tips on how to avoid theft to share:
Unfortunately, tourists are always the most attractive targets for pickpockets. “Pickpocketers prey on these parts of the city the most, as locals usually tend to stay away from tourist attractions, and tourists in general have much more cash or valuable possessions on them,” says Chris Young, owner of The Young Travelier. So how to you avoid drawing attention to yourself? Avoid wearing flashy clothes or signaling where your valuables are. Said Lewis Sage-Passant, MSyl, a former British military intelligence officer and director of travel security firm How Safe Is My Trip, “Somewhat counter-intuitively, travelers can also make themselves more vulnerable by being obviously over-protective of valuables. By constantly patting your pockets to check on your wallet, you are signaling to very observant pickpocketers that the pocket contains something of value.”
Despite the idea that pickpockets may be solo criminals, working in a group is quite common. “Usually, one of the gang will distract the mark, often with a fake tourist survey or petition, or by ‘accidentally’ spilling something on them,” said Sage-Passant. “While the victim is distracted, their accomplice will take the opportunity to grab items from unguarded pockets or bags, sometimes going so far as to cut through the material of bags to access the contents.”