Los Angeles, CA. Following the ratings success of Bob Arno's National Geographic "Pickpocket King" the master of the scam is offering travelers his insights on how to avoid being the victim of the scam. As he's done for law enforcement agencies globally, Arno is keen to make the world a safer place and the traveler better prepared.
"It can happen anywhere," says Arno, "a crowded sidewalk, a busy shopping mall, an airport terminal, public transportation. Clever crooks use the latest techniques to snatch your wallet, pocketbook and even your mobile phone to get valuable information to steal your identity and drain your bank account."
Arno offers these vital tips to stay safe for both the business and pleasure traveler:
>> Get Informed: "If you don't know the area you're going to; ask someone, like a hotel clerk, about coming home late at night alone. Call a cab if you don't know how to get back to your hotel."
>> Leave the Rolex at home or in the hotel safe: "If you're going to the market place, like the Ramblas in Barcelona or the Quartieri Espagnoli in Naples, leave the Rolex at home. In fact it's always a good idea to leave it at home. [Editor: The same advice applies for any expensive jewelry.] Thieves notice them. To believe you can wear one because there are so many fakes around is to give yourself a false sense of security. The thief doesn't know it's a fake when going for it and these aren't brain surgeons; they won't know until they try to fence it. Today's fakes are so good you have to be a jeweler to tell the difference."
>> Don't put cash in your front pocket: "It's so easy to take cash from a front pocket you wouldn't believe it, especially in public transportation." While usually the territory of the adept, the fabled two fingered grab is wide spread and very effective.
>> Never put your purse down: "There is an old French proverb: Ne pauser pas votre sac parterre, ca fait couler l'argent (Don't put your purse on the ground, the money will leak out). Leaving your purse anywhere – on the back of your chair in a restaurant, on the floor of a disco, or beneath the seat at the theater – is a really good way of paying your Stupidity Tax. Ninety percent of all street-type thefts are from women, and most of those from their purses."
>> Forget fancy and organized: "Pickpockets love money clips. They keep the cash so organized. Slim tall wallets are also favorites, especially the ones that stick up about a centimeter out of the back pocket and have nice sharp corners to grab. A short, fat wallet stuffed into a back pocket may be more visible, but it's almost impossible to steal without the person becoming aware of it."
>> Cover yourself – literally: "Keep your hand over your cash or wallet when you're in a crowd. If you have a button on your pocket, button it. If your pockets have flaps, close them. If your purse has a flap or a closing strap, close it. Never put cash, identity documents credit cards or other valuables in a back-pack, they're too easy to steal from."
>> Carry some money you can afford to lose: "If you're in unfamiliar surroundings, it's always a good idea to have a small wallet with say, €10.00 in it. If you're mugged, throw it on the sidewalk away from you and run. The thieves will go for the money and, chances are, won't run after you."
>>Make noise: "These guys don't want to attract attention. If you think someone's lifted your wallet confront the guy loudly. If you're in a train, chances are the guy will drop your wallet on the floor."