As a traveler, you need to be careful at crowded places like markets, city buses, trains and popular tourists destinations. These places often have pickpockets roaming around, looking for easy targets. Pickpockets in India are really smart and ‘professional’ and you need to be smart too to steer clear of problem.
Losing cash, cards, IDs, passport etc. in a foreign country is really bad, not to mention losing your passport which can be a nightmare. Here are some best tips to avoid pickpockets in India and how to deal with them if you become a victim—
How to avoid Pickpockets in India
1. Avoid Unwanted Attentions
I recommend you not to wear too much jewelery or expensive watch while traveling, as these items only draw attention of pickpockets.
2. Stay away from suspicious looking people
You must stay attentive and aware at crowded places like bus and train stations. These are the favorite spots for pickpockets as there are lots of potential victims.
3. Avoid Easy Targets
A skilled pickpocket can steal items from any pocket or bag, but they all prefer Easy Targets. Easy targets are the pockets or chains that are out of your field of view, or away from your body; where the victim will probably not feel a thief’s touch (like outer pockets of a jacket, shopping bags, outer pockets of a backpack, etc.)
Also, don’t put your things like wallet, car keys, mobile phone on a restaurant table. You might think that the item are safe in front of your eyes, but for a skilled pickpocket, only a second’s distraction is enough to get that item.
4. Fake Targets
I came across many articles online stating that a Fake Wallet is one of the best ways to avoid Pickpockets in India.
I too think this can be a great way to avoid pickpockets and recommend it for foreigners coming to India as pickpockets target foreigners the most. Simple reason behind this is that foreign currencies (like USD) have a high value when converted to local currency (INR). So, a foreigners wallet with a 100 US Dollar note is about 6000 INR, which makes you a great feast for the pickpockets in India.
5. Try to stay in CCTV Surveillance
At places where you fear falling victim to a pickpocket, a simple solution is CCTV. When you’re in direct view of a CCTV Surveillance Camera in a Metro or Metro station or in a City Bus, then the chances of falling prey to a pickpocket is quite slim.
6. Split your Cash
Tourists and Travelers should never keep all their cash, credit/debit cards and other valuables in one place.
I would recommend you to leave all kinds of jewelry and other valuables at your hotel rooms, preferably a safe or with a local person you know (and Trust).
7. Avoid common mistakes
A common mistake that most of the people make is that whenever they see a “Beware of Pickpockets” sign, they immediately reach for their wallets and mobile phones to make sure they’re are still there. I’m guilty of doing that. By doing this you unknowingly, deliberately tell the Pickpockets where you’ve kept your wallet, mobile or other valuables.
No matter how attentive and careful you be, still there is no guarantee that you won’t become a victim.
You should do some preparations to deal with it:
In India, after the Demonetization in 2016, most of the shops and stores all around the country are using mobile wallets for Cashless Transactions. In case you lost your wallet to a pickpocket and have no credit card or cash left, Mobile Wallets can be a life saviour.
You should transfer some of your money from a credit/debit card to a mobile wallet. You can use them for payment at small shops, stores, malls, paying for parking, renting bikes, etc. or for online payments.
Some of the most popular Mobile Wallets used in India are:
- Oxigen Wallet
- Airtel payments Bank
NOTE: It’s unlikely to find mobile wallet or card payment options at most Government Offices ( Verification centers ,Police stations,etc.). So better keep some cash with you.
I strongly recommend you to use PayTm mobile wallet as it is commonly used at shops, parkings and stores across India. Unlike USA Apple Pay, Android Pay, Samsung Pay are rarely used in india.
NOTE: These Mobile Wallet services are regulated by the govt. of India. There might be a Limit to the transactions you can make. PayTm, for example, has 20k INR monthly usage limit (higher for those who link it to Indian bank accounts).
Keep some money in the safest places you can think of; like hiding in Money-socks, Money-belts that look like common belts, ladies can use Money-Bra to keep some money.
This money can be used to cover a hotel room, transport, phone calls to your embassy, or something like that at times of trouble. For India, I recommend you to keep atleast 5 or 6 thousand INR ( 3 notes of 2000 INR each)
Losing your Passport in India is the last thing you would ever want to happen to you. So keep your Passport and Visa safe while traveling.
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