5 Ways to Stop Thieves when Traveling

Relax: Chances are, nothing bad will happen on your vacation – and your chances improve simply by using your common sense. Check out these sensible tips including a few ideas that may be new to you.

LISTEN: Thieves? Travel expert Rick Seaney to the rescue.

The stripper scam and other bizarre ripoffs

1. Keep Valuables Safe

Phone, electronics: Keep on your person, in a shirt or an inside jacket pocket or in your hand. Don’t let a phone sit on a table: Thieves have been known to walk by, pick a device and be out the door before you even notice.

Money, cards, passports: Don’t bring everything when traveling, just what you need. Take just one credit card (or a second for back-up) and put everything you don’t need in a hotel safe. ¬†Everything else including money should be on your person or in secured pockets especially breast pockets or inner jacket pockets (and if these pockets have a button or secured flap, so much the better). Men should not use back pockets for wallets and women should not hang purses from backs of chairs.

Tip: The inside-your-clothing money belts of today are neither bulky nor obvious and many travelers swear by them.

More travel scams from ripoffs and rackets

2. Be Wary of Strangers

It’s one thing to consult a local resident for directions. It may be another if a kindly-looking fellow steps forward to volunteer his assistance. It could be completely innocent or could be an attempt to distract you while an associate picks your pocket. If it’s on the up-and-up, the fellow won’t mind chatting while you keep your purse snugly under an arm (or in front of you) or hands in your pockets. Resist these distractions: A person accidentally spills something on you and there are elaborate attempts to clean you up; someone shows you a missing ring and asks if it’s yours; a person with a clipboard wants you to sign a local petition.

Tip: If any scenario plays out in front of you and just doesn’t feel right – walk away.

3. Stick with Legal Transportation

Unlicensed taxis or private cars that offer transportation bargains may turn out to be anything but cheap or may be part of a scam. This can happen anywhere including the U.S. where one FareCompare reader told us of taking a gypsy cabin New York City that seemed like a bargain until the driver insisted she get out several blocks short of her destination (he wanted to avoid traffic).

Tip: Don’t be tempted to avoid long lines for legitimate cabs which may be safer and cheaper.

4. Be Careful with Alcohol

Don’t over-celebrate (and if you do, do not drive). And, as unlikely as it may seem, do not leave drinks unattended in case they get tampered with (if you do leave any unattended, discard and buy another round). Be alert to your surroundings.

Tip: If you can’t be alert, it’s time to grab a cab back to the hotel

5. Look Alert, Purposeful

Thieves seek out potential victims that appear weak – and this would include tourists who look confused or lost. Know ahead of time where to go (consult a map over breakfast, maybe).

Tip: Walk as though you know where you’re going – because you do.

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Published: March 20, 2014