Robbers, Thieves and Pickpockets… Oh My!!


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You know… I know it happens but today I actually saw it happen… it was shocking and amazing.. at the same time.  Let me tell you what happened… Today I was sitting in the city center at the local McDonald’s with one of the other foreign teachers.  It just happens to be our day off… and we were taking a little break before we were going to start off one our shopping adventure.  Anyway.. as we were sitting there finishing up our fries… we happened to look out the window.. and right in front of our face.. we saw a young man… posed in a birdlike fashion… reaching into a woman’s purse stealing her wallet.  I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing .. in broad daylight.. with all kinds of people walking around.. this guy was picking this woman’s pocket… He grabbed the little black wallet.. and stepped behind a rickshaw… as the woman continue to walk on… and I thought I was mistaken in what I saw.. until.. the other teacher said to me.. “Did you just see that?”  then I knew what I saw was real… I then saw the man put the wallet in the front of his pants.. and start to get into the rickshaw… I just couldn’t let this happen… so I quickly got up and ran out of the door after him.

I did not know what I was going to do when I caught up to him but I was going to stop this madness some how…. However, by the time I got outside… he had already gotten into the three-wheeled bike taxi and speed off…

I went back into the McDonald’s.. and went up to the woman .. who I thought i saw the man steal from.  I was not sure she spoke English .. so I signaled for her to come with me.. and I pointed at the rickshaw in the distance.. trying to tell her in my Chinglish what had happened.   The woman understood and started searching her purse… she said.. that she had everything… (in English..) lucky.. she spoke english… and came back to thank us… the other teacher said.. the lady was in a black dress.. so I tapped the wrong lady.

Although, she thanked us again for caring. I was really upset about what I saw, due to the fact that … when I first got to China my wallet had been stolen with 1300rmb inside.   So, this made me very upset and I felt for the lady that was going to find out that she had no money in her wallet.

This is an example of how much thievery goes on in China.  In the big cities it is more rampant.  On my husband and I’s last trip to Shanghai, we were walking down the street and decided to stop for dinner.. but when we got to the table we realized that my husband’s wallet has been stolen.   The crazy part was that he was carrying it in a fanny pack in front of his stomach.  How the hell had they taken it out of there?  We had only been on the sidewalk for a moment.

A friend of mine also in Shanghai.. said.. she had her Ipod in her pocket with the headphones around her neck.. and when she reached to turn it on.. the Ipod had been stolen.  Amazing… right out of her pocket when she had the wire around her neck.

The pickpockets are very skilled in what they do.  With the division of income so separated here in China, these professional thieves are getting bolder and better every day.  From using Children, beggars to just young man who look normal walking down the street.

Your things just are not safe here.  An article online stated that

A gang of bus pickpockets, who had attacked a college teacher, were apprehended on Saturday in Quanzhou, in southeastern China’s Fujian Province, the Chongqing News reports.

On August 26, the three-member gang attempted to steal a passenger’s wallet at a bus stop but the wallet fell onto the ground and was picked up by a college teacher surnamed Li who returned it to its owner.

The gang, who were furious at the loss, took revenge on the teacher by snatching a knife from a nearby restaurant and slashing Li’s leg.

After the incident occurred, local police set up a task force to track down the suspects.

The criminals were finally caught in a computer game studio. They have pleaded guilty and are currently in police custody.

I see now why people do not help… look what happens when a man actually tried to return a person’s wallet.  This is really a sad case of affairs.  I thought I would list some tips for those of you that plan on visiting China or any other foreign country some day.. or really in the states since more and more people are out of work the pickpocketing might rise.

Divide to Avoid Being Conquered

Similar to the old saying – “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket”, this technique minimizes losses in case you become the victim of a skilled pickpocket. Most tourists keep their valuables in one place they consider safe, but one distraction can leave them penniless.

The truth is, not even a small safe can protect you against a very able pair of hands, but if you’re going to suffer a loss, why not make it as small as possible? By storing your valuables in more than one place, you’re making sure you still have money left, even in case of a successful pickpocket.

Don’t Be Too Trusting

Even if it goes against your friendly nature, try to be as suspicious as possible to everyone you don’t know. Sure, seeing a complete stranger going out of his way to try to help you with your luggage seems pretty impressive, but 9 times out of 10 it just means they ‘re to rob you.

Some pickpockets pop out in front of you desperately asking you to look at a map, or a document. They’re trying to distract you long enough for their accomplices to work their magic on your luggage, so make sure you politely decline, and keep walking.

Don’t Give Out Signs

Pickpockets find their way to your wallet and valuables well enough on their own, but they won’t say “no” to a few free directions. One of the most common techniques to find out where you keep your small treasure, is to yell something like “Watch Out, there’s a pickpocket around!”

You’re probably thinking there’s no way you’d fall for something like that, but you wouldn’t believe how many tourists reach for their safe place to protect or check if everything is in place. That’s all the invitation pickpockets need, so make sure you refrain from such reactions.

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Stay Away from Trouble

Traveling to a strange, new place can be an incredible experience, but it always helps to keep in mind that dangers lurk everywhere. Even if your vacation destination seems like the safest place on the planet, try to keep away from crowded places, that’s where pickpockets feel most in their element.

Sightseeing often has tourists lose their way, but it’s always a good idea to stick to main streets and stay away from back-alleys. You never know who’s a few feet behind you, waiting for their chance to strip you of your belongings.

Don’t Make It Easy

Pickpockets are very good at what they do, some of them practicing this “trade” from a very young age, the last thing you want to do is make it easy for them. Never use your outer pockets to store cash or jewelry, keep high-tech gadgets out of sight, until the moment you need to use them.

When possible, keep your hands in your pockets, that will definitely keep any pickpocket’s hands out. Always look around before using an ATM, there’s a good chance someone’s watching your every move.

All of these are great ways to avoid getting your pocket picked… however.. I personally use the old-fashioned way.. and I think the best way to keep my money, cell phone, and any other important things save from any kind of thief or pickpocket.  I keep everything in …. MY BRA… yes.. ma’am… my grandma taught me a long time ago.. store your money in your busom..if they steal it out of there.. then they are really good.. and they deserve the money…. (smile) .. she was a wise, wise woman….

until next time….

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17 thoughts on “Robbers, Thieves and Pickpockets… Oh My!!

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  2. Lou

    It happened to be about 3 weeks ago in Bangkok. I was shopping at the local Platinum Mall and while waiting for the car to take us back to the hotel, my aunt noticed that my bag was cut (it was a very big cut- sliced open from where I place my arms toward the bottom of my bag). It was a Longchamp black canvas back. I felt really vulnerable but luckily I used a white thick card-like paper as a base, so fortunately nothing dropped out of my bag. I was really lucky to have gotten away with that close call.

  3. Randy....

    Crazyness…
    Even still… I carry my money in the booby holders.. Stick your hand in there, you’re liable to get it chopped off… seriously.
    Plus I have a little pouch that I can wear inside my shirt. But, shoot.. now.. I’m thinking.. They took it from a fanny pack???? That is mad skills.

  4. David Wise

    I was pickpocketed the first day I landed in Thailand last year. It was one of the worst experiences. I know the feeling well.

  5. pearls

    LROL! Too funny, “the American Safe”……you both are remarkably hilarious without even realizing it! Your blog and comments make my day! Be Blessed!

  6. Osirus

    Quote “however.. I personally use the old-fashioned way.. and I think the best way to keep my money, cell phone, and any other important things save from any kind of thief or pickpocket. I keep everything in …. MY BRA… yes.. ma’am… my grandma taught me a long time ago.. store your money in your busom..if they steal it out of there.. then they are really good.. and they deserve the money…. (smile) .. she was a wise, wise woman….”

    this is truly the best advice to avoid getting pick-pocked (woman use the bra, men strap it to your chest inside your t-shirt)… When I first arrived in China I brought 10,000 dollars and when in public carried it in my bra for the first 2 weeks until I was able to open a bank account. It was a bit uncomfortable and bulky but I knew my money was safe.
    I was determined not to give it up so easily to a five fingered thief.

    1. People in China laugh at me .. when they see me put stuff in my bra.. but hey… I dont care.. it is safe…. my husband even tells me sometimes… “put this in the American safe” … he knows the bra is the safest place… thank you for reading.

      1. blackandyellow

        I remember Flip Wilson as Geraldine, she also used to call her (chest the bank, or the safe deposit box. I sometimes do the same thing as you do. Makes me feel better Jo to know I am not alone in the technique I use. My ipod also had been stored in my safe deposit box. Most be a Black women’s thing. Your husband is so funny. He calls it the “American Bank”. In honor of Mike, thats what I’m gonna name mine from now on. Be blessed!

  7. Justin Liu

    Props to the pick pocket(shame on them too), how in the world do you steal from a fanny pack is beyond me. Great tips, I’d probably add that these guys operate more frequently in tourist traps as I don’t remember my parents wallets ever getting stolen as a kid.

  8. pearls

    Excellent and wise safety tips! Living in a large metro city, I was told that thieves look for anyone who’s not observing their surroundings, confused, or engaged intensely in conversation that they’ve become oblivious to what’s going on around them. They’ll avoid and steer clear of anyone that’s mentally prepared, using their periphereal vision! I say, BRAVO to the BRAS! Us women’s ‘original’ version of the fanny packs! Suggestion: the best fanny pack to buy is the one that’s thinner which is worn under the clothing, in comparison to the bulging ones that’s only worn outside (a haven for nimble fingers in crowds, distractor-teams, and body-bumpers)! The thinner ones can be adjusted to fit the waist or around the hip area. There’s also a unisex shoulder-holster style that’s also thin and easily concealed under clothing!

  9. randomthoughtsfromcali

    You did exactly what I would have done. I just can’t let bad people do bad things right in front of me and I seldom look before I leap. I only wish Mr. Sticky Fingers would have been caught!

    I didn’t have any idea that thieves were so rampant in China! What are the consequences of the purse-snatchers when they get caught?

    1. in the old days.. it would have been cutting off the fingers.. but that was old China.. now they go to Chinese prison.. which i really do not think i want to visit.. any time soon… they work them like crazy.. it is not easy life in chinese jail.

  10. shubs

    omg..this reminds me of the time me and my little brother got fooled by a bunch of professional con artists(3 men to be exact). This was at the bund(in Shanghai) at evening time..my brother nagged me into buying him a pair of those attachable skates that light up in the dark(or maybe it was a shoe with rollerblades on it..can’t remember..this was when i was 18, a while ago)from a street vendor. 5 minutes later, these 3 men come up to us and start speaking in Mandarin(which we of course don’t understand). They were dressed in formal attire(no uniform though) & were shaking their heads disapprovingly as if to say NO and kept pointing at my brother’s feet while at the same time wagging their fingers as if to say “no. you can’t use it”. I kept telling them “Sorry. I don’t understand” until they called a random stranger who spoke a bit of english. The guy translated and told us we weren’t allowed to buy anything from the street vendors and that it was illegal and that these men were local police. We were asked to hand in our roller blades to them and just like that, they left.. A few minutes later, when i re-joined my parents and our family friend(who’s originally from Hong Kong but recently moved to Shanghai)and told them what had gone down. She(the family friend) revealed to me that it was probably the work of local con artists and that the police don’t frequent the Bund stopping tourists from buying things like i had been lead to believe. Boy, was i pissed that night. Anyway, i wonder what i would have done if i were in your place(witnessing a pickpocket). And wow, i can’t believe they thieves there are so professional that they were able to steal your husband’s wallet from his fanny pack, of all places…The thieves must practice a lot to get that good at stealing from people. Crazy.

    1. Wow… that was so wrong.. you guys were just kids… there are some very evil people in the world… I was actually amazed with the skill this of this guy I saw.. if i wasnt so upset that he did it.. i would have been impressed with his skill. The lady didnt have a clue.

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