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Most Common Thieve Tactics in Europe, and How to Safeguard Against Them

Italy and France are some of the top travel destinations in the world. Our customers would sometimes tell us where they are headed to with their Anti-theft travel bag, with Rome and Paris often at the top of the mentions list. Since Europe is such a mecca for its culture, food, scenery, history, and shopping, it means there are also unsavory characters trying to take advantage of unsuspecting and distracted tourists. Here are some common tactics to look out for, and how to avoid thieves.


Beware of Pickpockets - Cory Doctorow from Beautiful Downtown Burbank, USA

These are the most common thieves in Europe. Beware of people bumping into you, spilling things on you, or creating distractions (we talk more about distraction scams below). They can either be working alone or as a group. Don't judge by gender, age, or race - a pickpocket can be anyone. 

Pickpockets in Europe would typically walk alongside you, and use a scarf, hanker-chief, or jacket to cover up their hands when approaching your bag. They would be looking for any of the following:

  • Purses with non-zippered openings (think open totes, purses with easy-to-open flaps)
  • Purses being worn on the side or back 
  • Backpacks on your back that can be easily zipped open
  • Distracted tourists who are looking at monuments/art, shopping, eating at a busy sit-down restaurant, or otherwise not paying attention to their belongings

How to stop pickpockets 

Crossbodies are some of the best purses to avoid pickpockets in Europe since they keep your belongings nicely in front of you - making it much harder for thieves to pickpocket without you noticing. Our customers have also told us how our zipper clasps even act as a theft repellant - just the sight of them makes you a less desirable target. 

If you prefer to use a backpack, make sure to keep the zippers closed and secure like our zipper clasps, or wear the backpack on the front of your body, especially when going through crowded areas. 



These thieves use sharp objects to slash bags or purse straps unnoticed. For bag slashers, they are usually looking for more stationary targets, so think of concerts or areas where you may be staring at something for a good while. They would typically cut the bottom of your bag while holding their own bags underneath to capture any belongings that fall through.

Purse strap cutters are a bit more common, and they would look for thin leather straps where they can easily cut and slip your bag off your body - either running off with your bag or distracting you to a point where you don't even notice.  

How to stop purse cutting

Keep your bags closed and straps close to your body. Avoid wearing your bags on your backside.

Slash Resistant Lining for Purses

We've designed our Anti-theft travel bags and straps to counter both bag slashing and purse strap cutting. For our bags, we line them 100% with a slash-resistant material similar to the fabric in bullet-proof vests. A thief will have a hard time cutting into your bag quickly to grab any of your belongings, no matter where they end up cutting.

We also have various strap options that prevent strap cutting. Our faux leather straps may look like regular thin leather straps, but they actually have a steel cable inside them that will stop a knife or blade in its tracks. We also have chain straps that are naturally slash-resistant for those who are looking for a different style of strap.

Distraction scams:

Be cautious of people offering "help" with directions, maps, selling cheap goods, or even simply bumping into you purposefully. These are distraction scams while another person steals your belongings.


@ardencove avoid this really common bracelet scam! 🛍️ for anti-theft water-resistant travel bags with clasps on every exterior zipper #pickpocket #scam #scammerstory #pickpocketing #tourist #touristinitaly #rome #roma #italy #italia #visititaly #visitrome #antitheft #theftprevention #theftproof #theftfail #protect #protectyourself #story #storytimethreads #storytime #travelstories #travelstory ♬ original sound - Arden Cove

How to avoid distraction scams

Try not to make eye contact with anyone trying to sell or offer you items. Common versions of distraction scams involve bracelets, roses/flowers, or simply trying to strike up a conversation with you out of the blue. Just ignore them and don't let them engage with you. Stay vigilant and keep a hand on your items, or consider one of our bags with locking zipper clasps - that is how our customer stayed safe when she experienced this firsthand!

@ardencove avoid this really common bracelet scam! Thanks to Brooke for sharing your review! 👜 Crissy mini in navy 🛍️ for anti-theft water-resistant travel bags #pickpocket #scam #scammerstory #pickpocketing #tourist #touristinitaly #rome #roma #italy #italia #visititaly #visitrome #antitheft #theftprevention #theftproof #theftfail #protect #protectyourself ♬ original sound - Arden Cove

ATM scams:


ATM scams can come in different forms and tactics. Some of the more straightforward scams would be machines that are rigged to steal your information with data skimming. Another one that is also common is when thieves offer to help you with the ATM. They end up stealing your information or trick you into keeping your session going so they can withdraw to their heart's content. 

How to avoid ATM scams

Use ATMs inside banks or well-lit areas. Be wary of anyone offering to help you, and cover your PIN with your hand. Also double check that your session has closed completely so that those "helpful" thieves won't just continue with the session and pull everything out of your account. 

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