More Common Street Scams Overseas
When sitting at outdoor cafes such as this one in Rome, protect
your shoulder bag from petty thieves by looping the straps under
the leg of your chair and holding the bag in your lap.
Photo: Peter Horree, Alamy Images
by Wendy Perrin
*The baby toss
This one happened to a fellow Conde Nast Traveler editor in the line outside the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy. A woman tries to hurriedly hand you an infant -- some actually toss you a doll -- in hopes that you will instinctively drop your bags to catch it. An accomplice then swipes your belongings. Tip: Always keep the strap of your shoulder bag or camera around you. In restaurants and bars, loop straps under the leg of a chair and hold the bag in your lap. (A further caution about shoulder bags in Italy: Purse snatchers on motor scooters have broken tourists' arms.)
*The crowded subway car
In Eastern Europe groups of women and children have been known to waltz into a car in a distracting whirl of colorful scarves and skirts, remove your wallet from inside your pocket, and exit before the doors close -- without your suspecting a thing. In Western Europe subway thieves have put up "Beware of Pickpockets" signs because such signs cause riders to automatically reach for their wallets, thus showing prospective crooks where they are! Tip: Wrapping rubber bands around your wallet makes it more difficult for a pickpocket to extract it. Still, a neck pouch is the best place to keep your cash.
*The phony parking-lot attendant
A colleague visiting the ruins of Pompeii found a parking spot at the nearby train station. She paid the attendant the requested fee, locked her rental . . .