Seven Common Pick Pocket Tricks and How to Prevent Them

Seven Common Pick Pocket Tricks and How to Prevent Them
Feb 05, 2015 Translated by

Editor’s note: This time of year is notorious for an increase in burglaries, muggings and pick-pocketing as the country gears up for Spring Festival. Reasons for the increase in criminal activity are varied; larger crowds, the fact that people are carrying more cash on them for Hongbao and people leaving their houses empty are just a few of the things that make this time of year perfect for thieves.

Whatever the reasons, you need to be extra vigilant during this time; both at home and when out in public. This translated article details the most common strategies used by thieves and how to avoid them.

Every year, during Spring Festival, there is a substantial increase in pick pocketing throughout China. A Chinese news company interviewed the Shanghai railway police about different forms of pick pocketing that have occurred over the years. The police summed up seven different methods that pickpockets often use and shared tips on how to prevent being robbed.

1) “Squeezing through the crowd”

Pickpockets will squeeze through large crowds of passengers on a train or at the ticket line and steal their mobile phones or money while pretending to try to push through the crowd.

How to Avoid: Do not put your cell phone or wallet in any outside pockets. If you are carrying a backpack do not hold it behind you. Instead, wear it on your chest with your hand across it in order to prevent theft.

2) “Traditional pick pocketing”

Pickpockets to use their hand or some kind of tweezers to reach into travelers’ bags and front and back pockets in order to steal their wallets and cell phones.

How to Avoid: Do not follow large crowds into car doors or when getting on the train.

3) “Stealing from an unattended bag”

Pickpockets will wait beside the water fountain or the toilet and wait for passengers to get a drink or wash their hands in the bathroom. In those few moments when the passenger is distracted, the pickpocket will try to take something from their luggage.

How to Avoid: Even if you leave your luggage for a moment, make sure there is someone you trust looking out for it. Never have your items out of sight!

4) “Hanging up the coat”

The pickpocket will put his coat on a coat hook and pretend to dig through the pockets. However, he is actually looking through the pockets of the other coats hanging near his coat.

How to Avoid: Never put anything valuable or money on a coat that you hang up on a coat rack or a coat hook.

5) “Going through the luggage rack”

The pickpocket will put their bag with other bags on the luggage racks. Then, under the guise of getting something from their own luggage, they will stealthily transfer money and other items from other bags on the rack into their own bag.

How to Avoid: Passengers in hard seats can put their luggage under their feet, tucked under their legs. If you need to put your luggage in the overhead luggage racks you should put it diagonally in front of your own seat so it is directly in your line of sight.

6) “Switching bags”

Pickpockets will have a bag that is the same shape and color as that of a passenger's. When the passenger is not paying attention the pickpocket will switch their bag with the passenger's bag.

How to Avoid: When discovering that this has happened, travelers should try to switch the bags back if possible and if not possible, write up a report. However, travelers should keep any valuables or money on their person or under their seat.

7) “Using a blade”

Late at night, when train passengers are sleeping, pickpockets will cut off passenger's money and goods using a knife. The pickpocket may cut off part of a bag in order to get at the passengers items.

How to Avoid: Don't carry a lot of cash and carry bank cards instead. If you need to carry large amount of money and you are traveling with others, try to sleep in shifts. You should also put your cash in a few different locations on your person and in your bags to avoid pickpockets taking all of your money.


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Keywords: Pick pockets in China Safety tips for China


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its happens all over the world not only in china.

Feb 03, 2017 09:42 Report Abuse



yeah, but how do I keep from being hounded by snot dribbling beggars?

Mar 24, 2015 12:25 Report Abuse



i just got schooled , never believed it would ever happen to me ..especially coming from africa :D

Feb 10, 2015 11:55 Report Abuse



4 years ago, on my third week in china, some dude attempted to pickepocket me in sanya with a big ass pair of tweezers, i promptly beat the shit out of him and stole his phone and his bag, passers by who witnessed the entire thing still blamed me and were eady to jump me. Handed the phone and bag into the police station. Nothing like that has happened to me before or since, scary situation.

Feb 06, 2015 13:13 Report Abuse



Sneaky bastards.....

Feb 06, 2015 08:59 Report Abuse



I would like to summarize this entire article to some mystical knowledge my parents and teachers taught me in school. Mystical western cultural knowledge! "Watch your stuff, put valuables in inner-pockets and when someone is around your stuff (ie bag, luggage), watch them like a hawk." Thieves don't just watch the luggage they watch people. If they see you are some lazy sloth that isn't paying attention to anything, they will mark you and take you down. I haven't had anything stolen from me with almost 10 years in China.

Feb 05, 2015 13:55 Report Abuse



Good opinion but this article served more as a reminder. CNY is the most important holiday for Chinese and most of us will be floating on the way to home. Many of us work far away from hometown so going home once a year becomes much more meaningful. If you could have a chance to be involved,you will see the art of difficulty of handling such mass.

Feb 05, 2015 17:56 Report Abuse



@October 1st - Did you miss the part where I mentioned ALMOST 10 years in China? Wo shuo le, wo zai zhong guo zhu le, shi nian le. Wo ming bai chun jie de shi hou, hen duo ren lai ta men de jia li. Zhe shi pu tong de. It is very crazy, I agree. Tons of people everywhere and many traffic accidents as well.

Feb 05, 2015 18:39 Report Abuse



If China had developed the whole country and not just a few key cities you wouldn't have this problem. People couldn't have found work in their area.

Feb 05, 2015 20:03 Report Abuse



Dear Garbo and Eorthisio.You must be absolutely right! Therefore all European and American streets (including Brooklyn and Harlem) are the safest places day and night!

Feb 08, 2015 17:34 Report Abuse



Right before the CNY? Such a perfect timing, this has to be a foreign conspiracy! Western Values have struck again! Darn you, Western Values! Can't wait China to get back to its traditions of... er... something.

Feb 05, 2015 11:49 Report Abuse



Now it is the CNY period! Reminders are necessary...but sad indeed. We Chinese are grown up in such environment and constantly fear for any losses...This wasted/consumed a lot of our energy. We could use that energy on positive things, indeed.

Feb 05, 2015 11:02 Report Abuse



Do pickpockets happen a lot on sleeper trains? I plan to use them a lot for traveling :(

Feb 05, 2015 10:53 Report Abuse



Theft is common enough on sleeper trains, simply because it is so convenient. Don't be too worried, though. I've used sleeper trains several times (including hard sleepers, where stealing is much easier). With just a modicum of common sense (keep your bag under your bed, don't carry a small fortune with you, exc), you will not be a target. Thieves are like sharks or lions--they go for the easy prey; as Englteachted pointed out, you should be a significantly more difficult challenge than the army of mindless drones on the train with you.

Feb 25, 2015 11:01 Report Abuse



Pay attention and common sense. Sadly the Chinese education system turns people into mindless drones.

Feb 05, 2015 08:45 Report Abuse



By you called "mindlessdrones" made it to the universe ...

Feb 08, 2015 17:31 Report Abuse