Pickpocketing is a skillful and often covert form of theft that involves stealing items from a person’s pocket, bag, or possession without their knowledge. To successfully execute their craft, pickpockets rely on a combination of psychological manipulation, distraction techniques, and keen observation. Understanding what pickpockets look for when stealing can help individuals be more vigilant and protect themselves from falling victim to these crimes.

What are pickpockets looking for when they choose their mark? Pickpockets often target individuals who appear distracted, tired, or preoccupied. Someone engrossed in their smartphone, reading a map, or struggling with a heavy load is an ideal target as they are less likely to notice someone meddling with their belongings.

They are looking for crowded areas, such as public transportation, markets, and events. Crowded areas provide ample cover for pickpockets to blend in, make their moves, and disappear before you realize the theft. The close proximity of people also makes it easier for pickpockets to bump into their target, creating a plausible excuse for their actions.

Are you paying attention, because if you are not pickpockets will thrive on the lack of your situational awareness. Individuals who are unaware of their surroundings or focused on their own thoughts are less likely to notice subtle movements around them. Items placed in easily accessible pockets or bags are prime targets for pickpockets. Wallets, phones, and other valuable items that protrude from pockets or bags are more likely to be snatched quickly and discreetly.

The Take movie: A young pickpocket and an unruly CIA agent team up on an anti-terrorist mission in France.

Pickpockets are skilled in creating distractions to divert their victim’s attention. Common tactics include asking for directions, dropping something, or causing a commotion. While you are momentarily distracted, the pickpocket can swiftly steal an item. Pickpockets use casual contact, such as bumping into you or brushing against you, to gain access to pockets and bags. The physical contact is often so subtle that you will  remain unaware of the theft until it’s too late.

They pay attention to how you carry your belongings. Loose or easily accessible clothing, open bags, and unsecured zippers make it easier for them to carry out their thefts. They aren’t slow. Pickpockets often work swiftly, taking advantage of moments when you’re in a hurry. This rush can lead to hurried actions and less attention paid to your belongings. People tend to underestimate the risk of pickpocketing, especially when they are in familiar or seemingly safe environments. This overconfidence can play into the hands of pickpockets who exploit this sense of security. Basic precautions, such as using zippers, buttons, or locks on bags, can deter pickpockets. Additionally, carrying valuables in inside pockets or using a money belt can make theft more challenging.


To protect oneself from pickpocketing, it’s essential to be mindful of one’s surroundings and adopt preventive measures. Awareness, cautious behavior, and simple security steps can go a long way in deterring pickpockets and safeguarding personal belongings. By understanding the tactics that pickpockets use and being proactive in preventing such thefts, individuals can significantly reduce their vulnerability to this form of crime.

*The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Spotter Up Magazine, the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.


By Michael Kurcina

Mike credits his early military training as the one thing that kept him disciplined through the many years. He currently provides his expertise as an adviser for an agency within the DoD. Michael Kurcina subscribes to the Spotter Up way of life. “I will either find a way or I will make one”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.