15 Pickpocket Tricks Тhat Will Fool You

Pickpockets are not just street masters of sleight of hand but very smart psychologists. Some of them gain so much knowledge in their "area of expertise" that they even get invited to participate in different research projects studying human consciousness.

WeGoRo brings you our favorite psychological ploys (based on the investigation of German website Deutsche Welle) to make you aware and to help you prevent these situations from happening.

The classic — a push on the street

One pickpocket “accidentally“ bumps into a victim. Another one, ”accidentally" passing by, takes the wallet from the victim’s purse or pocket. Sometimes the 2 thieves act like they are fighting in public to distract someone and make them lose focus.

Headphones trick

People wearing headphones are an easy target because they are already distracted by their music. The easiest thing is to steal their phone: petty thieves carefully unplug the headphones cord and take the phone. Music lovers will first blame the headphones and look at them. It will take them a while to figure out what happened. This method works especially well in a subway entrance — people focus on looking for their pass or money and don’t pay much attention.

Bold subway frauds

  • In rush hour, if you are the last person to get into the subway car and you’re standing next to the doors, hold your stuff tightly. There is a kind of pickpocket that runs to the subway doors a second before they close and openly grabs things from your hands. Before you realize what’s happening, the doors will be closed.
  • If someone intrudes on your personal space and maybe even pushes you, never turn your back on them! That’s the whole point: you’ll be facing toward others, and your bag will be on display. At the same time, the thief could look totally innocent, perhaps just staring at their phone or reading.

Restaurant tricks

  • If you hang your coat on the chair, you basically beg dishonest people to rob you. All they need to do is distract you. For example, there might be a fight at the next table. While you’re enjoying the live show, their accomplice will snatch your things.
  • If you leave your coat in a public locker room, your pockets might be cleared out by the owner of the coat next to yours. They will pretend to be looking for something in their own coat’s pockets.
  • If you see a group of people that obviously came together but spread out, sat separately, and are talking on the phone, you can be sure that they are trying to find a victim.

Map trick

There are thieves in tourist crowds who pretend to be tourists themselves. They will show you a map and ask for your help in locating something. And while you are sincerely trying to help, a fake tourist will dip into your bag or pocket. You should be suspicious if they are trying to get the map as close to your face as possible.

Spilling method

This trick is mostly staged near ATMs. A pickpocket spills a drink or drops an ice cream on a victim who has just withdrawn cash. Then the thief heartily apologizes, helps to clean up the clothes, and clears out the pockets.

Kids in need

Kids in small groups enter a restaurant. They all look homeless and hungry and have written signs asking for help. While you are feeling sorry for the poor kiddies and look for some change, young businessmen get everything they can from your table and pockets. Most often it’s a trap for tourists abroad.

Flower excuse

Have you ever been psychologically attacked by a homeless person trying to sell you a flower or a stuffed toy for a dirt cheap price? Don’t buy it, even if they beg, try hugging you, or shake your hand! They are simply trying to distract you and take your watch or clean out your pockets.


From time to time you see these selfless people who are trying to get others to sign petitions or raise funds for a cause. While you are reading the brochures or signing something, one of the kind strangers will sweep up your valuables.

Drunk and vulnerable

This method usually works on people drinking in bars — those who are not able to think clearly. Some random person will bet you that they can guess your weight by just lifting you up. While holding you, the thief will get hold of your wallet or phone. Doesn’t seem clever? We bet you would consider it genius if you were drinking.

Porter service

This ploy usually works on older or disabled people: a thief offers to carry heavy bags to the door, takes them, and runs up the stairs, checking for a wallet on their way.

Grocery store trap

If you are that person that likes placing your purse in the shopping cart, you can fall victim to a very simple trick. These guys usually timidly ask for your help with finding or reaching a certain product. While you are trying to help, focusing on the task, some things from your purse might go missing. Most likely you’ll realize it only when you have to pay the cashier.

Who is the criminal?

Looks deceive us every day. Surely you can remember times when people pretty on the outside turned out to be jerks or when the most ordinary-looking person had the biggest heart. It’s hard to recognize a pickpocket by the way they look, and most of the time they are not going to have a typical "criminal" face. To avoid being robbed, stay alert and, instead of judging а book by its cover, pay attention to suspicious behavior.

Preview photo credit depositphotos