Tips to avoid pickpockets in Europe’s theft capital Rome


Ah, Rome – a city of endless history, breathtaking architecture, and, unfortunately, notorious pickpockets. As travelers are enthralled by the Colosseum, the Pantheon, or the Trevi Fountain, pickpockets are on the lookout, especially during the peak summer months. As the tourist numbers swell, so do the crafty hands of these thieves. But fear not, because Ly Nhat Thu, a seasoned tour guide with extensive experience, is here to guide you with safety tips.

Recognizing the Pickpockets

Forewarned is forearmed. It’s essential to be aware of potential threats. Startlingly, children, often as young as four or five and seemingly innocent with their beggar cups, are part of the ploy. Travelers should be cautious around child beggars, especially if accompanied by seemingly pregnant women. These “pregnant women,” as Thu points out, are often just putting on an act, making them appear harmless while they stealthily engage in theft.

Modus Operandi

Familiar places for these thefts include metro stations. When the train halts, these thieves hurriedly scan for their next target, often looking for Asians touring solo or small groups and the unsuspecting westerners on their debut trip. Thu has even observed their audacity, using their body or even legs to prevent the train doors from closing, ensuring a swift exit or entry.

Safety Recommendations

The art of prevention often lies in simple measures:

  • Passports and Money: Leave your passport in the hotel safe, a photograph on your phone will suffice for identification. Cash? Just take what you need and consider digital payment methods for a majority of your transactions.
  • Commuting Tips: In metros, avoid standing near the doors and always be wary of those behind you. And if you can, choose the emptier first or last cars. On buses, be doubly vigilant. Hold your belongings close and always be alert.
  • Dress Code and Behavior: When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Dress modestly, shun flashy brands, and expensive timepieces. Blend in rather than stand out.
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Italy’s Notoriety for Pickpocketing

Regrettably, Italy tops the list as Europe’s pickpocketing capital, closely trailed by France. This ranking by British insurance comparison site, Quotezone, is based on mentions of theft in reviews on Tripadvisor, the world’s most extensive travel review platform. Europe may offer a rich tapestry of experiences, but thousands have had the unwelcome addition of petty theft to their travel tales.


Traveling should be an enriching experience, not marred by concerns over theft. With knowledge, preparation, and vigilance, tourists can make the most of their Roman holiday while ensuring they return with all their belongings and beautiful memories intact.


  1. Which places in Rome are pickpocket hotspots?
    • Metro stations and tourist attractions are common areas for pickpockets.
  2. Are child beggars in Rome always involved in theft?
    • Not always, but it’s essential to be cautious as they are sometimes used as distractions.
  3. What should I do if I get pickpocketed in Rome?
    • Report the incident to local police and inform your embassy if necessary.
  4. Is it safe to carry a backpack in Rome?
    • Yes, but keep only non-essential items in it, like water or scarves.
  5. How can I pay for services if I carry limited cash?
    • Most places accept digital payments, credit, or debit cards.