29 Changes In Clothing Fashion That Made Stealing Easier Or Harder, As Shared By Former Pickpockets And Magicians Online

Sometimes, you just wish you could have eyes in the back of your head. After all, whether you’re traveling abroad or strolling around in your own crowded area, slick pickpockets may be watching your every move. With larceny-theft cases soaring in many American cities such as San Francisco, Chicago, and NYC, lifting phones and wallets seems to only be getting easier. And not only because tricksters have mastered their sleight of hand movements — our wardrobe choices affect their steals too.

So Redditor Sir_Slamalot decided to learn more about the tips and tricks of the trade to take some precautions. And the people they turned to for guidance? Yup, snatchers and magicians themselves. They reached out to the Ask Reddit community with a question: "Former pickpockets of Reddit, what changes in clothing fashion made your job harder/easier?" And boy, the responses came flying in!

Below, you’ll find some handy and surprising replies Bored Panda has gathered from the thread that made us seriously revisit cargo shorts and fanny packs. So take out your notebooks and grab your pens to ensure that the next pocket that gets picked isn't yours! Continue scrolling, upvote the answers you agree with, and be sure to share your own takes in the comments below. And if you’re in the mood for even more safety tips and tricks, check out our previous post where ex-burglars reveal secrets about protecting yourself against theft.

#1

I know several magicians who use pickpocket skills in their act, they all agree that the small and shallow pockets common in women's pants make pickpocketing easier.

Image credits: Rhanii

#2

Saw an ex-pickpocket talking about his trade on telly once. (Yes we've reached that point in the barrel!) He said that they would stand near the London Transport posters warning passengers on the tube against pickpockets. The passengers would instinctively pat the pocket their wallet was in to check it was still there. Then the pickpockets would follow them and dip the pocket they'd patted.

Image credits: lavachequipisse

#3

While in Europe and sitting at a restaurant, our waiter warned us that 'tourists' will come up to you with a map and ask for directions. They hold the map out over your table and then take your phone if it's just sitting there on the table.

People being careless with their wallets/phones while sitting can make you an easy target.

Image credits: kdgsmiley

#4

I live in Nottingham, Shottingham, there are gang pickpockets that go to clubs after phones.

Never happened to me but heard a lot about it. They wait until you're drunk and in a crowded part of the club, bump into you and slip it out.

So being sober or wearing clothes that make you look more sober I'd say.

Image credits: anon

#5

Not a pickpocket but have a relevant story to share.

I live in Europe and during the summer months the pickpockets come out in full force. One of their "tricks/traps" is to approach you and try to distract you with a football (soccer) ball being dribbled around you, or in my case the dude just straight up came up to me and said he wanted to "dance". So he grabbed my arm (as if to dance), put his other arm on my waist and started swinging me side to side. As I told him to stop and break his grasp, my wife notices his other hand is slowly trying to pull out my wallet from my pocket. So she runs up to him and slaps his hand off of me. (He ran off having been caught red handed)

Problem is I was wearing skinny jeans at the time and my wallet might as well been glued to my pants. Not much room to operate with them on.

Image credits: huazzy

#6

Relevant experience. I was getting off the subway in central Athens. In retrospect I was a perfect mark, carrying two bags jetlagged and a bit disoriented. Was walking away from a train and a guy was running to catch the train going the opposite direction. Just bumped into me ever so slightly and it took a few seconds to register that I felt the slightest hint of his hand going into the breast pocket of my suit jacket. By the time it registered I turned around and caught his eye just as the doors to the train were closing. And I grinned. My suit was a special travel jacket (the "Envoy") made by Rohan with zip pockets on the inside and some other nice features. Definitely saved me as that was where my wallet was.

Image credits: BuddyBizarre

#7

I'm a 23 year old and a magician. I do a bit of pickpocketing and reverse pickpocketing during my routine. Anyone who is wearing tight clothing, or shorts has made it pretty much impossible to steal from or ditch items to. Anyone wearing a hoodie has made it super god damn easy.

UPDATE: Also I should say that if you come up to me wearing a suit, and suit pants I'm going to steal everything you have by the end of my show. It's stupid easy to steal from someone wearing a suit.

Image credits: riso2015

#8

As a white girl travelling alone in Manila I was a huge target. Twice I caught children (like under 8) with their hands in my purse.

Luckily I'm a pretty seasoned traveller. The purse is really more for a water bottle, a snack, maybe a map etc. Very small amount of cash in my front pocket ( tight-ish pants) and a money belt with the essentials (more cash, credit card, passport or photocopy, depending on the rules of the particular country)

That said, I once had my wallet picked out of my purse at a bar when I was in my home city. Apparently I'm only cautious when overseas...

Image credits: canadiangrlskick

#9

I had a pair of trousers once that stopped a guy picking my wallet. The pockets had a narrow opening, but were wider on the inside, so I could only pass them through the opening in a certain way. Whenever I put my wallet back in the pocket, I rotated it 90° inside the pocket to prevent (originally only accidental) loss, but this also stopped a boy pickpocket in Berlin from getting successful. He managed to get away, though.

Image credits: Treczoks

#10

Worked as a magician that did pick pocketing in my act. No one wears watches anymore. Those that do wear stupid plastic fitbits. Those bands are harder to lift. Also, people don't wear their shirts tucked in as often. Harder to lift a wallet with the shirt covering the pocket. It can be done but it's hard to identify where the wallet is in the first place. Finally, those losers (yes,you are a total loser) that wear their pants sagging down and their a*s hanging out, it's super easy to pick a wallet, but it's impossible to see where the wallet is if it's not sticking out. Plus, I am guessing these stars of fashion don't have much in the wallet to begin with.

Image credits: mrwhibbley

#11

Interesting how no one has mentioned wearing a "decoy" wallet. I buy old wallets at garage sales, etc., over the summer, and when I travel, I have a decoy wallet in my back pocket with a "Hey! F**k you!" note in it.

Image credits: catsfive

#12

Cargo shorts made it soooo easy to snag phones and wallets from my friends. I'd always do it as a party gag.

Image credits: anon

#13

Not a pick pocketer , but have lived in pretty bad pickpocketing capitals (NYC and Paris) and never had a problem. Also a woman, so that makes things easier fashion-wise.

Keep your purse in front of you. If it's to the side, at least keep the zipper in front of you. Ideally keep your hand over the zipper/opening. Strap across the body if possible

Use coats with interior pockets. No one can get to them unless your coat is open.

If you're on a bus or subway, pay extra attention/keep a good grip on your stuff while the doors are open. Not exactly pick pocketing but someone can rip your phone from your hands and run off the subway just as the doors are closing.

Don't trust anyone approaching you on the street. I'd rather be rude than have something bad happen to me.

tl;dr don't put s**t where someone can just reach in and grab it and your s**t won't get taken

Image credits: muffintaupe

#14

I store important things like my phone and cash in my bra. Best pocket ever, since women don't get pockets on their pants. Plus I figure I would notice a hand down my shirt.

Image credits: artreject

#15

Obligatory not a pickpocket, but I was told a good method was to wrap your wallet with a rubber band or two. Makes it much harder to pull it out. My brother tried it, and told me he had trouble pulling it out normally.

Image credits: Roman_Statuesque

#16

Chains... tough guys who like to wear chains are great targets! They're normally too cocky to pay attention to anyone other then who they are talking to and their chain is normally connected to a wallet. In a club setting with so many people (and distractions) it is remarkably easy to bump into someone while lifting their wallets free from their back pockets and having your spotter come in for the snatch and grab. 75% of the time they won't notice until you're already gone and the rest of the time you have a perfect exit strategy.

Had family with a legally questionable definition of fun

Image credits: RecreationalChaos

#17

I travelled Europe for 6 weeks last year, I kept my wallet and phone in my back pockets and always carried my bag on my back. I honesty never even thought about my things being stolen. The only time I was aware about pickpockets was in Paris, in the train station. A group of 4 young teenagers, two girls and two boys. They were lingering at the entrance and would watch for unsuspecting travellers. They would line up behind you in the line to get your ticket and try to steal your stuff. Luckily for us the nice lady in front of us, knew what they were trying to do and pointed them out to us. They weren't too impressed about that haha.

Image credits: Southell

#18

In a cracked article by a former pick pocket, apparently skinny jeans are like safes for your wallet.

Image credits: timesuck897

#19

A skirt. Sew a pouch on the inside all around the waist band, as soon as you grab something drop it in, and so one will even be able to tell that it's there.

Image credits: anon

#20

Women's pants where it looks like they have pockets but don't, it just becomes me randomly feeling the side of a women's leg

Image credits: Gooblygoo68

#21

We were in Europe earlier this fall. I wore pants that had zippers on the pockets where I kept my wallet, they would tug at the pants so I would easily notice. My credit cards, extra cash and passport were in a money belt under my shirt. I never thought about my watch being taken, a cheap Timex.

We noticed people wearing their backpacks on their chest, not on their backs, mostly in Paris.

Image credits: NWBoomer

#22

Late to the thread but the number of high-schoolers that just leave their phones and wallets on tables and walk away from them to get food is absurd. Also the lanyard out the pocket thing is basically asking for someone to tug it out.

Image credits: yonil9

#23

The fanny pack made things very difficult for a while, thankfully it's not very fashionable anymore. Doesn't mean I don't wear one...

Image credits: speaklouderpls

#24

The wallet chain.

But only cause how cool and hardcore it looks, would never pickpocket such a badass, scared they might kick my a*s if I got caught.

Plus, jnco pockets are really deep, just not practical for pickpocketing.

Image credits: b8le

#25

Leggings have made it impossible.

Baggy jackets and shirts inspired by hipsters on the other hand, has made my job a lot easier. Sadly, they only usually have roll up tobacco on them, so it's not worth it.

Image credits: TheWindCriesVee

#26

The button on the back pocket for guys. Like in cargo short or something similar. It's still just as easy to get stuff out of their front pockets, but if you were going for the wallet... Well just don't. (Velcro is super simple, buttons are a b***h). Also, no i didn't steal from people. I learned how to pick pocket on my friends because I'm a bit of a prankster. Nothing is more fun than watching your friends at the bar pull out each others wallet from their back pockets when they go to pay the tab.

Image credits: psy_kick

#27

I can pick a watch, but with the advent of cel phones, nobody really wears watches anymore...

The same is true for cigarette tricks, not nearly as many smokers as there used to be.

Image credits: MisterMaury

#28

Surely the iPhone jammed into the shallow back pocket of girls jeans so the top half is just right there on display must be the biggest invitation? Hell, I've been tempted to have a go just to see how easy it is.

Image credits: TheSump

#29

Won't give specifics, but joggers.

Joggers.

Joggers have crazy leg room, and most people with joggers are teens with rich parents, meaning if there's a wallet it has 400 at least, if there's a phone its usually an expensive one. Vape pens are commonly seized as well

Image credits: anon