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Pickpocketing in Peru

by Michelle Dinos
(Cusco, Peru)

While this form of robbery usually doesn’t result in physical injuries, pickpocketing can leave anyone with a sense of violation. Therefore, to avoid unnecessary stress or paranoia, it is to one’s advantage to learn the various tricks and scenarios used by pickpocketers. Below are a few tips regarding situations that have occurred in Peru (and likely in other parts of the world) when tourists have become the victims of pickpocketing.

Restaurants: Please keep your belongings on your lap or between yourself and the wall. Tourists often commit the error of hanging their purses on their chair while in restaurants. However, the pickpocketers are ready for this. They can enter the restaurant, pretending to be customers, create a distraction and then leave discretely with a purse. This can happen in the blink of an eye and most restaurants have signs claiming that they are not responsible for the loss of belongings. So please take care!

Festivals: When there is a crowd, the pickpocketers mingle as if they were just any other local. Their main targets tend to be cameras or money in pockets. As in restaurants, pickpocketers in festivals also work together. For example, one may distract you by asking you questions, saying that you have a spot on your shirt, etc, while the other makes his/her move. Please beware of distractions!

Local buses: If you decide not to take a taxi in Peru, the other option would be to take the local buses. However, when these buses become crowded they become a great opportunity for pickpocketers. Even if the bus is not crowded, the robbers still have their ways. For example, they may board the bus with a backpack. Once they take their seat, they may “accidentally” place part of their backpack on you, in a false attempt at trying to get comfortable. However, what they are really doing is covering one of your pockets or your purse so that they can quickly take what is inside. Please beware of people getting too close to you, especially in an overly-friendly manner!

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