Skip to main content
King County logo

The skilled pickpocket has an average appearance and "blends in." He or she follows no regular schedule, working both day and night. And if you have been led to believe that picking pockets takes place only in crowds, forget it. They generally focus on the public during times when they might be carrying more money than usual, such as during pre-holiday spending sprees, store sales, at fairs, carnivals, horse races, gambling casinos, near bank entrances, etc.

The best protection for foiling pickpockets is to remove the opportunity of becoming a victim.

If you carry a wallet only

The target areas are back trouser pockets, and suit coat and sport jackets, located inside and out. Most pickpockets avoid front trouser pockets and buttoned or zipped pockets.

  • If it is necessary to carry your wallet in a unbuttoned pants, coat or jacket pocket, be sure it contains only what you can afford to lose.
  • Keep large sums of money, credit cards, identification, etc. in your front pants' pocket or any buttoned or zipped pocket.
  • Keep your keys on a chain attached to your clothing.
  • Never "pat" your pocket to see if your wallet is still there. This notifies the criminal of the location of your valuables.

If you carry a purse

If at all possible, don't carry a purse. If you do, use a purse that is difficult or time consuming to open. When possible, carry your wallet, keys, and other valuables on your person or in an inside pocket,  rather than your purse.

  • If you are wearing a coat, carry a purse worn over the shoulder, but under the coat.
  • Never let your purse lie unattended on a store counter or in a grocery shopping cart.
  • Practice the "buddy system", and shop with a friend when possible.
  • When walking in twos, place your purse between you and your friend.

General tips

  • Carry credit cards and checks instead of cash. Practice carrying only the cards you will be using.
  • Maintain a record of the account numbers at home.
  • Watch your surroundings. Be alert for suspicious persons especially around banks, stores, streets, and your home.
  • At night, stay in well-lighted areas and avoid walking close to shrubbery, dark doorways, or other places of concealment.
  • If you are attacked, don't struggle. Your purse or wallet can easily be replaced; you can't be.
  • Notify police immediately after an attack.