Depending on where you are, you might not have to think much about getting mugged or pick-pocketed but in some places, it’s unfortunately a common reality. There are however some preparatory steps you can take to prevent being pick-pocketed by a predator and they begin before you leave home.

A Valuable Equation

First thing first: if someone pulls a gun, knife, or is violent with you in a robbery, give up your things. Your life shouldn’t be a valuable in this equation, but your belongings, those we can work with. When it comes to your valuables it’s a good idea to carry some decoys, depending where you’re traveling, and the general crime levels. Your wallet is a good place to start. To begin with, don’t carry all of your bank and credit cards and cash with you at all times.

travel cash

Also, never keep your wallet in your back pocket.

Only bring the amount of cash you’ll need during your time out. Going out to dinner? Bring what the cash you need for a meal out and some extra. If you’re going out for $5 tacos, you don’t need to have $500 on you. Have, say, $50 with you. Now, instead of one massive bill, break it into a some tens, fives, and ones. You can keep a little in one pocket, your sock, and some in a wallet. The idea is to have your money spread out so you have something to hand over to a potential crook but without losing all of your money.

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Fast Action


A lot of times during a mugging just throwing a money clip or wallet on the ground is enough to quickly end the situation. This is where a decoy wallet comes into play. Another thing to add to your decoy wallet are old, expired credit cards just to be a bit more convincing. You can even order some decoy cards and expired ones work too but keep in mind they reveal your name. Your ID, you want to keep that separate if possible and not attached to your money in a clip or in your wallet. This way you can slip out your wallet or decoy without having to give up your ID as well.

decoy credit card

Passport Control

In most foreign countries, a photocopy of your passport or ID card will work just as well as the physical one and leave it less vulnerable to getting lost or stolen. It’s important to know the local rules but where possible, stick to the copy. Older phones you’ve long since replaced also make great decoys and in some places, I would even go so far as to have an old Nokia or burner as my daily driver and leave the more expensive smartphone behind.

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This might all seem like a lot of effort but it’s pretty straightforward – keep your valuables distributed, some cash or cards here, some there, and have decoys which can help against pickpockets as a passive security measure that helps protect the majority of your most valuable items. Keep your decoys on the outside, the easiest places to access, both for you and a potential thief.