16th Apr 2014
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How not to get mugged overseas
How not to get mugged overseas

Whether it’s having your wallet stolen on the subway or being attacked for your valuables, being robbed can ruin a holiday. Follow these tips to avoid being mugged while travelling overseas.

Look less like a tourist. You know those specialty walking shoes, the quick dry trousers, that fold-away rainbird and the nylon camera case you’re planning to take? They may be convenient, but they make you stand out like a sore thumb. When travelling wear your normal clothes - jeans, a skirt, a t-shirt. Whatever you would normally wear. Take your normal handbag, and instead keep your valuables in a travel pouch tucked under your clothes. The handbag is for your scarf and an umbrella.

If it’s not too big, keep your camera in your hand and put your hand in your pocket when you’re walking around. It keeps it out of sight, making you less of a target.

Don’t be drunk. This one may seem obvious, but it’s also the most common mistake travellers make. If you’re drunk then you’re a potential target, so save the nightcap for when you’re back in your hotel or apartment.

Whether you’re sitting outside at a cafe or you’re out to dinner in a fancy restaurant, never hang your backpack or handbag on the back of your chair. Keep it in sight, preferably on your lap.

Keep your wallet in the front pocket of your trousers, not the back.

Don’t keep all your valuables in one place. Keep money in your wallet, as well as in a money belt and the lining of your suitcase. This way if you do get into trouble, you aren’t left cashless.

Click NEXT to read more tips on how to avoid the danger of muggers.

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    COMMENTS

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    grumpy old woman
    23rd Apr 2014
    10:44am
    Walk purposefully as if you have an appointment and are running a bit short of time. (Muggers can choose targets by how they walk.)
    Carry a folded umbrella in your hand, assuming it isn't actually raining, so that it is clearly ready to become a defensive weapon if attacked.
    MarLin
    23rd Apr 2014
    11:09am
    One trick we learned in the Army more than 50 years ago still works today, anywhere: put notes against the cuffs of a long-sleeved shirt and fold up at least a couple of turns.
    micko
    23rd Apr 2014
    12:33pm
    Look poor....wear plain basic clothes, no gold chains or jewellery, don't display any signs of wealth.
    FrankC
    23rd Apr 2014
    1:37pm
    "Never hang your 'PURSE' on the back of a chair." You're talking to Australians Rachel, not Americans !! This is Australia !!
    Rachel Tyler Jones
    23rd Apr 2014
    2:42pm
    My apologies Frank. I'm part Canadian and occasionally find myself inadvertently using Americanisms. Consider it fixed.
    FrankC
    24th Apr 2014
    2:55pm
    As you are part Canadian, you are forgiven ! :)
    CindyLou
    24th Apr 2014
    11:01pm
    Got to disagree with the comment 'look less like a tourist', given that you are a tourist, visiting iconic sights etc. also the comment about using your normal handbag, got to gin disagree. Did a 2 month trip to Europe, took sensible precautions, the best thing I had was my PAC safe handbag which I wore across my body. Mony belts are good but you have to remove them then going through airport security and put in a tray to then go through x-ray security process. This then means your money belt is seen by all present as you put it back on...the bag is a better option at airports. I used both safety items, the pac safe bag at all times, the money belt all times except at airports. My husband had a PAC safe wallet with a chain, he had a loop inside his trousers front pocket and the wallet was literally attached to him. We also always only had a small amount of money in my bag and in his wallet each day.
    Camera bag: carried in the front, at bad/risky locations, I kept watch on hubby when he took photos, literally stood back to back at some times...theft is really a serious issue in Europe,one of our fellow travelers had a purse stolen in Kotor, Montenegro, was really most distressing.

    Got to be switched in and aware of your surroundings as pick pockets and scammers are really swift.
    MarLin
    25th Apr 2014
    11:36am
    Good point re safeguarding camera when actually taking photos - and don't EVER hand your camera to someone so they can take your photo. You might get lucky, but it's far more likely that they'll take your camera instead! We get around the airport security issue by having our moneybelts in outside pockets of the carry-on bags until we're through security, then head for the toilets to don the belts. I support Micko's comments - don't wear anything flash anywhere outside Australia (and sometimes even within Australia!). You can "look like a tourist" as long as it's not a rich one! I actually revel in the opportunity to get around SE Asia in daggy shorts, t-shirt and sandals - whilst taking normal precautions to safeguard valuables, and having a "healthy" mistrust of everyone: especially those able to get away from you in a hurry, ie taxi, moto, cyclo, rickshaw drivers, etc. In most countries (in SE Asia, at least) you should not only mistrust such people but keep alert for them approaching you at speed, especially from behind, because it's a favourite trick to grab your bag and speed away until you either let go to avoid injury or the strap breaks! (it goes without saying that you should NEVER carry a bag with the strap over your outside shoulder - it should always be over the opposite shoulder, ie over your head).
    happyjoe
    25th Apr 2014
    3:27pm
    I have made many overseas plane trips and always carry my ticket and valuables in a money belt under my clothes. I have never taken it off to go through security or indeed shown it. Obviously I do not carry any metal objects in it.
    Happyjoe
    CindyLou
    26th Apr 2014
    1:23am
    You were lucky with the money belt going through security, I was wasn't so lucky, in Athens did not have metal objects in belt, only cash. Maybe the belt zipper set off the metal detector, all happened so fast...security person demanded I put the belt through the x-ray thingy, it was then in the tray for all to see whilst the security did a pat down...I protested that I wanted to keep a visual watch on the belt...security woman was a pig didnt care abouut this, I allowed the pat down but managed to keep a visual observation..not very pleasant experience.
    Pardelope
    26th Apr 2014
    1:50am
    I was wearing shoes with small decorative buckles. They set off the airport security when I was seeing someone off at Perth. Possibly the security scanners vary in sensitivity in different airports.
    MarLin
    26th Apr 2014
    11:59am
    Our money belts have plastic zippers so there's no metal at all. But scanning sensitivity is not the issue. We've adopted the routine of only wearing them after we've been through security since we saw a woman being routinely patted down by airport security and the guard felt "something" around her waist so made her take it off in full view of everyone. Much easier all round to put trouser belts, phones, money belts and anything else that might set off the scanner OR the security guard into carry-on bags until through security - it helps make for hassle-free flying.
    Pardelope
    25th Apr 2014
    5:09pm
    Avoid wearing jewellery or watches which will attract attention. I know a woman who was travelling in a vehicle with an open window. A small bike went past at speed and her earring was ripped from her ear. It was not a diamond, but it looked like one. She had to have stitches for the injury.
    MarLin
    26th Apr 2014
    12:06pm
    My Vietnamese sister-in-law told us recently that she and her friends now always remove wedding etc rings before heading outside in Saigon (they've always removed necklaces and bracelets and continue to marvel at the "stupid tourists" who don't). Why? Because the old "ride-by" thefts have taken an ugly turn in the past 12 months or so and several women have had their fingers chopped off by thieves on motorbikes who simply draw alongside so the back-seat passenger can lean over, grab the rider's bejewelled finger on the handlebar and swiftly hack it off - taking the ring with it. Very few tourists would be game enough to ride a motorbike around Saigon but, if you do, be warned!
    Pardelope
    25th Apr 2014
    5:23pm
    Remember, in many countries, the locals believe that all tourists are wealthy and ripe for the picking. Many survive by opportunistic or planned stealing. Compared to their lifestyle we probably are wealthy and they don't know (or care) that we have been saving for years for "the trip of a lifetime".

    It goes without saying, that showing off a wallet or purse containing much cash or many credit cards is asking for trouble.

    Thousands (that's right, thousands) of tourists are kidnapped each year worldwide - and some are killed. The kidnappers demand ransom from family and governments - who may be unable or unwilling to pay the amounts demanded.

    Always check government notices about particular countries before you plan your trip. The notices can change daily, so stay updated. Some countries are not safe (especially for women). If you must go there, make sure you travel in a well organised and protected group. Do not stray from the group. If your "sixth sense" is warning you about someone or something - don't go.
    Pardelope
    25th Apr 2014
    5:44pm
    Do a Google search for "Tourist kidnappings" or take a look at the article about the top ten places for kidnappings at http://www.eturbonews.com/35587/top-10-places-where-tourists-get-kidnapped
    Pardelope
    25th Apr 2014
    5:52pm
    Check out the Government "Smart Traveller" website at http://smarttraveller.com.au and http://smartraveller.gov.au/zw-cgi/view/TravelBulletins/Kidnapping


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