Theft & Scams

While there’s no doubt in ones mind that there’s plenty of fun to be had on vacation, there’s also a lot that could potentially go wrong for those of us who tend to be gullible. Just remain cautious and don’t be overly trusting and then the odds shall be with you. And if it does happen, just don’t let it ruin your vacation that you’ve spent all these months saving up for. Life is just too short to let some greedy individual take the fun out of your vacay, as material things are always replaceable–and you may even have some sort of insurance to cover the deed. Life is just too short for pity. Now here’s how to avoid these scams and thieves to begin with and keep your vulnerability to a minimum.


Here’s 3 Ways To Outsmart Thieves

1. Wear A Fanny Pack – Stay aware of your belongings at all times and avoid putting yourself into risky situations. Stay in the better parts of town and don’t be hesitant about taking a taxi if you feel any sense of fear whatsoever. Our first tip involves wearing a nice secure fanny pack (some call it a money belt) under your clothes at all times. While it may not be thew least bit stylish and may remind you of something your grandmother once wore, it’s a great way to stay organized and out of harms way. It also helps when your undressing each day, as you won’t have to keep emptying out your pockets and switching them to your latest attire. Convenience and safety go hand in hand in this case.

2. Leave your valuables Behind – The last thing you want is to look like a target in a place where you are concerned about your safety. Especially for those who don’t plan on seeing anyone they really know or want to get to know, leave all the flashy designer goods back in your safe closet at home, or even in the hotel room if you know you’re going into a part of town where you’d stand out amidst the crowds. Your expensive gear, like a laptop, is much safer in your room than with you all day, as they can be a pain to have to carry and an even bigger pain to have to keep up with. Theft happens and the last thing you want is to intice those less fortunate to make their desperate move.

3. Steer Clear of Commotions – Avoid commotion at all costs and back away from any observance of it, as it can often mean theft is on the horizon. Large crowds can easily provide thieves with plenty of targets, opportunities, and easy escape routes with the worst of intentions. Take turns watching the bags with your travel partner and never set down a bag while you wait in line. Do what ever it takes to stay safe.


Here’s 8 Popular Scams & Rip-Offs

1. Slow Count With Cash  Cashiers who deal with lots of tourists will count your change back with odd pauses in hopes that you will snatch up the money early and takeoff with the wrong amount. Also, when you pay with an extraordinarily large a bill, cabbies or waiters may pretend to drop a large bill and pick up a hidden small one in order to shortchange a tourist. Or a cab driver may even be reluctant to give you your change or simply try to persuade you to let them keep the rest. Don’t let these crooks fool you over with their sob stories or mischievous antics. You know better than to believe these fools.

2. The Lover – Don’t fall for any sketchy quick love story, as odds are that the only love here is the love of money. This case often begins with a guy being approached by a pretty woman on the street. Right after a quick chat, she seductively invites him for a drink at a nearby nightclub, where he is quick to receive a bill for far more than he may have thought. Then he notices the bouncers guarding the exits and is forced to spend hundreds on a greedy, good for nothing, gold digger of a fake date. Don’t fall for this one my friend, just don’t do it.

3. The Splat – This trick often involves someone who spills ketchup on your shirt, or just drops something, and repeatedly apologies while cleaning it up…and meanwhile cleaning out your pockets while you aren’t really looking. Or someone could even toss a baby into your arms as your pockets are picked. If an elderly woman falls starts toppling over out of nowhere, take a big step back and you’re likely to see some homegrown guys around here, prepared to make their moves on you.

4. Chatty Cashy – The shop’s cashier may seem to be speaking on their phone when you hand them your credit card, yet they could really be just taking a picture or video of your card all along. This often happens at less “legit” places like food carts or family owned operations. Whenever you see them on the phone, simply step away and go somewhere else, as this is really unprofessional in the first place. Or just stick with with good ‘ole cold hard cash.

5. Helpful Locals – Thieves often approach you and try to help you with directions, especially if you’re starting to look a little lost. Then they may chat with you for a few minutes and then plead for help at the very end, leaving you pressured to give them a few bucks. When you pull out your wallet, this could also be a great time for them to snatch the whole thing right out of your hands! Stay away from anyone standing around and dying to help you! Odds are that they are in it for the wrong reasons! If someone wants to help you use an ATM or in a train or subway station, politely refuse, as odds are that they either are looking to plead for a tip at the end or they’re just after your PIN code.

6. Young Thief Gangs – These munchkins involve groups of boys or girls with sweet stories and raggedy clothes tha tthey just snatched up from the Goodwill to play out this prank. As they hold up their pathetic message scrawled on cardboard, you’re fooled into thinking that they’re beggars, all the while, your purse or backpack is being searched or snatched.

7. Fake Police – A few thieves in uniform stop you on the street, flash their bogus badges, and ask to check your wallet for counterfeit bills or “drug money.” You won’t even notice some bills are missing until after they leave–that’s why you should never flat out hand your wallet to anyone at all. Think things through before just assuming that one is the real deal.

8. Faux Room Inspectors – There’s a knock at your door and someone (or two) claims to be a room inspector. While you’re distracted, your valuables can be snatched up right before your very eyes. Don’t let people into your room if you weren’t expecting them, as you should always confirm with the front desk before some random inspector starts playing games–especially if it’s at odd hours.


Now you will know before you go, all thanks in part to the US City Traveler! Have you ever been involved (or nearly fell) for one of these cases? Let us know in the comments section below!

Here’s one final story: I’ll never forget the time we got an email from a friend who claimed they were lost in Europe with not a dollar to their name and needed us to instantly transfer a couple thousand dollars, when it was really an email hacker who was playing off of our ignorance. These are the types of situations that I expect you to avoid! If it looks too good to be true then odds are that it really is!


Taylor Goldblatt

After years of research, travel, and dreams, I have created this website for people like you who want to experience the things that only America can offer. My passion is to explore and share America's greatest destinations and attractions. Follow me on Twitter @USCityTraveler for additional travel tips and ideas.

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