Hang on to your handbag!
Bob Arno, an author and anti-theft consultant, has traveled the world secretly filming pickpockets. So he knows their tricks and how to thwart them. Here's his advice:
Get a grip
Thieves are just as likely to snatch your purse as to slip a hand inside it to grab a wallet. So keep your handbag tight against your body and in front of you at all times. And when you're sitting down in the food court at the mall, don't sling your purse behind you on the chair. Even if you think you're maintaining physical contact with your bag, leaning forward for just a second is all the opportunity a thief needs to grab it. And never put it on the floor, even if it's in front of you.
They're back in style, but any bag that's not within your view is a juicy target for skilled pickpockets, no matter how securely it's fastened. And avoid purses with open compartments. Bags with zippers are best.
Keep your focus
A classic ploy of purse thieves is to create a diversion—pointing at something, talking loudly, holding open a map and asking for directions, or spilling something on your coat then offering to clean it up. It can happen in a restaurant or a busy mall. Whenever anyone approaches you, be sure to firmly hold your purse and keep it in front of you.
Pare down your wallet
Do you really need to bring all of your credit cards and ID cards with you? Leave everything except the necessities at home. And never routinely carry around anything with your Social Security number on it. (Photocopy all of the cards in your wallet, just in case.)
Be smart with your car
Park in well-lit areas. If it's still daylight but you plan to shop for a while, park under a street lamp or in a well-lit garage. Always put up your windows and lock the car. If you go back to your car to stow packages, put them in the trunk—visible boxes and bags are magnets for thieves. Don't load up with so many packages that your purse dangles from your arm, out of your sight. Take advantage of curbside pickup or ask the store to hold bags for you. If someone tries to grab your purse, don't resist. "It's not worth losing your life over," Arno says. Also, if you have a GPS device in your car, program it so that your "home" setting isn't your home address. Instead, use the school or church down the street, or crooks will know how to get to your house while you're out. GPS thefts are also on the rise, so don't leave any visible trace of one in your car, including the mount.