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Pickpockets/Pickpocketing E-mail
City Life - Practical Tips
Written by Peter
When I first came to Xi’an as a tourist more than a year ago, I was told “Xi’an is the pickpocket capital of China”. I like to see things at first hand, and not believe the hype, so I shrugged this off as a comment by someone who fears the unknown. Now a conscientious adventurer is one who is aware of his belongings at all times, to be aware of their surroundings, and to understand that any attempts on you will be a surprise that seems normal.

Something you will notice in Xi’an, is the locals wear backpacks on their front (cancelling out the meaning of the name “backpack”). I understand the need for this if in crowded areas, such as buses. But if leisurely strolling around is there a need for such a fashion statement. Actions like these lead me to believe that this comment about Xi’an being the pickpocket capital, was a rumour started by a  passer-through tourist, who did not stop to ask “why”?.

What makes a potential target of a pickpocketer. Is it the elderly, the young, the rich, the drunk.. A common denominator here is one only the pickpocketer themselves choose. Of the stories I have heard of those who are victims, their age is usually in the mid20s to early30s; and are people who are aware of the potential dangers and hazards.

Could being too conscientious lead to an adventure of fear. Recently, when my parents visited, I advised them of the potential issues of pickpockets and how to stow their valuables in their shoulder bags better. I had a reply of “if you had of told us these problems earlier we would not have come”. This could have been a defensive negative reaction my mother is known for; or, this may have been a reaction as the result of an increase in fear of knowing their valuables could be stolen.

I have travelled through a few different places in China, (and the world); and I have never had any items stolen or lost. I would like to think that I am a conscientious adventurer, but sometimes it is impossible to be aware of your surroundings; especially when you are out in a nightclub that you have never been to, and you are dancing with a girl you have just met, after drinking 6 beers, and you are hoping that when you go outside to have some food that she is not taking you around the corner to her waiting brothers who will take you to an ATM and make you withdraw all your money. Phew.. Enjoy life!

So, back to Xi’an.. Yes there is many places around town that you should be very aware of your belongings.. and I know people who have had things pickpocketed from their bags and/or pockets in these areas: XiaoZhai, Dongda Jie, Muslim Street, McDonalds, those steps between Bell Tower and Starbucks, any bar or nightclub, buses and taxis..

My top 5 tips to minimise pickpockets:

  1. If you are worried about it being stolen, leave it at home
  2. Put two or three things in each pocket, the tighter the pocket the harder to pull it out quickly
  3. If you can tie it to something (like with the strap of a phone or camera), then tie it
  4. If using a backpack put the most valuable things as close to your back as possible
  5. Don’t ever look like you are lost. Lost  = Target!

Our valuable Editor Peter has been with us since Saturday, 11 July 2009.

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0 #4 EasyMatt 2011-11-13 03:54
6 beers? You have changed...
0 #3 knorrax 2010-03-07 13:02
i have a mousetrap in my bag and pockets. works great
0 #2 1,25l 2009-10-30 12:40
yeah u r right and they stole my new bike in gao xin starbucks! HOLY SHIT!!! it was locked with a fat cryptonite lock! how the fuck did they do that so fast?`@!#*!!
0 #1 xiexun 2009-10-09 14:10
2 bikes of mine were stolen in fron of kfc in gao xin road within a week! they were even locked and in a few minutes time they just stole them. be careful folks.

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