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Pickpockets in Naples

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Pickpockets in Naples

Unfortunately, pickpockets in Naples are a major presence, particularly on the crowded trams and buses, and in and around the main railway station. Bus Line R2 is notorious - there are 2-3 pickpockets on every bus. Line R4 is not much better. Some trams have as many as six pickpockets on them at any given time. These can be an old man with a crutch that keeps his hand at the level of your pocket or bag, someone working beneath a small backpack hanging at his front (looking like a tourist protecting his gear), someone very short and so on and on. Crowded buses are worked by gangs of thieves, some of them well past 60 years of age, as follows. Two or three of the fatter ones block the exit at your stop. One or more of their confederates behind you make a fuss about not being able to get off. These are known as "squeeze traps". As you attempt to push past those blocking your way, the individuals behind you go through your pockets. Don't be hurried on crowded buses and trams - miss your stop, if needs be.

The pickpockets in Naples are unusual in going even for the pouch around your neck and under your shirt. They are alerted by confederates at ticket windows and other locations where you are likely to reveal that you have a hidden pouch. On a moving bus, someone pretends to loose his balance and grabs your shirt, removing you pouch in the meantime. Moral: be very discreet about accessing your pouch or money belt, and don't let it show through your clothes.

Individuals will also approach you in the street and offer to shake hands. If you don't resist the temptation to reciprocate, you will find you hand held firmly and being shaken vigorously while the accomplice picks your pockets or openly removes your watch from your wrist.

Basically, the only real protection you can have is to keep your valuables in hidden and/or secure bags, pouches etc whenever possible, under your clothes. This is not pure sales talk - no matter how aware you are, these thieves will get into your gear unless it is secured.


pickpockets in Naples

Turn-style pickpocket in action using a bag as cover

Turn-styles, especially at the entries of underground train systems, are a favourite location for pickpockets in any large city, including Naples, but also Rome, Milan, Barcelona, Paris and Madrid. Sometimes a single pickpocket simply crowds the victim and steals from a bag or back pocket, as in the picture above. More often, a pair work as follows. One suddenly jumps in ahead of the victim and blocks the turn-style by using an invalid ticket. The accomplice pushes and bumps from behind while robbing the victim.

ON NO ACCOUNT buy from or even interact with the people selling cameras, radios etc in the piazzas of Naples. Some actually do sell goods - stolen, of course - but the majority are scam artists using bait and switch techniques to sell you a brick in a box. Stay away from them.

More about pickpockets in Italy.

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