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Italy, France, Spain: Which European country is worst for pickpockets?

Travel insurance comparison experts at Quotezone.co.uk have released a report ranking European countries for the risk of being pickpocketed.
Travel insurance comparison experts at Quotezone.co.uk have released a report ranking European countries for the risk of being pickpocketed. Copyright Jeff Ackley
Copyright Jeff Ackley
By Rebecca Ann Hughes
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Here are the countries where you most likely to be at risk of pickpockets and how you can protect yourself against them.

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Thousands of people every year deal with the nightmare of having their valuables stolen while abroad. Tourists are often targeted as they are less aware of their surroundings.

In busy areas and around popular attractions, travellers have to be particularly vigilant to avoid becoming a victim.

So where are you most likely to be at risk of pickpockets and how can you protect yourself against them?

Which is the worst European country for pickpockets?

Travel insurance comparison experts at Quotezone.co.uk have released a report ranking European countries for the risk of being pickpocketed.

The company used traveller reviews to calculate the number of pickpocketing mentions at each country’s top five tourist attractions.

The destination with the highest likelihood of being pickpocketed was Italy, according to Quotezone’s European Pickpocket Index.

Visitors to the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain and Pantheon in Rome, the Duomo di Milano in Milan and the Gallerie degli Uffizi in Florence mentioned having items stolen in 1,906 online travel reviews in 2022.

This equates to 463 pickpocketing mentions for every million visitors to Italy’s top tourist attractions - the highest proportion of any European country.

France has the second-highest number of pickpocketing mentions at 283 per million visitors. All five attractions that Quotezone monitored were in the capital city Paris.

The Netherlands ranked third on the pickpocketing index.

Despite Barcelona’s reputation for pickpocketing, Spain only came sixth on the list. Reviews had five times fewer mentions of theft than in Italy.

The countries with the least reports of pickpocketing were the Republic of Ireland, with 30 mentions per million visitors, and Poland with 18.

What are the best ways to protect yourself against pickpockets?

“Theft can happen anywhere and tourist hotspots are convenient places for criminals to target holidaymakers’ wallets and purses whilst they are busy taking in the sites,” says Greg Wilson, Founder and CEO of Quotezone.

“Iconic attractions like the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the Trevi Fountain in Rome are particularly popular with pickpockets as they can move more inconspicuously amongst larger crowds.”

He recommends visitors leave valuables like expensive jewellery in a safe in the hotel. Wilson also suggests travelling with a secure cross-body bag that zips up to keep phones and wallets safe or even a money belt.

“Try never to leave personal belongings unattended because travel insurance companies require travellers to take ‘reasonable care’ and could reject insurance claims for theft if items have been left alone,” he warns.

“It is also important to remember to get a police report for the loss or theft of an item if you’ve been pickpocketed, as this will support the insurance claim.”

It’s also a good idea to have copies of important documents and store them online. Download a ‘find my phone’ app and make sure all your data is backed up and your photos automatically upload to online storage in case your phone is stolen.

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