Walking through Leicester Square a while back I discovered, after seeing a film, that my phone, cards and cash had been removed, while I was walking along carrying my bag, totally without my knowing. It was a hobo style shoulder bag with a snap fastening. According to the police Leicester Square is one of the worst areas in London and it happens all the time.
Recently, here in Dallas, I hear of two stories, one of a woman’s shoulder tote being snatched as she walked along, and the other of another girl having her backpack straps cut and laptop, phone, passport and wallet all lost along with the bag.
Which led me to think, do we think enough about the possibility of this kind of thing happening to us? Where are the most likely places? Not just for travel, but anywhere, any time. And what can we do to avoid bag theft, or having your bag picked. I enjoy carrying my handbags, some by premium designers, some less expensive and I don’t want to switch to something else.
Frankly I know that I, and possibly you, don’t pay enough attention to what could happen in a moment of carelessness. So here are some pointers.
The most likely places to have things stolen out of your bag are the crowded ones. In a queue, in a sightseeing spot, on a crowded train.
Look out for people asking you for directions when you’re away, particularly if there’s more than one of them. Distraction is a tool much used by bag thieves and pickpockets. By all means be helpful, of course they’re probably for real, but you never know.
On the subway, tube or metro be very careful of your bag. Hold it in your lap firmly and don’t be distracted by your mobile phone. Thieves love smartphones. Another friend had his grabbed from his hands on the Paris Metro at a stop and the thief scarpered. He gave chase, but he didn’t get it back.
Don’t put your bag down on the floor in a store or anywhere else unless it’s attached to your person in some way. You’re just making it easy for someone to run by and steal it.
So many walk around with their phone sticking out of a back pocket – that’s just asking for it. These people know how to take your phone and you won’t feel a thing.
Clutch bags seem great because you have to hold on to them. They’re not so great when you put them down on the counter – everything, bag, wallet, phone, can be gone with one swipe.
Thieves go for the easy option – Your bag on the floor, hung on the back of your chair, that open tote, cross body bag hanging behind you, a clutch bag on the table, that moment when you’re distracted.
Sometimes there’s nothing you can do about it, but more awareness all the time when you’re out in the city or travelling, and a type of bag that makes it more difficult, and they’re more likely to move on to someone else.
The most secure bags to carry, and particularly having looked at specific anti-theft bags, have the following:
A top full zip closure – so no one can dip their hand in. That gorgeous Goyard St Louis Tote and Louis Vuitton Neverfull Tote are instant temptations, despite keeping your wallet etc in a zipped purse. And yes I’ve lusted after both of these but on reflection I’ll stick to something with a zip on top.
A cross body strap – and carry your bag at your side or in front of you and close to your body. If a shoulder strap only keep your bag very close to your side. Never behind. I like bags that have both shoulder and cross body straps and have been known to attach a long cross body strap to a tote that didn’t arrive with one so I can be hands free with my other bags when travelling.
Zipped inner compartments for your phone/wallet etc. Yes we all like them to be handy, but handy to us, not to someone unknown.
Outer pockets? Ignore them – stash your phone safely inside your bag. These are temptation in themselves.
Bags with flaps and snap fastenings are easier to get at than those with push lock closures. Drawstring bucket bags and backpacks are easy to get into. for you and someone else. Always, whatever type of bag you have, keep it firmly closed.
Always pay attention, when you’re buying a new bag, to how easy it would be to get at. Boring? Maybe, but common sense when you’re splashing out on your new arm candy.
In the end all you can do is be careful, stay aware and make it as hard as possible for someone to get at your bag. As for ditching the designer tote? Just be careful a) what you put in it and b) where you carry it. Most people don't think twice.....