What To Do If You Get Pickpocketed Overseas

First mistake – thinking it would never happen to me. Second mistake – leaving my bag unzipped. Third mistake – keeping my bank card inside my phone cover and therefore losing access to both communication AND money.

Lucky for me I was travelling with my partner and housemates who could lend me their phone to call the bank and cancel my card straight away. And I had just withdrawn enough money to last me for the rest of our time in Madrid. But, I was particularly concerned because my driving licence was ALSO in the phone cover, giving the pickpocketer access to information like my date of birth, full name and address in Australia.

Here are my tips on how to avoid being pickpocketed and minimising your losses:

  • Always be aware of your surroundings and people in close proximity to you
  • Make it harder for them, keep your bag zipped up
  • Never leave your bag or valuables unattended
  • Don’t take your valuables out with you unless absolutely necessary, keep them locked up in your accommodation if possible
  • Avoid wearing expensive jewellery or brands to attract attention
  • Keep your phone separate to your bank card and other forms of identification
  • Take out enough money with you for the day only
  • Get travel insurance and check the fine print, you may need additional cover for valuables like phones and laptops
  • If you have an iPhone, turn on the ‘find my iPhone’ function before you travel
  • Don’t put your phone on airplane mode unless vital to save battery because otherwise you cannot call it or use other useful Apple functions like lost mode
  • Back up your phone regularly so you don’t lose any photos, contacts etc

And if it happens to you, here are my tips on what to do if you get pickpocketed overseas, particularly if the nimble fingers have swiped your phone and bank card:

  • Contact your bank and cancel your card immediately, they’ll reissue you with a new card to your registered address within around 3 working days
  • Contact your phone provider to advise your phone has been stolen so they can cancel your sim card and reissue you with a new one to your registered address
    • Your insurer may request a report from your phone provider to confirm you did this for your insurance claim
  • Report the theft at the local police station within 24 hours, you’ll need details like your passport number, phone IMEI number, approximate street address the theft occurred, date, time etc
    • You’ll need a copy of the police report for your travel insurance claim
  • Contact Apple to advise that your phone has been stolen and understand any options like ‘find my iPhone’ and the lost mode function (sends a message to the phone with an alternative contact number)
  • Look into all other options to contact who has your phone (such as calling, lost mode etc), you never know, they might return it in the hope of a reward! #fatchance
  • Lodge your travel insurance claim as soon as possible but make sure you review the policy wording first, sometimes a slight change of claim wording can impact the big fat approval stamp (or not as it were)

If you have travel insurance and choose to make a claim, you will need to provide details on what you did to try and recover your phone anyway. So do what you can then try and enjoy the rest of your holiday. The sadness or anger about having your things stolen will fade eventually! The way I look at it, I now have a travel story that includes sitting in the office of a Spanish police station on the phone to a translator and eating snacks from their vending machine until the police report was ready for me to sign – in Spanish!

Do you have a pickpocket story?

Drawing by Hazawarry

July 2017