’Tis the season to be wary: Czech Police warn of smarter pickpockets

With the holidays bringing out crowds of shoppers, Czech police issue a warning against increasingly sophisticated techniques used by thieves.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston Published on 01.12.2021 12:39:00 (updated on 01.12.2021) Reading time: 3 minutes

The holiday season for many is a time of joy, and many people try to forget their cares. But there is a difference between being carefree and careless. Czech Police are urging people to follow some simple tips to avoid being a victim of holiday pick-pocketing.

The loss of a wallet or purse means not only a loss of money but also ID cards, credit cards, and even personal photos that are difficult to replace. Phones often carry passwords and can provide access to bank accounts, if they are not properly secured.

In connection with the upcoming holidays, the Czech Police unit “Team Pickpocket” (Kapsa týmu) would like to warn all people to pay attention to their surroundings.

“For many of us, the Christmas holidays are a period of peace, quiet, celebrations with our loved ones, both at home and at various celebrations. People are looking forward to taking a break from everyday worries and going through shops and looking for presents for their loved ones, or just wandering through night Prague,” police spokesman Jan Rybanský said in a press release.

“But there are others, pickpockets. They are also looking forward to Christmas, but especially to citizens and their wallets, mobile phones, storage bags, and other valuables.[They look for] those who get carried away by the Christmas atmosphere and forget to take care of their things,” he said.

The victims often end up in police stations, stating that they have been robbed of documents, money, mobile phones, and often purchased gifts. The damage the pickpockets cause may not be big but it can ruin the holidays.

A one-minute video, which shows pickpockets in action, shows how quickly a bag or wallet can be stolen. The tips in the video and more are listed below.

While the first video show re-enactments, a second video created by the Czech Police and posted by the crime news website Týdeník Policie has a compilation of real crimes captured on CCTV. The faces of the victims and suspects have been obscured for privacy reasons.

“So please let’s be careful and perceive the surroundings to avoid the inconveniences associated with theft,” Rybanský said.

Times are changing, and pickpockets are changing with them. The days of large packs of seedy-looking pickpockets roaming the metro and trams are over. Techniques used by pickpockets have become more sophisticated. They work in smaller groups and blend in with the crowd.

“Today these people are dressed in designer suits, use branded perfumes, and other miscellaneous details. All this makes them as unrecognizable as possible,” he added.

Many pickpockets are career criminals. In June of this year, for example, a woman was released after five years in prison. The pick-pocketing investigation team caught her again after four months. She is currently awaiting her future and will likely spend Christmas behind bars.

The Czech Police offer a few basic tips to help you foil pickpockets.

  • Watch your surroundings and look around.
  • Do not carry excessive amounts of cash.
  • Block stolen credit cards right away.
  • Pay attention to your purse or wallet.
  • A wallet, cell phone, or bundle of banknotes simply do not belong in the back pocket. Use a chest pocket or put things in a bag.
  • Keep bags or purses zipped or snapped closed. Open bags are easy to remove items from.
  • Always keep your bag with you. Definitely do not leave it anywhere, especially when shopping. Bags stored in shopping carts are an incredible attraction for pickpockets.
  • Be careful when loading purchased items into the vehicle.
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