Nearly Pickpocketed on the Bus


Sep 23, 2009
Although I'm sure that all big cities have a fair amount of pickpockets, tonight was the first time I've encountered any. So I wanted to just recount the story in order let expats know about at least one scenario to be aware of.

I was riding a very crowded 55 colectivo from Palermo to Parque Centrario. A very short older man who couldn't reach the top horizontal bars kept inching over in front of me in order to hold onto a vertical bar. Shortly after that he pushed himself against me and in between myself and my friend, which didn't seem sketchy because the bus was very crowded. But there was quite a bit of room in the back, so we couldn't figure out why he wouldn't move back there. I was squished between about 5 people near the middle exit. Then his accomplice, who was an older female (they were probably both in their late 50s or early 60s), stuck her hand in my pocket. I felt it, yelled "hey," and then grabbed for her hands since I thought she had gotten my camera from my pocket. She fell backwards and said that the senor had stuck his hand in my pocket. I figured out they hadn't gotten anything, and got off the bus. They also got off the bus, I think because the whole bus was alerted to what they just attempted to do. They walked around the corner, then turned around and went back to a bus stop, presumably to get on another bus to try again.

I really am not trying to make people paranoid, but for me, this just reaffirms how important it is to be aware of what's happening around you.
They must be a couple of rookies because you will not feel anything until you reach for you belongings and find their are not there anymore. These people are so slick in they trade that is incredible difficult to find out beforehand that you had been robbed....definitelly amateurs learning the trade on an unsuspected foreigner...but not this time and not with this one. :)

Awareness is good but is almost impossible to be on guard all the time if they target you there is not much you can do than been prepared leaving a small bite exposed to deflect the main attack on the purse.
After several months out of the country I am adjusting to life here. Yes....I know what people will say: "there is crime everywhere...." Well, maybe I was naive but I felt quite safe in the US, including Manhattan. You usually get a seat on the subway and buses unlike here where public transport is always packed. I never worried about my laptop and frequently used my ipod in public - buses, subways, trains. It was completely normal there. A lot of people were doing the same. Here I have my hand on my wallet pocket whenever I travel on public transport and I am always conscious that someone could try to pickpocket me. I was pickpocketed once here on a bus. Never again. Just be vigilant. Try not to carry credit cards. Only what cash you need and a little more. Also stay away from open windows in cafes. Thieves can easily reach in and grab.
When carrying credit cards, cash etc....much safer...than pockets..!!


Available at any Farmacity.....
A note to the women: try tying your purse zipper shut to your purse strap. The extra bit of fumbling necessary to deal with the tie (I use a shoelace) can alert you to the theft in process.
A money pouch like the one in the picture is great IF it is worn INSIDE your clothing, under the trousers is best. If it is in ANY way visible it is dangerous as it can be cut or pulled off. Try NOT to carry large amounts of cash and as few credit cards as possible. Make a copy of your credit card data and keep it in a safe place case in case of robbery. A wallet in the back pocket is a HUGE mistake. In the trousers pocket it is safe IF you keep your hand over the pocket at all times when in crowded places. If your trousers pocket is very loose it is easier for a pickpocket. Jeans generally have tight pockets so they are harder to rob. NEVER take a taxi in front of a bank and avoid ATM machines when it is dark or after hours. Also regarding laptops, ipods, iphones and other electronic devices. Use these with caution. Also try to dress more like the locals. If you are not young, the dress code is pretty conservative. Avoid the ridiculous baseball caps and safari hats. An Argentine friend commented the other day that the American tourists are dressed as though they are going to the Amzaon. I understand that most tourists don't think about the impression they give with their silly clothes (especially the gargantuan American women in shorts, super short hair, no make up....) but I can't understand the resistance of expats to adapting to the local way of dressing.
There's a difference between a tourist and an expat ... tourists aren't here long enough to buy a new wardrobe. They bring what they have from home.
Yes wearing the pouch outside clothing is a no-no,kinda defeats it's purpose ! And I still see people w/ them outside hanging around necks...!! Ditto for those waist packs......too easy a target...! Lose 'em.....
As for carrying your passport a handy tip...take the 1st page and photocopy it, than plastisize at at any locutorio...carry that instead, It's usually ok for id.....
Yes, Neil. This is ABSOLUTELY true. Also if you have a DNI do NOT carry it with you except when necessary. You can go to the Federal Police and get a cedula which is a credit card sized document that substitutes for the DNI. It's easy to carry around. For some things you will need the DNI. I think, for example, that it is needed for travel to Uruguay along with your passport.