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Will a Pickpocket Pick your Pockets in Prague?

The odds are in your favor that your pockets will not be picked. The chances are so small that you should not even worry about it. Use common sense—don’t have a hundred dollar bill dangling from your back pocket and you will be fine.

But pickpocketing does occur in Prague—as it does in every tourist city. Tourists are easily spotted and they are easily distracted. Tourist’s eyeballs are everywhere other than around their own bodies. All their attention is on the slightest distraction (a monkey playing a clarinet) while completely ignoring the stranger’s hand in their pants.

Of course, you are smarter than that. You will be careful and alert, and anybody within a one-meter radius will be suspect; you will watch them closely. That is what everybody thinks, yet pickpocketing still occurs.

To Give You an Idea How Pickpocketing Works, Here is n Example

Tomas and Franta are pickpockets. Their specialty is smart phones. After a pleasant breakfast, they head to Wenceslas Square.

The famous square is a tourist hot spot, bustling with the lost who are showcasing their smart phones as they follow the little arrow on the screen. Tomas and Franta sit down on a park bench and wait. No rush, they have all day. One success per day is enough to make the day worth it. They might wait for hours and then follow a target for a few blocks. If everything is not perfect, they abort and wait for somebody else.

A young woman with an ‘I heart Prague’ T-shirt walks by. She has buds in her ears and is selecting music on her iPhone. Tomas and Franta get up and follow her. She picks her songs and places the iPhone in her jacket pocket. Tomas takes note of the pocket on her left side. Franta picks up his pace and walks ahead of her, pulling out a map of Prague. He stops at the intersection and stares, confused, at his map. When she approaches him, he starts moving his lips like he is asking her a question. She takes off her headphones and starts to explain that she does not know. In that instant, Tom walks by on her left side. Franta nods to her, says thanks, continues to look at his map, and slowly walks off. She puts her headphones back in her ears and is surprised to hear nothing.

How I Almost Had my Pockets Picked

One evening it was about 10pm and I was calmly walking down a dark street. It was not well lite and narrow so I could not see far ahead or far behind - exactly the type of street your safety guide would warn you to avoid. I was not scared, but I was aware of the situation - theoretically somebody could attack me, take my money and run away with no witnesses. My eyes were wide open.

Suddenly infront of me appear two young men. They are leaning against the wall and looking at me as I approach. As I get near they move away from the wall and approach me. They block me. I silently remind myself, sixty two people out of ten million, there is no chance they are going to kill me. With a heavy English accent one of them asks, ‘Do you want dance lessons?”. He sticks out a pamphlet with a picture of a couple dancing and a phone number. 'No thanks', I say and smile. I try to gently walk past but he and his buddy are blocking my path. They are still smiling. ‘Dance lessons, you can take your girlfriend, very cheap’. 'No thanks' I say again and smile. I mumble something about how I do not dance. Then he grabs my arm.

I am tall and strong but I have never tested those advantages in a fight. My heart rate to increased and blood rushed to my face - I felt my ears getting hot. At that moment my animal instinct was to scream like a little girl. But before I could do anything he started to kick his legs into the air and attempt to dance with me. He was showing me the beneficial results of dance lessons. He was laughing, his friend was smiling and I calmed down. Dancing with a stranger in the street is bad but it is a lot better than being murdered. My ears started to return to their natural color.

And that's when they get you. It is exactly in moments like this that you get robbed. Not by gunpoint, but by dance. He was dancing with me, laughing and legs flaying, but he was also attempting to rob me. His free hand was doing the polka around my jacket pockets.

If you get robbed then it is going to be because you were successfully distracted. Every metro and tram car has a sign - watch out for pickpockets. Metro and trams are a perfect place to get robbed. It is crowded with people jammed up against each other. And if you are not careful, if you are busy looking at a map or jabbing with your friends about how great Prague is then you become a prime target. You become a glowing flashing bullseye. Somebody will bump into you or push past you and with hands quicker than a viper's tongue they will take what's in your pocket and put it into theirs.

Will Your Pockets be Picked?

Prague is a tourist city. Tourist are always distracted and they have money in their pockets. Pickpocketers love tourists.

But the fact is - pickpocketing is rare. It will not happen to you, but than again, it does happen. The above are just a couple variations but there are others. Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to protect yourself—you are up against pros that make their living separating you from your phone and money. If you are targeted, they will follow you all day just to get that perfect opportunity to snatch it. My advice? Don’t worry about it; it won't happen to you. But if you do get robbed it's your own fault - you weren’t paying attention - you were being a tourist. Would it be strange in your home town if somebody suddenly grabbed you by the arm and started dancing with you - of course it would. But in Prague, not knowing any better, you might think it is normal and that mistake will cost you your wallet.

Did I bring you pleasure? :)

I hope you find this website helpful. I created the website because I love Prague, I enjoy writing about it, and I get a weird kick out of helping you make your trip to Prague more enjoyable.

I wrote a book about local travel in Prague. The book is my pride, my joy, my unbiological offspring. It was written with a passionate heart. If you find this website helpful consider getting my book full of useful tips that will instil in you the confidence to wander the local streets of Prague. The book is included in the popular (proud to say over 1000 sold) Prague Local Explore Kit.

Thank you,
Roman : Prague 2023

Prague Local Travel Kit