The young lions had learned well. They’d listened carefully to everything their parents had said, scrutinised every move their parents had made. Now it was their turn and they were desperate to prove themselves. They watched the impala as they migrated across the plains, searching for any sign of weakness. They were patient, knowing that a mistake would cost them their dinner. Then they spotted her, alone and vulnerable. She had been separated from her family and was desperately trying to find them in the mass of bodies, not realising that she was leaving herself open to attack. She hadn’t seen the lions but they’d seen her. A surreptitious nod to each other and they moved into position around her. This was going to be easy, they thought.
What they hadn’t counted on were the actions of a wiser impala. Having spent years crossing plains all over the world, this impala knew what was going on. As the lions approached, this brave impala put herself between them and their victim. She pushed them out of the way, denying them their prize. The smaller impala looked confused but the wiser impala was not perturbed. She escorted the smaller impala through the plains to the safety of her family.
Three lions just tried to attack you, she said. The smaller impala was shocked and looked around wildly. She hadn’t seen any lions. Where were they? The wiser impala pointed them out – three young lions who were almost invisible in the large crowd.
Always be on the look out for lions, she said, before continuing on her own migration, leaving behind a rather stunned but grateful smaller impala.
This may sound like a rather tall tale from a nature documentary but it is a stark warning to tourists, no matter what city you’re visiting. It is the story of a tourist who almost fell victim to thieves. Pick pockets take just a few seconds to ruin your holiday and are not always easy to catch. This wasn’t the first time I’d stopped a pick pocket in Rome and it probably won’t be the last. I am constantly on the look out and have become very talented at spotting them. It was also a stark lesson for the young ladies who were visiting me at the time. So what can you do to avoid becoming a victim?
– Keep all bags in front of you. You may look like a kangaroo and feel a bit silly but it’s a darn sight better than the alternative.
– When exiting the metro or leaving a station, move to the side if you’re unsure of where to go. Don’t stand at the exit looking up at the sights (the Colosseum is a perfect example of this). Pick pockets will spot you immediately and take advantage. Move away from the area.
– If you find yourself in a crowd, such as at a crossing, keep to the edge. Faces can blur and disappear quickly in a crowd.
– When taking a pit stop at a bar or café, don’t leave valuables on the table. Keep them safely hidden away in a bag or pocket.
– Use visible deterrents such as clips to fasten your bag or valuables to you. These may not stop your bag from being stolen but they may make a wannabe thief think twice about taking it.
– Always hold on to your things. Don’t put bags down while waiting in a queue. It creates the perfect opportunity for a thief to grab it and run.
– Don’t keep things in your back pocket or in the side pockets of your bag. All a thief has to do is bump into you and your wallet or phone is gone without you even realising.
Ultimately, the best way to avoid being pick-pocketed is to leave your valuables locked away in your hotel room or at the reception. Only take what you truly need and make sure you have copies of all your documents just in case something happens.
This post is not meant to scare you. Travelling is fun but it’s even more fun when you don’t fall victim to a thief. Look out for yourself and others you are travelling with and you won’t have any problems.