Distracted tourists are being targeted on the New York City subway

Feb 07, 2019

It’s the city on everyone’s bucket list but tourists heading to New York City have been urged to take extra care of their valuables as pickpocketing is on the rise again.

Although the self-proclaimed ‘greatest city in the world’ has seen a massive decline in crime over the past decade, petty theft continues to be an issue for many locals and tourists alike.

According to The New York Times, the subway might be one of the most dangerous places to be for anyone carrying valuable belongings.

With over five million riders daily, tourists travelling on busy subway carriages are unsurprisingly a massive target for sneaky, light-handed pickpockets. The New York Police Department has even blamed the everyday thieves for the 3.8 per cent increase in transit crime over the past year.

However, it’s not just locals that people should be worried about as the news outlet claims many of the offenders who have been arrested recently have been linked to international pickpocket rings that had their start in countries like Chile and Colombia.

Most of these criminals work in teams to perform choreographed routines that work to distract the victim or conceal the crime from plain sight. Often there will reportedly be one member of the team whose job it is to create a roadblock or stall the tourist, before the other members reach in and commit the theft.

Distracted travellers are the perfect bait for pickpockets as their jobs are made so much easier if no one is paying attention to their movements.

Victor Diaz Jimenez, who was recently caught red-handed by police trying to steal money from a woman’s purse on the subway, said he was used to being caught.

According to the news outlet, he told detectives: “This is how I make my living. I open the purses, put my hands in and take the wallets out. I pick people who are distracted.”

While there’s no need to avoid the subway all together, staying completely aware of your surroundings is definitely a must.

When travelling on public transport, remember to never carry your valuables in your pockets but rather safely secured in your hand or in a cut-proof, zipped up travel bag. It’s also important to try to hide or disguise anything important to you and avoid having your back to other travellers.

As New York City still remains the city of dreams for so many travellers, don’t let your once-in-a-lifetime trip be ruined by the work of pickpockets.


Have you been to New York? How did you protect your belongings?

Retrieving conversation…