Don’t be a Victim of The Pickpocket

Today, gangs of pickpockets or “dippers” are out there and they are preying upon innocent people every day. Driven by the need to make money for drugs, alcohol addiction or just as a means of earning their living, as they see it.

Nobody is safe from these gangs, whether you are young or old, because everybody, who presents themselves as a target, will be “dipped.”

At Staff Defence, we advise you to read this Blog and evaluate how you may be affected by these criminals. At the end of the Blog, we make certain recommendations, which we believe you will find helpful, together with information about the courses we provide to counter the success of the pickpocket.

How do you spot the pickpocket?

It’s not easy to spot the pickpocket, as he or she is often part of a gang, who look for their easy victims. The pickpocket will not easily stand out to you, but even if you do spot him or her, it could always be part of the ruse to distract you, while their accomplices “dip” their hands into your bag or pockets. Remember that it is their job to blend in and stay hidden from your view, but they are present and can be seen as long as you look.

Quite often, it is the person who is hanging around in locations of heavy foot traffic, spotting passers-by. This pickpocket will focus on the open bags or pockets, so that he or she can locate, where the purses or wallets are located within a bag or pocket. This person is a master at blending in to the background and will spend his or her time, patiently watching as you fiddle with your wallet or money in your pocket, at the same time, naively letting the pickpocket know where you keep your cash. These are the people, who are walking around the same area, going nowhere fast. Remember that they are looking for their next victim, observing what the victim is doing, how they take out their purse or wallet, and to where they return their purse or wallet. Should you become aware of this type of activity, then trust your gut feeling and say to yourself that this is a good chance of a pickpocket gang at work. On a positive level, what we can do is maintain a good level of situational awareness and be aware of our own personal security. An understanding of the pickpocket’s tactics will help increase our overall awareness, when we are out and about.


There are a few different ways in which the pickpocket will go about his or her activity whether it be on the streets, in a pub, night club or within shops. The pickpocket is there looking for his or her next easy victim and more often than not, the pickpocket’s luck pays off, as we always provide them with what they are looking for – our goods or money.

  1. The Stall – Walking in front of you, the pickpocket will suddenly stop, causing you to walk into him or her, so that you completely lose your focus. At the same time, the pickpocket’s colleague appears in the area of attack, where he or she “dips” his or her hand into either your bag or pocket. Quickly they then both walk away, as if nothing has happened.

  2. The Easy Dip – Perfect for bus stops or boarding a train, the pickpocket will hang around these locations and follow you to the bus or train, while all the time, observing where your valuables are. The easiest way for the pickpocket to take from you is if your bag is open. When you step onto the bus or train, the pickpocket strikes by placing his or her hand into your bag or your back pocket. The criminal then allows any forward movement to lift your purse, wallet or smart phone from you. It is performed that quickly and unobtrusively.

  3. The Distraction – The pickpocket will use a loud shout at a game being played, or the pretence of being lost or unable to locate an address for which they will ask you directions. Other distractions include asking for a light, for the time, the classic bump, or groups of young females pretending to be charity workers with clip boards. All of these diversions are designed to distract you enough for the criminal’s colleague to move in and strike by “dipping” into your bag or pockets. 

  4. The Concealed Hand – Often the pickpocket will walk around with a newspaper or a coat over his or her hand. This pickpocket uses the newspaper or coat to hide what his or her hand is doing, when it is being dipped into your bag or pocket. This is also a tactic used in bars or restaurants, when the victim leaves his or her smart phone, purse or wallet on the table or bar next to the pickpocket, or if the bag is left on the back of the chair.

  5. Helpful Stranger – Out of nowhere, suddenly a friendly face is cleaning something from off your jacket or picking up an item in front of you, making out that you dropped it. During this minor distraction, the pickpocket’s colleague is striking, by “dipping” into your bag or pocket.

  6. Diversion – This tactic is used widely across the world, where a person in front of you drops a small amount of change on the floor or as you pass another pickpocket, who is sitting down, he or she will roll an item towards your feet. What they both want is for you to be a good Samaritan and bend down to pick up or help the one pickpocket to pick up the items. While you are bending down, the colleague is “dipping” his or her hand into your bag or pocket.

  7. “Hugger-Mugging” – Always remember that pickpockets are very skilled at what they do. They know all the tricks and are extremely light-fingered with most of their thefts only taking a second or two. One of their tactics is ‘hugger mugging’ which is where a thief will appear to be over-friendly for no particular reason and hug you, while in the process of pickpocketing.

  8. Intimidating Tactic – To stay ahead of suspicion from the public and the police, the thieves vary their tactics, based on the location and the density of the crowd. One intimidating tactic is where a group of them push up against a victim in a crowded shop or street, while quickly reaching into the victim’s pocket to steal his or her wallet, phone or purse.

As you can see at Staff Defence, we are only too aware of what real life is like on the streets today in any city anywhere in the world. People are often desperate to take your money or belongings, so you need to be situationally aware, as we have already detailed above. However, these pickpockets have mastered the art of stealing without our even realising it, so we have designed courses that are aimed at your personal safety, wherever you are in the world and with whatever situations you may be confronted. There are so many “Do’s and Don’ts” that we can teach you, together with all of the knowledge and skills you need to counter any pickpocket attacks.

Therefore, we strongly advise you to take the time to review our course outlines to determine which course is best suited to meet your needs and to keep you and your loved ones safe.

Staff Defence Courses:

“For more information about any of Staff Defence courses, please contact us by telephone or email, as follows:-

T: 0203 997 7900


Frequently Asked Questions

“Our travel safety and HEAT instructors come from a background in the Royal Marines Commando and the British Army and have been specifically picked for their skills in their fields of excellence from years of experience of Operating and Living in hostile environment.”

“Our Trainers must all have, as a minimum, an accredited award in education and training, first aid at work or higher, and conflict management. They are also all DBS checked, with full insurance cover for their specific disciplines.”

“Contact us now, so that our Instructors can teach you how to stay safe.”

Our courses are held at our training venue in Onley, near Rugby in the East Midlands, where we can comfortably seat up to 30 Delegates per course.

Additionally, we have a training location in the USA.

However, depending on the type of course selected, we are very flexible and our Instructors can travel to a client’s venue, if that is more convenient for you. The only exception is our H.E.A.T. (Hostile Environments Awareness Training) Course, which must be conducted at our training venue, due to the course content and requirements.

Yes, we absolutely can! Before we deliver the course, we always discuss your specific requirements with you, ensure they are embedded into the course, and receive prior written confirmation that you are completely happy with the content of the course.

Prices vary depending on the course you are attending and any specific requirements that you may have. What you need to know is that our prices are some of the best you can find, which is why we encourage you to contact us to receive a full and competitive Quotation.

Yes. Each Instructor is fully DBS checked and possesses a current First Aid Certificate, together with full insurance within the disciplines they teach.

Yes, absolutely. Our Conflict Management courses are perfect for lone workers, since they teach priceless conflict management skills, together with the physical skills necessary to quickly de-escalate a conflict, and the best way to reach a safe area.