With tourism looking reasonably OK I decided to find a solution to the problem of pick-pockets on the metro and trolley buses in Athens which had been keeping me up at night ever since my brother had his wallet stolen twice in one week (while pushing his daughter a stroller.... is nothing sacred anymore?).
First of all you have to accept that pickpockets exist in any city and if you seem like a victim they will find you. So the key is to make them the victim by you only appearing to be a victim. Here's how it works.
There are a large number of security products, two that I like in particular. One has a loop that fits around your belt and you wear it under your pants or skirt or shorts in the area that is the most sensitive to touch which for the man is the.... well I think you understand.
product that I liked that my local trail shop was out of is a wallet that goes on your ankle under your socks and pants which is certainly pickpocket proof unless the culprit has no arms or legs and is crawling around the floor of the metro which I can't recall ever seeing and therefore must be somewhat rare. Anyway you can find these and more products on the Travelscams.org anti-theft bags page.
But here is where it gets good. Before your trip to Greece buy a few cheap wallets, or the old wallets that you never threw away and fill them up with those fake credit card's you get with the offers that come in the mail that are not really credit cards, as well as expired super-market discount cards, all the crap you get in the mail and usually just throw out. Put them in the wallet and maybe start cutting out pictures in the magazines
of weird things, stuff that freaks you out when you see it, victims of horrible accidents, tumors, terrible wounds, and whatever you can find that you think is unpleasant. Put all this stuff in the fake wallet. You can even put a note in for him to read. I have made up a printable happy-face you can also use to further antagonize him. (click here)
So what you have is a decoy wallet and you want it to make a bulge in your pants so it looks like it is full of money and credit cards. Ladies can do this too and make sure it is at the top of any purse or handbag. The pickpocket is going to go through a lot of effort to get it and when he leaves the train with your wallet and gets nothing for his efforts but a bunch of fake credit cards and scary photos he is going to be very annoyed if not completely
freaked out especially if it happens more than once. Your reward every time one of your decoy wallets is missing is that you will know that you just made
some thief very pissed off, thwarted a crime, and you still have all your money and credit cards.
So if you use the decoy wallet trick and your wallet is stolen you can thank me.
Have fun collecting the stuff to put in it. Let me know if it works.
And for the ladies how about a mousetrap in your purse? This is from a reader:
I wanted to ask if you had ever been pick-pocketed of your fake wallet? A
friend of mind put a mouse trap in a purse with a zipper and went into a
tram in Athens looking for a victim and indeed she quickly
found one who came away screaming in pain. She is Greek-American and
also very loud and unashamed to scream at the guy which she
did....everyone on the car started laughing and she told him not to rob
Americans, because they
bring money to Greece as tourists, etc when he was saying he thought
she was American and they only rob Americans....
The best thing to do is keep your valuables in the hotel safe and use one of these hidden wallets. Ladies too. Bring a disposable purse as a decoy if you like in case someone tries to make off with the whole thing. But this is rare. Mostly they operate in crowded places and grabbing your purse and running invites unwanted attention since men running with purses often get chased. When you walk on the sidewalk keep your purse/handbag away from the street. My friend
had his bag taken by a guy on a motorbike. Don't walk around with your passport or identification. Make a photocopy and carry that and leave the real thing in your hotel safe. If you use a credit card carry one and not in a wallet.
Anyway just by knowing this stuff you make yourself an unlikely victim.
If you are arriving at the airport and plan to take the metro or the bus into town use the security wallet you like that fits under your clothes. Once you get through passport control put your passport, credit cards and money in this wallet and keep only as much cash as you will need to get to your hotel. Put your fake wallet in your pocket and you will be perfectly safe on the metro.
There is more about this at Crime in Athens