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Purse Snatching and Pick Pocket Prevention by Bridget Fitzpatrick, Crime Prevention Specialist

Most thefts are “crimes of opportunity.” Therefore, the best way to prevent them is to remove the temptation from would-be thieves. There are people who will try to take your money by grabbing your purse off your shoulder, pulling it out of your hands, taking it off a chair while you are not watching or by quietly taking your wallet while you are being distracted by something else.

The following simple steps can reduce the likelihood of being a victim of a purse snatcher, or pickpocket.

  • Get rid of what the thieves are after; in other words, do not carry a purse. Take only what you need; for example, a credit card and a small amount of cash, and put them in a coat or jacket pocket (an inside pocket, if possible).
  • An alternative to putting your cash and credit cards in a pocket is to purchase a small lightweight travel pouch and wear it around your neck under your blouse or shirt. These pouches are available for less than $10.00 and can be found in luggage departments of department stores.
  • If you need more room to carry larger items, such as a checkbook, wear a fanny pack in front. Be sure all openings are fastened, and that the belt fastener is worn to the side so someone can't come up behind you and unsnap it, without you knowing.
  • If you must carry a purse, use one with a shoulder strap. The best way to wear it is to wear the strap diagonally across your body. Hold your purse firmly in front of your body.
  • Carry your house keys in a separate location, such as your coat or jacket pocket, or wear them around your wrist or neck. The reason for this is if your purse is taken, the thief won't get the keys to your house since he will know your address from your identification.
  • Never leave your purse unattended in a grocery cart, on a department store counter or in a fitting room.
  • When you are riding the bus or sitting in a restaurant, never leave your purse on the seat beside or behind you. Either leave it in your lap or between your feet on the floor.

What should you do if someone does take your purse?

  • If you can, be vocal! Yell, “He’s got my purse!”
  • Try to remember as much as you can about what he looked like, in particular his race, height and clothing. 
  • Call 911 and report it to the police immediately. The quicker the police know what happened, and the description of the suspect, the greater the chances the suspect and your purse can be located.