Life in TransitA Digital Nomad in Asia

5 Habits to Safeguard Your Valuables Against Snatch Theft

Carabineers locking my bags together while I'm on the train.

Carabineers locking my bags together while I’m on the train.

Of the many ways you could lose your valuables through theft when travelling, one of the most common ways is by getting it snatched.

Throughout Asia, there often are signs telling you to beware of snatch theft and I have witnessed it happen. I have also heard first hand accounts of friends getting their belongings snatched from beside them or even from their bodies.

Here are some tips that could help lower your risk of getting your valuables snatched from your life. Over time, they become a habit that becomes second nature to you.

It is a habit that will help you enjoy your travels with peace of mind.

Peace of mind is often a necessary ingredient to enjoy your travels.

Wear it across the shoulder

Some people tend to hang their cameras and bags on their shoulders when they walk around. It’s generally more convenient and more comfortable than wearing across your body.

Unfortunately this is probably the easiest way to get your belongings snatched!

A rider on a bicycle or motorcycle can easily sneak up behind you and help him or herself to your bag, camera or other valuables with minimal resistance. The easy access and shock factor makes you a prime target.

So keep your valuables slung across your body. That would help reduce the opportunity for thieves to snatch your belongings.

Face the possible snatcher

Most people who steal want to make a quick, easy buck. One way to avoid them is to make it difficult for thieves to steal. Make them believe their effort and probability of getting caught outweighs the payout they will get from the theft.

Awareness goes a lot way to deterring those potential thieves.

When I hear a rider close in fast behind me, I tend to turn around and look at his or her direction. This shows that I am aware of their presence.

Knowing that you are aware of them might give them the idea that trying to steal from you would be more trouble than it’s worth. You can also move to avoid a hand reaching for your belongings if you have your eyes on them.

Invest in carabineers

When I leave my bags on the ground when travelling between cities, I tend to clip them together with carabineers. No this is not the “leave it on the ground unattended” scenario, but one that occurs if I was sitting on a chair and my bags are beside me.

While one bag on its own could be bait for a thief, trying to run with two or more bags (and maybe a chair attached to them) would be much more than a thief bargained for.

He might decide to run away empty handed to avoid being caught instead of dragging that uncomfortable load around.

Put it on the inside chair when sitting

When I sit down at a table to take in some local cuisine, I try to pick a table that is against the wall. When I have to put a bag down, I would put it on the seat that is against the wall.

This way, no one is going to walk by my table to steal something and quickly run away.

If there are no walls, try to put the bag in the least accessible position and avoid putting the bag nearest to the street.

If you don’t feel comfortable in the neighbourhood you’re sitting in, discretely clipping a strap to the chair wouldn’t hurt.

Do be discreet about it, however, as although prevention is better than cure, some people see overly protected possessions as highly valuable.

Open your bag in a corner

Sometimes, you need to get something out in a hurry. If you open your bag, maybe someone won’t snatch your bag, but there’s nothing stopping them from reaching into your bag and pulling something out. Something like … your passport.

Instead, when opening your bag, position yourself so that your bag is against a wall or behind a pillar. That reduces the number of directions someone can randomly come at you and dip their hands into your bag.

Know when to give it up

Material possessions can be replaced. Your health, well being and life is much more valuable.

Some people get dragged on the street by a thief on a bike or car because they won’t give up their possessions. Some even get strangled to death because their strap gets caught around their neck. Others meet a violent end when they try to fight back.

Know what your possessions are worth to you and judge for yourself whether or not the fight you put up is worth it. It’s a decision only you can make for yourself.

I hope these tips help you form habits that increase your safety as you travel! Peace of mind is often a necessary ingredient to enjoy your travels.

Have you had items snatched from you when travelling?

Please share your experience with us and what steps you take to make your travels safer!

Please share your answer in the comments below
Tagged: safety
Posted in: Travel Tips