Places with large crowds of people such as the Main Street, shopping centers, food and other types of shops are risky, and you should be especially careful if you use public transport, wait at stations, airports, crowded bus stops.
A characteristic of pickpocketing is that it is most often carried out by teams, with each member having a specific job. One spots the victim, another distracts them, and finally a third person (sometimes even a minor) carries out the actual theft of a wallet, valuables, or even an entire bag. Seconds later, the loot is passed on to a completely different person who carries it away, so none of those "directly involved" have anything on them that isn't theirs. Of course, there are also people who act independently, but keep in mind that you won't always be able to recognize them. This could be a mother with a child, a group of teenagers, a "disoriented" man or a "confused" lady.
The first hurdle a pickpocket must overcome is personal space. This is why thieves often work in crowds and in places where people are pressed together - this provides the cover for physical contact. More "dangerous" places are underpasses, concerts, night clubs and mass events.
Extremely often, theft happens at times when we are looking at something sideways. Any spectacle of a crowd gives the thieves an opportunity to do their job, but sometimes they have to come up with their own distractions. Common schemes are spilling something on you, asking for directions, flirting, dropping things. In this way, the attention of the intended victim is diverted and their wallet easily ends up in the wrong hands. Another common method is persistent pressure from one side, then deftly pulling whatever valuables you keep out of the pocket of the other side. The trick is not only to dull the attention, but to redirect it to the wrong place. Escalators and queues are also potentially dangerous areas as you can easily find yourself squeezed in and out of the way, similar to a crowded bus/subway/train.
Pickpockets usually watch you carefully for a while and thus reveal where you keep your money, phone. Easy prey are all who appear to be distracted and deluded tourists. A huge backpack on your back with easy access, keeping a phone/purse in a front pocket of a jacket or a back pocket of pants are all warning lights that directly turn you into a potential victim.
How to counter them:
First and foremost, especially when you're in a foreign country, don't carry all your money and documents in one place. If there is a safe in the accommodation place, keep valuables there and don’t carry them around with you. Use every hidden pocket in your clothes or purse to stash credit cards and important papers.
For gentlemen, we recommend that you carry your wallet in a front instead of a back pocket of your pants, and for ladies to choose a bag that they can place in front of them. Always keep it closed and don’t let it out of sight.
In general, keep in mind that in Bulgaria and in particular Plovdiv - more and more places accept cashless payments and you can safely not carry too much cash with you.
Be alert if someone too aggressively invades your personal space and cautious when strangers stop you with strange requests or inappropriate questions.
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