India Travel Safety

Pickpockets in India and What to Do If It Happens to You

Pickpockets are crafty, it’s an art, and it’s damn annoying if you lose your passport to them! Luckily, in my experience with pickpockets, I didn’t lose that much.

I was travelling by the Delhi Metro back to my apartment one night around 6 pm. I walked into the Khan Market Station like I do every other day. I passed through the security scanners and took the long stairs down to the platform to go home for the day.

As I reached the platform, I saw three young guys standing not on the platform waiting for a train, but back against the station wall. I didn’t think anything of it. The metro arrived a few seconds later. “Great timing,” I thought to myself.

Stolen goods likely end up at a Chor Bazaar (Thieves Market). Photo by Mathanki Kodavasal.
Stolen goods end up at a Chor Bazaar (Thieves Market). Photo by Mathanki Kodavasal.

As I entered the metro train carriage, I stood with my back against the wall very close to the door as I was getting off at the next stop. That’s when I felt three men push roughly past me. As soon as they passed, I knew something was wrong. It was rush hour, but it wasn’t very busy. There was plenty of room in front of me so there was no need to push past me.

That’s when I realised my shorts felt a little lighter. I put my hand into my pocket and felt in disbelief that it was empty. My phone was gone.

Now I realise those three guys at the platform were standing back and scanning for targets. When they saw me enter, they had their target. They were probably hoping that because I’m a foreigner I’d have an expensive phone. Unfortunately for them, I didn’t.

The next day I went to the Connaught Place Police Station. It turns out that there’s a particular Police station just for Metro related crime. I told the Police I don’t have time to go to another station and for them to take the report. You have to be stroppy in India as it seems like public servants are always trying to pass work onto someone else. The Police officer finally gave in and helped me enter my report into the online incident system which forwards the report to the correct station.

To avoid pickpockets

  1. Be aware in crowded public spaces and on public transportation. As a foreigner, you’re a target.
  2. Don’t keep valuables in your front or back pant pockets. You need to store them smartly in a wallet that hangs around your neck under your t-shirt or in a backpack with an anti-theft compartment.
  3. Always take out travel insurance, in case the worst does happen. I’ve always used World Nomads, they’re the cheapest & you can buy and extend insurance even when overseas already.

If you do get pickpocketed, go to the nearest Police Station and file a report, even if it’s just for insurance purposes. The Police will organise for your phone’s IMEI number to be blocked, so the stolen phone becomes unusable on cellular networks.

I had travel insurance, so after filing a Police report, digging up my receipts, and wasting a lot of time, I received the value of my phone back within 2 weeks from my insurer.

By Karl Rock

Karl Rock, is a Hindi speaking Kiwi ex-pat who take viewers behind the scenes of incredible India and its neighbours. He has visited every state and union territory in India, and its culturally similar neighbours – Pakistan and Bangladesh, and aims to make others fall in love with India and the subcontinent.

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