Before I get into how it happened I should outline that I’m actually a very careful and security conscious person. There were some chances I had to avoid it all happening, had I followed  what my gut feeling told me. However I guess the moral of the story is, just because you’re aware of the potential of a situation to happen – doesn’t mean you can stop it from happening. 

So to paint a picture we’re in Mexico City, we jumped into the metro to head into the city centre, we being my fiancee and myself. We’d only one objective for that day and that was to pick up her wedding ring that we’d spent quite some time researching the previous weekend. We grabbed a couple of beers (literally 2) and scouted out some areas for Christmas shopping before deciding to head back to the house.

Somewhat ironically enough, I was extra switched on, Christmas time with more crowds and more people out shopping with their Christmas bonuses is an ideal time for thieves. Not that it mattered. 

The Metro under this palace

So we made our way down to the Metro and pretty much made our first mistake in hanging around until peak time. So the trains were all absolutely rammed full of people. One moment that really stood out to me was this old Mexican lady shoving an old Mexican man out of her way. It was that kind of mood. 

The first train came and was stupidly full so we let it pass. I was getting a negative attitude about the area we were standing in like people were annoyed or angry. I suggested we get an Uber instead, we decided we’d see if the next train was worth getting. All I could think about was this was the perfect place for a pickpocket, getting on and off the trains, people were bumping and pushing like crazy. I kept my hands on my pockets the whole time just to be sure. Though this was in vain

So the next train comes and it looks like we might have a chance so we moved closer, until people come rushing out of it so we tried to back off a bit to let them past. It’s at this point we both get pushed and shoved from multiple directions, people rushing past in both directions. My Finacee got a particurarly hard shove and thinking of the wedding ring she had in her bag I turned around to tell them to calm down only to feel a shove and an impact on my left side, just where my phone was. 

Straight away I reached for my phone to check and to my absolute disgust, it was gone (A Samsung s8 – not cheap!). I knew straight away what had happened and even if I had eyes on the back of my head I doubt I could have pointed out who did it. I almost have to give them props for the execution and brass neck on them for the station was full of police – we reported the stolen phone straight away but was basically told unless we could point out the person or group well tough ( though in a polite way ) 

From talking to the police officer and rewinding the situation it seemed likely it was a group working together around us. We weren’t even in a ‘bad’ station and the one we were in was considered safe. 

Chalk it up to an expensive mistake – my insurance had long been canceled and I doubt they would have covered international travel ( You know how insurance companies are with small print ). I’m most annoyed with myself for not following my own instincts and normal precautions listed below which work very well. So learn from my mistake.

How to avoid pickpockets in any city 

I know what you’re thinking, why would I take advise from the guy who got his stuff stolen? Well because it was my first time ever getting something stolen and to be fair, I was fairly lax compared to my usual attitude. 

I’d also point out I’m not annoyed at Mexico City or it’s citizens for this happening, it happens worldwide and you’d be a fool to think otherwise. A few years ago in France whilst we were visiting Paris I seen a woman have a phone stolen out of her hands in the metro just a few metres away. 

Wear a neck pouch

I’ve been in Mexico City on and off about a year now spread over the last 3 years. In the past, I would always have limited the amount I carried at any time into a neck pouch I’d wear around my neck that would hang on my chest. This works for a couple of reasons

  1. Out of sight, out of mind – People don’t see it so you’re not as much a target. 
  2. Hard to get – It takes effort on my part to get it out so there’s no chance someone would be able to reach it without my consent or notice. 
  3. Hard to cut – It would hang under my t-shirt collar and the material is sturdy so it’s not like they could slice it off me ( again I’d definitely notice the person trying ) 

If you’re looking for that neck pouch – it’s this one and it’s kept my passports safe many a time. 

Don’t use your phone in public 

Not something I would ever have done in the Metro anyway but it’s possible they could have ‘marked me’ watching me use it in the bar or shop for example. 

Avoid Peak times / Crowded spots

Ignoring my gut instincts for convenience was definitely the downfall here. Public transport and the metro is incredibly useful in Mexico City but it’s like any city, the pickpockets will be about at the most opportune times and these times are when most people are about. Crime happens, especially in these areas when you don’t take the precautions. 

Avoid keeping valuable items in your front pockets

My biggest annoyance at myself was doing this when I knew the risks. Normally as I wrote earlier I’d use a satchel but I didn’t bring it this time, failing that I’d usually wear a jacket with an inside pocket. I had grabbed a hoodie leaving the house instead – poor choice. 

You might think I was wearing Jeans with loose pockets – not the case, the pockets are quite tight. Though none of that matters too much to a thief using distraction techniques with a partner and some sleight of hand skill. 

In summary 

Learn from my mistake, use the advice listed when travelling across any city if you want to avoid petty crime like pick pocketing.

Though for losing my phone at least I have my health which in the grand scheme of things, matters a bit more. Now that I’ve experienced it, you quickly realise how fast it actually happens and it wouldn’t take much for it to be a knife added to the equation so I’ve added it to the list of life experiences to learn from.

Though, it’s not going to put me off traveling anytime soon.