Minor thievery

Peru’s reputation for crime comes mainly from a large number of sneak thieves; some are professionals who prowl tourist areas, others are opportunists out for what they can get. 

The pocket pick 

Some are subtle (“hang on, didn’t I have my camera in that pocket…”), others shove a hand in your pocket hard, grab what they can get and then make a run for it. To avoid them: money belts are good, zippered trouser pockets are good, loose pockets and jacket pockets are bad. When somewhere unsavory, keep aware of people around you and what’s in which of your pockets.  

The bag snatch 

Also great for cameras and the like, this is when a crook grabs something you’re holding, wrenches it from your grip and runs away. Keep thing hidden when possible, don’t have large banknotes where you have to get them out all the time, and maintain a good grip. If something has a strap don’t just dangle it in your fingers, give it a wrap or two around your arm. Watches are also snatched, particularly from people asleep on buses. And if you leave a bag out of your sight, even if it’s under the table and between your legs, don’t be surprised if it disappears.  Hand luggage on the bus may well disappear, whereas anything you put in the hold is very likely to still be there when you arrive.

The diversion 

Something surprising happens, whoops, bang, you’ve lost your passport. People dirtying you with mustard, ketchup, spitting on you and such like is a worldwide classic. It’s when they’re helping you clean up that they get the stuff, so refuse all offers of assistance.

Other favorite diversions include:
Someone falling over spectacularly, often an elderly woman
Someone talking to you or shouting at you, often incomprehensibly
Someone warning you insistently about the dangers of crime
One kid banging hard on the windows of a bus, while another grabs your watch from the other side

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