Can Pickpockets Steal From Front Pockets? (Real Truth)

The rule of thumb is to avoid keeping your wallet, cash, phone, or other valuables in your back pocket because pickpockets can steal them.

As a result, people are often recommended to move their valuables to their front pockets. But that begs the question, can pickpockets steal from front pockets?

Experienced pickpockets can steal from front pockets. Keeping cash, wallets, IDs, jewelry, and other valuables in the front pockets is safer than keeping them in the back pocket because it is more difficult for pickpockets to steal from the front pocket. 

Front pockets are believed to be safer compared to back pockets. Even master pickpockets admit that.

However, there is a little more to this topic, and if you are interested in learning more, continue reading below.

Can Pickpockets Steal From Front Pockets

Why Are Front Pockets Safer Than Back Pockets?

Keeping money, credit cards, ID, and other small valuables in the front pockets is safer than keeping them in your back pocket because your front pockets are in your direct line of sight. With front pockets, pickpockets have to worry also about bumping into the victim’s hands, while back pockets are often unobstructed.

Since your back pockets are not in your direct line of sight, you will not be able to see if a pickpocket gets too close to you or tries to steal anything from you. And you have to rely on feeling alone. The back pocket is also a lot easier to reach in and fish for whatever is inside.

What’s more, stealing from a person’s back pocket means that the thief is not facing the victim directly, and the victim may not be able to identify them.

All that means that you are unlikely to spot the thief as they try to steal something from you. And pickpockets are experienced in stealing without getting noticed. They are also very good at creating distractions that will divert the victim’s attention away from the actual act of stealing.

Shallow back pockets, which women often use to keep their phones in, despite being very tight, are also not safe. These can be especially inviting to snatchers, who can simply grab the phone and run away. And some experienced pickpockets may still be able to steal the phone without the victim immediately noticing.

Now, suppose you have a tight and deep back pocket. In that case, it might be extremely hard or even completely impossible for the pickpocket to reach inside and steal your money or wallet without you noticing.

While a back pocket with a button or zipper is going to be harder to pick than a regular open back pocket, these are also not entirely impossible to unbutton or unzip without the victim noticing. Some pickpockets can even try to cut through the back pocket’s bottom sewing.

Now, if we dive a little deeper, we will find something interesting.

Right-handed pickpockets tend to find the left back pocket easier to steal from as they can do it as they pass by their victim.

The same logic can be applied to stealing from front pockets. In the case of stealing from a front pocket, it’s more likely for the pickpocket to be facing the victim, but it also means that a right-handed pickpocket is more likely to try and steal from the victim’s right front pocket.


Do Pickpockets Steal From Front Pockets?

Yes but not easilty! Pickpockets can steal from front pockets, though they are less likely to target them than back pockets. You see, they want to get in and out as quickly as possible without being caught.

The chances of getting caught are higher if the pickpocket targets front pockets because these pockets are usually more difficult to access without drawing attention.

If a pickpocket chooses to operate in crowded areas, he or she will usually only target pockets that are easy to access. These include back pockets, coat pockets, and bags (e.g., purses). 

It is easy for pickpockets to steal from back pockets. However, front pockets are not entirely pickpocket-proof either. Stealing from front pockets on suit pants, baggy pants, shorts, and jeans is not impossible and experienced pickpockets can do it.

Lower side pockets on cargo pants are unsafe as well and even easier to steal from. Some pickpockets also target front pockets of sports jackets and suit coats.

What’s more, pickpockets may be able to create enough of a distraction to create a small window during which they will try to steal whatever they can get their hands on, even from the victim’s front pockets.

Remember that pickpockets do not reach all the way down into their victim’s pockets because they will be easier to catch as the victim is more likely to feel that somebody is trying to pickpocket them. Pickpockets usually reach just a little into the top of the pocket.

So, deep front pockets that are not flimsy and very tight front pockets are usually safer and deter most pickpockets.


Do Pickpockets Steal From the Front Pocket of Backpacks and Purses?

Pickpockets are known to steal from the front pockets of backpacks. These are very easy to unzip and steal from if not secured in an additional way. They typically provide less resistance when unzipped, meaning the victim is unlikely to feel the front pocket of their backpack being unzipped—especially while standing at a red light, being in a crowded bus, or using an escalator.

Keeping valuables somewhere deep inside the backpack in one of the inner zipped pockets is significantly safer than the easy-to-reach and unzip front pocket.

The same applies to purses.

Women should avoid keeping cash, wallet, phone, and other valuables in their purse’s front pockets or compartments. Anything of value should be kept in an inner zipped or buttoned pocket inside the purse that it is not easy to reach or spot.

To deter pickpockets, it is best to keep your purse to your side with your arm over it or in front of your body.


How to Prevent Pickpockets From Stealing From Your Front Pockets

In order to prevent pickpockets from stealing from your front pockets, one of the most common recommendations is to wrap a few rubber bands around your phone or wallet. This is an extremely cheap way to secure your valuables and can be easily tested in a home setting as well.

Adding a few rubber bands will increase the friction between your wallet or smartphone and the fabric of the pocket. This makes your wallet or phone harder to get out of the pocket without you noticing because it will get stuck in the pocket. Usually, pickpockets will leave immediately if they feel any resistance on the object they are trying to steal because this can alert the victim of what is happening.

Wearing a jacket or longer shirt that covers the front pockets can make it even harder for pickpockets to steal anything from your front pockets. The longer shirt will cover the pocket and will be an additional barrier that the pickpocket will have to deal with without you noticing.

Some people like to keep their cash in their front pocket while carrying a dummy wallet with no money inside their back pocket as a decoy. The majority of pickpockets will go for the easy to get dummy wallet in the back pocket and never bother trying to see if their victim just happens to have anything extra in the harder-to-reach front pocket.

People who prefer to carry their wallets are advised to consider using wallets that are designed to be more inconspicuous and fit better in the front pockets of jeans and pants. An excellent example of such a wallet can be seen from Rogue. A wallet like this one (link to Amazon) can give pickpockets a hard time.

Pickpockets are opportunists, and they look for easy targets. They look for people that are usually distracted, careless, or drunk. Staying safe from pickpockets is often as easy as remaining vigilant, alert, and mindful of how you use your valuables and where you keep them.


Is Keeping Your Valuables in Your Front Pocket Enough?

Keeping your cash, wallet, phone, or other valuables in your front pocket is not entirely safe. So do not let your guard down. Regardless of what you do, it is recommended to carry only things that you can afford to lose.

Some people prefer to carry two wallets.

  • The first wallet is for keeping a little cash, public transport cards and tickets, discount cards and coupons, and other low-value frequently used items.
  • The second wallet will have IDs, credit cards, larger amounts of cash, and other important documents. This wallet should be kept in a safer place, like a zipped pocket on the inside of your jacket, and only used indoors.

Some people prefer to carry a security belt where they will keep most of their cash and important documents. However, the belt should not be used in public where people can see it. For example, it should be used in private rooms or spaces like a restroom.

A good idea can be to keep loose cash in your front pocket because it is harder to steal. However, even loose cash in your front pocket is not 100% safe as an experienced thief can steal it, and it may be less likely for you to feel the cash missing.

Some people prefer to use a wallet chain to secure their wallets. However, according to the information shared by one experienced pickpocket, wallet chains can do more harm than good. A wallet chain will almost immediately inform pickpockets where you keep your wallet. What is more, the chain can be used to fish your wallet out of your pocket. So a wallet chain is not always a good idea, although it will deter less experienced pickpockets.

Overall keeping your cash, wallet, phone, keys, and other valuables in your front pocket is safer than keeping them in your back pocket. However, this in and of itself is not going to deter all pickpockets.

Exercising basic caution, being mindful of your belongings and how you handle them in public, and using some common sense is going to be more than enough to deter most pickpockets.

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Edward Clark
Edward Clark, with 15 years of hands-on experience, is a distinguished expert in smart locks and home security systems. He holds a B.S. in Computer Engineering with a focus on Cybersecurity and is a member of the Electronic Security Association (ESA). His credentials include certifications from ASIS International, IAPP, CompTIA, NTS, and CEDIA. With expertise spanning risk management, electronic security, and data privacy, he's been featured in The Guardian, Forbes, Wired, and more. Edward's mission: guiding individuals toward secure homes using the latest technologies.

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