HEIDELBERG, Germany -- Law enforcement officials at the U.S. Army Europe Office of the Provost Marshal have noticed that more USAREUR personnel have become victims of pickpocket crime in recent weeks.

"That is because pickpockets are generally only active when the weather is good, and the warm weather is finally here," said Joe Day, the OPM's chief of law enforcement.

Pickpockets stalk their victims and strike when they are vulnerable, Day explained.

"If anyone jostles, bumps or crowds you, a pickpocket may be in action," he said.

OPM experts also recommend watching out for staged distractions. A thief might drop something or cause a loud commotion to distract you while his partner in crime steals your valuables and walks away.

Other common techniques include thieves:

-- Offering to help load bags on or off a train, then stealing something from them
-- Slitting open backpacks and taking whatever drops out;
-- Watching people buy tickets or food at train / metro stations to see where they keep their money
-- Targeting people who have had one too many in bars and clubs
-- Taking valuables left on a beach while the owner is swimming
-- Travelers who sleep on trains or leave bags unguarded at their seats

OPM experts say it's best to take care to not make yourself an easy target for criminals.

Day said slinging open purses or pocketbooks over a shoulder invites theft, and recommends that women carry their handbags in front of them. He added that men should place their wallets in a front pants pocket if possible.

Day said it's best not to flash a lot of cash when shopping, and hold onto receipts and other documents that have credit card account numbers on them.

OPM officials said members of the U.S. forces community in Europe can contact their local Provost Marshal Office for more security tips.

Page last updated Tue May 21st, 2013 at 00:00