Is Istanbul Safe?
Some of the methods of operation used by local pick-pockets and purse-snatchers include:
- A staged "fight" or "chase scene" on the sidewalk that draws the attention of passersby -- while the thief reaches for wallets and purses. Recently these actions have increased in complexity utilizing up to five men in a choreographed chase/fight that culminates where the victim is standing. Escape is sometimes by a taxi working for the thieves. Defensive response: Immediately move into a shop, doorway or away from the attack site. Shout "police" if necessary.
- A stranger spilling something on the victim and then taking his wallet while pretending to help clean up the mess.
- An individual carrying boxes "bumps" into the victim while an accomplice takes the wallet.
- A stranger bumps into victim saying "pardon" and takes the money.
- Women's purses have been taken by utilizing deception/distraction and by simply snatching the purse and running.
- The sidewalks have been worked successfully by teams of gypsy women and children. They usually block the victim's route, distract, ask questions, and/or request medical assistance while the children reach into the victim's purse taking the money. The victim usually realizes a robbery has occurred only later after the thieves have departed the area.