Pickpockets in Lisbon

There is a lot of talk about pickpockets in Lisbon, but you are not told how to spot them, how they act, who they are and above all where you are most likely (or not) to come across them...

Have you been a victim of pickpockets in Lisbon ? Are you wondering what to do now ? "I was robbed in Lisbon" ?

Go to the tourist police to report the incident. The officers speak English. They will do everything to help you with your complaint. Here is the address of the Tourist Police in Lisbon :

Praça dos Restauradores - Palácio Foz, 1250-187 Lisboa

I'll add the phone but they will tell you to go to the above address : 00 351 213 421 623

What can you expect in the best of circumstances ?

That the robbers, as is often the case, keep the cash and dispose of your belongings in the nearest rubbish bin, a little alley, a discreet corner... And that a kind soul who stumbles upon it calls the police to return the found documents. This happens in many cases ! Don't hesitate to leave a telephone number in your wallet. If you don't do anything, then your papers will stay in Portugal.

Pickpockets, robbers, crooks, scoundrels... Take your precautions !

If you don’t want to be a victim of these bandits, you can use this investigation to :

  1. Know how to locate pickpockets.
  2. Recognise them.
  3. Not to be robbed.
  4. Shout and show your disapproval of this practice.
  5. Challenge them and alert other tourists to what they are up to…
  6. And if unfortunately you have been cheated, you will also know where to go to file a complaint (see first part of the post)…
Lisbon pickpockets blend in and pretend to be tourists
Tourist in Tshirt (background), pickpockets in jacket and scarf

The problem with pickpockets in Lisbon.

Why are there so many pickpockets in Lisbon ? It's a fact, there are many of them and they slip through the net all the time. The police arrest them and let them go if they don't do anything serious. So they know them, they are all on the register. The authorities have their home addresses, but nothing can be done about such a minor offence.

The police have other things to worry about ! Your vigilance is the only way to stop them.

Click here to see a map where you can find pickpockets in Lisbon, the whole area is at risk but they are mostly at the marks.

This map of Lisbon lists places that pickpockets particularly appreciate because of the steepness of the streets, their narrowness which allows for a tourist density, the interesting environment which diverts your attention...

Streets and places by districts :

Presence of pickpockets by street and neighbourhood

What are the favourite targets of pickpockets ?

This problem is not new and has many victims with common characteristics :

  1. Nationalities or ethnic origins : Asians, Italians, French, Spanish have a lot of cash on them. This is a blessing for our criminal friends.
  2. Age inevitably plays in favour of the youngest... Not very attentive, the elderly are most often victims of these criminals because they are easy prey due to their lack of reactivity. Beware, being in your thirties does not mean that you will fall through the cracks.
  3. The number of people is an important factor, but so is confusion, which helps them to slip into your pockets... Groups in narrow passages and also staircases are assets that they take advantage of. Beware if you close the gap, you are the preferred target.
  4. Size... these thieves rarely attack the strongest among us.
  5. The attire : backpacks and shoulder bags, easy-to-open handbags are their thing. Take some yes but keep the wallets in your pockets.
Lisbon pickpockets blend in and pretend to be tourists
Here, a group of tourists with 3 pickpockets. Photo taken near the Castelo Sao Jorge.

Who are Lisbon's pickpockets and how do you spot them ?

Our scoundrels like to blend in... Their clothes are common, but above all, they pretend to be tourists : fake selfies, gestures pointing out the beautiful panoramas and a map of Lisbon in hand (which they only look at while walking and an eye on the surrounding backpacks).

Pickpocket in action in Lisbon dressed as a tourist
Two individuals who do everything to remain unnoticed...
Pickpocket in action in Lisbon
And yet they were following a prey with a open bag ! Their map is therefore ready to be unfolded so that the hand can dive in and snatch the wallet...

To spot them, here are some key details :

  1. They are never alone but 2 or 3.
  2. They have a long shawl, a scarf.
  3. A shoulder bag or backpack.
  4. A cap/sunglasses.
  5. They have a map of the city in their pocket or in their hand. What is suspicious is that they take it out without paying attention to it or they consult it while walking. It’s impossible to read ! They know where they are going !

Here are some portraits of some pickpockets in Lisbon :

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