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SPD Home / Safety & Prevention / Purse and Wallet Theft Prevention

Purse and Wallet Theft Prevention

Lost Wallet

Minimizing what you carry in your wallet or purse, can minimize the damage in the case of loss or theft. Just carry the documents and cards you really need.

Especially downtown, you may see our officers on foot patrol, bicycle patrol, or even mounted (horse) patrol.

Unfortunately, there is no style of handbag or wallet that cannot be taken. There is no foolproof way to carry possessions. If the robber wants your valuables, chances are he/she will get them. However, there are good strategies to reduce your risk of becoming a victim.

SPOT AND AVOID POTENTIAL TROUBLE

  • Be aware of your surroundings and know who is nearby.
  • Pay attention to the uncomfortable feelings that often warn us of potential danger.
  • Don't be afraid to cross the street, return to a business, or ask for help based on a "funny feeling". You may be right!

MINIMIZE THE OPPORTUNITY FOR LOSS

  • Learn to carry only what is actually needed.
  • Carry only small amounts of cash.
  • Take only the credit cards you actually plan to use.
  • Leave expensive jewelry at home.
  • Don't carry anything that is irreplaceable unless you absolutely must, even if it has no cash value.

MINIMIZE THE OPPORTUNITY FOR INJURY

  • Your safety should be the number one priority.
  • Make a plan for how you would respond if someone tried to steal your purse or wallet.
  • Don't resist or try to fool the robber.
  • "Instinctive" behaviors or responses can be overcome with practice and planning.

SAFELY CARRYING VALUABLES

  • Handbags should be closed, carried in front of the body with an arm held loosely across it. A bag dangling by your side is much easier for a thief to grab on the run.
  • If wearing a handbag with a strap over the head, choose a thin strap, and wear it under your coat. This makes it harder for the robber to grab the strap. A hard yank on a strap may cause a fall and an injury.
  • Many women find they don't need to carry a handbag all the time. Place essentials (keys, small amount of cash, I.D.) in a pocket.
  • Avoid carrying house keys in your handbag. Instead, carry keys in a pocket. Chances are your address is on a document in the bag. If the thief has your keys and address he/she has easy entry to your home.
  • Consider reducing the items of personal or sentimental value that you routinely carry. Losing family photos, address books, and important papers is usually more traumatic to victims than financial loss.
  • If you must carry a large amount of cash or valuable items, do not carry them in your handbag or wallet. Carry valuables in an inside pocket.

THEFTS AND PICKPOCKETS

  • Don't make it easy for thieves. They are on the lookout for items left in cars, grocery carts, dressing rooms or desks. It takes only seconds to grab your property and get away.
  • When in public be sure your handbag clasp or zipper is closed. Wallets and checkbooks should not protrude from pockets.
  • Be especially cautious in busy stores, shopping districts, at public events, on buses, and at bus stops. Thieves are attracted to crowds. Noise and confusion help conceal their crimes.
  • Pickpockets often work in teams; one creates a distraction by bumping or shoving, dropping something, or asking a question while others lift wallets from pockets or handbags.

RESPONDING TO A CONFRONTATION

  • If a robber grabs your bag, resist the impulse to play tug of war. If you hang on, chances are you will be knocked down, hit, or kicked and the robber will get your bag anyway.
  • Victims sometimes tell a robber they have no money. This technique may backfire. It is safer to give up a few dollars. Carry a little money in an accessible place for just this purpose. Keep it separate from other funds.
  • If someone demands your property and displays or implies in anyway that they have a weapon, hand the bag or wallet to them.
 
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SEATTLE POLICE DEPARTMENT
Headquarters: 610 5th Avenue,
Seattle, WA 98124-4986
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