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How to Pickpocket - Survival Fitness Plan

Learn some basic pickpocketing techniques

How to Pickpocket

In this article you will learn some basic pickpocketing techniques.

Learning how to pickpocket someone is a valuable skill when escaping your enemy. Knowing a few common pickpocket techniques will also help you in pickpocket protection.

What is a Pickpocket?

The standard pickpocket definition is "a person who steals money, wallets, etc., from the pockets of people, as in crowded public places." - (via

The pickpocket is a gray man. He or she is someone that other people overlook and don’t worry about. Achieve this non-suspicious persona and you will have one of the most powerful techniques of a professional pickpocket.

How to Pick Pockets

Here is a basic four-part method for how to learn to pickpocket and will teach you how to pickpocket wallets, though you can adapt it for other things. 

1. Choose a Mark

A mark is a person you plan to use your pickpocket tricks on. He is your victim.

Choose the person with the most value. On the street, this would be someone with a lot of money, and/or car keys. As a captive, you might choose someone who has the keys to your cell or a weapon.

The only way to determine who has what is with observation. If you need money, go to places where money is visible, such as ATMs, racetracks, bars, and banks. 

Older people are easier marks because they often need help, which allows you to get close. They are also less sensitive to your moves.

Once you have a mark, tail him until an opportunity presents itself.

2. Determine Location

Never attempt a lift (the act of taking something) unless you know where an item is. 

Watching where your mark puts an item of value is the most reliable way to confirm its location. Another option is to look for the weight and/or shape of the object. Your mark may check it periodically, placing his hands on it to make sure it’s still there.

The back pocket is the easiest to lift from. A skilled pickpocket can get to any pocket, but as an amateur, you should avoid:

  • Tight pants.
  • ​Front pockets.
  • ​Inner jacket pockets.
  • ​A wallet placed side-on (that is, in a position where the fold of it is not directly up or down).

3. Wait for or Create an Impact Distraction

Pick your mark’s pocket is when he is distracted. People can only concentrate on one thing at a time. You want him focused on anything that isn’t you or what you want to take.

The best type of distraction is one that has a small physical impact with him. This is because any sensation from a greater force nullifies that of a lesser force. For example, if someone taps him on the shoulder, he is less likely to feel you removing his wallet.

Impact distractions can occur naturally in crowded places, or you can create them. For example, you can spill something on him (preferably something hot) or bump into him while pretending to be drunk.

4. Lift the Item

The two-finger snag is an easy way to lift items of various shapes and sizes, such as a phone, keys, or a wallet, especially if they are in a rear or outer coat-pocket.

Stand behind your mark and make a narrow "V" with your index and middle fingers. 

Place your fingers inside his pocket, just far enough to touch the item, but no more. 

Jerk it out quickly and forcefully as the distraction occurs.


The two-finger snag.

When you have the time, such as when you’re waiting in line, you can nudge a phone or wallet up bit by bit. Make sure your hands are visible after every big push. 

Aborting the Lift

If a suspicious mark turns around, throw the wallet on the floor and then pick it up, saying "I think you dropped this."

When caught before the lift is complete, play it off as an accidental bump. 

If accused, deny everything. Run if needed.

How to Practice Pickpocketing

Learning how to be a pickpocket is a skill, and like any skill, it requires practice for you to get to be any good at it. You need to put yourself through pickpocket training.

Practicing this pickpocket exercise on real marks is not a good idea, but practicing on real people is essential, as they can provide feedback. If you need a cover story, tell them you are learning pickpocket magic.

When a real person is not available, use a mannequin, a coat on a chair, and/or trousers filled with rags.

Pickpocket Prevention

Now that you know how to pick pockets, you also know what to look out for so you can protect yourself from it. 

The principal thing is to not be an obvious mark. Keep your valuables hidden and stay alert. When you are alert to your surroundings, you are more of a risk for thieves and they will choose an easier mark. Take extra caution in crowded places and/or when distracted. 

Putting a few elastic bands around your wallet and/or phone will make it grip to your pocket if someone tries to lift it. 

If carrying a bag or purse, keep it closed and hold it close to your body. This will also prevent bag snatchers. 

My last of these anti-pickpocketing tips is to wear pickpocket proof clothing. This means not to have loose pockets. Jeans make for good pickpocket proof pants - just don't use the back pocket. For pickpocket proof shorts, zip or button pockets are ideal. You can also sew in secret pockets or buy anti pickpocket clothing online.

Check some out here.

Pick Pocket Tutorial Conclusion

There are many other techniques for picking pockets, but the pickpocket guide explained above is (arguably) the easiest to master with the highest chance of success.

Now you also have a better idea of how to avoid pickpockets in Europe or any other place you end up in the world.

Did you find this article about how to pickpocket useful? If so, please share it with your friends.

Article by Sam Fury

Sam Fury 3 png
Sam Fury 3 png

Sam Fury is the creator and owner of the Survival Fitness Plan.

He has had a passion for martial arts and outdoor pursuits since he was a young boy growing up in Australia.

As a young adult he joined the military and studied outdoor leadership in college. After that, to further his skills, Sam started traveling to learn from the best in the world in various fields related to the Survival Fitness Plan including various martial arts in China, SE Asia and Brazil, Parkour in Singapore, Surf Life Saving in Australia, and others. 

These days, he still enjoys learning new things, traveling and sharing what he has learned via the Survival Fitness Plan. 

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