We were riding down the escalator in the Paris Metro when someone in front of us bent down to pick up something and started backing up against us. My situational awareness told me something was wrong. “Check your wallet” I quickly said to a friend traveling with us. “I still have it” he said but about 50 feet later he realized that he was missing cash from another pocket. We had only been in Paris for a matter of minutes but the friend who we had talked into coming had been robbed.
You don’t have to talk to very many travelers to hear similar stories of being targeted with property crime in foreign locations. As in my story, the travelers are usually not at risk but their purse or wallet is. Pickpockets target travelers because they are less aware and more vulnerable. The vast majority of these stories would end differently if travelers would take simple precautions like using a money belt. My valuables were safely in a travel pouch (like a money belt but warn around the neck) so I was not worried that I was going to be robbed.
Another friend told us the story of his father who put his money in a money belt but left his credit card in his wallet in his back pocket and lost that to pickpockets in Prague. So he had all the right equipment but he has to lose points for execution of the plan as he lost the wallet.
For more safety tips check out this list at Travelhacker: 40+ Safety Tips for Solo Travelers.