Safety in Rome Pickpockets

Safety in Rome · A comprehensive guide for tourists

Pickpockets are a problem in Rome, as they are in all major tourist destinations. Those who take precautions can save themselves a lot of time and trouble.

It is not the loss of money and valuables that is most annoying, but the loss of ID and irreplaceable photos and memories. After reporting the loss to the State Police or the Carabinieri, you will have to obtain replacement documents and possibly postpone your trip. In order to avoid this, this guide looks at various aspects of security and gives you practical tips to help you discover the wonders of Rome safely.


Pickpockets Mobile Phone
  • Be vigilant: busy streets, crowded monuments and public transport offer many opportunities for theft and fraud. Be alert and aware of your surroundings.
  • Do not carry valuables: Carry only the essentials, such as some money, identification and a credit card, and leave everything else in a safe place. Don’t wear expensive jewelry or attract attention with expensive electronics.
  • Keep everything secure: Carry purses and wallets close to your body with the zipper or clasp facing inward. Use a money belt or hidden pocket to keep valuables secure under your clothing. Shoulder bags need to be strong enough to resist being torn off.
  • Beware of distractions: If someone asks for directions with a map, bumps into you, or steps on your feet, you are usually dealing with a gang of pickpockets. While you are distracted, another member of the gang will steal from you.
In the Rome Metro
  • Use safe transportation: Use only licensed taxis or transportation services. Public transportation, such as the subway and some bus lines, is at high risk of theft and should be used with extra caution. Never stand by an open door, especially on the subway, as thieves can steal your valuables and disappear through the closing door.
  • Stay informed: Find out about your destination in advance so you don’t have to fumble with maps and navigation services on the way. Memorize the emergency number 112.
  • Buy tickets in advance: With few exceptions, you can buy your tickets online in advance. This way, you avoid fumbling with money and credit cards in public and giving thieves a clue as to where your valuables are.

Dangerous areas

Although Rome is generally a safe city, there are some areas known for higher crime rates or targeted scams. Exercise caution during your visit:

  • Termini Station: As Rome’s main transportation hub, Termini Station is heavily trafficked and a known hotspot for pickpocketing and other petty crime, especially in crowded areas and near ticket counters.
  • Tourist attractions: The Colosseum Square, the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps attract large crowds and are popular targets for pickpockets and con artists. Be vigilant, don’t get involved in conversations, don’t shake hands and never take money out of your pocket.
  • Public transportation: The Roman subway is generally not safe and should be avoided during rush hours. In some stations there are often more pickpockets than passengers. Buses 40 and 64, which run from the main train station to St. Peter’s, are also notorious.


In the past, pickpockets in Rome were mainly underage children, but today they are people of all ages and nationalities. Pickpockets are as international as the visitors to Rome and often look like tourists.

They almost always work in gangs and coordinate by cell phone. You can identify them by the fact that they almost always wear small earpieces. Women often wear a jacket or scarf over their arms, and men often carry a map or newspaper. Several gangs are often present on a square or platform at the same time.

The gang leader, who may be an elegantly dressed woman, selects wealthy victims and sets the gang loose.

Platform of the subway in Rome

These are some classic situations you should be prepared for:

  • Pickpocketing on buses and subways: Thefts often occur when people board the subway. One member of the group holds the door open long enough for his colleagues to escape through the closing door. A sure sign that pickpockets are present is when the driver honks his horn.
  • Pickpockets on the street: They approach you with street maps, ask you a question or a request, ask where you are from, and extend their hand. Ignore them and keep walking. Do not shake hands! Don’t let anyone stop you and don’t stand still!
  • Pickpockets in crowds: Be vigilant in crowded areas, especially at tourist attractions and markets, in queues and at ticket machines. Keep your mobile phone, money and documents in a safe place.


Although many beggars in Rome are genuinely needy, tourists should be wary of aggressive beggars and scammers. They are often sent out on the streets by criminal gangs at certain times and in certain places.

Beggars in Rome

Beggars often kneel in the middle of the sidewalk in a pathetic position. It is best to ignore them and move on. Any interaction can have unpleasant consequences. Do not allow yourself to be begged and do not rifle through your wallet. Never handle money in front of strangers.

It gets embarrassing when beggars start arguing with each other. The video was taken at the exit of St. Peter’s Basilica:

YouTube player


Scammers are often masters of storytelling. They may tell you that they have been robbed and urgently need money to buy a ticket. To make the deal more palatable, they will offer you a supposedly valuable watch at a ridiculously low price. You are persuaded to pay 50 or 100 euros, only to find out later that the watch is worth no more than 5 euros.

Another popular scam is to claim that the item is bankruptcy estate or unaccepted merchandise. They show you supposedly high-quality shirts and suits and let you set the price. You usually overbid for the worthless stuff.

Bootlegger at the Colosseum

The black market for museum tickets is also fraudulent. Especially for the Colosseum and the Vatican Museums exist a lively trade to avoid the queues. We advise you to book these tickets in advance on the Internet.

Car Thieves

If you are renting a car or driving your own car in Rome, you should be as inconspicuous as possible. Highly polished cars with foreign license plates are a magnet for thieves. Do not leave valuables or documents in the car, or park in guarded garages.

RVs are especially popular with thieves. Camper vans are frequently stolen in Rome. Do not leave your camper unattended and book an official campsite for your stay. If a car is on the thieves’ shopping list, it is sometimes towed from the parking lot.

At night

After midnight, the Termini and Tiburtina train station areas and the Trastevere entertainment district can become unpleasant. There are often fights and brawls between drunks.
We advise against night walks in parks and green areas such as Villa Borghese or Pineta Sacchetti. The eastern periphery between Via Nomentana and Via Tiburtina and outside Via Palmiro Togliatti is not recommended.

Women traveling alone

Traveling alone as a woman can be an exciting and enriching experience, but it also requires special care and planning. In addition to our general safety advice, women traveling alone should pay particular attention to the area in which they choose to stay. While the center of Rome is generally safe, other areas are less recommended. These include the area around Termini Station, areas in the east of Rome and areas outside the ring road.
Traveling by public transportation can lead to unpleasant incidents. Especially at night, take a taxi for trips outside the city center.


Rome offers its visitors a wealth of cultural experiences and historical sights that can be enjoyed in complete safety. If you are informed, alert and prepared, you can minimize the risk of becoming a victim of fraud, pickpocketing or other crime. Whether you’re wandering the city’s busy streets or admiring its famous sights, remember to keep your valuables safe, trust your instincts and enjoy what Rome has to offer.

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