Beware of Pickpocket in Lisbon, Portugal

We were just beginning the journey in Lisbon when we had to pause it due to an incident of pickpocket in Lisbon. Slight laxity on our side and we were targeted by the pickpockets. We did the walking tour of Alfama on foot avoiding all trams, hoho bus and autos. Through out the walk the four of us maintained close distance within ourselves, no local got close to us, I remember this very clearly. I am quite sure this incident didn’t happen at Alfma region.

Alfama to Baxia Stroll

After the Alfama stroll we decided to do the walking tour of Baxia. We walked down the main road connecting Alfama to Baxia which was not crowded at all. On the way we spotted Se, the cathedral of Lisbon. From the crowd there we could make out a marriage was on. I got a little excited and tempted at the thought of possible photography. And for a while we ignored the fact it was crowded or may be I thought it is the crowd from groom’s and bride’s family so the crowd should be okay.

We made our way in; the gorgeous golden interiors stumped us. The groom and bride were way ahead near the religious part of the cathedral; no way could I catch a glimpse of them. Like other tourists we paused at the sides took some pics and exited the place. Out, under the blue sky it was a relief! I took the pic of TAP Portugal, the flag carrier airline of Portugal standing here for skywatch.


The Discovery of Loss

We would have hardly walked 200 to 300m when my husband suddenly realized his wallet was missing and he uttered it with disbelief a bit too loudly. The shopkeeper came out hearing him, he felt so sorry for us seeing the four of us huddled together in shock and silence. It took some time to sink in the fact of pickpocket in Lisbon and to think: WHAT NEXT? I asked for the direction to police station, which the shopkeeper very patiently explained.

Before leaving for police station I decided we should go to the cathedral and check the place where we stood. What if the pickpocketer had discarded the wallet after taking the money? But it was all in vain. We found nothing. I explained the situation to one of the gentlemen there and he too advised to register a complaint at the police station.

Pickpocket in LisbonFor the rest of the walk to Police station which was at Lisbon Square we assessed our loss; other than some Euros he lost all the credit cards. Thankfully his international driving license and all our passports were with me!

Portugal Police Station

At the police station I couldn’t believe I was waiting to lodge a formal complaint because there were two other couples registering their complaints and while we were doing the formalities one more tourist couple walked in. They were slightly old and the man was almost in tears, he had lost all his insurance papers too he was saying. I felt so sorry for them I had no words to offer.

Portugal_PoliceThe policemen were courteous and an English speaking policeman spoke to us. He kept asking the exact location where it could have happened. I mentioned about our visit to the crowded church, but we were not sure. In the end he asked how many days we planned to spend in Lisbon, when we said 2 more days, he said please be careful. We have put boards in several places “Beware of Pickpockets” yet such incidents keep happening.

Lisbon is a beautiful city and tourists often get immersed in amazement at the sights!

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88 Responses

  1. sylviakirk says:

    That is so sad, but so common — or at least I found it to be quiet common in Lisbon, but these days, sadly, it is all too common in many place and particularly in the large cities here as well as the rest of the world. I hope you have a lovely weekend, Indrani!!

    • Indrani Ghose says:

      You are so right Sylvia. These kind of thing is common in many parts of the world particularly in big cities. Thank you for the visit and comment. 🙂

  2. Rajesh says:

    That is too bad a experience. It looks these people are too fast at the rate people are queuing up in police station to lodge a complaint.

    • Indrani Ghose says:

      The rate of these incidents is very high there and that police station was exclusively for tourists’ help. Thanks Rajesh for the visit and comment.

  3. Arun says:

    Very bad. So its a common case there 🙁 Thanks for the alert i think we need to be careful in all tourist places.

  4. Everywhere you go nowadays, there are pickpockets especially in big cities. Sorry you had to be victims.

    • Indrani Ghose says:

      Victims yes, we did learn a lesson and so did the children. 🙂
      Thanks for the visit and comment.

  5. It’s an unfortunate event and sorry to hear the same, Indrani.. Hope everything is in control now!

  6. Kishor Kr says:

    So, India is not the only place. I hope there wasn’t too much of a trouble because of the incident.

    • Indrani Ghose says:

      You are right India is not the only place. 🙂
      I had a standby set of cards so in spite of the loss we could continue!
      Thank you Kishor!

  7. ladyfi says:

    Oh, how terrible!

  8. Oh that’s too sad, Indrani. We have to watch all our possessions at all times in South African cities. Puts a dampener on things doesn’t it. Enjoy the rest of your stay – I love your skywatch contribution. Jo

  9. Pick-pocketing is really a bad experience! :/ Thanks for spreading this word of mouth.

  10. MP UPPAL says:

    The experience is a nightmare and dilutes the holiday spirit!

  11. Sri Kri says:

    Very sad to hear this.
    Thanks for writing this as a separate post.

    Sriram & Krithiga

    • Indrani Ghose says:

      All kinds of experiences make a travel, this too had to be experienced. 😛 🙂
      Thank you Krithiga!

  12. Joyful says:

    This is such a terrible thing to happen on holiday. Thank goodness you had the important documents with you. I haven’t travelled much in Europe but I understand that many places have this pickpocket issue. I’m always so worried about losing money and papers on any holiday and try to take great care just like you tried. It’s interesting you mentioned about the wedding. When I took those Skywatch photos on the beach, there was a small wedding party there too.

    • Indrani Ghose says:

      It is only the major cities like Barcelona, Rome, Madrid and some more…This was our 4th trip to Europe and Portugal the 15th country… we had gained a sort of confidence to travel there, now we know we have to be extra careful. Your SWF pics were fantabulous. 🙂
      Thank you for the thoughtful comment. 🙂

  13. Bhavani says:

    Oh…. That’s sad Indrani!!!

  14. Jeevan says:

    Apart losing money, this could have interrupted your scheduled. Although being cautious sometime things happen beyond our control… I think it must be very difficult for you with lose of all credit cards.

    • Indrani Ghose says:

      That day’s evening was spoilt totally! After lodging the complaint we returned to our rooms early.

  15. Rakesh Pandey says:

    Im sure that it’d have been a harrowing experience! That too in a strange city and country! Great that you managed to cope with it.

    • Indrani Ghose says:

      Yes Rakesh. We often hear these things happening to others but when it happens to us it takes a while to overcome it psychologically.

  16. Nisha says:

    Such a terrible thing to happen on holiday. Thank God you had other important docs with you & you guys could handle the loss patiently.

    Paris is one more notch ahead. There even children are involved in petty thefts.

    • Indrani Ghose says:

      We were careful in all those cities but didn’t quite expect it in Lisbon.
      And yes thank God it wasn’t something more serious!

  17. Oh No.. Now that is sad.. its not about the loss of the money but the loss of docments that is the biggest hassle.. takes ages to replace them.. I hope you have called your credit card people to cancel the cards …

    but dont let this dampen your holiday .. have a good time and enjoy ,….


    • Indrani Ghose says:

      We are back Bikram. This happened on 22nd may 2015. We could get things in control soon. Thanks! 🙂

  18. Bob says:

    Horrible, but in this world, many have to do it. They have to eat.

    • Indrani Ghose says:

      Yes you are right! Hope the money helped fill some hungry stomachs that night.
      Thank you Bob!

  19. This is so sad! And this is one thing that am a bit wary of during my travels! Take care

  20. Sad… losing wallet at our place is a different thing and a foreign place is completely devastating.

  21. magiceye says:

    Tough luck indeed!

  22. s.c. says:

    I remember a visit to Barcelona were in the tunnel from the airport to the exit two members of our group already missed their handbags. After half an hour the airport police came back with the handbags but missing everything from value inside. The pickpockets had the habit to dump the empty ones on a spot known to the police so they are going to look there first but that doesn’t return your passport or money.

    • Indrani Ghose says:

      More than the money my husband regrets the loss of two pics in his wallet from our analog days. Wish the Portugal Police had found the wallet. We haven’t heard from them, it is 5 months now so I guess they are gone!
      I feel sorry for you friends in your group.
      Thanks a lot for the comment.

  23. Eileen says:

    Oh wow, I am sorry your husband’s wallet was stolen. I am always paranoid about this happening while we are traveling. I am glad the important papers were safe with you. I let my credit card company know when I am traveling, they keep an eye on purchases that way. I remember my sister was pickpocketed in San Francisco, so it can happen anywhere. Wishing you a happy weekend!

    • Indrani Ghose says:

      Yes we learn lessons the hard way. So sorry for your sis.
      A happy weekend to you too Eileen!

  24. Oh! Thats terrible! Spoils the good memories 🙁
    Good that you didn’t lose a lot. Credit cards must’ve been blocked immediately I guess.

    • Indrani Ghose says:

      Yes all were blocked. They wouldn’t attempt using the card because of security cameras all around. Yes a sour incident to remember.
      Thanks Leena.

  25. I’m sorry to hear about this, Indrani. It’s so sad pickpockets were spoiling your trip. One can’t be careful enough in big cities. Specially loosing some personal belongings like photos is very sad.

    • Indrani Ghose says:

      Yes but for the photographs we have almost forgotten the incident.
      Thank you for the visit and comment. 🙂

  26. Good information- Wanted to go to lisbon- didn’t have any more weekend

  27. so sorry you had to have such an experience! But yes, next time we all will be aware as well. When we were in Venice (which is infamous for pickpockets as well), we had to wear our backpack strapped on our chest.

  28. dNambiar says:

    Some cities are famous for pickpockets aren’t they? I know what what it’s like to lose your belongings in a foreign country. Good your passports weren’t gone.

    Lovely images here, Indrani.
    Have a nice weekend. 🙂

    • Indrani Ghose says:

      Yes especially the bigger cities. But the smaller ones are such a joy to visit. We had no worries in places like Elvas and Evora. Thank you D, have a great weekend!

  29. Really bad news… but thanks for sharing your experience. I’ll take care of it, if i visit Lisbon

  30. Al says:

    I detest pickpockets as they can literally ruin somebody’s vacation. At least you kept going and enjoyed the rest of yours!

  31. Thank god you had all the important docs and passport or else it would have been a nightmare ….running to embassy and all 🙁

    • Indrani Ghose says:

      Precisely. One of my friends recently had this same harrowing experience of loosing passports in London. Thanks Swati!

  32. PN Subramanian says:

    Very bad. Such things happening in European countries is a little bit strange. Paris is yet another place where you need to be cautious.

    • Indrani Ghose says:

      They happen in all big cities! All travel guides ask to exercise caution. There are caution boards put up in several parts of the big cities for tourists. Thank you very much for the visit and comment. 🙂

  33. What a terrible thing to have happened. Ruins the pleasure of traveling. Fortunately the passports were not lost. You were wise to have had a set of back up cards.
    But nuisance value is a lot too, and generally a feeling of misery clouds the trip.
    Hope you never experience this again.

    • Indrani Ghose says:

      Yes jolted us from the happy feeling we were having till then. And yes thank God I decided to safekeep the passports. No not again hopefully! Thank you so much for the visit and comment.

  34. Juby says:

    Indrani, we had a similar experience in Milan early this year, as we were getting into the subway train. Fortunately they just took the euro and dropped the wallet with the dollar and cards.

    • Indrani Ghose says:

      I wouldn’t mind a loss the similar way Juby. Hubby still misses the 2 pics that were there in the wallet from 90s. Thanks for sharing your story! Hope the loss wasn’t much.

  35. What an awful turn of events on a holiday Indrani.

  36. Asha says:

    Oh no. This is a nightmare ! To face a loss like this is the worst thing that can happen, when is travelling ! I didnt know Lisbon had this problem.

    • Indrani Ghose says:

      This can happen in any big city but some how didn’t expect it to happen to us.
      Thanks Asha for the visit and comment.

  37. Nya says:

    This is sad, being a Portuguese myself (who doesn’t live in Portugal anymore) but the country is in such a bad state, that I wouldn’t be surprised 🙁 At least I hope you enjoyed the beautiful views of Lisbon and hope you are luckier next time.

  38. Sorry to hear about this. Unfortunately this happens to a lot of tourists who go to cities and dont expect this. The thing is, some places have bad reputations, but we need to remember that even places where you might not expect this to happen, it still could. What an annoying nightmare.

  39. Gina says:

    I’m glad the police were helpful and courteous, but I can’t believe this is a reoccurring thing in Lisbon. It’s good to hear true stories, that way if I travel there, I’ll know what to look out for and where to be on my guard the most.

  40. Soraya says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about your experience, but I am glad to hear that there were locals and the police station were helpful. It can be so easy to get caught up in the moment when you visit a new place that you don’t realise how easy it is to be pickpocketed.

  41. Louiela says:

    oooohhh…. hope you still managed to enjoy your stay in Lisbon after what happened. Once my tour guide in Romania told me that pickpocketers dwell in crowded in place when your attention is focused on something, your post reminded me about this.

  42. Marge says:

    Losing money in whatever method sucks, much more during a trip where money is much needed. I am so sorry to hear about what happened to you in Lisbon, but it’s good that other than that, no physical harm happened to you guys.

  43. Perhaps Lisbon was too pretty? And the sights were so mesmerizing that it is easy for tourists to forget the surroundings? But pickpockets do exist and they often prey on tourists. It is a fair assumption to say that tourists probably carry more cash than the average locals.

    Good thing you lost some money. Credit cards can be taken care of with a phone call.

  44. Wow! I didn’t know that pickpocketing in Lisbon is rampant too. Thank you for sharing your experience. At least, when we travel there in the future, we’ll be careful with our belongings. Truly, when we are preoccupied, the snatchers are at work. Good thing the passport and his international driver’s license is with you. It’s more horrifying and problematic if that got stolen.

  45. Oi Meira says:

    I am so sorry! I think this is a very good example for the other tourists and travelers to be aware of pickpockets! You could lost anything from wallet, cell phone, to cigarette box. I lost my cigarette when I was in LRT in Manila. I think that’s why we need to buy travel insurance. And people who can’t afford it, shouldn’t travel.

  46. neha says:

    Pickpocketing seems to be a major problem across Europe. I am really sorry that you had to go through it. I read some other posts on pickpocketing in other major cities in Europe. I have a trip lined up there..need to be extra careful

  47. Jerny says:

    Geez! Pickpockets are real everywhere. Losing money and a big chunk of it is very hard especially if you’re travelling overseas. You won’t have anyone to contact and even more, there are additional costs. Let’s all be careful!

  48. I’ve hard that Spain is really bad with pickpocketing. Knock on wood. I’ve never had it happen to me. I think it’s a lot about being vigilant with your belongings. Carelessness is what usually leads to stuff getting stolen

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