There’s nothing worse than traveling abroad and having your personal belongings stolen. Of things most often taken, smartphones and credit/debit cards rank amongst the highest. Simple things such as public transportation, being in a crowded area or not being aware of your surroundings could put you at risk.

South China Morning Post, a media company in Hong Kong, recently posted a video showing two Thai women in London who were unexpectedly hit by a gang of female pickpocketers. The women worked so swiftly that the tourists did not realize their designer purse was stolen until it was too late.

Toi McGurran lives in Thailand and was visiting Nina Spencer, who lives in the UK, on June 16. They were recording themselves as they walked across the street, excited to be in the heart of London. Unbeknownst to the pair, the three women closely following behind them in the busy streets of Cambridge Circus had devised a tactical plan to inconspicuously boost their belongings. The bandits made off with a purse, credit cards and £400 cash ($500 US Dollars).

The video was turned over to Metropolitan police but no arrests have been made. Obviously, the trip was completely ruined for these poor women.

Pickpocketing is a huge problem in London, with there being over 223 incidents per 1,000 people. It’s even more likely in places where tourists gather. Asians and Americans tend to be amongst the most targeted. The British Transport Police even provides a diagram to get you hip to various pickpocket techniques.

Here’s how you can avoid becoming a victim of pickpocketing:

  • Secure your bags: Do not travel with purses or bags that do not have a zip enclosure and always make sure the zip/flap is facing you. That means you shouldn’t travel with a backpack, and if you do, keep your valuables in an inside pocket.
  • Opt for a fanny pack, waist belt or money belt: Fanny packs may not be as fashionable as a humongous Louis Vuitton purse but they’re a lot less likely to get taken by purse snatchers or rummaged through by pickpocketers.
  • Leave valuables at home: When out and about, try to only take what you need. Leave the rest of your valuables in a hotel safe or deposit box. Don’t wear flashy jewelry as to draw too much attention to yourself. Muggings can be a real problem as well.
  • Do not leave cash, credit cards, or IDs in your pocket: Pockets are the absolute worst place to keep your cash or credit cards. One brush against you on crowded public transportation or walking down a busy street can result in you becoming an unexpected victim.

Most importantly, make photocopies of all of your important documents before you travel. This includes passports, driver’s license, prescriptions, etc. In the unfortunate event that you are a victim of theft, this will help you get replacement items.