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While Santiago is considered one of the safest capital cities (if not the safest) in Latin America, it is still necessary to be alert and careful with your belongings. If you are used to living in a big city, you may already be familiar with these tips. If you are coming to Santiago from a smaller town, as I did, take careful notice of my advice to stay safe and avoid pickpocketing.

1) Wear your backpack on your front

I know it looks silly, but if you have it out of your view, then you are an open target for pickpocketing. If you are going to wear your backpack like usual, I recommend putting any essential belongings such as your wallet and cell phone in a separate place. For example, for women, carry a small over-the-shoulder bag.

2) Be careful in Starbucks 

This seems like an odd piece of advice; however, I can count at least five gringos that I know who have been robbed in a Starbucks. Starbucks is one of the international businesses that you can find throughout Santiago, and therefore it attracts many foreign visitors. Pickpockets and thieves know that tourists and foreigners frequent Starbucks, so avoid making yourself an easy target.

3) If the metro is closed, take a taxi home

The metro in Santiago stops running between 11-11:30 PM, depending on the station and line. If you are out past this time, there are public buses that are still operating. However, this means that you will have to stand outside at the bus stop for an undetermined period. Instead of risking your safety, take a taxi.

4) Don’t use an obvious camera bag

If you are carrying around a bag that says “Nikon” or “Canon” in huge letters, you are making yourself a target. Instead of carrying around a typical camera bag, I recommend Johansen camera bags for women. These bags look like regular purses! Do you see that purple purse in the photo below? That’s a camera bag! 

5) Be careful with your phone in public places

If you are going to use your phone in public, only take it out to send a text or make a phone call and then immediately put it back in your bag. iPhones are especially sought after in Santiago as far as pickpockets are concerned, so if you are coming to Chile with a brand new iPhone 6s, I recommend extra caution. NEVER LEAVE YOUR CELL PHONE OUT ON A TABLE. 

Enjoy your time in Santiago, and don’t make the same mistakes that I made when I first arrived. Be careful and alert to avoid pickpocketing.

Do you have any other tips to avoid pickpocketing?

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Patricio Salamanca

Monday 28th of March 2016

Thank you, Leah. We always have to be prudent, careful, when we travel anywhere in the world. I hope that you enjoy our country and that our native "patos malos" don`t take advantage of you. Best wishes,



Sunday 27th of March 2016

Thanks for the information!


Sunday 27th of March 2016

I am glad you mentioned Starbucks. I had my computer stolen, in my backpack, while I left it in a chair for less than a minute, which I went to get my coffee. Since there is always limited seating in Starbucks, you want to try and save a chair when you can, but never, never leave a backpack in a chair to save it. They say they have cameras, but were unable to see anything.

As for iPhones, both my kids have had their iPhones stolen. The worst part is when you call your phone and the person answers it, and says no I just bought this!

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