Pickpocket-proof undies & other gear to protect your valuables

A long-planned adventure can quickly turn to mush if a pickpocket makes off with your passport, cash, credit cards or keys.

“We get reports fairly regularly about wallets going missing and things being taken from purses,” said Mike Kelly, president and CEO of On Call International, a company that provides travel assistance and emergency medical evacuation services. “It seems to happen a lot in heavy tourist zones in London, Italy and even some Asian countries. One expert believes that in Rome more than 300 tourists get their pockets picked each day.”

To protect yourself, Kelly and others suggest staying hyper alert in touristy areas, leaving valuables at home or in a hotel safe and making sure purses and wallets are secure and out of sight. Many experienced travelers and former pickpocket victims also swear by a variety of thief-thwarting travel gear.

In addition to a line of widely available line anti-theft and safety-savvy wallets, backpacks, shoulder bags, purses, pouches and other items made by Pacsafe, here are some other potentially pickpocket-proof products.

 Travel bands

 Beth Whitman, founder of the travel website Wanderlust and Lipstick and Wandertours, likes the body bands for women offered by Dovetail Travel in Peace.

The collection includes two products: The Travel Band, which is a waistband that wraps around your hips, and the Travel Wing, which is a pocket worn against your back and over your bra. “These aren’t meant to replace a money pouch that you’d want to have easy access to,” said Whitman, “But both are great options for times when you want to keep your valuables safe and don’t need to access them.”

The Dovetail set (Travel Band, Travel Wing, portfolio and carry-case) is $48 and available at Dovetail Travel in Peace.

Pickpocket-proof pants

 After a run-in with a team of pickpockets in Xian, China Adam Rapp decided he wanted travel pants that provided the security of a money-belt. His answer: pick-pocket proof shorts and long pants called P^cubed. “All our hip pockets have the ability to be single or double secured and our rear left cargo pocket has an internal passport sized pocket which would give you triple security,” said Rapp. “In order for a pick-pocket to get into that pocket – they would have to undo 2 zippers and 2 buttons.”

Currently available only in men’s sizes (a women’s line should be available by September 2012), P^cubed pants are available from Clothing Arts, in many outerwear stores and in major travel catalogs. Price: about $80 to $110.

Pickpocket-proof skivvies

After having her pockets picked repeatedly during several years of travel, Johanna Denize created a line of underwear with hidden pockets. “I had tried money belts, neck pouches and even hiding my money in my socks, but wasn’t happy with those solutions,” she said. Panties with hidden pockets work because “no one but the person wearing our clothes will ever know where the valuables are hidden.”

Denize’s products includes a boy short for women and a boxer brief for men, both with two pockets with secure zippers on the front, as well as T-shirts, tank tops and Long Johns with pockets. There are available on Clever Travel Companion () or Amazon. Price: about $25-$35.
Pocket-enhanced panties and briefs are also offered by Stashitware. “They come with a huge dedicated pocket that is easily accessible for placement of items or retrieval of items,” said company owner Philip Scott. “When properly worn and used they are pickpocket proof.”

Scott said his instructional video , “scares most viewers,” (it shows everything from cash, cigarettes, condoms, cell phones and lighters being hidden away) but he insists it “does prove the holding capacity and ease of access of the pocket underwear.”

Stashitware styles include men’s boxers, women’s briefs, bikinis and thongs (Price: $5.50 to $12) and are available are available on the Stashitware  website.

(My story about pickpocket-proof pants first appeared on msnbc.com’s Overhead Bin)