Travel Gear

Purse Snatching & Bag Theft: Five Common Schemes to Watch For

It’s impossible to oversell the life-changing magic of travel. The world's destinations provide a traveler with an endless supply of gems to uncover, from ancient traditions to breathtaking views to incredible flavors. To discover a new way of life is to live again, and we have learned that connecting with other cultures doesn’t just open your mind, it opens your heart.

Though the joys outweigh the hardships, it's perfectly normal to worry about what might go wrong when you travel. One of the most common worries is that of theft. The thought of losing your belongings while abroad is a scary one, and enough to make some travelers think twice before booking a ticket.

So what can you do to mitigate this fear?

Sherpani Anti-Theft sling bag, the Metro in Merlot

This is where Sherpani's Anti-Theft Collection comes into play. We created our collection of better travel bags to help women explore with confidence. We want to empower women who travel by removing the potential obstacles that come with the travel territory.

Read on to learn about five common types of bag theft and how to prevent them with an Anti-Theft bag from Sherpani.


Common Theft Number One: Purse Snatching

Purse snatching is exactly what it sounds like. A thief walks by, snatches your bag, and takes off. Thieves usually target shoulder bags when taking this approach. Many Sherpani bags have an adjustable strap that can be worn over your shoulder or as a crossbody. We suggest wearing your bag crossbody-style in crowded areas. Crossbody purses are not an easy target for shady thieves looking to attempt a swipe.

Sherpani Anti-Theft crossbody bag, the Vale in Loden

Purse swiping is especially common in settings like restaurants and bars. If you've ever felt uneasy about hanging your purse on the back of your chair, you're not alone. It's all too easy for a swindler to walk by and grab your bag while you're distracted. Another method is the "kick and swipe," when a bag is left on the floor. A thief will gently kick your bag until it's far enough away for them to discreetly bend over and pick it up.

Sherpani Anti-Theft Solution: The Chair Lock Loop

Our wire-loop chair lock is the answer. Just unclip one end of the loop, wrap it around part of your chair or table, then close the loop back onto the clip. This simple system takes just seconds to use and will effectively safeguard your belongings. With the bag secured close by, nobody will attempt a swipe (and if they do, they'll cut and run as soon as they feel the resistance of the chair lock!).

A close up view of Sherpani's wire-loop chair lock system

We love this Anti-Theft feature because it allows you to dine worry-free. It's no fun to worry about your bag when your attention could be on sharing tapas with friends. We created the chair lock loop so that you can enjoy the here and now, whether you're eating pasta on a patio in Rome or heading to your local brewery for happy hour.


Common Theft Number Two: Cyber Scams

Tech-savvy hackers can use an RFID reader to scan right through the material of your bag and access sensitive information. Credit card skimming and other forms of cyber theft are common in large cities. Constantly watching for hackers trying to pull a scheme is exhausting, especially since these scams can happen without physical contact.

Sherpani Anti-Theft Solution: RFID Blocking Technology

Sherpani Anti-Theft bags come with smartly placed RFID-blocking technology. This prevents you from falling victim to a cyber scam by blocking signals and stopping RFID scanners in their tracks. The RFID protection runs along the front panel of every Anti-Theft design, eliminating the threat of cyber theft that would otherwise leave a traveler high and dry.

Sherpani RFID Passport Guard sticking out from Sherpani backpack, the Camden in Chromatic

With Sherpani's RFID blocking, you can travel around the globe worry-free! Learn more about Sherpani and RFID in this blog post.


Common Theft Number Three: Pickpocketing

Pickpocketing is a concern of travelers heading pretty much anywhere. This type of petty theft usually happens in densely populated areas. It can involve elaborate schemes and a lot of skill; pickpockets should not be underestimated.

Pickpocket theft (sometimes called a "dip and lift" scheme) occurs when someone slyly reaches into your bag without notice. Pickpockets often work in pairs. One person will provide a distraction by engaging their target, asking something like "What time is it?" or "Can you give me directions to…" Meanwhile, their fellow swindler performs a swift and discreet raid of the bag.

Sherpani Anti-Theft Solution: Locking Zippers

Sherpani Anti-Theft bags have two types of zipper locks: tunnel locks and clip locks. Backpackies called these features "a simple way to outsmart pickpockets" in their recent review of one of our Anti-Theft designs.

A close up view of the tunnel lock on the external zipper pockets of Sherpani Anti-Theft bags

External pockets on Sherpani Anti-Theft bags are equipped with tunnel locks; pull the zipper tassel through the fabric loop to lock the pocket. The tunnel locks take a bit of practice, but this is exactly what makes them so effective at theft prevention! The tunnel locks mean you don't have to worry about exposed zipper pockets, especially if the pocket isn't in your direct sight (e.g. when you're wearing a backpack).

A close up view of the clip lock on the main compartment of Sherpani Anti-Theft bags

For the main compartment, we've added a clip lock. It's a bright red lobster claw clip, so it's easy to spot. Attach the clip to the main zipper to lock the zipper in place. This lockable zipper will add a difference-making layer of protection to the main compartment of your bag.


Common Theft Number Four: Slashing the Bag

Another common tactic is to slice a bag open. This happens in large crowds and situations where you stand in one place for a while (e.g. waiting in line, riding public transportation). Thieves normally attempt to slash the bottom of the bag so that their target's belongings fall to the ground.

Sherpani Anti-Theft Solution: Cut-Proof Bottom
A woman sitting at a bar. Over her shoulder is Sherpani Anti-Theft bag, the Eclipse in Sakura

The bottom of each Sherpani Anti-Theft bag is reinforced with anti-slash material. This protective layer is underneath the bag's external layer, and it ensures the bottom of the bag is completely uncuttable (believe us, we've tried!). If anyone attempts to cut open your bag, your belongings will stay safe.


Common Theft Number Five: Cutting the Strap

Our final bag theft is a literal cut-and-run. This is when a thief attempts to cut through the strap of your bag to make off with the whole thing. While this type of theft can be done on foot, it is commonly attempted from the back of a moped. Thieves work by themselves or in pairs by driving very close, cutting a bag off an unexpecting tourist, then making a quick getaway on the scooter.

Sherpani Anti-Theft Solution: Cut-Proof Crossbody Strap

Sherpani's proprietary wireless anti-slash crossbody strap is the first and only of its kind.

A model wearing Sherpani minimalist crossbody Anti-Theft bag, the Prima in Straw

The other cut-proof straps on the market include an internal wire, but this design has several flaws. A wire can get bent out of shape, will add to the bulk and weight of the bag, and can cause neck and shoulder pain as it digs into the wearer. Determined to avoid these problems, we created an ergonomic crossbody strap that was cut-proof and comfortable. Our patent-pending design is truly a standout feature of Sherpani Anti-Theft technology. 

Note: This feature is only found on the crossbody styles in our Anti-Theft Collection.


BONUS Bag Feature: ReturnMe Tag

There is one more feature shared by all our Anti-Theft bags. It is not a direct response to a specific type of theft, but we didn't want to leave out this crowd favorite! It's called a ReturnMe tag, and it could make a big difference if you get separated from your bag.

Close up view of the ReturnMe tag

This digital bag tag connects your bag to a global network that functions as an international lost-and-found. This way, if a good samaritan finds your lost or stolen bag, it can be shipped back to you from anywhere in the world! We love the ReturnMe service because it keeps your personal information confidential while still providing a way to recover your lost bag.

Learn more about Sherpani and ReturnMe in this blog post.


The reality of theft is that it can happen anywhere, not only when you're abroad. However, having your bag stolen while traveling causes much more of a hassle, so we tend to fret about it more when we are somewhere else.

Now that you've had a rundown of the Anti-Theft features, shop Sherpani's Anti-Theft Collection to prepare for your next big trip. Besides the theft prevention technology, Sherpani bags are stylish, functional, and made entirely from recycled materials!

A woman dining at an outdoor table reaching down into her Sherpani Anti-Theft bag, the Soleil in Sakura

Armed with the knowledge of these common types of bag theft, you can take preventative measures so that you're travel plans go off without a hitch. We wrote this post to inform, not intimidate. In our experience, travel has proven to be safe and enjoyable; the risk pales in comparison to the reward. 

Feel free to take this as your sign to book that ticket!


Discover More from the Sherpani Travel Blog 

Hardside vs. softside luggage: find the suitcase that suites you!

Check out some solo female travel tips for more on travel safety.

Dive into the design details of three Sherpani Anti-Theft styles. 

A patio with a beautiful waterfront view

By women for women, the Sherpani Travel Blog talks about all things travel (and all things Sherpani!). From 
unique travel guides to general travel tips to personal stories from women in our community, this is a space to celebrate our belief that travel restores the human spirit.

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