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40+ Modern Tricks Used By Thieves To Mug People

There are many modern tricks and tech used by thieves to steal your stuff. Hopefully, learning them all means that we can stay one step ahead of the game instead.

Sleight of hand

Sometimes, thieves rely on nothing more than being quick with their hands and wise in their timing to get their hands on our stuff. This means that we could be standing next to a thief without ever knowing they have our possessions before it’s too late.

Some of the most common ways that thieves use this trick is by delving into a backpack or purse while we are looking the other way. Keeping your bags closed, close to your body, or even adding a lock to the zipper can all help make our begs less of a target for wandering eyes.

Dumpster diving

This might seem like an old-school way to get your hands on someone’s things, but it turns out that many people still rely on dumpster diving to retrieve our information. All they do is search through our trash or recycling to look for financial documents or bank statements.

These papers usually contain all they need to get their hands on our money. The best way to make sure that you’re not in danger is to make sure that you shred any information as soon as you no longer need it. Plus, opting to go paperless means there is less physical evidence to search for in the first place.

Contact card readers

Contact card readers are one of the latest ways that people are accessing our bank accounts without us ever knowing. All people need to do is get close enough to your contactless cards to steal your information. It’s that simple. They usually bump into people with their reader that clones the data, so they have access to your funds.

There are many wallets and cards that simply fit into our purse or wallet to stop the card readers from being able to get a signal to our card. Another way to make sure that no one else is spending your money is to regularly check your bank statements for any anomalies.

Metal detectors

Do you have a spare set of keys outside your home? Perhaps you like to hide them under a plant pot or beneath the rug just in case you forget your set? Sadly, burglars have started using metal detectors to seek them out. Once they have their hands on the keys, they have access to your house – and everything that is lying inside.

As if that wasn’t enough, the detectors can then help them find valuables in your home. One way to keep safe is to lock your keys in a hidden, coded lockbox outside your home. Another is to make sure you don’t have any spare sets lying around in the first place.

Lucky letter

Many of us have got the email or letter. You know, the ones that claim we have on something valuable or a free holiday? There is no end to the number of ways that thieves try to make us think we are in for a big prize.

All you need to do is call a phone number, reply to the email, or click on the link in the message to get your hands on the prize – even though you never entered any competition. Once you’ve entered your personal information, the thieves have everything they need to get their hands on your money.

Holding a baby

It’s not every day that a stranger asks you to hold their baby. If they do, it’s probably best to refuse and get as far away as possible. They rely on you taking the little one before they or someone else strikes. They are typically working with someone else who will arrive to get their hands on your things while you are distracted by the young one.

Plus, some of them wait for your focus to be on the baby before they run around the other side and grab your things. Let’s face it; do we really want the responsibility of caring for a stranger’s baby in the street in the first place?

Mailbox threat

While most of us now prefer emails – or not even talking to someone in the first place – there are some times when we have to use our mailbox. New credit cards, bank information, and any packages are all sent through the mail. Some thieves don’t have to look too far to find their next target.

While this tactic doesn’t usually work on busy streets or houses that are surrounded by people, some homes are unlucky enough to get caught out. All the burglars do is reach into your mailbox and grab the letters they need to get your information or the parcels with all your expensive deliveries.

Obstructed view

Did you know that one of the most sought-after features of a home for a burglar is coverage? Yes, they typically look for homes that are surrounded by tall trees and fences that have usually been put in place to stop thieves in the first place. This means they are hidden from the rest of the world and anyone who might spot them on their way.

Some people don’t want to make their homes open to the rest of the world. If you want to keep your privacy, then it might be time to invest in some security lights, CCTV, and making sure that you have a house sitter whenever you head off on vacation.

Using garages

Doors and windows are usually a ticket to get into someone’s house, but they can be tough. They are typically locked, and people start to wonder when they see someone climbing through the window or breaking the door. Plus, they are usually heavily guarded with sturdy locks. Garage doors?

They can be a different story. Some homes are directly linked to the garage, so thieves have access to your home. Others are used to store valuable tools, meaning there could be a goldmine lying inside. It’s best to make sure that all points of entry to your home are as secure as possible, with a lock on the garage door being just as important as any other.

Glued phone

Gluing various things to the floor has been a common tool used by pranksters for many years. However, it seems that thieves might have noticed the trick and started to use it for themselves. Most people would stop to pick up a phone on the floor, even if it’s just to try and get it back to its original owner.

It turns out this could all be one big tactic to keep us distracted. All they do is wait for someone to try and get it off the floor before the thieves swoop in and snatch our bag or purse before it’s too late.

ATM alterations

Putting your card into an ATM is meant to give us access to our money, right? So what about if it could be giving others all the information they need to access our funds, too? It can be tough to notice the machines that have been tampered with, but those additions mean our card number and PIN are now stored for someone else to use later.

It’s best to use ATMs that are regularly checked over as well as making sure you pay close attention to anything that seems a little off. Also making sure that you cover the numbers as you enter your PIN helps to make sure that nothing is picked up on a hidden camera.

Corporate breaches

This is something that is usually out of our control but can have huge effects on our life. Corporate breaches are when the businesses are the ones to blame. They typically keep all of their clients information on a computer system. The problem? There can be codes in that protection that are broken or allow hackers to get around the barrier.

If this happens, they could soon have access to thousands if not millions of people’s information. Be sure to keep an eye on your emails in case a company reports a breach and only use websites that have a trusted reputation.


This is another word used when thieves stake out somewhere they want to burgle. All they need to do is walk around the property or keep watch over when people go in and out to make sure they have a good idea about how to get in without getting caught. This is why many neighborhoods have set up a neighborhood watch program to make sure everyone reports any suspicious behavior.

Although it might not be your house that’s their target, warning someone about something unusual could help them prevent theirs from becoming the next target. Sometimes, working together is the best way to keep everything safe.

Monitoring social media

Social media. The place where many people post about their new purchases or boast about their latest vacation. While you might think you are merely sharing your good fortune with your friends and family, you could actually be advertising all of your things or the fact you have an empty house for two weeks to the rest of the world.

Many people have open profiles or ones with minimal security measures. It can be easy to find people in the local area to access a host of information about their lives. It might be time to think twice about what you post and update your security settings.

Service staff

It can be easy to trust people who are there to help you out. Surely the maid can’t be up to no good? That might be where you are wrong. Some staff at hotels know the occupants are out and use the opportunity to hunt down anything of value.

Others gain our trust only to learn our schedules, so they know when is the best time to return to the house. The same goes for repair workers. Just because you think you can trust the plumber in your home while you head to the store doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea.

Unsecure websites

Using a secure website is essential if you want to make sure that your details stay safe and your computer remains free from a virus. If you use a website that isn’t secure, then you could be about to put in information that can be used by third-party viewers.

Even your name and address could be enough for some people to take loans out in your name, only to ruin your credit score in the process. Thankfully, most modern web browsers now have a built-in program that warns us if we are about to head onto an unsecure website before it’s too late.

Stealing credit reports

Stealing a credit report usually means that someone suddenly has access to all the information they need to become us. Ok, we might not notice someone walking down the street dressed in the same clothes and pretending to live our lives, but they could mean they have access to all of the information they need to lead others to believe that it really is us.

This means taking out loans in our name, buying items that require ID, and even committing other crimes. These can have significant effects on our credit and lives in the future, so it’s important to always check your statements for any suspicious activity.

Unlocked doors

This might sound simple, but sometimes a thief needs nothing more than an unlocked door to gain access into your life. Getting into your house or car through an open door looks a lot less suspicious than someone trying to break their way in. All it can take is a chance encounter, and the thief could have access to your world.

It’s always important to check that you have locked everything before you leave for the day or walk away from your car. If you’re really worried and have no way to get home, why not try calling a friend or family member to ask if they have time?

Leaving marks

Amazingly, it turns out that burglars often have certain marks they leave for later or for each other to let someone else know what’s inside. They are usually a piece of graffiti, a small picture, or even a piece of string tied to a door handle that can look perfectly innocent.

They could be to symbolize anything from a house that has been robbed before to one that has a vulnerable occupant inside. Seeing anything that seems out of the ordinary is usually a sign that you need to call the non-emergency police line to report suspicious activity, as well as alerting your neighbors to the addition just in case they have found the same thing.

Broken camera

This isn’t a moment that happens too many times around the world, but it can be a trick to look out for in case you find yourself caught up in the situation. People can sometimes ask you to take their photo. However, when you go to take the snap, you suddenly realize that the camera is broken.

People usually try to hand the camera back to the owner only to face a war of words. The thieves then demand that it was you who broke the camera and that you need to hand over the money to pay for a replacement.


Sometimes, it can feel as though we are living in the next century when it comes to thieves – especially as the more tech-savvy are taking their crimes online. The best bit? They typically don’t even need to have access to your computer or smartphone to access your information.

All they need is a software that allows them to break through the security walls. It usually takes someone who is highly skilled on a computer and knows their way around coding to be successful. The best way to tackle the problem is by making sure you have a strong password that is security protected.


Malware is any program or file that is harmful to your device. It is designed to read your information and get everything they need to access your accounts. This could be anything from a hidden folder on a computer to an app on your phone that seems harmless from the outside but is actually stealing all of your information.

All the thief needs to do is sit back and wait as you continue to input your data one use at a time. Thankfully, many software updates and occasionally running a security program through your devices means most of us should be able to detect and prevent malware before it gets any information.

Targeting windows

Just like open doors, open windows can also be an invitation for burglars to walk into your home. Even if they are locked, some windows might only need a little persuasion before they open. If all else fails, then a rock or tool is usually enough to shatter a window and give someone access to your home.

Of course, we sometimes have to take the risk that someone could break in – unless you want to live in a house with no windows? It’s recommended that you make sure your window locks are up to date, and the frames are securely fitted into the wall to stop any temptation.

Subway runs

Many of us get the subway every day of our lives. It can be easy to lose ourselves to our music or lose focus on the world around us. However, if you are the last one onto the train and you’re standing by the door, then be sure to keep a tight hold on your bag just in case someone sees their opportunity.

Many thieves wait until the doors are closing before they run along and grab your bag. Sadly, there is usually nothing we can do about it as the train speeds off and the thief is long gone by the time we return.

Runaway taxi

Of course, taxis aren’t everyone’s first choice of transport. The likes of Lyft and Uber mean there is now plenty of competition on the market. Most taxi companies are run by reputable owners who only employ drivers who have been checked out before they are allowed to work.

However, not everyone actually works for a company at all. Some people pose as drivers just to get their hands on your luggage. Perhaps they ask you to wait in the taxi while they load your bags? This can give them a chance to pass your things to someone else before they drive you to your destination, and your stuff is long gone.

Shoulder surfing

While this might sound like some kind of cool way to enjoy your next music gig, shoulder surfing certainly isn’t something that most of us want to experience. This is when someone tries to look over your shoulder to remember your PIN.

Sometimes, the machine is also fitted with a card reader that does the rest of the information while other times they can follow you and steal your wallet to make the process a lot easier. On the other hand, some shoulder surfers are merely memorizing your card details to make online transactions without you noticing. It’s vital to make sure no one is lurking next time you’re using an ATM.

Flash drive

If you happen to come across a flash drive, it’s probably best to leave it where it is and never plug it into your device. You never know what could be lying on one of those drives. Some have been specially encrypted with software that sends data from your machine to someone else’s.

This can be one of the most dangerous breaches of our personal information as someone out there could soon have access to pretty much everything we keep on our computer. Some thieves use the information to their advantage while others could use the info to get our money in the promise of returning it safe and sound.

Prank calling

While many of us used to think that prank calls were a way to get our friends laughing, they could now be more than an annoying occurrence. That’s right; it could be someone posing as a figure of authority to try and get information out of us. Some pretend to be police officers in the area who are looking to get information on homes to do with a crime in the area.

Others could be posing as salespeople asking all about the tech in our homes. Whatever the case, any information that you hand over to these thieves could be used against you. If you’re worried, hang up and call back an official number.

Using a map

It can be tough to ignore someone in need. This can be even worse when we spot someone who is lost, and we know the area like the back of our hand. It will only take a moment to help out, right? Sometimes, our compassionate nature could land us in trouble.

Some thieves pose as fake tourists who are only there to get their hands on our things. They do this by distracting someone with a map or their phone while someone else sneaks up behind and gets their hands on our belongings. Be sure to pay extra attention if they try to push the map close to your face.

Fake tickets

Many of us have been there. We sit in the online waiting room counting down the seconds that those tickets go on release only to find they have sold out in a matter of minutes before we’ve even had a chance to get our hands on our own. Some of us would pay hundreds of dollars to get the opportunity to score a pair.

Sadly, you might want to think twice before you hand over your money. Many people advertise fakes. This means you could have just forked over a lot of money only to find you’re still not going to the show.

Fraudulent reports

Our banks can be great for calling us up whenever there is an issue with our account, or they think someone might have access to our money. However, it’s best to make sure that you really know who you are talking to before you hand over any personal details.

Some try to get our personal information while others use clever tricks to hand over our bank details. They could be anything from claiming they need to update their information to reporting something unusual and wanting to check they have the right information for your account. Never hand over any personal information on the phone.

Changing your address

Sometimes, thieves don’t even have to leave the comfort of their own home to get their hands on our vital information. In fact, all they need to do is find out our password or where we have an account so they can change the address to their own. The same goes for our emails.

Now, they have all the information they need without having to move a muscle. This can be an even greater threat if you use the same password for all of your accounts. Be sure to sign up for notifications about any changes made to your accounts to ensure you don’t accidentally send someone your info.

Door-to-door solicitation

This type of trick used by thieves is a lot like prank phone calls, but it allows people to get a real-life look at the home they want to rob. If ‘Home Alone’ taught us anything over the years, it’s to be wary of anyone who arrives at our house looking for personal information – even if they are wearing a uniform.

Even talking about how you are in a rush for work or you will be heading away in the next few days could be all the information they need. Make sure you ask for identification and report any unusual behavior to the authorities if you are worried about your safety.

A simple push

Let’s face it; most of us have been a little bit clumsy in our life and accidentally bumped into someone. It doesn’t mean we are all thieves, does it? No. That’s not to say that someone who does it to us isn’t trying to get their hands on our stuff. Some pickpockets rely on nothing more than a little distraction to get their prize.

This could be as simple as “accidentally” bumping into someone in the street. While we’re busy apologizing, another thief could be grabbing something out of our pocket. Sometimes, they take things further and pretend to fight or argue to grab our attention.

Fake cops

Of course, posing as a police officer is one way to land yourself some time behind bars, but who would call the authorities on someone we believe is a person of the law? Seeing someone in uniform can be a way that many of us instantly trust a stranger.

The police are there to help keep us protected, and there usually isn’t any reason that we shouldn’t believe them. Falling for their act could have them take money from your wallet while doing a simple search or entering your house and taking your things without you noticing until they are gone. Always check for anyone’s ID before answering their questions.