15 Shanghai pickpocket hotspots—and how to defend against thieves

Travel | by China Travel
Posted: October 28th, 2009 | Updated: February 12th, 2015 | Comments

A Chinese local imparts his wisdom about which areas of Shanghai are most prone to pickpockets with Shanghai's 15 Pickpocket Hotspots. 

Shanghai is undoubtedly one of the safest-feeling megacities on the planet, but that doesn't mean you won't get robbed. As many-a-foreigner (and local) can tell you, there are pickpockets all over the place. How can you defend yourself?

You might try chaining your bag to your waist, disguising it as garbage, or arming it with glued-on shards of glass a la Chinese compound perimeter defense. You could fill your pockets with decoy wallets or go to the South Bund Material Market and ask the tailor to add zippers, Velcro or a combination lock to your pockets.

For greater deterrent effect (and some good slapstick comedy starring an errant pocket picker near you) try putting mouse traps, snapping turtles, or combination of both in your pockets. Just imagine the look on their face when they see you snapping off a cell phone pic of them screaming with turtles and mouse traps on their fingers!

Well, cruel fantasies aside, the first step to solving any problem, of course, is becoming aware of its existence, so here's a list of the top pickpocket hotspots in the city.

On October 15th, Internet user Xiaoke put up a post entitled Spotting the most chaotic and easy-to-be-stolen places in Shanghai on one Shanghai's top BBS forums. He was kind enough to list pickpockets' 15 favorite hangouts in the city, places where you need to exercise extra caution if don't want to lose your valuables.

1. Dongchang Road Metro Station

Surrounding office buildings make the area pretty safe in the daytime, but once the veil of night makes cameras less reliable, thieves get bolder and incidents of theft go up.

2. Hongkou Stadium This is a pickpocket favorite, especially after big football matches and concerts. Massive flows of people heading in and out of the stadium create the perfect storm, as ample cover and jostling make a grab pretty much undetectable.

3. Wujiang Snack Street Look out, this popular night hangout near Metro Line 2 Nanjing Xi Lu Station is a haven for heisters, especially the non-brand-name-colonized side which retains the street's original raucous charm.

4. Qipu Road Most come here to experience the thrill of Shanghai's biggest haggle-fest and to find the lowest prices for knock-offs in town. Unfortunately, too many leave without their wallets. Huge, crowded and riddled with salespeople waiving pamphlets and picture cards in your face, you need to keep your guard up and your valuables in the bottom of your backpack. Remember, personal space does not exist here.

5. Shanghai Railway Station

Here's a spot where thieves actually have to compete for their marks. There are scalpers and beggars vying for your coin here too.

6. Intersection of Chifeng Road and Quyang Road

Unaccompanied women have been the primary target in this area, if you come here at night, please don't come alone. 7. Hu Xi Workers Cultural Palace Shanghai teens love the place, and pickpockets love it more. When people are focused on bargaining for a t-shirt, they become oblivious to what's happening right behind them.

8. Shanghai Stadium Area (Feizhou International Plaza)

You should keep your guard up in the chaotic section from IKEA to Caoxi Road Metro Station.

9. Intersection of West Yan'an Road and Jiangsu Rd

Near the Electricity Hospital There is a large bus interchange here not far from the Jiangsu Road Metro Station. As large numbers of people transfer and move around, pickpockets are like kids in a candy store, grabbing loot at will.

10. Lianhua Road Metro Station (Line 1)

With access to a large long-distance bus station, this metro station sees large volumes of people moving in and out, making it prime pickpocket territory.

11. People's Square Metro Station

Hosting the line 1, 2 and 8 interchange, this station is well known as the most crowded station in Shanghai. Be careful of being knocked down, stepped on… and ripped off.

12. Songjiang University Snack Street

There is a snack street on almost every University campus. Young couples lost in each others' eyes make memories here while eating their favorite foods … but can their puppy love survive the stress of lost ID, cards and cash?

13. Intersection of Yuyuan Road and Zhenning Road

Here's how the sting works. A woman holds a baby up and begs you for money, obscuring what is happening below chest level. As you've undoubtedly guessed, while the lady distracts you with the baby in her arms, her child accomplices are busy cleaning out your pockets. If you catch them in the act, they scatter in all directions. Looks like you'll need more snapping turtles...

14. From Jinhui Square to Chuansha Station

People carrying multiple bags and packages are favorite targets for a run-and-grab. Try to keep your belongings in one bundle that you can keep a solid grip on.

15. Jinjiang Park Metro Station

Not only are there many thieves lurking about, but you also have to watch out for robbers on motor bikes looking to drive-and-grab. They can be quite dangerous.

And what do all these places have in common? The presence of huge crowds--usually in motion. So keep a watchful eye!

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