“That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche

Whether you are a resident in the Myrtle Beach area or will be visiting us for vacation, it’s important to recognize that the busy tourist season creates opportunities for criminals. While being aware of your surroundings always helps, there are more steps you can take to protect yourself and your belongings.

Safeguard Your Belongings in Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach is a hot vacation destination, which makes it a target area for pickpockets and thieves looking to score cash or other valuables. Whether you live here or are visiting, the busy tourist season makes everyone vulnerable. In fact, over 400,000 pickpocket crimes happen every day worldwide. Common places where pickpockets look for targets include public transit, restaurants, bars, stores/markets, busy tourist attractions and beaches. Here are some things you can do to protect your belongings from thieves.

1. Watch the people around you. Pay close attention to any individual (particularly men) moving quickly through a bus or building, appearing to “look over” everyone in the area, fidgeting or creating distractions. Also be aware of such behaviors of people traveling in pairs or small groups.

2. Keep as much personal space as possible between yourself and strangers. The more personal space you can keep between yourself and others, the harder it is for a thief to steal from you. Experts advise keeping 5 to 7 feet of distance from strangers whenever possible.

3. Keep purses and bags in front of you, zipped/closed and with your hands on them. Using a cross-body style bag is best, as long as the bag has a thick cut-resistant strap. Some thieves will cut the strap and use it to yank your bag from you so keeping your hands firmly on your bag is also important.

4. Men or anyone carrying a wallet in a pocket should use a zippered wallet or have a strong, tight rubber band around the wallet to make it harder for pickpockets to access cash or cards while your wallet is in your pocket. If you can wear pants with button, snap or zippered pockets, it can add more protection and make you a less desirable target.

5. Don’t wear expensive jewelry or accessories. Thieves look for expensive clothing, accessories and jewelry as a means of finding a big payday.

6. Avoid carrying cash. If you are visiting, carry traveler’s checks or use credit cards instead of cash. If stolen, cash cannot be replaced. If you do have to carry some cash, carry as little as possible and in small denominations.

7. Never leave your belongings unattended at a beach or pool. Thieves cruise by and steal small electronics, phones and wallets/cash while you are distracted enjoying the water.

8. Be wary of common distraction tactics. There are common tactics that thieves use to distract you, enter your personal space and steal from you. Be wary of people dropping things near you, asking you to take their photo or even asking for directions. Thieves use any opportunity to get close enough to you to distract you and steal from you–usually without you even realizing until much later that you’ve been robbed.

9. Make photocopies of everything in your wallet. Make photocopies of every credit card, ID, insurance card and traveler’s checks in your wallet (both front and back). Leave one copy at home and store one copy in the safe at your hotel. This way you can account for all the belongings in your wallet should you get pickpocketed. Also, NEVER carry your social security card in your wallet–store it in a safe place at home at all times.

10. Never put your address on your luggage tag. Instead, put your cell phone number and your first name with last initial. Depending on how far away you live or who a thief knows, your home address information can be an open invitation to rob your home while you are away on vacation.

These 10 tips will help you protect your belongings during the busy tourist season in Myrtle Beach, whether you live here or are visiting. Awareness goes a long way but knowing what to look for while you’re out and about is the best defense.