Pickpocketing has been around for centuries and happens all over the world, from London to New York City's Five Points. Skilled thieves swarm tourists and locals alike and steal their valuables without being noticed. Pickpocketing has declined in the United States but its still a major problem in Europe [VIDEO]. There have been some countries where pickpocketing has become so bad that tourist attractions have been forced to close for several days at a time. These are just a few ways on how to avoid being a victim.

1. Maintain situational awareness

The first way to avoid becoming a victim is to be aware of your surroundings.

The best example of someone experienced in situational awareness is Jason Bourne. It's an important skill for people to learn. As well as in pickpocketing situations, this skill will help in emergency situations such as a mass shooting in a public place.

There is no stereotypical pickpocket but a larger number appear to be male. Some pickpockets are female. Even though you attempt to avoid a certain group of people, you can still get pickpocketed. Pickpockets do their best work in groups. Two people are used as distractions and a third person will be the one who steals your property. So keep an eye on those people who appear to be trying to get your attention.

Children have come to represent a large percentage of pickpockets. The more mature pickpockets are able to take advantage of their innocence.

Tourists don't realize that children can be criminals in tourist populated areas. This allows children to get closer to the victim.

Police have discovered that a large number of pickpockets are young children. Children us their innocence and charm to their advantage. Tourists don't expect a child to be a criminal, so the child can get closer to their mark. Pickpockets are often well dressed in order to blend into the surroundings.

2. Know where pickpockets like to work

Pickpockets can be found in any part of a city, but there are some places that they often conduct their operations because of how populated the areas become. Pickpockets thrive in tourist attractions. They are usually full of tourists who are often carrying a lot of cash. The tourists are often distracted by the sights, which allows pickpockets to strike without being noticed.

Another popular place pickpockets strike are on public transportation. People are cramped together and with a bump into someone, a pickpocket can steal your wallet and disappear before you even realize it's missing.

3. Know the tricks pickpockets use

Pickpockets are best described as magicians with their mastering of distraction and misdirection. They realize that people can only focus on one or two things at a time. They wait until you get mesmerized by something you see. Single practitioners of the trade can create a needed diversion, but it's easier for them when they work as a team.

Pickpockets operate in a variety of ways. One way they strike is by creating a traffic jam at a turnstile, whether it's at public events or even at a subway station. One of the criminals will act like the machine didn't accept their ticket, causing everyone to bump into each other. The person behind the victim will strike and steal the valuables. By the time the victim realizes what has happened, the pickpockets are long gone.

4. Pickpocket-proof yourself

It's impossible to be completely pickpocket proof, but there are different things you can do to make yourself less likely to be a victim. One tip is to not appear as a tourist, but find a way to blend into the environment. Don't wear anything that makes you look like a tourist and also don't stare at maps and act like you have no idea where you are or where you are going.

When it comes to your wallet, only have with you the bare minimum. It's best to only bring one credit card, an ID and a little cash. You should also keep your valuables in a front pocket or put them inside a money belt.