In my opinion, it is wise to prepare against pickpockets while traveling
in Italy, amongst other places. On my daughter's school trip 4 years
ago, everyone was cautioned about pickpockets. One woman had her fanny
pack robbed, another had just removed her neck pouch and put it in her
bag when it was lifted. The first woman was accosted by the newspaper
and baby waving scammers, and the second never knew what hit her. These
incidents happened in Florence; in Rome, our group leader found a hand
in her purse/backpack. Fortunately, the bag only contained crackers, a
guidebook, and a hairbrush.
The year before that, I was on the #1 Vaporetto in Venice when a woman cried out that all her belongs were gone. Wallet, money, credit cards, and passport. She had just arrived in Venice.
Last September, young girls put their hands in our pockets on the subway in Rome. Our pockets were empty, because we are very wary in Italian cities. My husband yelled stop in Italian, and they were so brazen as to stand beside us for the rest of the trip. They didn't even move off to the next car.
Then on the train from Santa Margherita Ligure to Recco, a very short trip, just minutes, a young girl grabbed my shoulder bag (draped across my body) and tugged on it. I had to yank it away from her. Again, there wasn't anything in it that I couldn't afford to lose, but she was after what she could get.
We do wear neck, waist or leg pouches under our clothing in several countries. It doesn't seem paranoid to us. My wallet was lifted on the train to Heathrow several years ago; it was empty, but it was a darn nice wallet and I wish I had not made it available to pickpockets. Debbie in Pittsburgh