Montreal- money safety tips

Old Jul 4th, 2005, 11:32 AM
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Montreal- money safety tips

We just got back from our 3rd visit to Montreal...had another fantastic time. However, we did have one bad incident, our wallets were stolen. Sadly, we came to find out that this is very common in Montreal, so we wanted to give you some money safety tips to hopefully prevent this inconvenience from happening to anyone else.
First, we found out that there are "rings" of people that watch people coming from bank machines and they seperate and follow you until the opportune moment comes for them to take your wallet.
Here are some safety tips we learned...
never count your money out in the open
never announce to your friends or spouse how much you took out of the machine
do not hand the money over in public so it can been seen and watched where it is put
Try not to carry alot of cash...debit/credit is the best way
Be aware of your surroundings. Not paranoid, just aware. Watch to see if you're being watched, especially by someone on a cell phone. Thats how it starts.
If you suspect you have been targeted, change directions, go into a coffee shop or a restaurant and sit for a bit. Hail a cab and leave the area.
Change the area that you have put the money, they already know where it is, so move it.
If you're carrying a purse, make sure it has zippers, not open pockets and pouches, its to easy to get into.
make sure you carry the zippers to the front of you, so you know if someone tries to open your bag.
Make sure you know where the closest branch of your regular bank is
Photocopy all your id and cards and keep it safely at the hotel and a copy at home.
This makes replacement a little easier.
Keep the toll free numbers of all your credit card companies and banks in a safe place....you will need this information quickly and you tend to forget important things when you are upset.
Call your banks and credit card companies FIRST! do not go to the police first. A thief can max out a credit card before you even realize its gone! Cancel your cards first, then go to the police. They take a report but its only good if they actually find your wallet.
Do not carry excess cards or id with you. Keep it safely back at the hotel...take advantage of hotel safes and safety deposit boxes. Id is a pain to get replaced, the less you have to replace, the better.
Our incident started at the Canada Trust branch at Notre Dame and McGill. We realize now, we were followed by 3 different people before the wallet was stolen on St. Catherine's Street.
Remember....you're on vacation...they do this everyday to survive!


lala1043 is offline  
Old Jul 4th, 2005, 12:05 PM
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Not to discount what you said - what a nasty experience to have on a vacation! - this is good advice anytime, anywhere.
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Old Jul 5th, 2005, 05:18 AM
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So sorry this happened to you; I'm taking notes since I tend to use atm's all over and then proceed to walk around, did they just grab your wallets, how did this happen ?

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Old Jul 5th, 2005, 05:26 AM
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Thats a shame, been in Montreal all my life and downtown a lot, never even had as much as parking ticket, I guess we cant disguise ourselves when we travel we look like tourists and become a target. Ive spent a lot of time in RIO too and never had any problems, I think your advice is generally wise
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Old Jul 5th, 2005, 06:03 AM
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Sorry to hear this. I hope you can get everything straightened out. We have been to Montreal many many times and have never had a problem, but I do carry a money belt anytime I vacation. We will definitely be more alert from now on.
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Old Jul 5th, 2005, 07:06 AM
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Something doesn’t ring true about this story, but why would lala1043 make it up? Why did he make the special effort to register here and warn us? Where did he get the information that “this is very common in Montreal”? Why would the muggers/pick-pockets (it is not clear which) wait until they had walked at least a half mile to the relatively busy St Catherine Street to pounce, when they were much more vulnerable on the quiet side streets to get there? Where did this crime really start, since there is no TD Canada Trust branch at McGill and Notre Dame?

I guess I am leaning towards believing that he or she probably just lost the wallet through carelessness while walking on St Catherine, and needed some story to hide that carelessness.
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Old Jul 5th, 2005, 07:50 AM
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Interesting points, ron. I'd like to know a bit more about the incident. Were there several wallets (see OP firs para) or only one stolen? Was the wallet/s pickpocketed, or were lala1043 and companions mugged? How did he know that there were three thieves following? And if they were aware of being followed, did they do anything about it, e.g.change directions, go into a coffee shop, hail a cab? Just which of the many precautions did the OP fail to take, resulting in the theft?
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Old Jul 5th, 2005, 09:26 AM
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Why do you care about the details of this story? Good advice has been posted. I have seen so many people not use common sense after getting cash at an ATM tourist or not. I think this sort of thing goes on in any big city so I don't think someone is trying to put a bad light on Montreal.
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Old Jul 5th, 2005, 09:42 AM
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traveller69: I care about the details, because the next time I visit Montréal (where I lived for some years and still visit often), I'd like to know what extra precautions I should take.

Should I guard against being mugged on St. Catherine, or having my pockets picked? Was this incident late at night, or in the middle of the day? Should I be on the lookout for organized gangs trailing me when I use an ATM (which the OP says is "very common in Montreal")? When I lived there, the organized gangs used to knock over the bank itself, rather than looking for wallets from unsuspecting clients.
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Old Jul 5th, 2005, 11:14 AM
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You mistook what I was saying. In the post by Ron he was question if lala made the story up. I felt that was not fair and certainly you wnat to know the details. I just don't think we should question someone taking the time to post the incident and then be doubted as to the truth. As I said my post was not directed at you as to question why we should distrust the original post. It sounded to me that Ron didn't want to give Montreal a bad name and that is why I said it happens in all big cities. Guess I should have been more specific in my post. Sorry for the misunderstanding.
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Old Jul 5th, 2005, 11:56 AM
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We are going to have to disagree about this, traveler69. I think the OP was all about besmirching Montreal’s reputation. And, if it continued unquestioned (and I thank Laverendrye for asking better questions than I did), it would probably influence a number of inexperienced travellers, already somewhat fearful of travel to foreign countries and to big cities.

Since we are not sure what was supposed to have actually happened, it is hard to stay whether this sort of highly organized theft “goes on in any big city” or not. My experience suggests that it does not. Opportunistic muggings in wrong neighbourhoods in certain US cities, yes, opportunistic pick pocketing any place, yes, organized pick pocketing in a few European cities, yes. But what was described here, no.

I would welcome the OP’s return to respond. But my experience over many years on this board is that these kind of posters almost never return.
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Old Jul 7th, 2005, 03:22 AM
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I too was interested to know more details since I find it a long way to be followed from McGill and Notre Dame to Ste Catherine st.

There are hundreds of atm's along ste catherine and thousands of people walking so being followed from old montreal seems improbable to me since the thiefs could have multiple theft opportunities within the same street corner....

The advice he/she gave was excellent and applicable to any city in the world.
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Old Jul 7th, 2005, 08:26 AM
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I don't know where you get your information but I have lived in Montreal my entire life and have never been a victim of any sort of crime.
 
Old Jul 7th, 2005, 09:25 AM
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Hi

Certainly, crimes happen most everywhere and my beloved Montreal is no exception. In 1996, a gunman with a pantyhose over his head came into the CIBC on Sherbrooke, just east of University near McGill University and robbed the bank while I was there. In 2002, my check card was stolen out of my locker at the YMCA (the smart thief only took the check card, which I use much less than my debit card, so I didn't even notice for a week. Luckily, the check card company cancelled my card due to suspicious purchases. I saw the purchases from the company's list and that thief had taste; went to the best shoe & clothing stores! LOL) Taught me to get a sturdier combination lock and work out with wallet!

That said, I've heard of "rings" in Montreal. Not so much pickpockets though, one story on CFCF News was about a ring that put mini-cameras above the keypad on an ATM machine in NDG, to get people's information. I always cover the keypad with my hand now when I punch my code. I however am also surprised that thieves would be so persistent as to follow all the way from McGill/Notre Dame to Sainte Catherine and that they would have the balls to take two wallets. First I hear of anything like that.

All this said, I walk/public transit around Montreal day & night, pull money from ATMs regularly and feel generally pretty comfortable. It's good to realize that nowhere is crime-free and be aware of one's surroundings but not to worry too much. Montreal is a great city and statistically one of the safest on the continent.

DAN
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Old Jul 7th, 2005, 12:09 PM
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I've lived in Montreal for roughly 15 years now, and although I consider it to be a safe city, I certainly do follow the tips mentioned above.
I have had my wallet stolen twice. Once was REALLY my fault: left my purse unattended (I can be absent minded: had taken a coffee break at work in the coffee shop and simply went back to my desk) but another time had hung my purse on the side of the chair. A friend was facing me the whole time, but someone still snatched the wallet from inside (had zipper). Lesson learned: if carrying a purse, and in a restaurant etc put it right between your feet and apply pressure so that you know its always there....
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Old Jul 8th, 2005, 07:01 PM
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As a Montrealer, lala's story puzzles me as well. Walking from McGill to St.Catherine St. is a long walk, mostly up a steep hill. It would be much simpler for thieves to operate on St. Catherine St., which is crowded...and flat.

I also wonder where lala heard that "this is very common in Montreal". Far from me to want to defend Montreal, but in all the years I've lived here, I have never heard this. Yes, my friend's wallet was stolen on a terrace in Old Montreal, but she had left her purse open, leaning against the railing where anyone could see it.

Lala gave sound advice that is applicable anywhere.

Ginny

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