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Beware of Pickpockets in Paris

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Aug 30th, 2005, 05:53 AM
  #1
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Beware of Pickpockets in Paris

A warning to all travelers to Paris, pickpocket thievery is on the rise!

One Parisian family member (my wife is French) told us that the problem is apparently so widespread that the authorities have a sting unit dedicated to catching them.

In our last three visits we have seen, been the attempted targets of, and been the successful targets of pickpockets in Paris.

Eight years ago, while on the metro, we watched a little old Parisian lady beat a pickpocket into submission with her umbrella. The target was an Asian woman who's purse was hanging to her side.

Four years ago, when we were there as part of a large family group, I spotted someone getting off the metro who had just entered ahead of me, but behind my mother. Quickly I got my brother-in-law to hold the train doors while I blocked the pickpocketís path just outside the train. I then yelled to my mother to check her belongings. Her wallet was gone! The thief, a pretty teenage girl, dropped the wallet! In this case I was super paranoid, because the girl was part of a group of teens that had been entering the station behind us. They were acting obnoxiously, running up and down the halls behind us and yelling and shouting.

Finally, just last week, my wife had her wallet taken out of the back pocket of her backpack while at Montmartre. She was off shopping on her own and someone must have spotted her lamely put it in there. Two hours later she noticed it was gone. The damage: $500 cash and $1,200 in purchases on her ATM/Credit Card!

Also last week, I am positive that I thwarted two guys from taking my wallet on the Bateaux-Mouche. Near the end of the ride, they came up where we were sitting. One sat behind me while the other sat to my right side. I was literally cornered against the left side of the boat. They were normal looking late teens dressed as tourists, but were very intrusive into my space. The one sitting behind me kept leaning up over the seat next to me. Out of the corner of my eye I could clearly see him glancing down the back of my seat toward my wallet while talking to his buddy. I stuck my thumb into my back pocket, looping it over my wallet to protect it. When that didn't make them give up, I stood, facing them and looking at each in the eyes and walked sideways to the aisle way. They left for the back of the boat 2 seconds later.

From what I have seen, there are two types of pickpockets, the calm silent thieves who sneak up and go for your belongings without you knowing it, i.e. the one beaten by the umbrella and the one who took my wife's wallet. Then there are the ones who create a diversion through strange actions that try to get you to drop your guard through sensory overload.

Fortunately, it is my view that most pickpockets are physically harmless because they have to blend into the crowd. That being said, the two guys on the boat had me quite nervous for my safety. I was quite concerned that they would be more aggresive as we got closer to docking.

However, both types can be thwarted through vigilance. Keep your belongings safely stowed on you body and keep an eye out for strange and obnoxious behavior. Finally, if it is at all possible, travel in groups, with each person keeping an eye out for the belongings of the others.

Enjoy your visit to Paris. Just be on guard!
Diveoz is offline  
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Aug 30th, 2005, 06:40 AM
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Pickpockets,con artists, muggers etc are everywhere..in every city. You should always keep close watch over your belongings and take percaution in crowded areas like markets and trains. But to tell us about something that happened 8 and 4 years ago to suggest it's on the rise? What about those of us that have been tere a number of times and never had that happen to them or even saw it happening..maybe it's really on the decline?
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Aug 30th, 2005, 06:44 AM
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You have to be aware of your surroundings not only in Paris but everywhere and even at home. I'm sort of wondering what you mean by Paris pickpocketing is on the rise if you refer to four and eight year old incidents.
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Aug 30th, 2005, 06:55 AM
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Pausanias
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Great city, Paris, but the only one in which I've been robbed, and in which my hotel reservations were not honored -- not once but twice!
 
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Aug 30th, 2005, 07:04 AM
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Too bad Pausanias about your visits. Pickpockeing can occur anywhere and hotels can bump you anywhere as well not just in Paris. You just had bad luck.
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Aug 30th, 2005, 07:04 AM
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Although this has been discussed before at length I will put in my two cents. Most persons who are victims of this type of crime are targeted because they are believed to be an easy mark. eg. Hands full w/packages or children, wallets hanging out of their pockets, semi-opened handbags dangling off their shoulder,etc. you get the idea. If you take some common sense precautions as well as being constantly aware of your surroundinds you can easlily avoid becoming a target, & thus, a victim as well. Advertising the fact you are a tourist is also a great way to place a bulls-eye on your back. Dangling camera cases, fanny-packs, backpacks, etc. Hopefully everyone will note the time frame here as the things you mentioned are essentially ancient history. Having been a frequent visitor to Paris (particularly in the past 4 years) I have yet to encounter such a problem.
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Aug 30th, 2005, 07:05 AM
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Oh, & a first time poster as well....SURPRISE !!!
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Aug 30th, 2005, 07:08 AM
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Reminding people to be aware is always a welcome idea, but I see several bits of more useful information in your post than the warning of pickpocketing being on the rise. From your post I find these important tips:


Never put a wallet in a backpack!

Never let someone see you "lamely" put a wallet away anywhere.

Never carry a wallet in a back pocket where someone can actually see it.
Patrick is offline  
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Aug 30th, 2005, 07:20 AM
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It does sound to me like both the OP and his wife made themselves targets--he had his wallet in his back pocket and his wife let people see her put her wallet in the easily accessible pocket of her backpack. Those tiny luggage combination locks are great for backpacks too.
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Aug 30th, 2005, 07:20 AM
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Let's see, thievery on the rise. Incidents of 8 years ago, and 4 years ago. Last week, a wallet in a backpack, in the Montmartre area, was stolen, AND, a wallet kept in a back pocket was almost taken. Quel surprise! While you were being cornered on the boat, did you call it to anyone's attention?

If you're looking to provoke either defense of Paris or criticism of foolish behavior, I'm not playing.

Transparent try by a first-time provocateur
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Aug 30th, 2005, 07:25 AM
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It's interesting that this is Diveoz's first post, but must one assume that he is a troll just because he is posting about pickpockets? Aristotle would be amused.

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Aug 30th, 2005, 07:27 AM
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I noticed that too - first timer writes a 10 paragraph dissertation about pick pocketing. Nice.
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Aug 30th, 2005, 07:28 AM
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Quoting scattered incidents from many years ago and twice using the example of people with wallets in backpack or backpockets... well it doesn't make much of a case for the "warning".
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Aug 30th, 2005, 07:43 AM
  #14
cmt
 
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See US consular info page for France: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_p.../cis_1116.html (Scroll to the warnings about certain kinds crime, especially affecting foreigners, in parts of France.)

I think there have been stronger warnings issued by China re crime affecting its citizens traveling in France.
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Aug 30th, 2005, 07:53 AM
  #15
tod
 
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I come from a crime ridden country and we watch our backs all the time but admittedly when one is on holiday you tend to let your guard down.
Maybe we should learn more French phrases than just "Please & Thank you or I would like...."
How about:
Au secours! - Help!
Au voleur! - Stop Thief!
Arretez-le/la - Stop him/her
Laissez-moi tranquille! - Leave me alone!
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Aug 30th, 2005, 08:32 AM
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Reminds me that the only place where we were ever mugged...was Santiago, Chile.

On the street in Buenos Aires, look out for people who carry ketchup bottles wrapped inside a newspaper. One squirt, a few friendly wipes with profuse excuses, and they've cleaned your pockets.

In Paris' metro, we learned to be on the lookout for people who carry raincoats over their arm...on a sunny day.

Otherwise, I suspect a troll put out the original posting.
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Aug 30th, 2005, 08:33 AM
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Why do people get so defensive when someone brings up the crime in Paris? I was there for 4 days in June with my daughter, and we personally witness 3 attempted robberies on the metro! I have been to most of the major cities in the U.S. and Europe, and that was a record for me! The pickpockets are out of control, and people should be very aware. And just because you are a supposed "sophisticated traveller", it does not make you immune from crime!
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Aug 30th, 2005, 08:42 AM
  #18
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Mnapoli, I was wondering the same thing!
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Aug 30th, 2005, 08:51 AM
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People should be wary of pickpockets and other petty crime wherever they go, Paris included. If pickpocketing is on the rise statistically, absolutely more reason to be wary.

One of the definitions of "sophisticated" (Cambridge Dictionary)
'sophisticated'--
"having a good understanding of the way people behave"

Therefore, "sophisticated travelers" are not immune to crime, just aware of it and, behaving accordingly themselves, vastly improve their own odds of remaining crime-free. As most of us do.

All of that said, I don't for one minute buy the OP's posting as information or genuine warning, but as Paris provocation (hanging purses, little old ladies, backpacks, wallets in rear pockets, some nice details there) which I admit I've been feeding but will stop doing now.
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Aug 30th, 2005, 08:52 AM
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The authorities are aware of the problem. Just listen to the métro announcements warning of pickpockets that are regularly broadcast in some of the stations with higher tourist concentrations.
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