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Electronics stolen at Florenc stop in Prague- A Follow Up

Electronics stolen at Florenc stop in Prague- A Follow Up

Dec 13th, 2007, 04:14 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2007
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Electronics stolen at Florenc stop in Prague- A Follow Up


It's me again and I wanted to update my fellow Fodor travelers from my last post where I stated that our bag along with laptop, ipod, Bose headset, digital camera and Blackberry were stolen from the Florenc transport station in Prague.

Many kind folks asked if it ruined our trip and I would have to say the answer is both yes and no. This unfortunate event happened on day one and while fun was still had, we were disillusioned on many levels. I am writing today's post to tell all that along the way on our trip, we ran into several people who had been stolen from and these too were world travelers who thought they took the necessary precautions to not be victimized, even one man was a former police officer.

Now somewhat with heightened knowledge on this dark subject, I now REALLY KNOW that there are gangs of gypsies/thugs/losers who are constantly on the lookout and actually bombard you to make their catch. Working in groups, they are successful in throwing people off, making them look or move the other way while another goes in for the kill, and all sorts of other clever, primal strategies.
In a Budapest thermal bath, we met a formal police officer and in street clothes, even he was pick pocketed and outsmarted. Another Australian gal had her purse snapped from her on month 1 of her 6 month journey. We also met 2 couples from Wisconsin where one of the mn was pickpocketed of his wallet (inconvenienced with loss of d/l, fear of credit card identity, and least important loss of a stash of cash) and this was his 5th trip to Prague. In this same group, one of the wives was able to stop a man dressed in suit at subway who had unzipped her purse and was ready to snatch. Upon her screaming, he changed directions and got lost in the crowd. Disappearing without a trace...

The net, net is that this happens a lot and it is a big problem and not just in Prague. There seem to be other cities known for small police forces, little to no surveillance and that is where these gangs hang out. While I wish we could do a thousand things differently, I have come up with a few life lessons for future travel:

1. Resist the urge to feel comfortable/safe in foreign environments and force yourself to be aware and protect your space. Backing up against a wall is a plus.

2. Scatter items of value, if at all possible. Imagine a better outcome if our electronics were scattered in 2 carry on bags versus packing them all in my DHs briefcase.

3. Photo copy d/l, passport, credit card numbers and contact information, serial numbers, etc. Although we made a police report, just for a point but not much hope, we did not have serial numbers. Regarding the other important records, we personally did not lose our passports and such on this deal but the girl from Australia did and it was a BIG problem for her. She spent days and days trying to figure out how to go about proving she was who she was. Fortunate for her, the Australian passport is not as valuable as a US one and the thugs left her bag to be found, minus all other items of value.

That's all for now. Again, I write this just in hopes that I can help a similiar event from happening to someone else. While a stranger to me, I would not wish a fun, exotic, world trip to be colored with an unfortunate event and instead, wish my fellow fodors amazing travels. No negative nellies needed to respond to this....life is good, life is beautiful and life is full of lessons.
ally3259 is offline  
Dec 13th, 2007, 05:03 AM
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Thanks for the reminders, ally
ira is offline  
Dec 13th, 2007, 05:30 AM
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This is a really good post, careful and not at all paranoid. Everything you say is true in every city in the US, so it is not just an overseas phenomenon.

Last time you posted, you got swarmed, not, I think, because of what you yourself wrote but because several other people wrote sympathetic "I feel your pain" posts that were pretty smarmy. Yes, we all felt your pain, but most of us didn't emote about it.

I admire your courage for posting again on the topic, and I especially admire your clear-eyed analysis of what happened and what to do about it in the future.
Ackislander is offline  
Dec 13th, 2007, 06:03 AM
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I didn't read the earlier posts but my first question is why carry all of that expensive gear? And I know it is easy to take this experience and extrapolate to all people in all places. I know it happens because it has happened to friends of ours. But do you think you contributed in anywhere to becoming a target??? Or just unlucky.?? We have traveled nearly 300 days over the past 15 years or so -- mostly with our two sons with no problems or even close to a problem. We don't think we are going anything exceptionally difference. Maybe just lucky. It might be useful if could describe what you doing, etc., as a clue to my you were hit so hard.
fmpden is online now  
Dec 13th, 2007, 06:15 AM
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Opps, shouldn't post before reading. After posting I thought to click on your name. You explained it. One thing we have rigid habit of doing is always locking our luggage, even if it is just a day bag, to something where we put it down. If we traveling with all of our luggage we lock it together just to prevent the grab and run. I carry a light weight, retractable cable lock in my pocket so that it is instantly available when iI need it. I think you have to view your security as a total package. Cannot just do one thing but it is the picture you present as a potential target. I don't believe that these attacks are random. I think they are very good at pointing weaknesses. Sorry you lost so much. An expensive lesson.
fmpden is online now  
Dec 13th, 2007, 07:17 AM
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<<there are gangs of gypsies/thugs/losers who are constantly on the lookout and actually bombard you to make their catch. Working in groups, they are successful in throwing people off, making them look or move the other way while another goes in for the kill, and all sorts of other clever, primal strategies. >>

Is this the statement that you claim is true in every city in the US, Ackislander? well, it's not. The post is good advice, but no reason to try to pretend there are not some cities and places where one is more at risk than others. The above statement is certainly not true in the US city where I was born, nor is it true of lots of cities in the US where I have relatives and visit. Why do people have to make these comments pretending that every city in the world is exactly the same in terms of risk?
Christina is online now  
Dec 13th, 2007, 07:46 AM
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Thanks for the reminder, Ally. Prague is, as you learned, a place where theft can be a problem.

I am happy to see this thread has not been bombarded by the absurd, "I'll just hit them with my purse" BS from the bored and lonely amongst us.
Dukey is offline  
Dec 13th, 2007, 10:22 AM
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Sorry - there are pickpockets all over the world. And they tend to congregate where there are large numbers of tourists (who may be confused,, unaware or disoriented) or just where there are a lot of people gathered for a major event (whether it be a concert, a state fair, a horse race etc).

The rules for avoiding them are also the same everywhere.

Thieves are everywhere - and are of every age, gender, race and ethnic group.

And while you are probably less at risk in your local supermarket - there are still many cases of careless shoppers leaving their purse in the cart and coming back to find it gone.

nytraveler is offline  
Dec 13th, 2007, 12:04 PM
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No. Christina, not the same criminals (according to the New York Times, LA gypsies are too busy fighting each other over fortune telling turf).

No, but there are people who would be delighted to take you wallet from your open purse in the supermarket trolley, pop your trunk lid for the stuff you just locked away at the mall, or lift your cell phone from the outer pocket of your back pack. The president of a university where I once worked was successfully mugged within sight of the doorman at a famous hotel.

Most of us don't get robbed in the States, and most of us, as Ally3259 says, don't get robbed in Europe.

My point is that the kinds of precautions advocated by fmpden are not only for traveling abroad, especially if you are carrying expensive items.

I am not at all paranoid, but I do take care to know who is about me and where my stuff is.
Ackislander is offline  
Dec 13th, 2007, 12:22 PM
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Earlier this week, a woman was stabbed to death in an L.A. shopping mall parking lot when she didn't give up her purse fast enough to a snatcher.

Last month, also, in L.A., a drive-by snatcher reached out of the car window and grabbed a woman's purse strap. She also didn't let go fast enough and was dragged several feet and lost a finger.

I'm not picking on L.A. (I live here!) I doubt these stories are unique to L.A.
Jean is online now  
Dec 13th, 2007, 02:09 PM
Join Date: Sep 2004
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These last couple of months our local newspapers have been filled with robberies, thefts, muggings etc. Our local PD has articles in our local papers to remind people how to protect themselves from various crimes.

Ally, again, as I said before I am so sorry that you and your husband had this problem. But again I thank you for reminding all of us to be aware and cautious. Reminders are good. Having been in the insurance business for ages I am pretty knowledgeable about how crimes occur but even I let down my guard once in awhile.

My all your future trips be crime free.
LoveItaly is offline  
Dec 13th, 2007, 02:25 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 3,000

Thank you for all the reminders, especially from experienced travelers and law officers.

hopscotch is offline  

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