Gypsy problem?

Feb 19th, 1999, 11:07 AM
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Gypsy problem?

Please repost. Looks like could be an interesting discussion topic.
Feb 22nd, 1999, 04:11 PM
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We had a bad experience in Rome few years ago. We stayed in the hotel few blocks away from the railway station and once walking to the hotel were surrounded by a crowd of gypsy kids aged 7-12. They were asking for money and 'no' was not taken as an answer. Even though we were alert and tried not to let them come close to us, when the crowd dissolved we discovered that everything we had in our pockets disappeared including the wallet with ~500USD and credit cards. Luckily, I noticed the kid who had the wallet and caught him. Even though we didn't have any serious material losses, the day was spoiled as well as the memories of Rome.
Moral: try to avoid railway stations, and if you are in such an encounter keep your hands on the wallet / purse.

P.S. I don't like a header of this thread because obviously not all gypsys are troublemakers. I worked with the gypsy guy who was a computer programmer and nice and decent person. Any nation cliches are bad including gypsys.
Feb 23rd, 1999, 05:41 AM
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I don't think there is a Gypsy problem. There are people of all races and ethnic groups out there trying to steal from you. I think the Gypsies just stand out more from the crowd. Just be careful whenever in crowded areas. Touristy squares and subway cars seem to be prime spots. I had a friend who had several items stolen from her bag on a crowded Budapest subway car. She admitted that she had grown a little careless after three weeks in Europe. If you can, get a seat on the subways or at least try to turn in a direction that makes it hard for your neighbors to take anything. I am especially careful about standing holding a bag near a car door. Don't worry so much that it that you don't enjoy yourself, but watch out for suspicious situations, such as someone trying to go through the metro turnstile at the same time as you.
Feb 23rd, 1999, 07:15 AM
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Obviously, one shouldn't generalize, but the gypsies are not well liked in Europe. I really don't know what they have done to deserve such a reputation, but I do know from the locals that they are not liked or desired in their communities. It is also true that the gypsies are not the only ones to worry about. There are locals in both France and Italy who will just as likely separate you from your valuables. I've seen the gypsy kids in Paris and Milan and as Michael reported, they are good, very good at their business. I'm not sure what the best defense is, but I personally don't carry more cash on me than I would care to lose and I do take alternate credit cards with me which I keep separate and I do make copies of my driver's license, passport and air tickets. I think it is also a good idea to wear a money pouch around your waist under your shirt. And as Michael suggest, I do keep my hands in my pockets on whatever valuables I am carrying there.

As Dan suggests, don't worry yourself sick over it that you don't enjoy your trip, but I would add that you shouldn't ignore it either. It is a problem and it can happen to you. You should be aware and prepare yourself as much as possible.
Feb 23rd, 1999, 10:48 AM
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I have been travelling since I was a kid, but if I were a novice and read some of these postings I would hide under the bed. I have had my Traveller's Checks stolen in Barcelona and my pocket picked in Naples and New York City. In all cases, I took the appropriate action:went to American Express and put ina cliam, sure it takes awhile, but you are refunded, and called my credit card company and cancelled my cards. Then I enjoyed my vacation. Remember, most crime in Europe is non-violent. So
if you happen to fall victim to pickpockets, etc. do what you have to do and move on.( P.S. I've never used a money belt, but may try one after all these recommendations.)

Feb 24th, 1999, 09:58 PM
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Interesting question. I agree with Michele. I had the wonderful opportunity to travel from Lima to Machu Piccu and was scared sick by warnings I heard/read about being robbed. I wasn't. I have been robbed (also on a train in Budapest -- where I was distracted by the children I was travelling with and was careless.) I lost only credit cards, which is generally not as much of a worry in Europe as in the U.S. Pickpockets are looking for cash, not credit cards. I was able to cancel mine and have new ones delivered in a couple of days. I also had an attempted robbery on a train from Paris to Venice. I caught the thief in the act and he ran off. In this case, we had put our luggage up high and locked the bags together with a bicycle lock, and were all sleeping with money belts on. The only thing the thief had access to was a bag of snacks.

We witness arrests of gypsies in Italy, but had no problems ourselves. I would be extremely intimidated if I were surrounded by a group of people, however, and hope this never happens. I always were a money belt, but also a camera which could easily be stolen. I am no less worried or cautious in any large city in the U.S., however.

Feb 27th, 1999, 09:21 AM
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I am naive and possibily undereducated in this area. Do the Gypsies constitute a specific nationality or is this a racial or religious distinction? Are there ethnic characteristics?

As for the pickpockets issue, the only experience that I have had with pickpockets is 30 years ago in Disneyland my dad got his wallet stolen in the Haunted House ride. You know the one, the dark room with the floor that drops. I wonder, do only tourist get ripped off wherever they are? Is this a problem for the locals?
Feb 27th, 1999, 09:45 PM
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I had problem with gispy's in Berlin. Chrildren can all around me outside church. Waving paper and all speaking loudly together. I shouted and ran into church. Very afraid.
Feb 28th, 1999, 06:53 AM
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Tina, I believe the gypsies originally came out of India, perhaps a 1000 yrs ago and migrated to Europe. They had/have a reputation of being nomadic, not keen on working and specializing in fortune telling, running scams and pick pocketing. During the WWII timeframe, gypsies were persecuted by the Nazis similar to the jewish people.
Mar 1st, 1999, 08:40 AM
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After having travelled extensively in Europe (and now to Northern Africa), I had my first experience with Gypsies in Milan just two weeks ago. Four obviously American women, we were on our way to see the Last Supper when we were approached by two young women, one with a tiny baby strapped to her chest. They began to make the hand gestures for alms, and I spotted the wrinkled newspaper come out. I shouted "GYPSIES WATCH YOUR BAGS!" Fortunately, we carry shoulder bags under our coats, or double zip types that can't be opened. Our mistake was to separate; one woman was picked off, and the Gypsy women began pawing at her. I pushed them off, got in one's face and screamed "BACK OFF NOW!!!!!". Twelve years of karate training ain't for nothin'...and the two women skedaddled. We went around the corner to wait in line to see the Last Supper, and around the corner came the two women. The Italians in line hurled curses at them...a couple of Americans naively opened their purses to give them something. Finally, a caretaker came out and screamed at them to get away.
Later that day, at the plaza outside the Duomo, we saw the polizia haul off a Gypsy who had been working the crowd.
I guess that an aggressive response, along with a belligerent attitude, is the only way to get rid of them. "no" is not in the vocabulary....
Mar 3rd, 1999, 07:14 PM
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Gypsies come from all over. The latest theory I had heard is that many of them came from the former Yugoslavia. Whatever?

What I found that sometimes worked was to point your camera at the leader of the group as they approached you. (Not when they were already there.) Gypsies are VERY superstitious. By the time they get to be teenagers many of them believe that a camera will steal their soul or some such nonsense. Since the leader will turn away from the camera (and you) they can't direct their followers on how to attack you.

The best advice is not to let them near to you. Scream and try to hit them. Don't feel guilty. In some places I have been,
St. Petersburg and Moscow come to mind, they are downright violent.
Mar 4th, 1999, 04:08 AM
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To answer the question about whether the "gypsies" attack natives also: I have seen far fewer of them here in Paris over the past 5 or 6 years and never ever encounter them. Most pan handlers here are French. There used to be many gypsies in Paris. We saw many more in Italy than here but were never approached. I believe they tend to pray on people who look the most like tourists, and, unfortunately, Japanese people are often singled out as are Americans. Both of these nationalities have a reputation for being rich. If you are approached, don't be shy about shouting or hitting the person away, even though this behavior may not come naturally. Avoiding eye contact may be the best way to avoid a problem.
Jun 7th, 1999, 01:19 PM
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To Judy: Very interesting. That seems to be a good solution and I will remember that the next time I travel. (In addition to vocal chords)
What's with the newspaper approach? Just a distraction?
Also, back on cameras stealing souls or whatever, I remember being in Morocco many years ago and thought I would take a photo of a man on the beach with his camel. He became incensed and started yelling at me and waving his hands. I definitely had the idea he didn't want his photo taken.
Aug 1st, 1999, 09:21 AM
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We saw a lot of gypsies in Paris in March--none in June. We actually saw more gypsies in London this June. Despite all the warnings of pickpockets etc. my husband refused to do anything other than carry his wallet in his back pocket. Guess what? He came home with wallet, credit cards, etc. intact!
Aug 1st, 1999, 09:49 AM
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I find this post really irritating. It is so unfair to say that any itinerant trying to steal your money is a "Gypsy". Most of these people you describe are just the lawless element, often found around unsuspecting tourists. Most of the Rom, which is the correct term for gypsy, do keep to themselves, and want you to do the same. Not that there aren't lawbreakers among them, just like any race, nationality, or religion. They have been persecuted, and driven from country to country, which may account for their being perceived as nomadic. You will find that there are many hard working "gypsies" in Yugoslavia, and also here in the United States,and Canada, but unthinking remarks like some of those made here does make one wonder at cultural sensitivity. Judy, I wonder how you'd feel if someone made fun of your religious beliefs.

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