Have You Ever Been Robbed in Europe?

Old Apr 28th, 2016, 02:17 PM
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Have You Ever Been Robbed in Europe?

I'd like to ask Fodorites if they have ever been pickpocketed, had baggage stolen, been scammed in any way, etc. This can be a teaching tool for the not so uncommon Q from newbie travelers about this in Europe.

ME- in decades of travel never lost anything to a street thief or otherwise. Came close once in Amsterdam long time ago when a drug addict type thrust his hands into my from pocket (was wearing a money belt under my clothing as always). Amsterdam was rife with such things then but now seems to have cleaned up its act with this.

I did witness the theft of a bag on a train or well saw the aftermath of it - was sleeping in a regular car long ago when night trains all had them and someone from another compartment yells out - 'they got my bag' and suddenly a guy in my compartment opened the window and rapelled out of the train as it was slowing down approaching a station. Night trains in regular seats are dicey as I have heard many second-hand stories of thefts there.

And one friend recently got robbed of his I phone in a Paris McDonalds by the old diversion technique with two very young girls who thrust a hand-written letter in his face while the other one stole the phone.

Well also a relative was mugged long ago in Madrid.

But besides that nada a problem in decades of travel - mainly because I was cognizant of the problem and took precautions - the best way to protect yourself. Europe is super safe or should be with a little precaution and knowing there could be a problem- like in any major city in the world. (The last two times I've driven into and parked in Manhattan, right in the heart of things I came back two windows had been busted out and worthless stuff missing!)


What advice as a seasoned traveler (if so) would you give to others? Again reports of never or rarely being victimized are as important as being so.
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Old Apr 28th, 2016, 02:25 PM
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We did have a dishonest taxi driver in Madrid over 20 years ago that had rigged his meter so he could up the price at will. As we all know, that can happen anywhere.

Advice: Keep your wits about you, know where you valuables are at all times - leave as much as possible back in your hotel safe.
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Old Apr 28th, 2016, 02:40 PM
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I was once robbed in Paris while using an ATM machine near the busy St-Paul metro station entrance. A teenager was passing out flyers nearby and suddenly he ran over and put one of the flyers over my hands as I was using the machine and pushed the 300 euro button at the same time. I swatted him away, he grabbed my arm, and as this happened his female accomplice reached in from the other side and grabbed the cash as the machine dispensed. I turned and grabbed her arm that was holding a folded newspaper, opened the paper, and retrieved my cash. My card was still in the machine, so I was able to retrieve it. It all happened so fast.

So the good news is that I got my money back.

I now try to use inside the bank ATM's or don't use street ATM's when there are people just hanging around nearby.
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Old Apr 28th, 2016, 02:44 PM
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Pickpocketed in Istanbul on a tram and I put my wallet in a front pocket.
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Old Apr 28th, 2016, 02:45 PM
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Once. A failed pickpocket attempt, but that was in Istanbul, which hardly counts as Europe.
It's a question of simple precautions.
Like Kathie I leave the important stuff at the hotel. On the street I only have a wallet with cash.
The wallet goes in the daypack behind a zipper or, lacking that, in a plastic shopping bag at the bottom.
When I need something from the daypack, I get out of the way, to a corner or a wall.
And all, of course, depending on the situation. I'm careless in the countryside, attentive in the city.
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Old Apr 28th, 2016, 02:54 PM
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I was pickpocketed in Lisbon on the 28 Tram last May. It was my first day in Lisbon after an overnight flight from the US and I was jetlagged. The tram was very crowded and a man pushed up against me and I did get uncomfortable and tried to move back. My husband was across the car and noticied the guy getting extremely close & planned to come over, but the guy got off at the next stop.

I was well aware of the pickpocket possibilities on that tram in particular. Ironically I stood with my bag up against my body reading the multiple sign in various language warning people to watch their belongings. When we hopped off the tram and I went to get money, my €25 was missing. I carry little cash and no credit cards with me. What really got me mad was that United had given us vouchers for something and I hadn't bothered to take them out of my purse and put them away...he got those too.

This after many, many trips all over the world & I live in a big city. My advice -- you can never be too careful. As the sign said, watch your belongings.
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Old Apr 28th, 2016, 03:00 PM
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Old Apr 28th, 2016, 03:31 PM
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A drawing from a suitcase in a Rome hotel
Eyeglasses from car in Romania
A car in Madrid
A handbag in Morocco

Over many years.

Things happen.
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Old Apr 28th, 2016, 03:37 PM
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Dublin, friends had their room broke into and robbed. The hotel had a bar on top and the elevator stopped on each floor. You could see on the cameras this guy checking doors and then our friend's room was out of camera view where the hall turned. We had just checked in and were in the downstairs bar. I think it was an inside job because they said the door was locked. They only got phones, passports, a camera. This was maybe 10 years ago so you weren't attached to the phone so much then. The pain was getting them passports at the American embassy next day. Both were pilots so not like they weren't use to hotels.
I have had the normal problems in Paris but ignore them. Have seen people chasing thieves in Dublin, "stop the bloody bastard" This was right on Suffolk where the big tourist office is, the one that was a church.
Must say, Bavaria is the safest place, never worry about much there.
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Old Apr 28th, 2016, 03:45 PM
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Twice, during the same trip, I was given incorrect change for the admission price... both at Catholic churches in Spain! Can't trust anyone, eh?
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Old Apr 28th, 2016, 04:22 PM
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In Barcelona (surprise surprise!) my sister and I were in a restaurant in the Boqueria. A guy we thought was the waiter bent over to ask how our dinner was. He stole my sister's purse, which I think was probably on the floor by her chair, though she says it was on her lap.

Fortunately, the only time in the seven European trips we took together, she had given me her passport and credit card to put in my money belt. All she lost was the camera she had in her purse.\

On a train trip to Montserrat, a woman tried to steal my purse, but I realized what was happening and moved my purse.
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Old Apr 28th, 2016, 04:28 PM
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Paris 1985.. walking down Boulevard St Michel ( a wide busy street and sidewalk) in broad daylight.. was walking about 10 feet ahead of my friends by myself.. side walk was not crowded really, so all of a sudden wondered why a man was walking so close behind me.. like right behind my right hand shoulder. Looked down and saw the purse I had slung over my shoulder was unzipped ( and know it had been zipped closed before).. so I reacted immediately .. yelled at man and shoved him away.. my friends then ran up to me and the guy ran away.

Then in 2008, alone in metro tunnel .. was going to St Denis and was sort of lost , stopped to look at map. No one else was around.. then noticed same thing.. a man walking right up behind me .. and this time his hand was on my bag.. and same reaction.. I was so incredibly angry.. I just screamed ( in English too because it was just instinct) "get an f**king job you *sshole" and shoved him away and he tried to motion to me that he just wanted a light for a cigarette but I keep telling him to f o.. and he ran away.. this all took place in about 1 minute..and it could have gone worse.. but my adrenaline just kicked in and I felt no fear at all.. but later thought .. "whew.. lucky he ran off" there was no one around.. I think the screaming freaked him right out though.... so my tip is come across as crazy and its better for you.. being polite is never the right solution.. lol

My hubbys first time to Europe.. Amsterdam.. 2012. We were walking along a canal when a young man who was kicking a soccer ball kicked it over to my hubby and sort of tried to engage him in play.. so my husband was thinking he was going to have some wonderful local interaction.. except I noticed that the man came over and put his hand around my husbands shoulder ( like all buddy buddy) and his hand just happened to be hanging right over my hubbys front chest pocket.. which had his wallet in it.. I reacted pretty quick.. which freaked out hubby as he didn't realize what was happening.. I grabbed his hand and brought it down and said something like " yeah yeah.. thanks a lot.. move along".. the fellow grinned and moved off..

I really do not worry about it.. because really in all three cases they rely on your being clueless.. and I am getting pretty clued in over the decades.. do NOT get in my bubble.. or my hubbys.. lol They cant steal what they cant reach..
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Old Apr 28th, 2016, 05:34 PM
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We have spent nearly a year in all of the great pickpocket capitols of Europe over the past 20+ years with no problems. Haven't lost a thing and to best of our knowledge no attempt ever made on us either. Have seen a couple of suspicious situations but nothing every developed. And I could have been overly suspicious. I have never seen all of the pickpocket attempts that others report so guess I am just lucky. There is always the next trip.
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Old Apr 28th, 2016, 05:47 PM
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Unfortunately yes. Our car was broken into and we were robbed while visiting Obidos, on our way from Sintra to Tomar. I have since learned to lock our car doors manually instead of with the fob. Fortunately, I guess, only our souvenirs were stolen, not our suitcases.
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Old Apr 28th, 2016, 05:48 PM
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Nope, only in New York.
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Old Apr 28th, 2016, 05:55 PM
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No I have never been robbed or scammed in more than 100 trips (I've lost count) to europe. And I have never used any sort of money belt, or safety purse or any other sort of weird device.

I did have one cab driver in Prague try to scam me on the fare but he lost. He tried a roundabout route but he said it was necessary due to construction, then refused to turn the last corner and pull up in front of our hotel (knowing the doorman would call him on it). So I got out, then handed him the correct fare and told him the tip was not to try to cheat a New Yorker. And if he had a problem to call the police. He cursed me (I assume) and drove away.

Caveat: I am a native new yorker and have noticed what seem to me to be normal precautions are not taken by many tourists. (The absolute worst is the women that hang their purses from the back of their chair in an outdoor cafe, or leave a cell phone just sitting on a table.)

A friend of mine was robbed on an overnight train quite a few years ago in deepest central europe. She elected to save money by sitting up all night versus getting a cabin - and hid her (very expensive) camera between her body and the side of the train. Unfortunately she is a heavy sleeper and when she woke the camera was gone. Someone had apparently reached are her, pulled it out by the strap during the night. The conductor said there was noting he could do (naturally).
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Old Apr 28th, 2016, 07:17 PM
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Two pickpocket attempts in Spain, one on a train and one on the street,
valuables under my clothes. Coins were thrown down, and someone was crawling between my legs. Second time my wife was ready and gave the guy a big kick in the crotch.

Gypsy girl hand in my pocket on the Paris Metro, nothing there. She has a sore wrist.
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Old Apr 28th, 2016, 08:32 PM
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Once pickpocketed b a bunch of little kids in Rome. They just got some Amex traveler's checks (this was in the days before credit cards). The kids then had the chutzpah to try to sell them back to me.

Another time years later, also in Rome we were with two of our kids, DD was in the 2nd grade at the time, watching other kids down at the colosseum picking pockets. There were swarms of them and the police were catching them as fast as they could and putting them in a holding pen, but more kept showing up. After a while we started back to our car and I saw behind us a kid, about 13yo coming up fast aiming for DW. I dropped back to stop him when a plainclothes cop did one of the best "open field" tackles I have ever seen.

When we returned to the states, we got a call from DD's school principal to come down. It seemed at show and tell she was showing the class how to pick pockets. Who says travel isn't educational for children? (please forgive me, I have told this story here before).
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Old Apr 28th, 2016, 10:35 PM
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Once; pickpockets on the subway in Barcelona.
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Old Apr 28th, 2016, 10:47 PM
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On my one and only trip to Amsterdam some lowlife character approached me claiming to be selling drugs but I ignored him and so he ran away shouting "he won't speak to me" Immediately he and two accomplices surrounded me, pushed me up against a wall and tried to get their hands into my pockets, but I fended them off and carried on walking, relieved that they did not seem to be following me. However, checking my pockets I found that they had taken my passport but I still had my wallet. Only about ten minutes later but in another street some distance away another lowlife stepped out in front me trying to engage me in conversation but as I walked past him he jumped on me and pushed me to the ground, and this time after some kicking and punching between us he succeeded in getting my wallet and ran off with it, though I was relieved that I was not seriously hurt. The two incidents seemed unrelated, and I had not seen the second mugger before. I was alone and it was after dark, but it all happened before 10 p.m. when several "respectable" people were also walking round, with some of them even stopping to have a look while all this was going on, as I recall, but nobody offering any help. During the trip I was also accosted on a number of other occasions in the daytime by aggressive and intimidating drug dealers and beggars, but without incident.

Although I went to a police station later the same evening I was ignored whilst standing at the counter for 20 minutes and then told to come back the next day. And so I was back at the police station at 9 a.m. the next morning, but had to wait for about three hours. In the end the conversation I had with the police officer who finally saw me was like a conversation between Basil Fawlty and Manuel, and he seemed to be the only person in Amsterdam who could not understand English ! But I obviously needed to make a statement (even though it was all written in Dutch) to accompany my subsequent insurance claim.

OK, all of this did happen back in 1981, and Amsterdam may have improved since then, but I scarcely need say I have never returned, nor am I ever likely to in future. I was just so glad to leave the city and get back home safely, because walking the streets there I felt like Rick Grimes walking the streets of Atlanta !
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