My Paris Pick Pocket Story

Old May 22nd, 2008, 11:21 AM
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My Paris Pick Pocket Story

What a great trip to Paris. The weather was great and Paris was splendid. I'm in my early 60's and have always consider myself an "aware" person especially in our foreign travels. I have read all the stories of "beware of the pickpockets" and I now can tell you that my wife and I witnessed a work of pickpocketing art.

We were exiting the Paris subway on an escalator (along with our walking tour guide) with my wife in front of me. As we reached the top, I noticed that my wife stepped over a cell phone that had been dropped. As she stepped off a man dropped down in front of me to pick up the phone. The escalator was packed behind me and as I avoided the man at my knees I saw another man behind me run off the escalator. I touched my pocket and my money clip/credit card foldover was gone. This entire act occurred within 3 or 4 seconds. I yelled and the man dropped my money clip with my credit cards and ID but made off with 140 Euros. It was a relatively inexpensive experience and, to me, interesting to see how well co ordinated the culprits were.

One final note on the tour guide. We had contacted Michael Osman but he never returned our emails. On google search we found what turned out to be a great guy named Anthony Atkielski, an American who has lived in Paris for the last 20 years. Anthony is a class act.
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Old May 22nd, 2008, 11:33 AM
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Was your money clip in your BACK pocket? I keep my credit cards in a shoulder money pouch under my clothes. At least you were not injured!
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Old May 22nd, 2008, 11:37 AM
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In a way they are skilled artisans, but I'm not sure their act is worth a 140 Euro tip.
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Old May 22nd, 2008, 12:03 PM
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You say you are an experienced and aware traveler, so why in the world did you have valuables unsecured in your pocket?

At the very least, if we're carrying anything of value in a pant or jacket pocket - and that is rare - we pin it shut from inside with a safety pin.

In my opinion, that was an expensive "show" you were given!
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Old May 22nd, 2008, 12:15 PM
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Good advice for others to learn -- especially men who always seem to carry things in their pockets in metros and tourist areas and then are surprised when they are pickpocketed. Maybe if people keep reading things like that, they'll finally believe that just saying you are experienced doesn't mean anything.

YOu are very lucky that the guy dropped your credit cards just because you yelled. I've heard of that guy Anthony before, I think he has a good website, actually, so that's a good tip for others who are looking for guides.
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Old May 22nd, 2008, 12:25 PM
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I'm always so distressed by the advice to "just be aware of your surroundings", as it is just so easy to get distracted, as your experience proves.

The pickpockets go after that which is easily accessible. So, you really have to ensure that anything of value to you is not.

Thank you for posting.
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Old May 22nd, 2008, 12:35 PM
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I agree, every man I know is stubborn in that he has never been pickpocketed and that he would know if someone reached into his pocket, etc. etc. etc.

I should print out your post and hand it out to them.
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Old May 22nd, 2008, 12:47 PM
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Wow! I'm glad he dropped your credit card and ID. I wonder how they get so good. Do they go to pickpocket school? Do they practice on each other?
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Old May 22nd, 2008, 12:47 PM
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a friend in Rome told us that pickpockets CUT away his back pocket
and stole his valet.
He had no idea it happened until someone told him his underwear was
showing!
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Old May 22nd, 2008, 01:03 PM
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Like I said, I always thought that I was an aware person. I usually carry my money clip in a zippered pocket in my jacket but it was in the 80's while in Paris on the 7th through the 11th and a jacket was not an option.

The results of this incident, to me, was that I started noticing who was behind me on the escalators and so on. I think, and hope, that this has made me a more aware type person and not take so much for granted.
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Old May 22nd, 2008, 01:14 PM
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The "dropped object and kneel to pick it up" has become a rather well-used method apparently.

A couple of years ago on the Metro in Barcelon someone actually thre down a Metro card/ticket at my feet.

In the splt second that it happened I thought, "How odd."

By the time I realized what was going on someone had picked my FRONT pocket of a few Euro (the actual pickpocket was standing on the platform outside the open Metro car door and simply reached in).

These people are very good at what they do and I am always amused at some of the so-called "defenses" people come up with on here such as the "I'll hit him with my purse" stuff which is laughable.

Live and learn and be glad it wasn't any worse.
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Old May 22nd, 2008, 01:27 PM
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My sister and her husband were in Paris on their honeymoon when a man sitting near them in the Metro began having what appeared to be a seizure. My sister immediately started to approach him to help, but my brother in law stopped her. He is a doctor, and could tell the man was faking it - probably setting someone up to be pickpocketed. Sure enough, when no one took the bait, the man recovered and went on his way. My sister and brother in law (once they were certain it was fake) said it was actually quite comical - the man kept opening one eye to see if anyone was approaching, then he'd close it again and go back to his theatrics.
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Old May 22nd, 2008, 04:44 PM
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Sorry - but if you were really "aware" you would always know who was near you on an escalator. And if anyone was too close or on the wrong side you would have moved to the other side, or turned or moved up or down a step.

"Aware" means knowing everyone who is around you at all times. It's like driving - when you keep glancing in your side and rear view mirrors every so often - just to make sure there's no one too close behind you or getting ready to pass on the wrong side or cut in front of you.

I was amazed driving with a friend when she said she uses the mirrors only when changing lanes. I was taught to look in all your mirrors regularly as a basic step of defensive driving. Defensive traveling is the same.
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Old May 22nd, 2008, 04:45 PM
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Yes, they are actually quite skilled at removing items from your pocket without noticing that you have even been touched. My husband lost his wallet that way in Barcelona and learned a "hard lesson" about keeping his wallet in his back pocket. He now wears pants w/ a front zippered pocket from the travel store.
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Old May 22nd, 2008, 07:11 PM
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shellyM: Yes, they do go to pickpocket schools. I remember when I was living in a Scandinavian country during the summers and back in the 70s or 80s there were articles in the newspapers about pickpocket schools. I read the articles in the newspapers of the country in which I was living. They were talking about pickpockets mainly in Southern European countries, but some bad pickpocket incidents even happened in the country in which I was living although that country was quite safe overall back then. I find Europe the worst place for pickpockets. I travel within Southeast Asia regularly and don't find it anywhere near the problem of Europe. I'm always totally on guard in Europe. Happy Travels!
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Old May 22nd, 2008, 07:47 PM
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I don't understand why anyone would carry a lot of cash and credit cards anywhere else but in a money belt. We keep both in our money belts and only carry "walking around" cash (the equivalent of $30 or $40)in our front pockets. On our very first trip to Paris, we were just exiting the RER from CDG at the Luxembourg station when a man on the escalator obviously fingered my husband's back pockets -- nothing there, too bad Mr. Thief.
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Old May 23rd, 2008, 05:50 AM
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This poor pilgrim has been now victimized twice: once by the pickpocket and again by the pile-on mugging he's received here as a result of having had the temerity to have been pickpocketed in the first place. Oh to be so perfect, indeed!
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Old May 23rd, 2008, 06:13 AM
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We are experienced travellers and the same happened to us in Paris - on the Metro.There were 3 young men who got on , one droppped a coin under our seats and we were helping/moving so he could find it. They got off as soon as he'd picked it up and my husband realised what it was all about. He was sitting on the outside with 100euros in his pocket.Gone! His cards were in another pocket thankfully.
We felt so stupid for a while after but were determined it wasn't going to ruin our trip.
You cant be alert all the time and these guys are pros.
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Old May 23rd, 2008, 06:17 AM
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azzure writes:
"I don't understand why anyone would carry a lot of cash and credit cards anywhere else but in a money belt."

Because a really good pickpocket can get it out of your money belt. It happened to a friend on the Metro. If it hasn't happened to you, fine. I haven't been pickpocketed, either. But while a moneybelt is better than nothing, don't think a money belt alone is protection against a good team of pickpockets.

The Travel Channel had a couple of shows on how thefts from travelers -- suitcases, laptops, purses -- and a pickpocket in Vegas who could take off a man's trouser belt without his even being aware of it.
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Old May 23rd, 2008, 06:48 AM
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I don't think people are "piling on" - just pointing out how to avoid the problem as much as possible.
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