naples & pickpockets

Aug 12th, 2010, 09:41 AM
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naples & pickpockets

We were warned but still fell for it.
After a long day in pompeii we had returned to Naples by train. The bus terminus is across the square & the R2 was in. We boarded & were sat close to the exit. An old fellow got on looked around & got off. The bus driver started the bus after a further 5 minutes & we were off. 2 stops down a gang of between 6 & 8 60+year olds got on, no one seems to have tickets in Naples. I only had few Euros in my pocket & the pockets were not accessible whilst sat down.
We got to our stop & I got up. The old fellow behind me started doing a funny dance backward & forward and I stopped to let him pass. He didn't want to. The crowd at the exit hustled together to prevent us getting off. We couldn.t get past, the bus door was closing & the bus was about to move off. I reached for the bell, bus door reopened but the big old woman & man still blocked the way. They were complaining about me trying to push my way off whilst their mates were going through my pockets unknown to me.
I managed to squeeze my way through, got the kids off & then realised that I had lost some money. The bus door shut & away it went. Too late.
I can cope with 1 or 2 pickpockets I'd thought but a team of pensioners, one a woman who remind you of your parents was too much. Even if I'd known what they were up to I was not in any position then or looking back to have been able to do anything. How can you hit an old woman or man who may only be passenger & you don't speak their language.
Lesson learned - don't keep money in your pockets. When you read about pickpockets you don't expect a team of pensioners - now I do.
johngerard is offline  
Aug 12th, 2010, 10:09 AM
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Thanks for the warning. We're heading to Naples for a week so we'll be alert for geriatric pickpocketers.
Marija is online now  
Aug 12th, 2010, 10:57 AM
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good lesson a lot of people should learn. I agree, you usually don't expect very old pickpocketers, but that really didn't matter in this case -- because if they had been younger, the same thing would have happened, you would have lost money you were carrying in your pockets even though you had been told not to do that and that locatio does have a lot of pickpocketers.

So why do men carry money in their pockets on public transportation in cities known for pickpockets?
Christina is online now  
Aug 12th, 2010, 11:17 AM
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I wonder what they are spending your money on. I bet they are feeding their tea habit.

(PS we saw this happening last year in Naples. Sorry it happened.)
colduphere is offline  
Aug 12th, 2010, 11:52 AM
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This type of warning is probably not effective as those who have not been hit feel this doesn't happen to them. It only happens to those who are not "aware" of the environments.

I have taken such bus in Napoli, and the experience was similar to what was described here. However, I kept all my valuables in my moneybelt except for a decoy wallet in my pocket. The pickpockets who thought they created a squeeze-through trap and secured another wallet was themselves were caught by my trap. It was actually fun to see just how these schemes worked. The pickpockets stopped creating artificial squeeze-through passages once they realized I only carried decoy wallets.

How did locals deal with this? I watched local women squeezing through these traps. They all seemed to carry zippered purses but kept the purses in front of them just below their chin. I think this way they could see if anyone was trying to unzip the purses.
greg is offline  
Aug 12th, 2010, 02:51 PM
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In Naples.we stopped near the cruise terminal for coffee & D H paid from his wallet tucked down the front of his shirt. He had $2000 in it as we had to pay cash for an apartment rental. we walked for about 15 minutes to the bus stop. and squeezed on a full bus. my D h & I were separated. one guy stood in front of DH just by the doors & grabbed his shirt pretending to be unsteady. at the first stop he jumped off with the wallet.. I called the driver to stop the bus ,we got off but I think the guy had a car following the bus ,plus he was in with the guy at the cafe, who saw where my D H kept his wallet. The police were very unhelpful except to give us a form to fill in. I always have whistle on a string attached to my purse & if i feel unsafe I blow I use a waist pouch.
jean253 is offline  
Aug 13th, 2010, 04:18 AM
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If only someone ever caught these people in action - I would have liked to pulverise the "exotic" woman who got my purse outside the Vatican museums.
tarquin is offline  
Aug 13th, 2010, 07:11 AM
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Hi JG,


That sounds like something out of an Alec Guinness movie or a Monty Python sketch.

Who would have suspected a gang of old men and women.

Thanks for the heads up.

ira is offline  
Aug 14th, 2010, 07:07 PM
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My DH chased a theif off a bus near the Pyramide stop in Rome, and the guy tossed the lens he had stolen into a patch of grass. At least we got the lens back. Also a crowded bus situation.

No one got me in Naples, but a middle aged woman punched me in the arm to get my attention, and a couple of girls on a motorbike screamed something rude in my direction. I think Naples is yucky. I had yucky food, yucky service, saw yucky shops, and generally was not into it.
tuscanlifeedit is offline  
Aug 15th, 2010, 03:15 AM
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This kind of story really scares me to be honest. I am planning my first trip to Europe. If a gang of thieves is determined to target you, even if you have a money belt what is to stop them grabbing it and unclipping it? How are you going to fight them off? Is it OK to punch someone in the face?

Also I'm kind of puzzled by Greg's statement that pickpockets didn't target him when they realized he only carried decoy wallets? How did they know he carried a decoy wallet? Did the same gang target him each time he left the hotel, until after a few days they realized he only carried decoys? Or did several different gangs target him on the same train and then after the first gang came up empty they told subsequent gangs not to bother.

Also the "blame the victim" mentality in some people's comments is frankly a bit unfair. Sure maybe sometimes people aren't as careful as they should be, but nobody deserves to be a victim of a crime. In any case it sounds like this traveler took a lot of precautions and only lost a few Euros. Also even if you have money in your money belt etc, surely it makes sense to have some in your pocket as well. I would've thought you would hardly want to be pulling out your money belt to pay for an ice-cream or a bus fare. If you don't carry some spare change for misc expenses in your pocket, where should you carry it?

Hopefully some of the perfect travelers will share some of the secrets of their infallibility.
Samurai_Kiwi is offline  
Aug 15th, 2010, 05:35 AM
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Samurai Kiwi

It reads worse than it is. We have been targeted in Rome Naples and last week in Istanbul. We saw them, they knew it and moved off. You will handle it.

We fly to Barcelona tonight. Money belts at the ready.
colduphere is offline  
Aug 15th, 2010, 06:05 AM
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My decoy wallet is bright green with a bright string attached to it. Whoever pulls it out quickly realizes that it is meant to tag the pickpocket in a crowd.

He let it go as soon as he realized he was duped.

The other accomplices in the bus also realized the futility in targeting me.

I carried a pre-validated Unico Campania transportation pass in my neck pouch. I carried gelato money for gelato as an exact change in coins in my jacket pocket. Pickpockets usually don't target loose changes.
greg is offline  
Aug 15th, 2010, 06:10 AM
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"even if you have a money belt what is to stop them grabbing it and unclipping it?" - you do realize that you wear your money belt UNDER your clothes, right? And you should only access it in private - after I get money from an ATM I head for the nearest rest room.
thursdaysd is offline  
Aug 15th, 2010, 09:19 PM
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Samurai - I like the "is it ok to punch them in the face question"! I'd say this, I'd hate to think I'm being pickpocketed and punch someone's lights out only to find out that I was just being paranoid. However, if attacked, sure why not. Just be careful becuase you are bringing fists, and they might have knives.

Then again - being a Samurai you probably could withstand that attack!
chazzarelli is offline  
Aug 17th, 2010, 03:26 AM
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WOW.. this is scary.. we are off to Rome, Scicily and Naples...but we will be taking private tours.. Parrot Pop does have a special strap for his camera and camera bag that can't be cut and a money belt that goes in his pants.. I keep any change and money in a zipped change p inned to the inside COLDUPHERE be careful in the airport in Barcelona and of course La Rambla..
ParrotMom is offline  
Aug 17th, 2010, 04:29 AM
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Hi ParrotMom - well we made it through the Barcelona airport but it was 2am. Made it down Las Ramblas without problems. Got on the subway and were immediately surrounded by weird people. But turns out they were just weird.

What a beautiful city. Too bad five of us are temporarily confined to within ten feet of the toilet.
colduphere is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2010, 02:07 AM
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Five days in Barcelona and not a whiff of a pickpocket. Nothing. Zero. No one stopped on the subway stairs in front of us. No bird crap on my lapel. No prostitutes putting their hand in my pocket.

Kind of a letdown.
colduphere is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2010, 02:40 AM
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Happy travels in Spain - from letters in this weekend's Sydney Morning Herald -

"On a five-week visit to Spain we were hit three times by pickpockets, in Barcelona and Madrid. Fortunately they were successful only once. The bird poo scam... was tried but we had been warned. It is a disgrace that the Spanish police are not more pro-active. If Spain wants our tourist dollars, it must be prepared to take intensive police action in tourist black spots."
farrermog is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2010, 05:25 AM
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Please don't be paranoid, the best way to travel is to be proactive and mind your surroundings. I've been to Paris twice and never been pickpocketed or scammed, although I see the gypsy woman by the Eiffel Tower line. Two friends have been to Italy in the past few months and never had any trouble.

Leave your passport in the hotel safe-bring a copy when you're sightseeing. Take only enough money as you need-don't carry large amounts of cash. Take only your ATM and one other credit card. Leave most of your other credit cards at home. If you have a bag or purse-wear it in front so you can see it at all times.

Just a few months ago, a co-worker had her wallet stolen out of her purse at a local eatery. She hung the purse on the back of her chair and someone was able to steal it as she was eating lunch. It happens everywhere.
emily71 is offline  
Aug 22nd, 2010, 06:44 AM
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There have been NUMEROUS wallet thefts......

At my local grocery story in the Atlanta suburbs

So it's not like those of us in the US are immune while at home either!
CarolA is offline  

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