Our passports were stolen in Paris

Aug 12th, 2009, 10:31 AM
  #1  
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Our passports were stolen in Paris

Yes they were! We were followed into a small store (they had a security camera) by 4 members of a Romanian gang. I, foolishly, turned my head to look into my bag for tip change . . . according to the video, the wallet nearly disappeared from the counter. The girl from the store spoke fluent English and French she took us to the Police Station to "declare" the theft, and gave us 20 eu ;-) Now, we were only near penniless, but with American Express Global Assist and a few good people (and a new temporary AX card), AND after spending two days in the American Embassy to obtain 90 day temporary passports, "things" began to look better. The whole story is very long and interesting, actually The trip though, was awesome.
I have received a letter now from the police department they have found my lost items (less the cash of course) and will hold them for 90 days I am going to get them Doing that will make me feel better. I must go within the 90 days so that the items will be there and also to go and return with my temporary passport. When the embassy issued the passports, I had to pay for them. My new passports have already been paid for If I get my original passports, the "stolen" ones - are they still good? cyndyq
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Aug 12th, 2009, 10:54 AM
  #2  
 
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How do you know they were Romanian, did they show you their passports? Are you using that term to be PC about another group(many of whom are not from Romania, although about 25 pct in Europe are, the people are called Roma not Romanians, and I think sometimes Romanie or Roms). Maybe they were Romanians, though, I just wondered how you knew. Why were you looking for tip change in a store, anyway? You don't tip store clerks. Well, it's too bad, I would hate that happening to me, but think you should not lay wallets on counters, again.

That sure was nice for the store clerk to give you 20 euro, wowee. Really nice. Glad you had a good time, anyway, and didn't let this ruin your memories.

As far as I know, if you reported a passport lost/stolen, it is now completely invalid.
Christina is offline  
Aug 12th, 2009, 10:56 AM
  #3  
yk
 
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cyndyq, sorry that happened to you. Can you provide more details about the theft? Where were your passports stored? And your wallets? Was your entire purse stolen? Did you have everything (passports, cash, ATM cards, credit cards) store in the same bag? If it was a small store, how did the thieves get out? Did they do something to distract you? Did someone see them take your purse?
yk is offline  
Aug 12th, 2009, 10:59 AM
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The caution is to always, ALWAYS have a money belt or security device that goes under your clothing and leave nothing valuable in any day pack or bag. this is all too common in large tourist cities. Be very careful when going thru metro turnstiles.
Palenque is offline  
Aug 12th, 2009, 11:02 AM
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Yes, I am wondering about the nationality of the thieves myself.

Passports are always safer left in the room of a reputable hotel, even in plain sight on the table.
kerouac is offline  
Aug 12th, 2009, 11:04 AM
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Oh, by the way, I had a U.S. passport stolen 13 years ago, and I still get pulled aside to the interrogation room in U.S. airports, wasting an extra 30 minutes. Apparently the U.S. authorities do not have confidence in the new passport that they issued to me. And victims become suspects.
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Aug 12th, 2009, 11:20 AM
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I agree, the best approach is to NEVER take your passports and other valuable documents with you. I know other people disagree, but it would have to be a very disreputable hotel that would make me think twice about leaving my passport. And I would hope not to be staying in that kind of establishment.
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Aug 12th, 2009, 11:42 AM
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Oh goodness. What's so awful is that I DO know how careful to be. It was just a slip of a moment - I felt like if I had it with me, it would be safe. It was surreal to say the least . . . I will have to give very high praise to the people who helped us fincancially. There are a lot of very fine people, and they were there for us!
They were a Romanian Gang, according to the Manager of the juice store, based on his viewing of the security camera video. The police documented it, as well. I don't know if they were able to see the tape or even if they recognized who did it, or what. And yes, I was silly. I had a wallet with my passports, AX card and my ATM bank card all in one place. In my hot little hands, except for the one moment I left it on the counter, snuggled up to my body to turn left and dig deep into my very "safe" travel bag. Normally I would have (and always have before) left my passports in the hotel safe. I read SOMEWHERE that you must have them with you, and since I had my 13 yr old granddaughter with me I wanted to be as correct as one could be. I will always have a COPY of my passport with me and I will never have all of my forms of payment in one place. NEVER It was just a very very big learning experience. I've published before and am thinking of writing the whole thing up. It was . . . interesting, and quite the experience. As for as tipping . . . it was a juice bar, and they had a tip cup . . . We were followed in by the 4 of them and according to the tape, the wallet was slid off to the right of me while I was looking into my left side pocket the three by the door walked out and the girl who took the wallet walked out by the time I pulled the change from my bag and faced back forward to the counter. The wallet was gone and so were the 4 of them. I distracted my own self This happened on Bastille Day and we missed the fireworks. I spent the first day at the Embassy (the 15th) the day I turned 60. And when we went to dinner that night it was wonderful. And then they didn't accept American Express. Like I've said, the story is long . . . I just mainly wanted to know if once I retrieve the passports (which I am going to do) would they just be keepsakes, or if they could be used instead of getting the new passports that I have already paid for. Also, besides Expedia search, anyone know where you can find the very best last minute fares???????? cyndyq
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Aug 12th, 2009, 11:47 AM
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Your old passports have been invalidated. If anyone tries to use them they will come up as "stolen" or "invalid" on the computers so they are basically useless except as souviners. I can't recall if you have to get new ones or if the temporary process you went thought at the Embassy gets your new one in progress.


Having known people who have gone through this mess... that's why I wear a money belt or use the safe. It's not the "loss" it's the "loss of two days"

Just be glad it all worked out.

As for last minute airfare. I have been watching Paris and not seen anything great lately...
CarolA is offline  
Aug 12th, 2009, 11:50 AM
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thank you all I am new to this website. Only Forum I've been on. Paris was great. It was wonderful. Yeah, the 2 and a half lost days were pretty bad . . . Wouldn't want to repeat them
cyndyq is offline  
Aug 12th, 2009, 11:57 AM
  #11  
yk
 
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cyndyq, thanks for sharing your details. I appreciate you posting this, as this is always a good reminder for everyone, including veteran travelers, that thefts can happen in a split second when one let his/her guard down.

There have been many discussions on many threads before, with some posters claim that they NEVER let their guard down and therefore they have no need for any extra precautions.

The moral of your experience is:
1) Never take passports with you unless they are absolutely necessary
2) Never put all your "eggs" in one basket (which is what I've been doing for years... only enough cash for the day is in my real wallet. ATM & CC cards are placed separately in secure inside pockets of my purse. Extra cash in moneybelt. So unless someone snatches my entire purse PLUS my moneybelt, I won't be left penniless).
yk is offline  
Aug 12th, 2009, 12:04 PM
  #12  
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Absolutely. I never thought it would happen to ME. I've traveled a lot. Thought I was very careful
We learn by the error of our own ways.
cyndyq is offline  
Aug 12th, 2009, 12:13 PM
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Has anybody here ever had their passport stolen at a hotel, whether it was in a safe or not? Anywhere in the world?

My own personal experience is one of "decreasing paranoia" -- the first day, I don't trust anybody, the second day I relax a little, the 3rd day I relax a little more, etc. By then, I don't mind leaving all of my possessions in full view at the hotel -- and nothing has ever happened at the hotel, even though I have been to more than 60 countries.

Out on the street is another matter. Terrible things happen out on the street.
kerouac is offline  
Aug 12th, 2009, 12:15 PM
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cyndyq,
For best airfares use the kayak.com search engine and their email alert system. I'm glad that you offered corroborating evidence that it was a Romanian gang or some people here would be calling you a racist. The venue for the attack is a bit unusual since the pickpockets normally work the tourist scenes. They must have been following you. Sorry for your inconvenience and expense. It is a good lesson for all of us.
spaarne is offline  
Aug 12th, 2009, 12:16 PM
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I have not heard of a stolen at a hotel, but... there are days when you are moving and can't leave things at the hotel. (My friend's theft occured on arrival day on the way TO the hotel for example)
CarolA is offline  
Aug 12th, 2009, 12:21 PM
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Sorry you had this experience, cyndyq. It could happen to anyone. I also try to be very careful in general, whether at home or traveling, and have so far been lucky. I have had momentary lapses where a few minutes later I realize I had briefly not been paying attention.

Now that you know Fodors, how about a trip report, even if brief, about your hotel, meals, activities. I am a real fan of trip reports, and would enjoy reading about your trip, especially as you had your granddaughter with you.
cynthia_booker is offline  
Aug 12th, 2009, 12:22 PM
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I dont go out without the moneybelt.If I dont feel comfortable leaving the passport in the room, I just put inside the M.belt.

I just keep enough money for the day and one credit card handy,everything also goes inside the belt.

Also I always photocopy the passport in case the police stop me or I need it for other reasons,I keep it inside my purse.

My son was robbed in the Paris Metro,luckily he just had the change for the day..

We reported the incident to the police station that is located in the station..
kismetchimera is offline  
Aug 12th, 2009, 12:28 PM
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I love this site! And I'm sure I will visit ofter because like you all I love to travel. I do have some great info and will be back. I have a 4p appointment TTYL cyndyq
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Aug 12th, 2009, 12:40 PM
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I never go out on the street in Europe without my passport. That is my ID. I protect it. I keep it separate from my wallet and I keep some small cash in it just in case. Not only do I photocopy my passport I also copy the front and back of each of my credit cards, and bring duplicates in my luggage. Some scumball makes a hit on me nearly every time I am in Europe. It was a woman in London last time. The score so far is me 1000, baddies 0.
spaarne is offline  
Aug 12th, 2009, 12:43 PM
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Why not just scan everything and keep it in cyberspace?
kerouac is offline  

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