Paranoid about Safety

Jul 31st, 2006, 07:34 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 90,960
I believe it is important to take precautions. But I also feel that crime may appear exaggerated when you read on internet travel forums.

As one person already mentioned, the thousands of people who do not have anything bad happen, do not rush home and post "Hey I did not get pickpocketed in Madrid"... but the ones who had a problem are more likely to be vocal about it.

Be cautious and careful but no need to be constantly looking over your shoulder. Enjoy your trip.
suze is online now  
Jul 31st, 2006, 08:01 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
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A little anectdote about safety-

We've run the Barcelona-Napoli-Roma-Paris Metro gauntlet with jewelry, expensive digital cameras, a thousand + in currency and laptops...All the biggest no-no's you can do and we haven't lost a euro. We stayed alert and kept our valuables safe-guarded.


Our home got robbed while we were at work last week and we lost all of those things we worked so hard to keep secure while on vacation. The best, most accomplished thieves in the world couldn't get what a couple of teenagers got in 20 minutes.

C'est La Vie
cadillac1234 is offline  
Jul 31st, 2006, 08:21 AM
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Carlux and caroline_edinburgh:

Yes, people did go through our garbage in London and yes, you can tell that they've gone after the credit card receipts. Where did it happen? Two different locations: a) Tavistock Square (apt 1) and b) Clapham (near the Clapham north tube stop). You can tell that they're going after your credit card receipts and similar items (e.g. bank statements) because the bags have been pulled apart, everything else is on the ground and the receipts and statements are missing. Once we started shredding this stuff, we still had some garbage bags opened, but the shredded paper was left on the ground. I don't think it was raccoons (that's who gets into your garbage in Canada, but they're looking for other treats). As for other scams and did they really happen, well, yes, I really did have my credit card number (but not my card) used by someone else to charge plane tickets following a transation in either a restaurant or a store. And as I was only in London for 14 hours on that trip, I can narrow down with a fair degree of precision where it happened. And I'm not the only person who experienced this particular scam. Several other people told me of similar experiences.

As for the other scam mentioned involving ATM machines, well, you are entitled to your opinion as to whether there was a problem in the UK, but you might want to ask yourself why the UK recently introduced the chip + PIN system, or why the UK set up a special task force in 2002 to deal with the huge increase in fraudulent activity relating to bank and credit cards:

(Of course, the new chip and pin system has its own risks.)

Of course, I could make the same dismissive comments you did about the occurrence or non-occurrence of theft, fraud, etc in other various countries. I've never been pick-pocketed while travelling (and I travel a lot). I guess that means, therefore, that other peoples' first-hand experiences with being pickpocketed or observing pickpocketing must not be true.

The reason I gave the examples I did was twofold: a) to illustrate the point that the prevalance of various types of security/theft/fraud issues can vary depending on where you are (so be alert to what the particular problems are in certain cities); and b) to encourage the OP (and others) to be careful about the use of credit cards and ATM cards in the UK - and elsewhere.
Kate_W is offline  
Jul 31st, 2006, 08:23 AM
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OUCH!!! So sorry to hear that. You have the sympathy of all of us.

nukesafe is online now  
Jul 31st, 2006, 08:33 AM
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The only place I've ever had thieves get something from me was also in my home when I lived in a small town in Washington State many years ago...I left for an overnight trip to my niece's baptism, and came home to find my stereo missing, along with my jewelry box rifled through, and my John Elway jersey missing from my closet. Kids.

I've been to New York, London, Paris, Rome, Athens, and Istanbul, and places in between, and have never been robbed in those places. It's important to act like you would in any big city here or there -- wear a money belt for your credit cards, passport & other important documents (don't bother with the hotel safe, just keep it with you), and carry just a day's cash in your front pocket or purse.

My camera was the only thing that was worth anything that I kept in my bag that I would have been sad to lose, but it could be replaced, minus the pictures I hadn't downloaded onto my iPod.

You can't walk around on vacation being completely paranoid, or it's not a vacation...just take appropriate measures to keep your belongings close to you at all times, pay attention to your surroundings, and you'll most likely be fine.

Happy travels,

jules4je7 is offline  
Aug 1st, 2006, 05:09 AM
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When binbags are pulled apart, it's usually seagulls or dogs.
caroline_edinburgh is offline  
Aug 1st, 2006, 05:29 AM
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I've only once (touch wood) been robbed while travelling in the past 30 years.

In Auckland.
flanneruk is offline  
Aug 1st, 2006, 05:50 AM
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Aug 1st, 2006, 06:07 AM
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0. I know that credit card issuers have made people paranoid about keeping their credit card numbers secret, but you have to understand that they do this to protect THEMSELVES, not YOU.

1. Receipts from modern POS machines don't have credit card numbers on them - usually only the last four digits. Thieves know this, and wouldn't bother with dumpster diving, regardless of what the fear-mongers selling security devices would have you believe.

2. Having a credit card number does not allow charges to be made on your account unless there's a rogue merchant involved. No merchant with an IQ above room temperature would take a number over the phone without requiring the CVV and doing a mailing address check.

3. Airline tickets obtained fraudulently are useless, as the carriers require the credit card used to buy the tickets to be presented at check-in.

4. Your Cardholder Agreement protects you against fraudulent use of your card. If it doesn't have your signature on it (or authentication for on-line transactions), you're not liable for the charges.

Be careful of your cash, passport, and valuable equipment.
Robespierre is offline  
Aug 1st, 2006, 06:38 AM
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"3. Airline tickets obtained fraudulently are useless, as the carriers require the credit card used to buy the tickets to be presented at check-in."

I have never been asked to show my credit card when checking in - must just have a more honest face that Robbie
wombat7 is offline  
Aug 1st, 2006, 07:24 AM
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Reading the reports on this forum, it would seem that your experience is atypical. But thanks for the valuable insight.
Robespierre is offline  
Aug 1st, 2006, 07:31 AM
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Might be typical for US domestic travel - but is not typical for European travel. Can be used for "quick check-in" at booths in airports but is not necessary. Also web-check in is becoming much more available and no one there to see your credit card.
wombat7 is offline  
Aug 1st, 2006, 07:38 AM
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They must have been very smart seagulls or dogs who pulled apart my binbags, because they only took the credit card receipts and bank statements.

And yes, paper should be recycled. Thank you for the lesson. Perhaps you'd like to come over to my apartment and check my garbage every week.
Kate_W is offline  
Aug 1st, 2006, 07:47 AM
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Hopefully the bickering of fodorites will reassure the Original Poster that they will be safe on their vacation.
suze is online now  
Aug 1st, 2006, 11:24 AM
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That's funny, Suze.

My world-wise friend fell for the most common trick in the book. In Paris someone tapped him on the shoulder and said mustard was on his jacket, being a fashionisto he panicked and put down his briefcase to check his beloved jacket. Pouf, off with the briefcase! And there was mustard on his jacket as well.
Poor guy.
SeaUrchin is offline  
Aug 1st, 2006, 11:51 AM
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Thank you everyone for the very sensible advice here, its really appreciated. I will use the tips and advice given and am looking forward to having a wonderful time in Europe.
To 'flanneruk' - I'm stunned.

amandab is offline  
Aug 1st, 2006, 12:39 PM
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I have never been the victim of crime, but I HAVE lost and misplaced things myself more than once, by being distracted or unorganized or simply not understanding something while traveling. (The time in Italy when I confused my train ticket with the reservations slip and nearly threw out the ticket part! for example).
suze is online now  
Aug 1st, 2006, 01:25 PM
Join Date: Jun 2006
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One tip: Don't leave anything out on the balcony of room with connecting balconies. As in balconies that someone could climb across, even with considerable effort.

I left my fairly new, but smelly white athletic shoes on the balcony to air out after a day of sightseeing. They were gone in the morning. This was in Greece.

Funny, I thought that Europeans were aghast as the sight of white athletic shoes.
txeagle is offline  
Aug 1st, 2006, 01:54 PM
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I am with you - I have sewn more things around the world than I care to admit. Jacket in pub in Lake District, lovely pen and pencil set on plane; waterproof in room in Agra; shoes in Darwin; alarm clock in Venice; once even left bottom half of pyjamas in Singapore!

Only time I have even been robbed was in Orlando airport - my own silly fault, bag was not completely zipped up - lost walkman and about a 12 CDs - bet the thief was less than impressed when he/she discovered the majority were opera! Okay I realise that could be seen as a sweeping statement in that the thief might have been a huge Wagner fan!
wombat7 is offline  
Aug 1st, 2006, 02:09 PM
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I've never had anything stolen or my pockets picked while in Europe. Just use the same precautions there that you would in the States. I do recommend using safety pins on your pockets while using the Metro, just as a precaution.
crimson is offline  

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