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paris metro pickpocket

Old Jun 27th, 2004, 08:58 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 26
paris metro pickpocket

We just returned from a wonderful London/Paris 2 week family vacation on Saturday. The only problem was a very close call with a pickpocket entering a Paris Metro turnstile. I can't recall the exact location (I was rather nervous for a few hours), but I think it was at Pont Alma after the Sewer Tour. After the incident I recalled warnings about this set up in NY subways a few years ago.
Upon entering the turnstile at the metro entrance, the thief (40 year old male,normal attire)came behind me and put his leg in the turnstile causing me to get stuck. I don't know if this would work with a larger person, but I am fairly small so it might have been an easy setup.
When the turnstile would not move, I unknowingly turned around to see why I was stuck. That is when the thief apparently went into my zippered purse, which I carried infront of me as instructed. Since I turned around, the purse was easy access for him, and I was flustered and not paying attention as I was stuck in a turnstile. My family had already gotten through. Fortunately this was all in very clear view (eye level) of my 9 year old daughter who said " He took your wallet!" I then looked at the man and my ugly bright wallet was still in his hand. This all happened so quickly, but it seemed like slow motion. I reached out and took my wallet, and the man simply walked away. My wallet only contained one credit card, less than $20 and my divers license. I kept my main credit card and travelers' checks in my money belt.
I had to explain to my 9 and 11 year old kids that these are professional thieves with setups that are intended to trick people. I explained how we were prepared with travellers checks, money belts, spare credit cards, copies of creditcard/passports #s incase we did "loose" anything. Having a brightly colored wallet also helped because it was very obvious to my daughter that the wallet was taken and when I looked at the man I could not miss the wallet.
The rest of the vacation the wallet was placed at the very bottom of my purse, covered with lots of junk and only contained about $20. Luckily this occurred on the the last day of our five day metro pass. We only needed to ride the metro a few more times. In London we were very happy the tube did not have turnstiles and I am sure the next trip in Paris will involve much less use of the metro.
ldb61 is offline  
Old Jun 27th, 2004, 10:16 PM
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I'm glad you were able to retrieve your wallet without any problem. There are so many schemes these thieves think of and many times they lurk in the metro.

Another way is when a couple work together, the woman distracts the target while the man goes behind and steals from the handbag. At least that was the m.o. this couple (the typcial "gypsy" kind) used. Unfortunately the metro was standing room only so I didn't think anything of it that the guy was holding onto the same pole as me but he stood behind. The girl was in front of me and I was next to the doorway. And this all happened with my family next to me. Fortunately for me but unfortunately for the two thieves, our stop was immediately after they targeted me. So I got out in time discovering my handbag was unzipped. Another stop later and he would have succeeded in getting what he wanted. I thank fate for being on my side. And learned well: use a money belt now.
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Old Jun 28th, 2004, 03:13 AM
Join Date: May 2004
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Thanks for sharing this story. I have been asking about the Eagle Creek Hidden Pocket on another thread. It sounds pretty secure and capable of replacing an actual wallet (unlike a moneybelt). I hope to be able to use it for all of my money,credit cards, ATM card. We will have a video camera but we will make sure it is secure (locked zippers, secure the straps onto the bag, carry the bag across our chests). On the Metro, perhaps I will have my family go single file (there are 5 of us) with me (the father) going last through the turnstiles.
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Old Jun 28th, 2004, 04:11 AM
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Smart travelers always carry all credit cards, passports and large sums of money under their clothes in a moneybelt and never have pickpocket tales to tell.

Larry J
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Old Jun 28th, 2004, 04:21 AM
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Cheers for your daughter, Id.
ira is offline  
Old Jun 28th, 2004, 05:54 AM
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I'm happy it came out so well for you.
But where were all those smartly-dressed French police?

On previous threads, I was amazed at how many people claimed they never took any precautions against pickpockets. It was as if they all believed it could not dare happen to them.
degas is offline  
Old Jun 28th, 2004, 07:11 AM
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My bag was so crammed with stuff when I was in Paris that I could hardly find my wallet when I needed it! Good luck to any pick pocket!

Once when I was getting ready to go through the turnstile, a man disracted me and appologized for getting cigarette ash on my coat. I turned around and did notice some ash on my shoulder. I was very very suspicious because I thought it was a pick pocket set up, but as it turns out, I think that they guy was smoking and bumped into me and then appologized!
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Old Jun 28th, 2004, 09:18 AM
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I saw a pickpocketing attempt last year entering the Louvre through the Metro. Also, the turnstiles were the method used to pull the theft. A man had a small child on his shoulders and I watched as four small "gypsy" kids (all girls) scoped him out-two jumped in front of him at the turnstile, and two bumped him from behind. He got wind of it and I believe stopped them. It was interesting watching them come up from behind and I saw them eyeballing my wife's purse first before going to the man. He actually looked like an easy target since he had baggy shorts and and you could just see his big wallet in his rear, right pocket. those theives don't need that help.
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Old Jun 28th, 2004, 09:29 AM
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Glad you were able to foil this thief! But you could have done more.

What most people don;t do is cause a giant scene - that's the fastest way to get rid of these people - and keep you belongings. As soon as you supect anything like this start screaming at the top of your lungs - police and thief are the best choices. The pickpocket will immediately throw down anything they have and run for it.
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Old Jun 28th, 2004, 09:45 AM
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When I was in Paris a man came up to me and my friend at the Arch of Triumph and said, "Let me take your picture together. Go stand way over there." He then reached for my friend's very expensive camera. My friend said, "Sure, why not!!" and she started to hand it to him, but I quickly said "NO!!" and got rid of him. My friend thought I had been rude, until I told her he was probably going to run off with her camera. I just had this gut feeling he was a thief because it doesn't make sense that a Parisian would spend his day hanging around tourist sites just to assist with photography. I know this man was not just passing by because after that he was still loafing around for no apparent reason. I think he was looking for another tourist with an expensive camera, and I'm sure he eventually found one.
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Old Jun 28th, 2004, 09:49 AM
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I'm glad your story turned out all right in the end. Thanks for letting us know about this trick. And good for your daughter for speaking up!

In Moscow in 1992 I (female, 33 years old at that time) got swarmed on a busy street in broad daylight by a group of about one dozen Gypsy children. They surrounded me and waved their arms and screamed, all the while managing to strip my backpack off my back. (Fortunately there was nothing of value in the pack; everything of value was in a money belt). I had to call out for help and some passers-by came and fought them off. It was a horrible, frightening experience. All these years I don't think I've ever told anyone about it. I wonder what it's like in Moscow these days.
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Old Jun 28th, 2004, 09:57 AM
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Vorkuta, I was in Moscow 3 years ago and I was also swarmed by gypsy kids in broad daylight. However, I was with a large group of people and we outnumbered them. I can only imagine how scary that must have been if you were alone, or with only 1 or 2 other people. I'm glad you got help.
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Old Jun 28th, 2004, 12:16 PM
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This happened to us 4 years ago in St. Petersburg in board daylight on the main blvd. These gypsies were like a swarm of bees! They were a group of 4-5 women and 8-9 kids. I was walking with my 8yo daughter and my husband had my 6yo son just few steps ahead. I saw them coming from a distance and immediately warned my husband. Since I yelled, they backed away from me and my daughter and proceed to circle my husband and my son. My ever-so-polite husband just nicely said "No, thanks." which just encouraged them more since they thought he's a softy. So finally, my husband had to yell loudly "Go away" with arms swinging to get rid of them.

We didn't lose anything by my kids frazzled as they've never seen their father yelled. The worst part was in the middle of the commotion, one of them scratched my son's eye just around the eyelid. There was actually slight bleeding! Thanks goodness it wasn't the cornea and god knows what kind of bacteria could have been transferred! To this day, I can still see the tiny scar on my son.

So the moral of the story is be assertive as it's the only way to send them away.
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Old Jun 28th, 2004, 01:31 PM
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My grown daughter and I were in Paris over a Thanksgiving and a young girl tried to go through the metro turnstyle with my daughter. The girl was pushing my daughter and reaching into her purse . . . daughter pushed back, yanked her purse close to her, and swung around . . . girl hurried away.

As we were checking to see if the girl had managed to take anything, we found that my daughter had gotten HER WATCH . . . and a nice one at that. We still laugh about that.

And, all my daughter had in her purse were kleenex, lipstick, and a few travel brochures!

Glad your daughter was so alert!

Sandy (in Denton)
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Old Jun 28th, 2004, 02:16 PM
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The original poster avoided losing a credit card, her driver's license and a small amount of cash in her colorful wallet.
To be even safer, have only cash in the wallet, keeping the credit card and license in a zippered pocket inside the closely held purse -- the thief, grabbing a wallet, will probably take off with that and not bother to feel around for the thin cards stashed elsewhere in the bag.
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Old Jul 9th, 2010, 01:39 AM
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The FACT is, French authorities have failed. They are not doing enough to lessen these pickpocket events. They say they are but that is not true - they have set up sting operations but they are not strong enough on a daily basis. There are so many things they could do for public awareness, not just voice announcements on the Metro or Train, that doesn't cut it. Why do they allow, in the open public, scam artists to operate on tourist grounds of the property. Why? The church we were at, scammers are out front every single day, every day, operating and ripping off people and not 1 officer, not 1, not 1 single officer in site - NONE. That is a failure in policy and investigative services for tourism and everyone as a whole. In the states we publish pictures of dead beat dads, in France they could send a message and place pictures of thieves on posters within the metro, they could have large signs stating what to watch for, not these silly little warning signs. They are afraid to be bold and take a real stance and say "we mean business". That is not good public policy on crime, not at all. I have never seen anything like this, yes it happens in certain countries with specific crime rates but France needs to take bolder, stronger and more creative steps to have a plan in action that decreases the events by 50%
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Old Jul 9th, 2010, 04:56 AM
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I live in Paris and I choose to have the police concentrate on real crime and the enormous terrorist threat not the petty scams such as the pick-pockets, "ring finders", "sign my petition and donate to my cause", "do you speak English....ready this note and give me money" etc etc etc. These scams are so easy to spot and tourists need to be alert, use money belts under their clothes and keep in mind they are not in Kansas anymore. In addition to which I have never seen any better police efforts in big U.S. cities and one last thing; if you think it's bad in Paris go to Rome.

Larry J
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Old Jul 9th, 2010, 05:48 AM
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You will have noticed that all inhabitants of European Cities never carry handbags and always have their valuables in a money belt......not.
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Old Jul 9th, 2010, 06:09 AM
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I don't know why this post, which is 6 years old, was topped, but there are scam artists everywhere not just in Paris.

I have been chased by Roma women toting a "sick" baby even on the tiny island of Rodos.

"Please, Meester, please, my baby needs food or he will die."

ThinGorjus is offline  
Old Jul 9th, 2010, 06:10 AM
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Once again - on my recent trip to Paris, with my bag, as always, wrapped around my knees,(I get spooked by having too many people around in any country, since my French village is very small) I noticed that the two young French women next to me were happily chatting, both with their bags open on the ground. One had a normal handbag, wide open. The other had a kind of tote bag, open at the top. Neither of them had a problem.
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