Parisian Pickpockets

May 30th, 2013, 07:53 AM
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Parisian Pickpockets

A blogger shared the following article about Paris' sharp rise of Chinese robberies is causing my paranoia to flare up again.

Last time we were in Paris, I was pickpocketed in CDG and am determined not to be this time. I was planning to take my convertible camera bag/handbag:
but am thinking maybe (for Paris) I'm better off removing the camera bag insert and putting into something less noticeable.

Suggestions? We leave a week from Saturday so there's time to order something from

amy_torres_sd is offline  
May 30th, 2013, 08:13 AM
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IMO everything is "noticeable" when it comes to pickpockets. The question is how alert can you stay? Will you have anything which can easily be jerked out of your hand or off of your body? Will you be alone? Are you aware of the many distractions these people use to divert your attention?
Dukey1 is offline  
May 30th, 2013, 08:19 AM
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I've been to Paris and Rome twice before and have observed gypsy gangs working first hand including swarming with newspapers ... and unfortunately targeted the one time in the CDG train station (a couple "helped" me go through the turnstile incorrectly, so that I was separated from my husband and stuck.)

This time, I'm going with my family including two teenagers (who have strict instructions to leave their iPhones in the apartment while we're out and about.) So... yes, I feel like I'll be vigilant. Cash, cards, and identification will be kept distributed between money belts (hubby and me)... so it's really just the camera that I would hate to lose.
amy_torres_sd is offline  
May 30th, 2013, 08:27 AM
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Just in case be sure you have the ability to back up your photos or have several memory cards so if something does happen at least you haven't lost all your photos!

I always carry my DSLR with a camera bag and have never had a problem...I always have it around my neck or in the bag with the bag strap wrapped around me. Never leave anything on the floor by your feet or on the table. When taking the camera out be sure to get out of the way and put your back to a wall so you can see where everyone is and have your hubby watch.

jamikins is offline  
May 30th, 2013, 08:31 AM
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A newspaper article a month ago stated that the Louvre had been closed for a day -- security officials were on strike due to the rise in threats from pickpockets in that area. I'm avoiding the Louvre this trip (have been there). I wish you the best. I'm going to have my camera stashed in a Pacsafe bag that has a locking zipper -- and hope for the best.
susan001 is offline  
May 30th, 2013, 08:46 AM
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Looks like the "rich American" has been replaced by the "rich Chinese" as the target of choice. The message about money belts needs to get translated to Mandarin.
thursdaysd is offline  
May 30th, 2013, 08:52 AM
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I think the one thing that some people can try to do differently is to stop thinking that they need to be "nice" to random strangers.

Don't let anyone "help" you do anything. Don;t let anyone brush against you. If you somehow get food sprtized on your clothing - get over to a wall, stand next to it and repel anyone who offers to "help" Keep your distance and if someone approaches you directly walk away. Or yell police, or make a scene.

No matter what your mother taught you -you do NOT have to be nice to strangers - it's just fine to ignore them - or be obnoxious if necessary.
nytraveler is offline  
May 30th, 2013, 09:59 AM
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Another thought is to just travel with a less expensive camera. A simple small digital point and shoot. Then you wouldn't have these worries.
suze is offline  
May 30th, 2013, 10:18 AM
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I am really old-fashioned and don't own much, so don't have some of these concerns (no smartphone etc). And I've never had a pickpocketing problem but I don't carry around a lot of "stuff" with me and am always careful. However, if your main concern is your phone, that doesn't seem that difficult to safeguard.

First, you don't really have to use it that often, obviously (I never use one and have survived, it isn't a necessity). Which means you don't have to be having it out and visible very much or carrying it around in your hand. Obviously don't leave it lying out on a table or chair or something in a public place. They are very small, so wouldn't it be very easy to just keep it in some inside pocket that isn't accessible or your moneybelt if you are really concerned? I don't mean your side or back pants pocket, of course, but there are other things with inside pockets.

I even have some pants with inside pockets, as well as jackets or vests. But if you are careful, someone is not going to pickpocket somethings inside a closed bag, and if it were then enclosed inside a zipped pocket in that bag, that's pretty secure as long as you really as careful with your belongings. I am, but a lot of people are not and thus they let things dangle down to their sides near the floor on public transportation or carry around bags or totes with open tops, etc. Those are the things not to do.
Christina is online now  
May 30th, 2013, 10:45 AM
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It is unfortunately true that Asian tourist are targeted the most these days due to their ridiculous habit of carrying huge amounts of cash at all times. But this is only temporary, because they will certainly be paying with plastic or by mobile phone within one or two years.
kerouac is online now  
May 30th, 2013, 11:48 AM
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True, but they have a lot of expensive electronics, also. I was sitting next to a table of Chinese tourists (assume Chinese, they didn't look Japanese to me, and were speaking some language from that area) in Madrid last fall, and they all had their smartphones lying out on the cafe table, and some nefarious type came along to bother them by waving something in front of them, and then trying to remove their phones with the paper. They did catch them in time, but that's the kind of thing not to do. This thief didn't even hardly look at me at the table next to them because I didn't have expensive electronics visible right on the table.
Christina is online now  
May 30th, 2013, 11:56 AM
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The current thug situation in Paris is completely out of control. Tourists need to be forewarned. I know two Manhattan families who were recently accosted, and both are long-time Paris fans, talking about never returning. Their stories of robbery and abuse in open public are shocking.

One mother was traveling with her two daughters, and both young girls were robbed twice on one day, once on the metro and once while visiting museums.

Both families went to the police for help and to file reports for insurance. They were met with shrugging shoulders and a lot of complacency.

I'm sorry to say, these are not good days to visit Paris.
NYCFoodSnob is offline  
May 30th, 2013, 12:10 PM
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Total side note: Amy - I have no real insight on your question (I walked around Paris last year with a medium-sized sling camera bag and had no problems), but wanted to say thanks for posting that link to your bag. I've been looking for a dressier camera bag than mine for awhile, and those are great!
jent103 is offline  
May 30th, 2013, 12:44 PM
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Thanks Jent103; I bought a carabiner to attach to the zipper pull to hopefully prevent someone's hand from getting inside the bag. Love these camera bags (I have two in different sizes) and are custom made to your specification.

@nytraveler... you have hit the nail on the head. I am usually pleasant to everyone including strangers; will have to school my teenagers (15 and 18) into shouting at people who get too close. *sigh*

I've kind of regretted booking us into Paris for this trip... would prefer not to have the added layer of stress. However, what's done is done... and I'm sure we'll have a marvelous (if hyper vigilant) time. At least we're only there for 5 nights.
amy_torres_sd is offline  
May 30th, 2013, 12:46 PM
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I was in Paris 2 weeks ago, ( I have been many time) and noticed a sharp increases in gypsy "petition" takers. Most of the time I ignored them and waved them away, I did see one group of people asking them what they wanted to sign the petition for ( obviously so they can pick your pocket) the area around Pont d,alma / Eiffle tower were the worst. But as everyone has said stay vigilant , keep your valuables in zipped pockets / bags and never ever leave anything on the floor/ table.
I was in Barcelona this past weekend , now they really DO have a pickpocket problem and you could see that people were very very wary in the tourist areas BUT same went here's too! I always use a crossbody bag when I am in these places, and I make sure my BF is not carrying his wallet in his back pocket like he normally does!!!

Please don't let this all this put you off the wonderful cities in Europe!
Smeagol is offline  
May 30th, 2013, 01:17 PM
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Thanks for posting Smeagol. You have assuaged some of my fears after reading this thread. I will be getting a cross-body bag (looks like a purse) that has a locking zipped compartment. Will wear a moneybelt and have my camera in the locked compartment.
susan001 is offline  
May 30th, 2013, 01:51 PM
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There is no major increase in the situation in Paris. If there is an increase, it is the increase of clueless tourists, particularly from the BRICS countries.

Anybody who is aware of proper precautions has no problems whatsoever.

For anybody truly afraid, Velcro strips are absolutely the best protection -- hard to pull open and very Noisy.
kerouac is online now  
May 30th, 2013, 02:57 PM
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"it is the increase of clueless tourists"

Denial is never productive.

Both families I mentioned earlier are wealthy, educated, experienced travelers. This is the primary reason why I found their stories so shocking and appalling. When one of my travel-loving friends says "never again" to Paris, I sit up and listen.

Unemployment is ridiculously high in Europe, and then there's this thing called immigration. People need to eat, and Paris is a destination for travelers with money. It makes perfect sense that crime would rise when jobs are scarce. Denying high unemployment and its effect on societies does no tourist any good.
NYCFoodSnob is offline  
May 30th, 2013, 03:29 PM
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We got back from a week in Paris on Tuesday, (several posts on here describe our trip).

We were never in the remotest danger of having our pockets picked. We did not go to Sacre Couer, the Eiffel Tower or ride the Metro Line 1 between Bastille and Etoile. Nobody is going to pick your pocket between Etoile and La Defense, but you have a measureable chance of being hit between the Gare de Lyon and Chatelet. We saw one (1) Gypsy begging, no kids, at Notre Dame.

I am sorry for those of you who have been robbed. It may well happen to me some day, but Paris is not full of robbers and thieves. The tourist areas have robbers and thieves because that is where the money is. No one would do the gold ring trick if rubes didn't continue to fall for it. The police don't get excited because it was ever thus and because both they and the bad guys know that you are not going to fly back to Paris to testify in court.

There is a YouTube video of a young woman saying, "Vas-t-en." It means "go away" and sounds enough like "Boston" to be easy. There are more polite and far less polite ways to convey the same idea to anyone who gets in your personal space.
Ackislander is offline  
May 30th, 2013, 03:37 PM
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amy -

Sorry - as a native New Yorker this is second nature to me. there are 9 million of us here and while I am always pleasant to neighbors and local shopkeepers - random people on the street could be anyone - and all children should be taught to exercise caution and protect themselves.

There are scams everywhere - and if you fall for them - sorry, but shame on you for not being more aware and alert.
nytraveler is offline  

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