Parisian Pickpockets

May 30th, 2013, 05:25 PM
  #21  
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 2,911
If you carry around a pot of honey you are going to attract flies. For decades it's been know by the Union of Paris Pickpockets that orientals carry inordinate amounts of cash. Orientals also tend to dress rather well. Do you want the poor pickpockets picking on starving American students or on chubby Chinese businessmen? I met one of those capitalist(?) Chinese guys who nearly had his wallet picked in Metro Saint Michel. He had a good story because he was quick and saved his stash.
spaarne is offline  
May 30th, 2013, 05:32 PM
  #22  
 
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My sister has lived I france since the age of 20..Her husband is a Frenchman..She told me again and again to be more aware around the train station .
My son was robbed on the metro on our way to le Sacre Coeur..The second time he was able to remove the elderly lady hand that were already in his fanny pack.

The only suggestion that I have is to be aware of your surroundings and keep your bag close to your chest.
kismetchimera is offline  
May 30th, 2013, 06:14 PM
  #23  
 
Join Date: May 2013
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When I travel these days and want to bring my DSLR, I use a big purse that has a closed inside compartment big enough to fit the camera and my normal stuff I carry (wallet, pen, phone, etc.). I carry it on my shoulder but with a firm (yet nonchalant) grip. Never had a problem, knock on wood. IMO, locking camera bags, fanny packs, etc. just scream TOURIST. I try to blend in and hold it close when on public transportation.

Like so many people mentioned, it's about being aware of your surroundings. I've seen tourists at Sacre Couer fall for the bracelet scam, but I do my research and know not to trust anyone. I believe if you look nervous and scared, you will become a target yourself. Before my first trip to Italy years ago, I was so worried about having my money belt and neck thingy, but I got to Venice and realized I just needed to use caution like I would in any city at home.
sherlyn72 is offline  
May 30th, 2013, 06:54 PM
  #24  
 
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Wow. Reading this makes me sad, mostly for the people it might scare off. I was just recently in Paris for a week for my first time, and loved it, loved it, loved it. No problems whatsoever. And we even did go to many of the major tourist areas.

I had two different purses I used. Mostly, one that was about 8 x 6 inches. Sometimes, one that was more around 10 square inches. Both have long shoulder straps, and just like when in NY or Philly, I wore them diagonally on the front of my body. When in the touristy areas and on the metro, I comfortably and casually kept a hand over it. I was using my phone camera, and took it out whenever I wanted, and just put it back in when I was done. DH used our "real" camera and never had a problem either.

We did have the "petition takers" come up to us a few times, we just walked on (actually, one of our friends stopped once to talk, but I kept going, and he remarkably wasn't pickpocketed, I think because of how careful he was being). And a couple times someone would say "Do you speak English" and again, despite it feeling counter to what I'd normally do, I just kept walking. And that was that.

I'm sorry NYCFoodSnob that your educated and experienced traveler friends had such bad experiences. Did you ask what the circumstances of their being accosted were?

I don't deny other realities and certainly the story of the Louvre workers on strike shortly before my long-planned trip, made me anxious, which I hadn't been til then. Clearly there must be a problem but I do want anyone considering going, especially for a first time, to hear that there are those of us who never would have known there was a problem had we not read about it back home.
go_laura is offline  
May 30th, 2013, 07:36 PM
  #25  
 
Join Date: May 2013
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All very helpful information as Paris enters our travel plans. May I ask though, would a greater, physical, build of tourists present any sort of "deterrent" in the belligerent targeting effort? Even if the belligerents come in groups?...

Also, where in particular, are the Parisian locations of these frequent pick-pocketing attacks?
Zexworld is offline  
May 30th, 2013, 07:50 PM
  #26  
 
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The metro is number one culpit...
kismetchimera is offline  
May 31st, 2013, 02:55 AM
  #27  
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
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zexworld - I don't know if the size of a target would put off a seasoned pickpocket. I'm 6' 2" and fairly well built and always get approached by the 'census takers' whenever I arrive at Gare du Nord.

My 'strategy' for seeing them off consists of a shake of the head and a "no" or "non" spoken in a completely normal tone whilst looking them right in the eye. They usually move right along (even if they are in a group) as they spend all day doing what they do and know when there's no point pursuing a particular target any further.

As many people have said above, as long as you take the proper precautions you'll be fine. I unfortunately have no idea what the proper precautions are as I never do anything differently when I'm abroad compared to when I'm at home.
Jay_G is offline  
May 31st, 2013, 03:16 AM
  #28  
 
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Thinking about this another way; I often travel in the opposite direction from many posters here (Europe to the U.S. rather than the other way 'round) and I've never once felt it necessary to buy specialist wallets / bags / anything when I've traveled to any major U.S. city.

I'm fully aware that there's crime in New York, San Francisco, Dallas, Atlanta or Los Angeles and having ridden the various equivalents of public transport in all of these cities (as well as having spent extended periods in all of them) I still wouldn't deem it necessary.

I've never made any special precautions (other than carrying my passport with me so I can get a drink when I fancy it) and thankfully (perhaps luckily) have never encountered a single problem either here (in Europe) or the U.S.

Maybe it's a mindset, maybe it's the way I look or maybe it's just dumb luck. Whatever it is, the (very slim) possibility of me being a victim of crime whilst I'm abroad is not going to stop me from going to places I want to go to.

Would any of the posters above that said people going to Paris should be on their guard all the time (or even possibly consider not going) say the same thing to a European who was wanting to go to New York for the first time?
Jay_G is offline  
May 31st, 2013, 05:23 AM
  #29  
 
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"Did you ask what the circumstances of their being accosted were? "

Since I am a former property owner in Paris, I asked a million questions of both families.

"The metro is number one culprit…"

The one mother with daughters were pushed onto a metro train, separated from the husband. After they gathered their wits on the moving train, they discovered their wallets and iphone's were gone. The family is convinced they were a victim of group crime. They were singled out by a group of people who work together in the Metro. They push unsuspecting people onto the train, acting like there's some mad rush to get on, and in the process they rob you.

The ballsy mother recognized one of her pushers, and she approached, demanding her wallet back. He started yelling at her in French, while other passengers on the train berated her for accusing an innocent man of a crime. It's as if the entire group worked to humiliate her in public to get her to back off. One person exiting the train spit on her daughter's head.
NYCFoodSnob is offline  
May 31st, 2013, 05:31 AM
  #30  
 
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"Would any of the posters above that said people going to Paris should be on their guard all the time (or even possibly consider not going) say the same thing to a European who was wanting to go to New York for the first time? "

You can't compare apples to oranges.

New York City has barely felt any brunt from the financial collapse of 2008. The lines at the Union Square Whole Foods are insane. Yes, there are more homeless on the streets now, but if they are found drunk, the police will remove them.

Police presence here is still very strong, especially in the subway. This is one reason why Bloomberg remains a popular mayor. Crime continues to be down.

If French visitors openly complained about being accosted, I imagine a small crowd would gather to help them, and cops soon after. Good luck finding that kind of hospitality in Paris these days.
NYCFoodSnob is offline  
May 31st, 2013, 05:48 AM
  #31  
 
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Pickpocketing seems to be more of a European crime, mugging to be more of an American crime. Still, I wear a money belt in Paris, and I wear a money belt in New York. I was once pickpocketed in Rome, but the thief got very little.
thursdaysd is offline  
May 31st, 2013, 06:04 AM
  #32  
 
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"Fashion retailers complain street crime is ruining Paris tourism"

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/05/2...paris-tourism/
NYCFoodSnob is offline  
May 31st, 2013, 06:34 AM
  #33  
 
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"The one mother with daughters were pushed onto a metro train, separated from the husband. After they gathered their wits on the moving train, they discovered their wallets and iphone's were gone. The family is convinced they were a victim of group crime. They were singled out by a group of people who work together in the Metro. They push unsuspecting people onto the train, acting like there's some mad rush to get on, and in the process they rob you."

Yep, that's one way it works, though the more common ploy is to act like there is a big rush to get off, bumping past all the Americans standing near the door, and lifting wallets as the go. They are a gang, and they, according to the police, are Romanians (he did not say "Rom") and this is how they earn their living. Do you know if your friends were on Line 1? I have seen them work there, thus my warning.

"The ballsy mother recognized one of her pushers, and she approached, demanding her wallet back. He started yelling at her in French, while other passengers on the train berated her for accusing an innocent man of a crime. It's as if the entire group worked to humiliate her in public to get her to back off. One person exiting the train spit on her daughter's head."

When and where did this happen? At the time? Same place? Was she out looking for them? Would she have done this in New York? Washington? What she should have done is taken a picture of the ALLEGED perp and gone to the local police instead of pitching a hissy. She is lucky that she was not in a city where someone would slap her upside the head -- or a lot worse -- for that outburst.
Ackislander is offline  
May 31st, 2013, 06:42 AM
  #34  
 
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I refuse to travel to one of the most picturesque cities (ie. Paris) without my dslr. I took this bag a few months ago and loved it! For me, it is important to have cross-shoulder style (ie. messanger bag style) but as small as possible.

http://kellymoorebag.com/womens/riva/riva-tang.html

We were just in Paris - I traveled with 3 kids. I did notice more petition takers and panhandlers than before. I had "the talk" with the kids about how to be safe and be cautious. We were lucky that it was cold, so iphones can go in an inside pocket inside my coat - a little safer there.

One incident that quite honestly really bummed me out was behind Notre Dame. There is a small park there - along with a spinny table you sit on. There were 2 boys and their dad - but I immediately had my back up when I saw them. They were very welcoming to my kids - "come, I push you" "what is your name" "how old are you". I noticed the dad was happy to push my kids on this thing. I knew it was coming and about 5 minutes later one of the younger boys came over and asked for money. I'm embarrassed to admit that I gave him some coins (a euro or two) - but only because my kids were there and I didn't want it to turn ugly. I sat there watching and the boys and dad never left the spinny thing, but were happy to welcome other kids on it - large and small. The dad was "happy" to push all of them - slower or faster as ages dictated.

What could/should I have done? Not a crime to help and then ask for money. They didn't steal anything. It is a park open to all. Yet, I felt extorted. I walked past that park many more times that trip and saw them a few more times - clearly, that was their "business" for the day.

That is a different I see in Paris. Do I feel less "safe" ? Maybe. Am I more cautious? Absolutely. Does it make me sad? Definitely.
surfmom is offline  
May 31st, 2013, 08:10 AM
  #35  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
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We just returned from a trip that included Prague and Budapest, two cities known for pickpockets. Even our guides warned us about this threat.

Since we were aware of this beforehand, my DH and I both bought PacSafe travel bags that have built in safeguards against theft. After much searching, I found Wayfair to have the best prices and the customer service was great.

http://www.wayfair.com/keyword.php?k...rd_search=true

I bought the CitySafe 100 bag and DH bought the MetroSafe 200 bag. Both had all the antitheft features that PacSafe is known for such as slashproof strap and slashguard panels, as well as tamperproof zippers.

DH always carried his wallet in his front pocket and never in his back pocket. We never carried all of our money or credit cards at one time. What was left behind was kept in the room safe. I always carried my bag across my body.

One of the men on our tour did have his wallet stolen in Prague. Unfortunately, he was carrying it in his back pocket.
bettyk is offline  
May 31st, 2013, 08:14 AM
  #36  
 
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FoodSnob - I must say that I'm intrigued by your perception of New York, where someone making a scene would have a group of passersby stop to help, closely followed by the police. I'm not saying it's not likely, but it does seem to go against the the usual comments you see on forums regarding New Yorkers and their interactions with tourists.

French people do ask exactly the same questions about New York as Americans do about Paris ( a couple of examples for you;

http://www.routard.com/forum_message...a_new_york.htm

http://voyageforum.com/v.f?post=3229...ances%20D20754

and if you read the responses you'll see that the they're pretty similar to what gets written here. Some people say it's dangerous and others say it's not.

You also say that police presence is strong on the subway, but there were none around on the train I was on the to Bronx when a homeless guy started ranting and raving, forced open the doors of the moving train so he could throw out whatever he was eating and start hassling the women in the carriage. No-one did anything to stop him, or call the police. In fact, when he finally got off, my aunt turned to me and said "welcome to New York".
Jay_G is offline  
May 31st, 2013, 08:18 AM
  #37  
 
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"DH always carried his wallet in his front pocket and never in his back pocket. We never carried all of our money or credit cards at one time. What was left behind was kept in the room safe. I always carried my bag across my body."

This is what we do when travelling anywhere. Actually DH carries his wallet in his front pocket all the time, not just on trips. We each carry cards for different accounts and have a back up set of cards back in the room, or carried in a different place if we are moving with all of our luggage.
november_moon is online now  
May 31st, 2013, 08:46 AM
  #38  
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 616
FoodSnob - I was intrigued by your line "New York City has barely felt any brunt from the financial collapse of 2008" so thought I'd look into it.

A couple of articles seem to refute that claim;

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/22/ny...erty.html?_r=0

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/0...n_1899675.html

I'm not bashing, I love New York but your (to my eyes) slightly rose tinted view of it doesn't really ring true.
Jay_G is offline  
May 31st, 2013, 08:52 AM
  #39  
 
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The group of Romas (whatever) were working the Opera line when we were there one time. They waited until the doors were about to close, pushed onto the train--I felt one looking for my stuff, yelled at her==and yelled at DH to watch out. Then they all darted off the train as the doors were closing. Big smirks on their faces through the window--but they didn't get anything from us.
We were there again later in the week and saw the same group--I just stared at them the whole time. There was an "older" one, and a lot of younger ones.
Gretchen is online now  
May 31st, 2013, 09:18 AM
  #40  
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 1,020
I will also be carrying a Pacsafe crossbody bag with all the security features and locking main compartment. Product video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZqAp0CpcB8
susan001 is offline  

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