Pick pockets and Gypsies

Old Jan 4th, 2014, 02:10 PM
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jamikins has it exactly right - my modus opperandi as well as well as not wearing the family jewels if precious or carrying anything valuable in a back or even front pocket or a day pack.
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Old Jan 5th, 2014, 02:21 PM
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A friend had his wallet stolen from the zip up pocket in the leg of his pants on a crowded train in Italy. It only had a few euros in it.
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Old Jan 10th, 2014, 05:12 AM
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In July, DD and I were on the Florence station, trying to work out quickly how to buy Trenitalia tickets to Rome. Each of us had a 50cm case and a locked rucksack with just enough euros in hand to buy the tickets. A pretty slim young girl inserted herself between us and the ticket machine, beginning to show us how to use it. I firmly said 'no!' and 'go away'. She ignored this, trying to show us in which slot to put our money. I cancelled the transaction and moved to a new machine. With DD watching my back and clutching our bags, I began a new transaction. The same girl was there again, pushing between us. I looked up and saw an older woman intently watching all of us. I told the girl to go away. She smiled and nodded. I saw her hand ready to grab the slot where I had to insert our euros. I suddenly screamed at the top of my voice: LEAVE US ALONE, GO AWAY, GO AWAY NOW!!! She smiled and moved off maybe 2 meters. By now we were nervous, hot and bothered. I completed the transaction, but accidentally bought tickets for business class seats. We travelled to Rome in more style than I wanted, but at least our possessions were safe. Lessons learned: don't worry about being polite; buy tickets online; scream and shout when you have to!
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Old Jan 10th, 2014, 06:24 AM
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Can anyone explain this Italian (and Spanish) oddity?

I seem to get pestered, whenever Mrs F and I walk across a piazza talking to each other, by otherwise charming looking young women coming up to me asking me (in English) if I speak English and would I sign this petition against drugs.

Usually, in Italy, Mrs F replies by affecting a Catania accent and saying that's very kind of them, but she's all in favour of drugs and it wouldn't be honest. Just hearing an apparent Catanese insisting on honesty gobsmacks most Italians, and by the time they've recovered, we're away and gawping at the next Bernini or whatever.

We originally thought of appending "but if you've got some you'd like to get rid of, we'll take them off your hands", but decided any plain clothes police nearby might not appreciate British humour.

But what's all this about? It seems to happen whenever we cross very crowded piazzas where local inhabitants congregate. It never happens in the local Bling Street (do Gucci pay protection money?) or even in the big tourist meccas like St Mark's Square or the Campo dei Miracoli.

Is someone going to pick my pocket while I'm signing, or solicit a contribution, or what?
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Old Jan 10th, 2014, 06:29 AM
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Probably
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Old Jan 10th, 2014, 07:37 AM
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Is someone going to pick my pocket while I'm signing, or solicit a contribution, or what?>

Sounds may like the latter - like groups that plague our city streets - always with a petition for some do-gooder group - often to do with the environoment - refugee relief, etc.

My son once worked for such a group and their modus operandi is to yes present some kind of B S petition and explain why, etc and then after you sign or not they ask for a donation - the poor young people who work get a fraction of the take and most goes to higher ups - it's kind of a pyramid scheme where the person above you gets much of the money and recruits others with promises of huge profits that never materialize - kind of a revolving door of recruits.

Not saying it is the same but sounds like it. Does not sound like pickpockets.
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Old Jan 10th, 2014, 08:41 AM
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I seem to get pestered, whenever Mrs F and I walk across a piazza talking to each other, by otherwise charming looking young women coming up to me asking me (in English) if I speak English and would I sign this petition against drugs.>>

I dont understand what their scam is either, but scam it definitely is, to judge by their reaction when we say that we speak Cornish. Genuine people soliciting signatures for a real cause wouldn't swear like that.
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Old Jan 10th, 2014, 09:44 AM
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There is a way to ward off people who approach you in the street. It seems to work everywhere.
If you try to say "No" politely they will keep at you. Any form of communication is taken that way.
Just stare about 3 inches to one side of their head and slowly and almost imperceptibly shake your head. No eye contact, no words.
They take this as code for "I know you get out of my way."

I now have 3000 Slovakian Roma about 2 miles away, having been imported by an organised gang and given free housing.
They have destroyed their neighborhood, the back yards are piled high with scrap and rubbish, there are rats everywhere, they send their women out begging every day. A special police group has been formed to, er, address the needs of this community.
They regard this as normal. I have no wish to diss anyone's cultural norms, and being 2 miles away means all I see here is a bit of begging etc. (I recently saw a woman run into a bakers shouting "I don't want to buy your @@@ ring! at the pursuing Rom") but nobody is happy about this.
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Old Jan 10th, 2014, 10:04 AM
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As for the term "Gypsy", PalenQ is right, some PC gurus have a problem with it but nobody seems to know for sure, you'd have to ask them. If someone doesn't like being called something you shouldn't do it - simple politeness.

In Northern Ireland ages ago the republicans began to use Brit as a term of abuse, but the "Brits" were quite happy with the word. A bit like Aberdeen supporters waving plastic inflatable sheep.
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Old Jan 10th, 2014, 10:39 AM
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and Ireland has folks its calls gypsies too when I was in Dublin long ago - they were actually tinkers - Gaellic folks who acted like gypsies - going around tinkering - fixing folks pots and pans I guess but gypsies in the itinerant sense I think.

Where I have stayed in France for years there has been a gens de voyage - gypsy camp - and it is a mess like zippo decribes - I used to jog thru there and finally after so many threats stayed away - dogs running lose - shouts at me - and they even were taking dumps right out in the open - with sxxx and TP all over the nearby edge of the railway.
They have been there for years, officially tolerated I understand, and my son who grew up there says or claims most of them are crooks or do shady under the table work, etc.
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Old Jan 10th, 2014, 11:15 AM
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I haven't read through this entire thread yet, but -

When you see one of these Roma women approaching you, simply look them in the eye, and say - firmly - No. And give them a "Do not mess with me" look, if you can muster it.
Keep saying No until they walk away. There are plenty of people who don't know any better, unfortunately, who will engage with these con artists/thieves.
Also - they hate having their photo taken. They will back away from you.
This worked well for us in Italy and Spain.
My daughter has a lot of video footage of Roma women in Granada backing away from her, and yelling at her that's bad luck to take their photo - pfft! Yeah, maybe for them.

I think they just want to quietly rob you or scam you, and they don't want a scene. If it looks like you'll cause one, they'll walk away apparently.

I didn't see the kids I've heard about in Florence, who supposedly approach you with a piece of cardboard or sign... We were warned of them but never saw them. We did see a couple of young women wearing traditional "gypsy" dress, with obviously fake babies, perusing the crowd. One approached my daughter, then 14, my daughter looked at her, said "No" before the girl could even ask her anything and she turned and went away.
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Old Jan 10th, 2014, 12:11 PM
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https://www.google.com/search?q=fran...=1600&bih=1026

Photos of 'gypsy camps' throughout France - many have been there forever and many do not seem to provoke any great criticism from locals just IME disdain.
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Old Jan 10th, 2014, 01:30 PM
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I saw the accordion players on the circumvesuvania to Pompeii, but they did not harass anyone - also the women with their heads down in Venice. After all of the warnings I had taken precautions - maybe because I did I was not bothered?

I second what some people have said about being careful to accept help, but my only experience was a nice younger man who helped me as I was trying to shove my luggage into the rack on a train in Brescia. I spent the entire train ride worrying that when he got off he had stolen my suitcase. Talk about paranoid - he was just trying to be helpful and I felt guilty for feeling so incredibly suspicious!
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Old Jan 13th, 2014, 07:23 AM
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"Is someone going to pick my pocket while I'm signing, or solicit a contribution, or what?"

When I got caught by this in Rome, it was a petition and then asking for a donation and suggested €50, which I politely declined.
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Old Jan 13th, 2014, 01:43 PM
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Well, that's inflation for you, willit. When I fell for it the first time I encountered the drug petition about 12 or so years ago, all they asked for then was 5 E. (No, I didn't give it to them.)
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Old Jan 14th, 2014, 10:48 AM
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Well maybe it also says something about how one appears or is dressed as to how much to ask for? Me no doubt they'd ask about 5 euro cents!
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