PICKPOCKETS

Old Mar 9th, 1999, 01:07 PM
  #21  
daniel lee
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ok al,

i don't think we need to be as stoic as you are about being careful. i'll be cautious, but not so much that i'll explore paris like it was a war zone. i fully intend to immerse myself in its cultural and artistic intensity.

i do think that i'll keep my spending money in my sock though under my pants.

daniel
 
Old Mar 9th, 1999, 11:22 PM
  #22  
Donna
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With all due respect to those who "have never had a problem" and recommend "not looking like a tourist", pickpockets are a valid concern when visiting Paris. It is absolutely impossible to not "look like a tourist". Your map, dress, talking to your traveling companion(s), look of awe, will give you away. What is "common sense" for a seasoned veteran is far beyond that of a first-time visitor. While it is surely unnecessary to be overly frightened or paranoid by the prospect of pickpockets, it is certainly prudent to know what precautions one should take to avoid any mishaps.
 
Old Mar 10th, 1999, 12:44 AM
  #23  
Reef
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I have never had any trouble with pickpockets in Paris in many visits there. Rode the metro a lot, all lines, day and night. Now Barcelona...that's a huge pickpocket haven. There I've been a victim of pickpockets (and they did get physical).
Barcelona is the worst city in Europe by far for pickpockets and I think the police there are in on it.
 
Old Mar 10th, 1999, 07:03 AM
  #24  
John
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Donna, you are right on. I have also "never had a problem" with pickpockets in Paris, but I attributed that more to luck than anything else and am fully aware that I could be a victim anytime. From what I've read of the subject, if you get picked, you will get plucked. Sure, some manage to escape without any losses, but not many. I don't get parnoia about it, but it is on my mind and I do take certain precautions. I think the biggest precaution I take is not to be carrying a lot of valuables around with me. Not that I particularly care about losing anything, but at least if it does happen, I can continue on with my trip and I won't be losing a lot.

As for "not looking like a tourist", as you point out, that is extremely difficult to do, but not impossible. However, even if you can pull that off, and you are fluent in french, your accent is almost a dead give away. After living in Paris for a year, I was amazed how even I could pick out an American tourist even when their french was near impeccable. I was also able to pick out french speaking people from areas outside of Paris.

Reef, I have never been to Barcelona, but I don't doubt what you say. I have been to Milan and Rome and I do think it is worse there than in Paris. They stole my fiance's pocketbook in the lobby of a 4-star hotel while we were checking out in October. I was at the cashier paying our bill and she was standing a short distance from me when another clerk held out our passports for her to take. She was in the process of removing her jacket and put her bag down for an instant and reached forward to take them. That's when someone snatched her bag. My fiance didn't even notice it until we went outside and were loading the car with our bags. Fortunately, she had our passports in her hand and I had our tickets. She didn't lose any cash (it was our last day in Italy), but she did lose her credit cards, driver's license, etc. Th e thief did charge $1700 on one credit card, another $1700 on anther card and attempted, but was refused a $3000 charge on another card. This happened in October and it is now March. One of the credit card companies is still investigating and is giving her a hard time about the charges.
 
Old Mar 10th, 1999, 08:25 AM
  #25  
Joanne
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Now for the lighter side of this "pickpocket paranoia". Three images come to mind. First, I have to chuckle everytime I think of my husband dropping trou in Paris to get at his money belt. Talk about leaving yourself vulnerable! Second, we had a picnic under the Eiffel Tower. My husband walked away to throw something in a trash can, and a gypsy woman with a baby walked up to me. I had heard to much about the devious nature of the pickpockets, so I was ready for anything! Except for the very courteous, very humble plea "Please madam, just a coin." I was so shocked that I gave her a small note and she thanked me and walked away! Lastly, upon arrival in Paris, we got to our hotel and hated it. So I sat at a cafe while my husband walked from hotel to hotel in the rain to get a different room. Succeeding, he came back to get me and we went to the hotel. After half an hour, I said to him "where is your daypack?" In a state of total panic (because our "life" was in the backpack), he ran back to the cafe. The daypack was still sitting under the table.

Next Thursday, we are taking the kids to Paris and Italy. We are expecting that one of us might get ripped off, so we're taking precautions, but are not totally paranoid. If we do, our losses will be limited and it will be a good object lesson for the kids. Advice: Don't let this issue put a damper on your travels!
 
Old Mar 10th, 1999, 12:58 PM
  #26  
Brian in Atlanta
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I was in Barcelona for my honeymoon in 1997 and never had any trouble with pickpockets or any other kind of threatening behavior even when wandering the dark streets of the Latin Quarter late at night. I even kept my wallet in my back pocket the entire time as I would back at home.

There must be something to this "looking like a tourist" thing. You don't think that locals in France, Spain or Italy carry their money/credit cards around in a money belt do you?
 
Old Mar 10th, 1999, 01:52 PM
  #27  
daniel lee
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yeah, i hear you, but it's too easy to be mistaken for a japanese tourist when you're korean like i am.

so i'll look like a tourist no matter what. even in singapore i looked like a tourist (but probably because of my clothes and bald head).

i'm sticking with the money belt. i'm not going to attribute luck to keeping my wallet intact. yes, i understand the idea of trying to be aware of your surroundings and what not, but i also don't want to spoil my experience at such places as the louvre and notre dame by continuously looking suspiciously at the people next to me.

daniel
 
Old Mar 10th, 1999, 02:43 PM
  #28  
elvira
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Many, many trips to Europe and one to Morocco, and I've only had two experiences with thieves:
1) In Paris, about 8 years ago, someone picked my coat pocket...and got my Paris Par Arrondissement book. Man, that was a REALLY GOOD guide, and I miss it even today.
2) In Milan, just a month ago, the gypsy pickpockets attacked us on our way to see the Last Supper. Their ploy was pulling out a wrinkled newspaper. Knowing what was afoot, we started pushing and shoving them away (I got in one of their faces and SCREAMED "BACK OFF NOW!"). They backed off, and we rounded the corner to get in line for the convent. Around the corner they came, and if you ever wanted to learn Italian swears, this was the place to do it. The Italians in line screamed obscenities at them and pushed them HARD. Later in the day, in the plaza in front of the duomo, we saw the polizia quickly grab and hustle a gypsy pickpocket into a Black Maria.

I carry a leather wallet-on-a-strap that I wear either around my neck or bandolier-style across my chest, inside my jacket or sweater. If I carry a totebag or small backpack, it's over my shoulder and held tight with my elbow. I never wear a backpack on my back. If I get money from an ATM, I make sure it's in a well-lit/travelled area and put the money away before I leave the ATM; if I'm with someone, they stand with their back to me and watch the area.
Anyplace that attracts crowds - tourist spots, street shows, accidents - attracts pickpockets.
For men, maybe a front pocket with a zipper AND a button flap might be the place to put your wallet.
 
Old Mar 10th, 1999, 02:59 PM
  #29  
elaine
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I raised the "looking like a tourist"
issue several messages ago above, but after reading the subsequent responses,
I'll amend my suggestion. It may be possible to keep "looking like a tourist" to a minimum, but few of us will entirely get away with such a deception no matter what we wear or how we speak. It would be more likely, it seems to me, that we can try not behaving or ACTING like tourists, to the extent possible. That would mean being aware of our surroundings down below even while we're looking up in awe; keeping our valuables out of sight and yet knowing exactly where they are at all times (and I still haven't,don't and won't carry hidden wallets, but that's a personal choice); keeping totebags closed, with the wallet at the bottom, and the bag close to the body; no backpacks; no dangling fancy cameras;
not carrying too much cash or cards at one time--that's what ATMs are for;
separating cash from cards so the whole caboodle can't be lost at once; using hotel safes; and being wary when in crowded places or when being approached by strangers. All of that said, if statistically some of us are bound to be victims anyway just due to bad luck, at least we can try to keep the losses to a minimum.
 
Old Mar 10th, 1999, 02:59 PM
  #30  
elaine
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I raised the "looking like a tourist"
issue several messages ago above, but after reading the subsequent responses,
I'll amend my suggestion. It may be possible to keep "looking like a tourist" to a minimum, but few of us will entirely get away with such a deception no matter what we wear or how we speak. It would be more likely, it seems to me, that we can try not behaving or ACTING like tourists, to the extent possible. That would mean being aware of our surroundings down below even while we're looking up in awe; keeping our valuables out of sight and yet knowing exactly where they are at all times (and I still haven't,don't and won't carry hidden wallets, but that's a personal choice); keeping totebags closed, with the wallet at the bottom, and the bag close to the body; no backpacks; no dangling fancy cameras;
not carrying too much cash or cards at one time--that's what ATMs are for;
separating cash from cards so the whole caboodle can't be lost at once; using hotel safes; and being wary when in crowded places or when being approached by strangers. All of that said, if statistically some of us are bound to be victims anyway just due to bad luck, at least we can try to keep the losses to a minimum.
 
Old Mar 10th, 1999, 02:59 PM
  #31  
elaine
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I raised the "looking like a tourist"
issue several messages ago above, but after reading the subsequent responses,
I'll amend my suggestion. It may be possible to keep "looking like a tourist" to a minimum, but few of us will entirely get away with such a deception no matter what we wear or how we speak. It would be more likely, it seems to me, that we can try not behaving or ACTING like tourists, to the extent possible. That would mean being aware of our surroundings down below even while we're looking up in awe; keeping our valuables out of sight and yet knowing exactly where they are at all times (and I still haven't,don't and won't carry hidden wallets, but that's a personal choice); keeping totebags closed, with the wallet at the bottom, and the bag close to the body; no backpacks; no dangling fancy cameras;
not carrying too much cash or cards at one time--that's what ATMs are for;
separating cash from cards so the whole caboodle can't be lost at once; using hotel safes; and being wary when in crowded places or when being approached by strangers. All of that said, if statistically some of us are bound to be victims anyway just due to bad luck, at least we can try to keep the losses to a minimum.
 
Old Mar 10th, 1999, 05:35 PM
  #32  
Donna
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While it's probably true that "if you get picked, you get plucked", I think the basic theme here is how not to get "selected" as a good target.
 
Old Mar 11th, 1999, 06:02 AM
  #33  
DANIEL
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Dear ELVIRA:

I, too, have heard of this Paris Par Arrondissement guide book. Where can I buy one of those in Paris?

Daniel
 
Old Mar 11th, 1999, 06:15 AM
  #34  
anne
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The above-mentioned map-books of Paris are available in any magazine/newspaper kiosk or store, souvenir shops, etc.
 
Old Mar 11th, 1999, 06:16 AM
  #35  
daniel lee
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OK, one more thing:

If a bunch of pickpocketers come up to me with a wrinkled newspaper or cardboard, I plan on really being mean and swearing, pushing them away, saying stuff like "enculez", or "sortez, canard".

Is that really bad to do in public? I basically want these punks to leave us alone if we're confronted.

Or maybe I'm still being too paranoid. God. I'm gonna be a commando in Paris...

Daniel
 
Old Mar 11th, 1999, 06:20 AM
  #36  
John
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Daniel, you can buy the Paris Plan by Arrondissment at any bookstore or Kiosk, maybe. It is excellent and a must have if you want to find anything. The tourist maps that are handed out at the hotels and other places leave a lot of the streets off and can drive you crazy when trying to find someplace.
 
Old Mar 11th, 1999, 07:29 AM
  #37  
dan
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Daniel, chill out. It is certainly good to be aware of what can happen, but most people never run into any real problems. It is not worth worrying about to the extent that you don't enjoy yourself. I have to admit that the only time I always take extra precautions beyond wearing a money belt is on and around the subways in Paris. Just keep one hand on your belongings and enjoy the ride. For example, when I use a backpack, I put it around to my side and kind of under my arm when in crowds like this.
 
Old Mar 14th, 1999, 01:15 AM
  #38  
Maren
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I went to Paris last year with my French teacher and classmates and am going back this year with my parents. Perhaps because we were such obvious tourists, we had at least three run-ins with pickpockets (our group was somewhere around twenty people). Someone mentioned one of the gyspy women and seemed surprised that she didn't try to steal anything from them. For the record, this is generally how they gyspies work: the women carry their babies around and beg. They can be very persistant, but just keep walking and they won't do anything to you. The men sell cheap toys (styrofoam gliders and the like) and postcards, always for ten francs. Their older children, however, are the ones to look out for. They are just the right height to pick your pocket unnoticed. This nearly happened to me. I did have a neckpouch that was meant to be worn under my shirt, but I had various problems with it: it wasn't quite flat enough, I felt like I was being strangled when I had the pouch hanging down my front and a hat hanging down my back, and, to be quite frank, it bounced off my bra a lot. So after not too long I gave up and put it in my backpack, where I was already carrying water, a map, etc. I had heard about what pickpockets could do to backpacks (like slashing them open with a knife), but I figured I was alert enough that nothing could happen to mine. Also, I had the money pouch buried deep inside, where they couldn't have gotten to it even if they had slashed the bag. Anyway, once when I was on the Metro, a little kid on rollerblades ran into me from behind. I said 'Pardon' and moved so he could get through. A while later, a woman caught my eye and said 'Votre sac est sejour' ('Your bag is open'). Lo and behold, so it was. Luckily, he had only been able to open my very front pocket, which had pens and nothing else in it. After we got off the metro, I told my group about, and one of my (male) friends said, 'Oh...so that's why he was feeling my butt...He was looking for a wallet!'
The other pickpocket instance was when a guy stuck his hand in the front pocket of our teacher's purse. She just looked at him and started laughing, and he blushed and moved away. When we finally persuaded her to tell us why, she told us that all she had in that pocket was a tampon! Anyway, be careful on the Metro - if you have a backpack, hold it in front of you for the duration of the ride. Don't be alarmed when they announce on the intercom 'Ladies and gentlemen, pickpockets are in the station'; this is true all the time, so you're not in any more danger than usual. This is just a pre-recorded message that they play at regular intervals, and it supposedly scares pickpockets *away* for a while. Also, be wary of anyone on rollerblades - not just because of my experience, but also because when we were in Cannes we saw a woman on rollerblades doing a sort of sidewalk dance show, and there were little boys, also on rollerblades, circulating among the spectators like sharks, just waiting to pick their pockets.
 

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