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Pickpockets/Crime in Italy - As Bad as I Read???


Jul 30th, 2009, 10:47 PM
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Pickpockets/Crime in Italy - As Bad as I Read???

Are pickpockets and thieves as prevelant as I read here and on other boards in Italy?

I am considering renting a car from VCE airport to downtown Florence as I am staying near the airport. It's over 2x the train price but I'll be very close and not worry about someone picking my bag while at a train stop on the ES*.

I've traveled in many other European countries but luckily haven't experienced any loss.

Is there a need to be observant moreso in Italy than in other countries?

I visit Europe in Sept - Oct.
joannyc is offline  
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Jul 30th, 2009, 10:57 PM
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Sad but true, yes, pickpockets and thieves are very bad here in Italy.
Be careful also about the bill at the restaurants.
If you are visting Rome and you need help because of some bad behaviour of restaurant employees, you can phone to this number 0645420928 and/or e-mail to [email protected].
As tourism flows are decreasing here in Italy, the not honest tourism people are becoming more and more angry so that they try to earn money in each way they can.

Vincenzoda is offline  
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Jul 31st, 2009, 12:53 AM
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I echo the sad, but true opinion.

At Civitavecchia - my mother and I were charged for 14 train tickets for the two of us. I caught it and he said - oh I can not credit your AMEX card back - but here are the Euros, which were of use and the card was fortunately not compromised beyond that attempt at the train station.

At dinner that night in Rome, an extra entree was added to our bill. Again - if I did not read and question the numbers which added up "strangely" from what I knew to expect - they would have just made a huge tip. They were mad to be caught, not apologetic.

Knock on wood - fortunately, no pickpockets, etc, yet, but what was attempted was thievery nonetheless.
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Jul 31st, 2009, 01:47 AM
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I think pickpockets are prevalent in touristy places in Italy. However, same is true in Barcelona, Madrid, Paris, London, etc. I take same precaution in Italy as in other major European cities.

Being more observant? If that is the only step you will be taking, then, yes, you can be a target. Even though there are many posters advocating being aware as the principal (or only) defense against pickpockets, I consider being observant as a step I take in additional to other physical steps.

I am not sure about the value of tradeoff you are making, but only you can judge. The ES train for Venice - Florence is about 36Euro. Add few Euros to do VCE-Mestre and you get about 40Euro. The car rental is at least 100Euro without toll, gas, or parking. If you are the only traveler, then, it is easily over 2x. For over the 2x cost, it looks like you are trading pickpocket risks during your train trip against risks associated with renting a car.

I am presuming you are visiting Florence? Then you have to contend with pickpockets in the city regardless of how you got there.
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Jul 31st, 2009, 04:27 AM
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Our trip in North Italy in 2008 was by train. We had not any problem at all and we did not see any person being worry about his luggage in the train. Put them so you can see them.

We had no incident there, our friends had in Paris and my son had in Barcelona. So, you must be careful every where. I suppose that you are from NY. Is there better?
valtor is offline  
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Jul 31st, 2009, 04:43 AM
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People tend to post about bad experiences. Therefore, if they were the target of any type of dishonesty they will "warn" others. Look at the hundreds of posts and trip reports where no mention is made - that probably means it didn't happen. I've been to Italy numerous times, including twice as a solo female and never had a problem. I just returned from my 16th trip to Europe in the past decade and have never had any problem with dishonesty.

You need to put things in perspective - of course it can happen anywhere, but it probably won't. Doing something like renting a car just so you don't take a train is absurd. You are much more likely to have a car accident. Or to have the car rental people overcharge you. And if you were to be pickpocked in Italy it probably would not be on a train.

That said you should take the normal precautions. Don't carry a wallet in a back pocket. Wear a money belt/saftey pouch - and in it put your passport, most of your cash and all credit cards/ATM cards except the one you are using that day. I have a very thin wallet in which I carry a copy of my passport, one credit card and my "walking around money". It's attached by a string to my skirt or pants and carried in the front pocket. This prevents loss as well as pickpocketing. Don't wear lots of really expensive jewelery, don't leave your suitcase unattended on a train or in a station, etc. Use common sense. Check your change/receipts/credit card slips before you leave the store or restaurant. Have a really nice trip.
isabel is offline  
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Jul 31st, 2009, 04:46 AM
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Some ES trains will only make two stops between Mestre and Florence so it wouldn't be that difficult to keep an eye on your bag. You only stop for a few minutes.

There are pickpockets where there are tourists in any major city all over the world.
kybourbon is online now  
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Jul 31st, 2009, 04:51 AM
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I've so far spent 19 holidays in Italy and have never been a victim of crime. I've been to the US twice and was robbed both times. Get it in perspective - you just need to take the same precautions as you would in any big city anywhere.
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Jul 31st, 2009, 04:56 AM
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I'd like to echo kybourbon and isabel. Take the precautions they suggest and then relax and enjoy your vacation!
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Jul 31st, 2009, 05:03 AM
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In all of my trips to Europe, I have had ONE known attempt by a pickpocket. On the metro, packed car. He tried to unzip my fanny pack, which I wear in the front. It is unfortunate for him that I am very adept at the art of the "thumb twist". He was also very lucky that at the moment he was going down and his thumb was about to be dislocated, we hit a stop and he pulled away through the door.

On the other hand, in Florida, where I live, I had my truck and boat trailer parked in the Florida Marine Patrol parking lot in broad daylight, less than 100 feet from their building. I would normally consider a busy State Police station to be fairly safe.

When I returned a few hours later with my boat, still broad daylight, I was happy to learn that the side window of my truck had been broken out, my radio stolen and boat trailer was unhitched. Luckily I keep a chain lock on the trailer or it too would have been taken.

Crime happens anywhere and everywhere.

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Jul 31st, 2009, 05:09 AM
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There are certainly thieves and pickpockets in Italy, and it is good to be aware that they exist, but reading messageboards sometimes gives the impression that you will be systematically robbed and ripped off from the moment of your arrival.

I have been fortunate enough to have visited Italy about 15 times over the last 8 years or so, normally for one or two weeks at a time. In all those visits I have I can remember the following incidents.

A) Attempted pickpocketing by two young girls in Pisa
b) My mother's purse stolen on a bus in Florence (but she had it in an open bag - foolish)
c) Short changed by €5 at a railway station
d) Attempted short changed in a bar in Rome - Instantly corrected when I asked for the reciept.

I have rarely felt unsafe or intimidated anywhere in Italy - the very few places I can remember include the railway station in Naples, and the path between the Rome Tiburtina railway and bus stations.

Stay vigilant, but don't worry too much, and enjoy your trip.
willit is offline  
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Jul 31st, 2009, 05:09 AM
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I solo toured Italy in June 2009. I encountered no pickpocketers. Beggers and thieves did not cross the line. I was really impressed.

However, echoing previous posters: people who are suppose to serve you (waiters, train officials, etc.) will try to take as much from you as possible. They are the modern day thieves. I have a lot of stories to add to this thread to illustrate my point, but for now, I will caution you about the post office at the Uffizi Museum in Florence, which has a tendency to overcharge customers.

Seriously, if Italy did not have its art and history, I would never recommend this country to any person. The level of deception they use is beyond one's imagination. It is stressful to have to always be on the lookout, even when you are dining, indoors, relaxing, etc.

Good luck! Be very alert and enjoy Italy for its art, history, and architecture!

On a side note, I think we should start a website that documents how people in the tourist industry (waiters, train officials, post office, etc.) in Italy try to scam tourists. By putting their names/badge numbers/restaurant names etc. on the world wide web, we are putting pressure on them to behave more honestly. It is the lack of this kind of check-and-balance system that encourages them to behave in this repulsive manner. If putting their ID is too much, the least we can do is put down their dirty tricks/location so that other travelers are aware.

Last, I am not saying that everyone in Italy is bad. I did meet some honest and good-hearted people throughout my travel in Southern Europe.
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Jul 31st, 2009, 05:10 AM
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I don't think that crime in Italian cities is any worse than any other major city. The closest I've come to being pickpocketed was in Paris.

I've been overcharged lots of times in restaurants in the US. I think it's human error rather than someone deliberately trying to extract extra money from me.

If you carry a normal-size bag onto the train (rather than a steamer trunk) you can place it on the rack over your seat. It will be very safe there as someone would have to reach over your head to take it down and I think you might notice.

I'd rather take the train than have the hassle of driving from Venice to Florence.
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Jul 31st, 2009, 05:15 AM
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Being overcharged by a few dollars is understandably human error, but being overcharged by double the actual price?
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Jul 31st, 2009, 05:38 AM
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Its a mistake to choose your method of travel in Italy based on a fear of crime. If your worried, take some simple precautions. Buy a travel wallet with velcro closures that attaches to your belt with a short chain. Pacsafe sells them. The chain is hardly noticeable. For the train buy a retractable ski lock with a combination you set. You pull the cable out and secure your luggage to the rack at the end of the car. When you arrive, let everyone else take their bags and then unlatch yours so you don't hold them up. Don't worry about what anyone thinks if it gives you piece of mind. I've even used a ski lock to lock several bags together in a car trunk because even if you are travelling by car your trunk can be broken into, which does sometimes happen. You're biggest danger while travelling in Italy is not crime-- but being hit by a car as a pedestrian.
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Jul 31st, 2009, 05:42 AM
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>>>At Civitavecchia - my mother and I were charged for 14 train tickets for the two of us.<<<

Buy your tickets from a self-service machine and you won't have that problem. It's also faster.
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Jul 31st, 2009, 12:41 PM
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Thanks very much to you all!

I've driven many times in Europe so that doesn't bother me (and I will be renting a car to drive from Florence to Sorrento). The cost of the car from Venice to Florence is under $100USD. Will reconsider the train.

Even though I will be there for 3 weeks, I'm using a 24' bag... no steamer trunk! ;-)

I guess I have been very lucky in all of my previous travels. I've been to Europe/Asia 20 or more times and haven't run into any dishonestly, overcharging, pickpockets or anything! Not even in NYC... who would have guessed!

I have ordered a Pacsafe cross-body bag specifically for this trip.

Thanks again!
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Aug 2nd, 2009, 05:21 PM
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IMHO everyone needs to be alert to problems that can occur. Read about the kinds of scams out there. My daughter and I saw the young kids with their cardboard sheets near Termini as well as the romani women with their fake babies ready to jostle you. We have seen a woman hand a "gold ring"to a tourist which I grabbed and tossed far a way from us. The dishonest people are there but you need to know what to look for and you need to be alert. Put "Scam Alert-italy" and read and learn.
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Aug 2nd, 2009, 05:47 PM
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Just stay alert when your in crowds of people like you would anywhere in the states. Crime is everywhere.I have never felt unsafe anywhere in Europe that i have traveled.I don't use the subways late at night in any city are country.Also i don't do late nigt train travel i usually always drive .I always wear a money belt when traveling.
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Aug 2nd, 2009, 06:04 PM
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The only place I was overcharged was in Dublin and they did not even apologize!
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