Old Jan 16th, 2003, 07:47 PM
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I had wanted to post this message several months ago but just never got around to it. All travelers should be aware of theft from hotel rooms/ leaving your bags unattended for even a few seconds and mainly from stolen pocketbooks/passports on the streets, in the metros/subways/busses/in resturants/etc Throughout Europe.

My daughter recently had her wallet with passport lifted while going through the turnstile of a crowded metro station in Paris. The thief was quick and he acted effortlessly. Friends left a purse for maybe 10 seconds unattended next to them in an internet cafe and it was gone quickly. Another woman I know had her purse stolen within twenty seconds after entering a respectable restaurant. The U.S. Consulate in Paris reported to me on an average 50 to 70 stolen PASPORTS PER DAY in summer. If you compound the reporting from all western embassies, it would be safe to guess about 200 stolen passports a day in Paris alone.

While on trains secure your luggage with at lest bundgy chords and place the luggage immediately near you - anything to make it difficult for thieves to operate. I was on a train last summer when a middle age woman from Central Europe blatently took a passenger's large suitcase right before our eyes and then had the nerve to scream and fight for it saying it was hers.

Violent crime is very very rare in Europe.
It is much safer to walk the streets anywhere in Europe than in the United States, but soft crime occurrance, in my personal estiamtion is more prevalent than in the United Stats. These thefts by pickpockets, and those stealing wallets and purses left exposed for just a few seconds is an art form. Thieves usually operate in two's and threes and will watch for an unsuspecting inviting opportunity for hours waiting for an easy target.

Don't give them the chance. In Italy and Eastern Europe, small children will often be employed to distract you. Wear money belts and secure your bags and purses in a manner whereby you feel safe. If you have any further questions don't hesitate to email me.
Old Jan 16th, 2003, 07:54 PM
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This info. has been covered 10 million times on this forum!!!!!!
Old Jan 16th, 2003, 08:33 PM
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This is a very important post.....repeat it until the stealing stops! There are a lot of professionals out there waiting for the stupid traveller.

Women: never, never, neever hang your pocketbook off the back of your chair. I've seen this easy lifting incident happen in NYC, London, Hong Kong.
Old Jan 16th, 2003, 11:46 PM
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This advice is relevant for everywhere. People must use common sense. I've lived in Europe all my life, and travelled around the world more than once. The only place I've ever been attacked or had anything stolen was on the El train in Chicago. Should I go to the US board & post a big, alarmist warning because I happened to stop paying attention for a few minutes?

Also, bad advice re the money belt. It's silly & possibly dangerous to use a money belt on holiday if you don't use one at home - you'll act awkwardly and draw attention to yourself. There's certainly not anywhere in Europe where it's necessary or desirable. Use a slim purse and keep track of it.
Old Jan 17th, 2003, 05:57 AM
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Of course this topic has been covered hundreds of time on this board, yet you can still get foolish advice like not using a money belt. All the instances of theft happen when someone was distracted for a few seconds. How can anyone possibly be 100% alert, 100% of the time?

Again and again the purpose of a money belt is to keep valuables hidden. If you walk around with your neck pouch hanging out of a shirt, you’re an idiot who’s yelling at the top of your lungs, “I’m a tourist!”

Money belts are to carry things you don’t need during the day: extra credit cards, an ATM card, passport, spare cash. If for some reason you need any of that, you head to a toilet and access it in a stall where (hopefully) no one is watching. You carry a small amount of cash, a credit card and a copy of your passport in an otherwise empty wallet. I find that most places will readily accept a photocopy of your passport when it’s necessary for a transaction.

I’d like to leave all that stuff in a hotel safe, but I’m a budget traveler. Some of the hotels I use don’t have a safe at the front desk. I had to ask for my travel wallet back from a front desk clerk in Spain. When I asked him to put it in the safe, he shrugged his shoulders and threw it on a shelf under the counter in front of him.

By the way, I love to see those signs that say “watch out for pickpockets.” I immediately use my left hand and pat a pocket where my wallet isn’t.
Old Jan 17th, 2003, 06:10 AM
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Just use common sense like don't ever leave your purse or bags unattended anywhere-not even when you're back home! Money belts may be cumbersome but better to be safe than sorry. As for hotel safes, thefts have occurred from them; besides, I don't want to leave not only extra cash but my passport in a safe.
Old Jan 17th, 2003, 06:18 AM
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Advice for avoiding pickpockets cannot be repeated often enough. When traveling, it is best to leave your wallet and/or purse at home. It's better to carry cash and cards in the slimest case you can find and carry that, along with your passport, airline tickets, and anything else valuable to you (and difficult or costly to replace) in an under-your-clothing security pouch. As YYY says, you keep in your security pouch what you don't need to have handy at all times. While out and about during the day, you just keep a bit of cash and one credit card in a deep front skirt/slacks pocket or inside jacket pocket (preferably one with a zipper or secured with velcro).

The pickpockets go after only what is easily accessible. So just make sure anything important to you isn't.

When traveling with luggage, make sure you have identification on the inside, as well as on the outside, of each bag. And, wear a loud whistle around your neck or wrist. Even if there are no policeman or security people nearby, blowing it will attract the attention of witnesses, and the thief will drop your bags and run.

The pickpockets are far more practiced in their "art" than the typical traveler will ever be at "being aware of your surroundings" or "keeping track" of your belongings. They can easily see or anticipate when you are distracted, and many provide distraction for you.

The typical occasional European traveler does not have the same "common sense" of a seasoned traveler.

Old Jan 17th, 2003, 12:16 PM
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My only known encounter with pickpockets was on the Paris subway. I had a wad of folded up street maps in my back pocket. When I exited the station and reached for the maps, they were gone. Someone must have thought it was a nice fat wallet. They were pretty slick, though, because I had no clue my pocket had been picked.
Old Jan 17th, 2003, 12:25 PM
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One thing to think about though, I was on a public toilet when the money belt unfastioned and fell into the toilet. So you can't win?
Old Jan 18th, 2003, 06:06 AM
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I always use a money belt when traveling. Passports, extra cash,cards etc go in there. I like to also carry a wallet in a FRONT pocket with only enough cash for a day or so. That way I avoid the awkwardness of the belt, yet my passport, etc are secure. Carrying my wife's and my passport, plane tickets and duplicate credit cards become bulky and a money belt solves the problem.
Old Jan 18th, 2003, 06:11 AM
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"Oooops" I've always worried about dropping my pouch in the toilet too. Thankfully it's not happened so far, but I'm sure there's nothing to do but fish it out.
Old Jan 18th, 2003, 10:32 AM
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YYY gave excellent advice. Read and heed
Old Jan 18th, 2003, 11:22 AM
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The worst places are those cities where the police watch it going on & do nothing.
They see the same thieves on the same streets every day & don't act because locals aren't targetteted - these visitors will be gone in a few days anyway & don't vote.
Only by emabarrassing the city authorities can anything be done.
It would be helpful if Fodor's could start a crime top 10 for tourist cities - might provoke some action.
Meanwhile the victims should complain loudly & often, identifying the city and the attitude of the police.
Old Jan 18th, 2003, 12:13 PM
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I like the idea of economic action to combat the thieves by embarassing the authorities. We have decided to bypass Pisa on our upcoming trip because the risk of pickpockets outweighs the attraction of the town. Any Pisa restauranters out there?
Old Jan 18th, 2003, 05:42 PM
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I was pickpocketed by a "master" thief in Barcelona a couple of months ago. We'll be traveling to Paris in March. No purse for me, thank you... Just bought a lovely jacket with a zippered inside pocket. My passport, credit cards and money will be in pouch around my neck and under my sweater. On top of that, anyone who gets too close to me on the metro will get stepped on, hopefuly on their painful bunion. Oh, pardon...
Old Jan 18th, 2003, 08:51 PM
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Tina - where did you find a lovely jacket with a zippered inside pocket? I sewed a money belt zippered pocket into a jacket, but I wouldn't call it lovely. Is yours waterproof? (Serious question.)
Old Jan 18th, 2003, 10:24 PM
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Everything from Travelsmith has inside, zippered security pockets.
Old Jan 18th, 2003, 11:59 PM
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Marylin: I've heard that their clothing can be subtsandard, sometimes; loose threads, etc., not quality material - any personal experiences? I'm looking for a good quality jacket that has zippered inside pockets.
Old Jan 19th, 2003, 12:23 AM
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Another dissenting vote re the "you MUST use a money belt" chestnut. Using a money belt when walking around a city in Europe screams "I'm a tourist" - Europeans don't use them. And Helena is right, if YOU use them inexpertly, you will draw negative attention to yourself. Better to get a slimline bag made out of unslashable material and keep it close to your body - hook your finger around the zip. (By the way, I've been given this same advice by residents when travelling in NYC.)

If you want to use a money belt on a train or plane, OK - as long as you know you won't be able to get anything out of it until you're in a private place.
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