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train robbery

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Jul 27th, 2003, 10:10 AM
  #1
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train robbery

Hi, I wanted to add a caveat to everyone travelling...My daughter was on the overnight train from Barcelona to Nice and had her backpack broken into (lock was broken off) and valuables stolen...money, credit card, atm card, passport, camera, walkman, travellers checks. She was quite shaken up by this...she and here friends are 17 and 18, travelling after graduating from high school. A royal pain to deal with, but we had insurance which should cover all the valuables (travellers checks have already been refunded). A couple of phone calls averted any fraudulent use of the cc and atm cards. Despite plans to have someone stay awake, she and her 5 travelling companions all fell asleep, and she was victimized by a fellow train passenger who got off before the Nice stop. Future train travel will involve sleeping ON the luggage.

I was with a friend in Florence a week before this happened, and she had her bag unzipped (but nothing was actually stolen) while we were walking down the street, by a slovenly woman. We noticed immediately and yelled at her. We were already alert, but this made us even more so.

It seems like paranoia, but it is, after all, just common sense, to be aware of your surroundings and not let yourself be vulnerable. Those atm scams on the board are amazing...things I never would have thought to be looking out for.
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Jul 27th, 2003, 10:16 AM
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The supplement for a couchette berth is 14 euros in Western Eurpe and 11 euros in central Europe. Couchette compartments have doors that have a lock, and an extra lock that cannot be opoened from outside. It is very hard to stay awake on a train at night. For more, please see the note on getting the best from sleepers and couchettes at http://www.twenj.com/tipsnighttrains.htm

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Jul 27th, 2003, 10:17 AM
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Oh what a shame! Thankfully it sounds like she's weathering it well. And I hope she has plenty to good experience to counterbalance this bad one.
Train thievery is one of the reasons that I won't travel by couchette and only book a private sleeping compartment on an overnight train. Thefts don't happen often, but when they do...what a pain!
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Jul 27th, 2003, 10:49 AM
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Yes, and to think that for the cost of the latest CD, or less, it could have been prevented!
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Jul 27th, 2003, 10:58 AM
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Sorry for your daughter's loss. This really is a confirmation that using a money belt around your neck or waist is a good idea. A money belt would not have prevented the theft of the camera or walkman but those things are much easier to replace than the passport, credit cards and travelers checks.
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Jul 27th, 2003, 11:06 AM
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I was concerned about this during an overnight ferry to Morocco. I locked my bag and tied it to me. I wore a jacket over the rope so that I could unfasten it in an emergency (like the ship sinking - I didn't want to wear an anchor in the form of a suitcase). The jacket did cover the knot so thieves couldn't see it and study it. Whether or not this was a good idea, I was not robbed.
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Jul 27th, 2003, 11:12 AM
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This is at least the third thread recently about someone's having things stolen from a backpack (or the pack itself). In none of these cases was the individual wearing a money belt. I thought that was a given that any smart traveler keeps passport, credit cards, ATMs and most money on their person (hidden) at all times. Any of you out there who don't use an under garmet money belt - please start now. It's just commen sense. The fact that there are so many of these posts lately certainly indicates that its necessary.
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Jul 27th, 2003, 02:52 PM
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I've noticed that everyone who gets robbed is wearing a backpack. I feel for everyone but is this a big surprise to anyone that having all your belongings in something that hangs on your back, away from sight is not the safest way to carry your belongings? I wouldn't do that if I was going to any crowded places at home.

On my recent trip, my friend did have a backpack, but each pocket also had a lock which makes it unappealing to pickpockets who want to do their thing quickly.
As far as falling asleep and being robbed, that's a whole different situation and it seems that unless you get a sleeper compartment, there is no other way, except for maybe sitting/lying on it. Not comfortable, but I can't think of any other way.
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Jul 27th, 2003, 03:27 PM
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These posts are plain silly:

As others have already addressed & as has been mentioned on several threads recently... your PASSPORT and cash do not belong in a backpack!!

Money belt, neck pouch, zipper hidden pockets, etc. ON your person, with passport, travelers checks, cash... and we wouldn't have to hear of these kind of problems. Use a disposable camera, and leave other electronics at home. PROBLEM solved!!

Especially with young people best they figure out how to travel safely early on, if they plan to be frequent tourists. Read up on Lonely Planet, Rough Guide, Rick Steves, et al. and if they followed tried & true advice this could never have happened.
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Jul 28th, 2003, 11:36 AM
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Topping this post because I think there is a valuable lesson to be learned. And because I found my answer above overly harsh when I reread it (my apologies).

If you know any first time travelers, especially young people, but this would apply to anyone who has not traveled abroad before ...

Please help them get and understand the information they need about safety precautions for travelers. There is nothing in the unfortunate situation described in the original post that could not have been fairly easily prevented.

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Jul 28th, 2003, 12:57 PM
  #11
 
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To reiterate, daypacks are a great idea, especially the ones that zip-on and off of the rolling backpacks, but they are NOT meant to substitute for moneybelts!!! My only theft incident was by small gypsy children in Spain because I was too lazy to put my credit card back in my moneybelt right away after buying something. Luckily, I caught the little girl's arm with my card grasped in her fingers! I watched my American companions get robbed right out from underneath them, as they slept ON TOP OF their backpacks! That was in 1992, and I was 19. Since then, I use safes, moneybelts and only carry my guidebooks and water in my day pack. Be careful out there.
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Jul 28th, 2003, 01:37 PM
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What a terrible experience. I have been traveling around Europe(sometimes with friends and sometimes alone)since I was sixteen. MONEYBELT, MONEYBELT, MONEYBELT! On our last trip, I even bought a moneybelt for my Italian husband. He felt silly walking around his hometown with a moneybelt on but, better safe than sorry. My mother-in-law wears a money belt when she comes to California to stay with us. She is worried that all the gypsies in La Jolla are going to rob her. On our last trip we toted around a light backback for the water and kid stuff.

Although I have never heard of this first hand, I have heard through the grapevine that even if you are locked in your car on a train, there are thieves who will spray gas in your face causing you to pass out. At this point, they take your money belt along with everything else. Does anyone have first hand knowledge of this or is this travel folk lore? Makes me think that I will not be able to extend to my children the same freedom of independent travel that I enjoyed.
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Jul 28th, 2003, 01:48 PM
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The storyb of gas spray is now dsome thirty years old. The Italian police took action, and it is now urban myth.

Even when it was true, use of the lock and fitted chain on a sleeper door prevented thieves getting in. But those days are gone. as yiu say, folk lore

Ben Haines, London
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Jul 28th, 2003, 01:48 PM
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The storyb of gas spray is now dsome thirty years old. The Italian police took action, and it is now urban myth.

Even when it was true, use of the lock and fitted chain on a sleeper door prevented thieves getting in. But those days are gone. As you say, folk lore

Ben Haines, London
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Jul 29th, 2003, 11:06 PM
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ttt

How nice to *meet* you again Mr. Ben Haines. Always a pleasure when you're on the BB's.
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Jul 30th, 2003, 02:03 AM
  #16
 
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Though I will be travelling to Spain and Southern France using cheap flights rathan than trains, I would like to know if anyone out there experienced any luggage theft in trains between Italy, Switzerland, France, & Germany during "daytime". My friends and I would like to ready ourselves and avoid any problems.

Few of us are using cables to tie our suitcases to the luggage racks, but they're asking if this is more a hassle than a precaution.
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Jul 30th, 2003, 09:31 AM
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I can't guarantee it, but have not heard of suitcase theft stories. Mostly it is the issue of passport, money, credit cards, travelers checks, etc. Which is why the money belt or neck pouch is such a good solution.

If you use the cables just be sure to allow enough time before your stop to get it undone. Sometimes I did not realize my train stop, until it was almost time to exit the train, stops can be pretty quick!
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Jul 30th, 2003, 10:08 PM
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A very good friend of mine decided to relax and take off his shoes on the trip (no one sitting with him). He was tired and with the gentle rocking of the train he fell asleep. Only to wake up 45 minutes later to discover that his shoes had been stolen!

All kidding aside, you have to be a little on the ball when you are travelling. Crime can and does happen anywhere.
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Jul 31st, 2003, 12:31 AM
  #19
 
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I would like a monthly report by credit card companies noting the reported loss or theft of credit cards. It should also be by country.
The disuse of money belts can be attributed to a phenomenon called "cognitive dissonance". Yes, we know we should use; seat belts, life jackets, and money belts, but we don't!
Is it reasonable to avoid night trains?
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Jul 31st, 2003, 12:43 AM
  #20
 
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It is reasonable to avoid day cars in night trains, but reasonable and safe to take coychettes or sleepers, where you can lock and bolt your compartment door.

My disuse of money belts can be attributed to a phenomenon called "keeping my valuables in the hotel safe".

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