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Ask Karen: clochards (street people)

Dear Mike:

You should ALWAYS use your street smarts when traveling, or for that matter, even at home.  Crime is on the rise everywhere.  Plus, tourists make for ideal prey as they tend to be disoriented about where they are going.  Never carry more cash than you’ll need, one credit card and a photocopy of the key pages of your passport.  Leave the rest of your “valuables” in the hotel’s safe.

Having said that, clochards are rarely violent and prefer to beg for handouts.  However, I was shocked when I was recently in a police station near Deux Magots.  Two men entered the office looking like street people who happened to be wearing suits.  One was head of the station and the other one was a member of the police force.  Both explained that they did their jobs by going “undercover.”

Their uniformed colleague explained that frequently when she had to book some hit-and-run thieves, she wasn’t sure who were the cops and who were the robbers.  Still, ALWAYS be on the lookout.  Robbers come in all shapes, sizes and ages and frequently work in gangs.

Hope this makes you more comfortable.  Or, prepared.