The Paris Pickpocket: How to Recognize and Avoid Them

The Paris Pickpocket: How to Recognize and Avoid Them

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Paris: Sacré-Coeur by Craig Booth/Flickr
Paris: Sacré-Coeur by Craig Booth/Flickr

Paris is known for its glamour, its cuisine, its romance, and of course, its fashion. Unfortunately, it is also known for its pickpockets. The city attracts over 33 million tourists a year, so it’s no mystery why it’s a hot spot for sticky fingers. Recently, the French police dismantled a family-run pickpocket ring that was stealing up to 4,000 euro a day at our beloved Eiffel Tower by employing tried-and-true strategies that afforded them to live luxuriously off of tourists’ hard-earned vacation money. Here is what to look out for and what you can do to avoid falling prey to the infamous Paris Pickpocket.

Attention aux PickPockets (dans La Tour Eiffel) by Duncan Hill/Flickr
Attention aux PickPockets (dans La Tour Eiffel) by Duncan Hill/Flickr

The Ring Scam.

What it is: This is one of the oldest scams, but for some reason it has remained somewhat of a constant in the pickpocket toolkit. How it works is this: The pickpocket pretends to pick up a gold ring off the pavement, presents it to you and asks if it belongs to you. If you lie and say that it’s yours (shame on you!), the thief will engage in conversation while their buddy robs you. If you say that it is not yours but like it anyway (which is strongly advised against), they will negotiate a price to sell it to you while their buddy robs you. Their game is all about distraction. Most targets are puzzled and have no clue what the scammer is talking about, so they end up distracted and a target to the accomplice who is lurking in the shadows.

What to Do: Say nothing or simply nod your head that it is not your ring, and walk away. You didn’t really like the ring anyway.

Sign My Petition!

What it is: I have to say, I have no idea how and why this one actually works because it is pretty basic as far as scheming goes, but like The Ring Scam, it must work because this is another “classic” for the Paris pickpocket. This one functions similarly to The Ring Scam, but in place of a ring is a petition for some noble cause that you are asked to sign. While you are signing your name, giving out your email address, guess what is happening? Their buddy is robbing you. The first time I was asked to sign a petition I was on the lower level of the Passerelle Solferino in front of the Musée d’Orsay. While I did not stop to sign it, I got so freaked out by the approach that I started running. My already-stretched out ballet flat slipped off of my foot, dove through the slats of the stairs, and sank down to the bottom of the Seine. I had to hobble on one shoe to the nearest restaurant to have them call me a cab.

What to Do: For the love of all things French, do not sign the petition! And don’t run away like I did. Just be on your way.

The Eiffel Tower by Alex Lecea/ Flickr
The Eiffel Tower by Alex Lecea/ Flickr

The Paper Distraction.

What it is: Picture it: It’s a gorgeous spring day. You’re on a terrace at a Parisian café, people watching, soaking in the sun and enjoying a glass of rosé. Next to your glass is probably a small bowl of peanuts, maybe an ashtray, the check, and your phone that captured this Instagram-worthy moment as you watch the “likes” pour in. But hold on. Now there is a piece of paper obstructing the view of your table, there are people hovering over it speaking to you, and you have no idea what is going on or what to say. Before you know it, it’s over and they’re gone. Guess what. You just got robbed. The paper (which is sometimes in the form of a petition) is used to distract and confuse you while the thief slides his hands underneath it to grab your phone or worse, your wallet. He is gone before you even acknowledged him. (Note: This scheme also happens at ATM machines, so always have someone on watch when you retrieve cash.)

What to Do: Don’t leave valuables on café tables.

Sacré-Cœur by Merve illeux/ Flickr
Sacré-Cœur by Merve illeux/ Flickr

The Grab and Run.

What it is: I would not exactly call The Grab and Run a scheme, as it is pretty primal as far as pickpocketing goes but it is the most common in Paris. A thief will prey on someone mindlessly playing on their phone or blithely listening to music on the métro, and just before the doors close at a stop, they grab your phones right out of your hands (which I imagine for those wearing headphones would incite quite the shock) and run off the train. You may be thinking: But I’m fast and I can run after the little rapscallion and safely retrieve my property. My husband thought this too. But what my husband did not know was that the thief had a friend on the train that was already anticipating this kind of bravery, and slickly extended his leg that tripped my husband who ended up on the floor in need of dental work.

What to Do: Keep your phone confined in your bag at all times. If you need to access it, do so from the bottom of your bag before closing it shut. It’s just not worth the risk.

The Intentional Tourist.

What it is: This one is somewhat new in the assortment of pickpocket strategies. It involves thieves dressed up as tourists carrying around selfie sticks, wearing fanny packs, and some really commit to the role by even wearing socks with their sandals! They seem harmless, just another family on vacation in Paris, when in reality they get you when your defenses are down, and they are—you guessed— waiting to rob you.

What to Do: Keep your wits about you and your valuables out of your back pocket, and these sneak attacks are less likely to happen.

Photo credits: Paris: Sacré-Coeur by Craig Booth/Flickr; Attention aux PickPockets (dans La Tour Eiffel) by Duncan Hill/Flickr; The Eiffel Tower by Alex Lecea/ Flickr; Sacré-Cœur by Merve illeux/ Flickr;  Eiffel Tower- Version 2 by David McSpadden/ Flickr

Eiffel Tower- Version 2 by David McSpadden/ Flickr
Eiffel Tower- Version 2 by David McSpadden/ Flickr

44 COMMENTS

  1. I lived in Paris and did not have any problems with pickpockets. I did see the Ring Game a few times while walking down along the Seine, but it was pretty harmless. Never saw anyone steal a bag or phone, never saw a thief on a train. I guess it’s where you are and the luck of the draw, but this article seems a bit embellished.

    • Hi Gregory,

      Thanks for reading! Consider yourself very lucky to not have had any problems with pickpockets back when you lived here, but that does not mean that it doesn’t happen, as you are one person. Sadly, since submitting this article, I have heard three stories from friends who live here and one visitor who had their phones or wallets stolen using one of these methods. I wish this was embellished, but this is very real and spreading awareness is what will hopefully put an end to it.

      You can easily find info about the Eiffel Tower pickpocket ring that was making up to 4,000euro per day, living in luxury hotels and bragging about their “scores” on social media if you need further convincing that pick-pocketing is alive and well in Paris.

      • A previous time I was in Paris tow middle-aged women approached me on the metro and said they admired my coat (it was nothing special). As one was reaching out to fell the material my husband said “Watch out, they’re pickpockets!” I grabbed my purse tightly and they melted away. I think one was going to distract me while the other went for my purse.

        Re the petition, people will also stick a map open under your nose while someone else goes for your “bum bag”.

    • Been in Paris for almost 6 years now and there were 2 incidents where I was almost robbed. First when I was struggling in carrying my son’s stroller on the escalator. Second when i was looking thru rack of pants during sale period. But friends who came to visit had been more unlucky. Every year someone got mugged or almost mugged. My point is these people exist and they are very good in noticing those who are engrossed in something or whose guard are down. These people are professionals

      • Hi Sue,

        Thanks for your comment! I’m so glad that you weren’t robbed, but am sorry that your visitors did not have the same fate. As you said perfectly, these people are professionals not to mention they’re fast! Even the most savvy Parisian has a story (a boss I had, born and raised in Paris was robbed in McDonalds while ordering at one of the kiosks! It took her a month to recoup all of her paperwork/documents and to get a new ATM card!)

        Thank you again for your comment!

    • I have just had an attempt at my purse getting stolen on a free bus from Disneyland Paris. They was about 4 or 5 very young looking girls, between 8-14 and they followed my family onto the bus. They got between me and my family and we’re obstructing us from each other. My mother looked down at her bag & the zip was open and she shouted to me to watch my bag. I turned round and she had my purse in her hand and I grabbed it back off her, they were very quick but luckily I got it back with nothing taken. These people are very quick and I didn’t even feel her going into my bag. i think she had some sort of device to open zip as it was too quick as it happened. I managed to get a picture of one of them but can’t see a website to warn others.

  2. Yikes! Thanks for the info Lisa!

    I’ve never heard of the paper distraction or fake tourist one. I’ll be keeping those in mind while visiting Paris!

    I see the ‘Sign My Petition!’ things all the time in Grenoble; just a block or so away from me (because I live in the hyper-centre). I always avoid them – they freak me out too! They often get in your face and aggressively block your way. Once one came up to me while I was entering my apartment building and I got particularly angry. How dare they come up to the entrance of my home – ya’ know?

    It’s funny sometimes to me how in NYC I felt so much safer…then I move to an adorable Alpine town and get freaked out every once in a while.

    I’d also add to watch out for people on bikes and mopeds. I try to keep my phone in my bag always, my pocket book tight on my shoulders with my hand on top of it on the non-street side of the sidewalk, and have learned to be vigilant while walking alone at night for any “handsy” men on bikes…Sad!

    • Hi Dana!

      Thanks for adding to the list! Yes, bikes need to be looked out for too, because they can easily snatch up your bag and be gone before you know what happened!

      It always surprises me that the petition strategy still happens since there is so much info out there, and tourists are pretty savvy to this scam. Only once did I see it just about to work where a couple was about to get pickpocketed until I jumped in and shooed the thieves away (which in hindsight could have gotten me in trouble.)

      Like you, I feel a drop more on edge here than I did in New York. Most of my friends here have a story of being robbed (Aurelien has two — I only mentioned one in this article), whereas when I was living in New York, none of my friends had even one. I’ve been pretty lucky…but I also have a very old phone. : )

      Thanks for reading and for commenting!

  3. Do not forget the dangers at the Charles de Gaulle airport when taking the RER train to Paris, buy your train ticket in the one safe spot: walk the long corridor to the huge hall for the SNCF trains and RER trains where you find the large SNCF office and go in there to buy ticket let alone the Visit Paris card or tickets for bus and metro, Beware of all other solutions where you are not safely lining up in an inside area behind doors. Or even better, follow signs to the green Roissy bus to the Opera. When arriving there you will find a taxi station behind you on the boulevard Haussmann. Keep your address on a piece of paper with the arrondissement number indicated and show taxi driver. Taxis in Paris are very safe and inexpensive. Remember to say “bonjour monsieur” before anything else.

  4. The first time my wife encountered the ring scam was on a walk along Avenue Montaigne. We actually stopped, when i quickly realized this was a scam. The next year, we saw another couple along Quai Orsay being stopped by a woman trying to pull the scam. I intervened, told the couple they were being scammed…the woman looked at me with intense anger, but then turned and walked away. Your warnings are valid not only in Paris, but in any large city anywhere in the world

  5. I’ve seen or had people tell me about everyone of the examples mentioned here. Excellent primer for visitors. Thanks.

  6. Yes, it happened to me on the first day of my arrival in Paris. I was there to celebrate my daughters birthday who was studying at LCB for a year. We were sitting at one of her favorite places, an outdoor cafe, when a couple that appeared to be Brits sat behind her and bumped her chair as they sat down. A few seconds later they abruptly got up and departed. We looked at each other and both wondered “what was that about?”. My daughter wanted to check on a dinner reservation for that evening so she reached into the pocket of her jacket for her Iphone which was hanging from the back of her chair and it was gone. I’m sure we were a dead giveaway from our American accents but my daughter was so upset because she thought she had been living there long enough to know better. I was so sad for her as her whole life was in that Iphone. So we had to race home to change passwords and cancel her banking info. Not a pleasant memory of my first day. But, I still love Paris and 4 months later when we returned for her graduation we had an absolutely lovely stay. Much wiser and more aware of our surroundings.

  7. A couple of weeks ago on the No 1. line four young/teenage girls boarded the car. 2 fumbled with Paris maps, 2 looked around the car. None carried tourist paraphernalia, or even purses. They got off after a couple of stops (deterred by my stink eye?). Sure looked like a potential set-up to me.

    I haven’t yet seen the paper-on-the-cafe-table routine, but the ring routine is alive and well. Amazing.

  8. We visit Paris every two years and yes pickpockets have tried it all. Be aware but not afraid. The pair’s that work the metro are good- they let me out the door but blocked my husband. The did a body search before they let him leave the crowded train- even checking his socks. They got nothing because we were prepared. We try not to get on crowded trains and love the bus system. Every big city has pickpockets.

  9. Kudos to you for still liking Paris! I know people who would let such things ruin their whole trips.

    I’ve spotted pick-pocketers before. One right out of the airport! If you see someone without luggage who seems to be going from one place or another, jumping metro entrance thingies, getting on and off the airport terminal shuttle…

    I had a friend (but this was in Italy), while we were walking in a busy market, feel someone’s hand go into her pocket. Because of that, she was able to stop them, but they did a similar thing with paper, it was a big piece of cardboard shoved up against her and causing the commotion/distraction to make the move. She had just put the money in her pocket. They watch for things like that!

  10. I got hit several years ago in Rome … on Good Friday … on a bus crossing the river to the Vatican. The miscreant stole travelers cheques (remember those?) from my FRONT pocket. For the past three years we’ve rented an apartment in Paris and are doing so again this fall. Now I carry one credit card, my driver’s license for ID if needed, and some euros, all in an inside jacket pocket that can be zipped shut or buttoned. I do not wear baseball caps, college sweatshirts, or sneakers, especially big white sneakers called “pillows” that shout “AMERICAN!” My wife and I are especially wary on the Metro and in hotspots such as the Musée D’Orsay. We have heard beware-of-pickpockets announcements on both. So far, so good, but we know if we get too comfortable or self-assured, oops!

  11. I lived in Madrid, Spain for two years. I assure you that Madrilenian pickpockets are no less skilled than their Parisian counterparts.

    I always kept my passport and my wallet in my front pockets, pickpockets usually avoid frontal confrontation with their potential victims.

    Also, more importantly, I never dressed like a “typical tourist”, I always wore not-to-expensive clothing which I bought in the local market. “Pro” pickpockets can detect foreing brands of clothing and footware a mile away.

    Good article. Hasta la vista!

    Though I had a few “close calls” I was able to survive the experience without a scratch.

  12. My husband’s iphone was stolen out of his shirt pocket by petitioners two years ago. We know better, and often warn friends and family of the scams; however, he knew that 100 feet away he was going to take another picture and put it in his shirt instead of his front pant pocket.
    They jostled him by surrounding him and we never realized it was gone until he went to take that picture.
    It was an expensive lesson, but the biggest heartbreak was all of the pictures he had taken that we lost.

  13. Several years ago my wife and I were walking fast through the Opera Metro station about 10 p.m. or later when someone walked up behind us and acted like they were trying to walk past us by walking between us. It seemed strange since the station was nearly deserted. They brushed up against us, then were gone – it all happened very quickly. When we got home my wife realized her smart phone had been stolen from the backpack she was wearing. Classic pickpocket. The moral: don’t put anything you don’t want to lose in a backpack.

  14. One more thing to be aware:
    In many train stations and other crowded places there
    are signs “BEWARE OF PICKPOCKETS”.
    What is your first reaction? Put your hand where
    your wallet is.
    No more guessing for the waiting pickpocket(s).

  15. Only time we were approached were by five supposed deaf girls handing us a postcard asking if we spoke English and for a “donation”‘. As they circled us, I replied “no I don’t speak English” in English and we moved on with the girls looking absolutely bewildered. I wonder, would my speaking English or my donation have relieved their deafness?

  16. A couple of other scams I have seen both as an observer and as intended victim over the last fifty-five years of visiting Paris:
    1. Jamming the escalator to cause distraction. This works thusly. You are followed by two thieves to a Metro (or other) escalator. One stays at the bottom while the other stands behind you. Half way up the confederate at the bottom jams something into the moving steps. They grind to a halt. The thief behind you tries to grab your wallet or purse. Perhaps he or she fails. Your guard down because the “danger has passed” you continue up the still-stopped stairs. You check for your wallet, etc. The thief at the bottom sees where you keep your good stuff and runs up and tries again. Both thieves are long gone by the time you get to the top of the escalator.
    2. This has been mentioned before on this site, but the “throwing a drink, ice cream cone, or even a toy baby” at you provides good distraction. As protection against most scams…keep your valuables out of sight and secured. Don’t stand around looking at your map (do that in your hotel room or while sitting down safely somewhere.)
    3. Keep some cash, a credit card, and a color copy of your passport along with some original photo ID in your hotel room safe or in the front desk safe. That way you are not totally stranded if you are a victim. Also, keep some cash and a photo ID deep in your front pocket, not just in your wallet of purse.
    4. Don’t forget that hotel staff may also try to steal things from your room. Keep valuables locked up in the safe or inside your largest suitcase. DO NOT for one second leave your hotel door room open or even ajar…especially if you are in the bathroom with that door closed. Hotel thieves walk the halls looking for open doors and will enter the room. If caught they will say “Excuse me…I thought this was my room”.
    5. the jammed entrance gate on the Metro: You put your ticket in the slot and move forward. The thief behind you immediately sticks his ticket into the same slot. The gate jams. The thief bumps into you, says Excuse Me while he grabs your wallet. Be alert to who is behind you in any line.

  17. Good article. I’ve run into (and away from) the ring scammers twice, both on busy Paris quays. Aware of the scheme, each time, I responded while walking away from the scammer, “Great! Keep it. It’s your lucky day!” (ou le même chose en français). How safe is the front pocket? (Not as safe as a front placket zipper on a jacket!) My husband lost his wallet on the metro during the evening rush. The thief removed it from a deep front pant pocket. Luckily the thief’s “gain” was slim — one credit card, a drivers license, health insurance card and 40 euros cash. We immediately called the toll-free numbers to cancel the cards, and filed a report with the police. In the end, thanks to the police reports, we had no liablity on the credit card charges.

  18. Just remember that there are also wonderful people in Paris, too. Last year I was there with my 11 year-old daughter and our luggage broke. I had some very nice people help me take it up the stairs in the metro. My faith in humanity was restored.

  19. Great article, and it echoes with our own experiences. My husband and I have been going to Paris regularly since 1975, and over these many years have seen all sorts of scams, especially the ring trick and the sign-the-petition scam. We once counted 5 attempts at the ring scam on one day within a few blocks of the Church of the Madeleine, around rue Royale and Bvd de la Madeleine. We always dress in a non-touristy manner, but we clearly don’t look French, so are obvious targets. My wallet was stolen about 10 years ago by 3 young women, neatly dressed in crisp white t-shirts, jeans & sneakers, posing as lost tourists. They approached me as I emerged from metro St Germain des Pres with a somewhat battered street map in hand, asking whether I knew if they were near the Bastille. As I helpfully (my good deed for the day!) showed them where they were on the map and indicated the location of the Bastille, they crowded around me to peer closer at the map–of course, one of them managed to extract my wallet from my zipped-up handbag. I can’t believe how naive I was! In future, if I’m ever approached by a “lost tourist” (sorry to those genuinely lost souls!), I brush them off and walk quickly away. Ladies: always, always wear your well-fastened bag diagonally across your body, never just over your shoulder. Be very careful about wearing back-packs too, as they’re very easily slit open on crowded metros and tourist destinations.
    Have seen so many petition scams around the Eiffel Tower I’m amazed that the police don’t fill a dozen vans every day! Arc de Triomphe is another hot-spot. Still wonder how it is that, after all these years, the old ring scam still works–unfortunately, I guess there’s always a gullible tourist out there.

  20. Some years ago I fell for another scam and lost my wallet as a result. As I emerged from metro St Germain des Pres, I was approached by 3 young women, neatly attired in crisp white t-shirts, jeans and sneakers, holding a battered map. They asked me whether I knew if they were near the Bastille. As they pressed around me to peer at the map, I helpfully pointed out where we were in relation to the Bastille. They very quickly thanked me and shot off down the street–having somehow opened by zipped bag and extracted my wallet. I can’t believe how naive I was! So, in future I just wave people away and briskly walk on (sorry to those genuinely lost souls!). We once saw no less than 5 attempts at the ring scam on one day, around the Church of the Madeleine, rue Royale, Bvd. de la Madeleine–is this is record?? The sign-a-petition scam is rife around the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe, it’s a wonder the police don’t fill a dozen vans a day with these thieves. Ladies in particular: always, always, wear your fastened bag diagonally across your body, and everyone should seriously re-consider using a back-pack–they’re so easily slit open in crowded places such as the metro.

  21. My story is a good one. Last September my wife and I were at the Cimetiere de Montmartre on a weekday afternoon. I sat on a bench to look at my iphone, got distracted and walked away, leaving it on the bench. We arrived back at our apartment at 5:00 pm to find a note from our landlady that someone had found my phone and I should call them immediately because they were leaving Paris in a few hours.

    I called them and arranged to meet near a nearby metro station at 6:30. We met a young couple who were students and going home for the weekend. They found my phone within the 15 minutes before it locks and tried to call Home. No answer there so they looked at recent calls and found a Paris number which was my landlady. Smart kids! AND Honest!! They refused a reward but I managed to get them to take enough for a nice dinner. PHEW! I thought my $700 phone was gone forever.

    There are good people everywhere.

    PS: We have been going to Paris for many years and have seen all the tricks. The one you missed is the chinese finger trap. This involves a person who approaches and gets his mark to extend an index finger. he puts one end of the trap on his finger and the other on yours and then pulls tight. You can’t get away and he insists on a “bribe” to release you. I have seen this many times at tourist hot spots.

  22. I believe I ran into a new twist at the foot of the Eifel: I was just killing time while friends toured the tower. While walking I am always concious to look at the bird poop along that section since I knowthe pigeons and ravens occupy the trees and there are many besplattered areas attesting to their presence. As an ornithologist I also know that when birds take flight, they usually defacate.

    I was walking along the tree covered path in the northeast corner not far from the tower when I suddenly felt a large squirt of liquid hit my hat, my coat and my pants. I quickly wiped the back of my neck and took a sniff…what it was sure stunk but was not bird feces. I had been observing three Peruvian looking types slightly ahead of me and when I whipped around there were two behind me wide-eyed gesturing upwards and proclaiming in French that it was a bird and as all five closed on me to “assist” I broke free, and made a fast exit to Quai Branley then down Avenue de la Bourdonnais to a convenience store where despite the glares of the locals I purchased bottled water, dish soap and window cleaner. I then went to a park bench and began the task of cleaning my hat, my scarf, my coat, and my pants, all on the backside.

    Bird poop, I think not, tothing indicated being bombed from above and the quantity, consistency, and stink of the concoction suggested a witches brew and I suspect delivered via squeeze bottle.

  23. My wife and I are traveling to Paris in March and after reading the article and comments about pick pockets can you suggest a quick phrase to try to get rid of or dismiss someone trying to scam you. Obviously I know you can ignore the person, but is there a quick phrase to try to dismiss them or let them you know you’re an aware tourist? Thank you,
    Kate Sherrill

  24. I just had my backpack next to me stolen at Jardins Du Trocadero near Eiffel Tower. They are a syndicated group, distracting your attention by posing for camera shots in front of you, asking you to help take their photographs, etc., with the photographers and others swarming ever closer behind you and before I knew it, my backpack which was just next to me had been stolen!!! We had read about the pick pocket incidents and tried so hard to stay alert but still fell victim to their ploys. My conclusion is Paris is not a safe place at all for tourists. There is nothing worse than going for a supposedly relaxing holiday and yet you have to guard your belongings by clutching them tightly every second of your time as you move around or seated. People should just avoid coming to Paris until the authorities clean up the scams. There are so many other places which are far more safer in this world!

  25. And here’s yet another scam: my friend and I were checking in at Charles de Gaulle airport. My friend had placed his passport and travel documents on top of a baggage cart. After checking-in we were walking away when he said “Where’s my passport”. Unfortunately he lost his passport, money and boarding pass. He had no option but to leave the airport for another week’s stay in Paris while he obtained a new passport while I continued on to catch my flight home.

  26. My partner just ad his wallet pinched out his pocket on the train went to 2 police stations to be sent away they wasn’t interested makes me feel sick knowing Sumone as our property ????

  27. Situation is worst than ever and pickpockets are becoming more and more aggressive and violent. A gang operating the petition scam in Paris CDG airport has attacked two workers from Aeroport de Paris who warned tourists about them and attacked me last week after I forbid them to approach Asian tourists

  28. I just got pick pocketed on Champs Elysees as I was coming out of the LV store. Lost my money and all the credit cards. The pickpocket then was trying to use my card to make purchases but they were fortunately rejected and I informed the banks. Went to Paris police and wasn’t very happy with their very standard response. Devastated in Paris : my first trip and this!

  29. Landed at Beauvais last night. Got a bus to Paris Maillot. As soon as wee got off the bus we were part of a scam (thankfully this story ends well and no one was hurt or Robbed).
    As we got off the bus this guy with a lanyard told us this particular metro entrance was closed and we had to go to another one. We went there and a moment after we got to the machine he told us it would be cheaper if we bought tickets today (17/12/2016) because tomorrow would be much more expensive. He asked how long we were staying and I said about 5 days ( I was already suspicious why a metro employee would leave his stationed point to follow us to help us navigate a ticket machine in French when there was an English option).

    He kept saying the 120 Euro option was the best for 5 days of travel. I laughed at him saying we just spent 2 weeks in Lisbon where a metro ride was about 1 Euro. How would i ever get 120Euros of value done in 5 days on the metro. He persisted but I said I don’t even have that type of money on me (I only had 20 Euros). One can only suspect he was waiting for us to pull out our wallets so he could run off with them.

    We left him and walked down the stairs at Nuilly station. In the long corridor this guy was on the phone and walking in our direction with a wheelie bag, he crosses in front of me and hits me with his bag, whilst still on the phone. He stops me from walking and I know something is about to go down. Two guys come from behind and man-handle my friend’s bag but it was all locked up, no side pockets, etc. Waste of time. Phone talking-wheelie bag man asks if I speak French or German. I jsut shrug and keep walking. It fizzles out, he follows us a bit and gets on the train like 5 carriages down. We lose him shortly after but spend the rest of the night very confused.

    Thankfully nothing was stolen. I was in a very vulnerable state having a massive bag on my back and one on my front.

  30. Hello I need advice for my coming destination in Paris on coming may! What shall I do not to get rob by those thieves at the Charles de Gaulle airport? Do they have English speaking customer service at the airport for the information I need ? Good advice appreciated! Ciao!

  31. My husband got pickpocketed on the Metro today..200 euros. We are from New York; very bummed but they didn’t get our passports.

  32. As already suggested, best place is to have money, phone etc. in an INSIDE jacket pocket with a zip. Try to get a jacket that has such a pocket and keep the front zipped up.

    As others have said take photocopies/photos/scans of passports and send them to an online email account, so if you do happen to mislay your passport at least you have access to the passport numbers etc.

    Try to keep a small amount of cash only for paying for day to day items in a normal front trouser pocket, e.g. 20 Euro or 2 x 20 Euro etc. This means no need to remove wallet from zipped pocket.

    If you are a couple, split the cash & credit cards & phones between two people, again in an inside zipped jacket pocket, so if you mislay one, you still have some money and cards and phones.

    I use a flat ‘fanny pack’ type UNDER my t-shirt with essential passports and large cash notes, although it can be uncomfortable.

    All popular tourist locations are prime for pickpockets in all cities. In Europe, Paris, Barcelona, London are popular with USA visitors so the thieves are there.

    If you can leave your passport somewhere safe and do not carry it with you. It is probably safer in the hotel room than in your pocket. Carry some other form of ID such as drivers licence. Replacing a passport can take a week.

    I was robbed in South America in a bus station. We read before hand bus stations were prime targets, so I was watching the bags like a hawk, sitting down laying my hands over them. My partner went to the information desk. Someone behind said “did you drop this” pointing to a credit card on the ground. At the same time another person went the other way, grabbing one of the small bags. The good news is all they got was our bag of dirty clothes, a brace for teeth, and a credit card that was cancelled within 4 minutes of it being stolen. Remember if you card is stolen you are liable until you report it to the card company. Try to have the emergency number (which is written on the card) in a different bag to the card. In our case we had split the cards between two people and the number for the other card was the same to cancel it. We used a payphone outside to cancel the card, even before we notified the bus staff we had been robbed.

    The poorer the country the more likely you are to be robbed and in Brazil they recommend to not carry your passport on the street and only take enough cash for the day. I heard of one person who was mugged and just carried on as normal afterwards, a waste of time going to the police. If your passport is safe and you have access to more money, then it is not the end of the world. In Brazil they call it a “tourist tax”

  33. Great article we read up on all this prior to coming to Paris and after 4 days of traveling on the metro trouble free we finally became victims of the pick pockets on a packed train or would have been if it wasn’t for two vigilant Parisians telling me to watch my pockets, A little confused I found my jacket pocket zips undone “nothing in there ” so I closed them thanked them for they’re concern after a few minutes they said ” your pockets Sir ” and looked quite concerned. So I checked my front jean zipped pocked with my wallet in and found a hand leaving it! And my wallet dropping back in. It was a young girl around 12-14 using her bag pushed into my waist do her hand under cover could access my pocket. I immediately shouted at a her and she left at the next stop. Later on in the day on a different line we saw her again with 3 other similar aged girls working the platform. Very shook up over this but also feel very lucky that thanks to the vigilance of those commuters we were spared a rather expensive loss. So now I have safety pinned my zips closed and one through the top to make it more difficult until I can purchase more thief unfriendly clothing.

  34. I am in Paris for some days for work. Just escaped one kind of robbery today. While walking back to my hotel, two boys around 15 years of age, stopped me. First they asked for the phone for some urgent calls, but I smartly refused saying I dont understand french (though I knew some basics). Then the second one, changed the topic and asked me for the time, meanwhile the first one started coming close to me. Fortunately, there was a vigilance person who stopped by and honked. He called the boys and took them with him. I walked as fast as I can.
    I think, the best is to scather your cash in different pockets while roaming around and keep the cards safe in the inner pocket. I try not to carry my wallet with me when ever I travel anywhere out of the country.

  35. Note: This scheme also happens at ATM machines, so always have someone on watch when you retrieve cash.

    This one happened to me yesterday around Chatelet-les halles. 3 kids with age around 10 to 13 came from behind and one of them distracted me by putting a paper on my atm screen, the other tried to type the amount of money and validate it. Luckily, I pushed the cancel button and shouted at them, they all fled. I think I was quite lucky as I haven’t yet validated the amount of money or they would have simply snatched it away when i was taking it out. I then went inside the bank to meet a security personnel. He said I should be aware of this as it is very common.

  36. I have just been robbed in Paris. I was in a shop that sell biscuits and chocolate etc that you weigh and then pay by weight. As you have to use two hands for this I was caught off guard. I had a body bag on and felt it move, I looked down an noticed the clasp was open, I looked into my bag and it was virtually empty! They had taken my make up bag, purse and mobile phone, I could not believe it happened so quickly. My husband was outside the shop, fortunately he had our passports, train tickets etc plus phone number for ringing the bank to cancel my two credit cards in the purse. The shop assistant says it happens in there a lot, but no warning signs! It was near to the Sacre Couer. As we were soon to leave Paris we had everything on us as had booked out of hotel. I would not go to Paris or any other big city again without making my bag more secure. Now this a lesson learnt, keep your bag under your coat and keep it zipped up in crowded areas. I have read they even get into him bags! So keeping your bag under your coat is the only way I think this could have been avoided.

  37. I made this great little ‘sling’ from a pair of ladies stockings that holds a phone, cards, passport, cash about anything you need to keep hidden.
    Just cut off one leg about 15-18″ long , slice down vertically about 9″ , and stitch the top ends together or knot them in a pinch. This leaves you a tiny stretchy neck or waist pouch with a 4″ pocket that holds a lot of valuables. You can carry a few euros in your pockets.
    It is not bulky, and if one pair of ladies stockings or hosiery makes two! Kept us safe in Barcelona-
    My niece just lost her purse with passport, $$, cards, at the train from Disneyland Paris to the airport. Left her stranded and cut short her trip. Stole the joy!

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