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Avoiding Pickpockets in Paris

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Paris is not always romantic and positive. Surely, the city vibrates with the atmosphere, you start pretending to be a heroine from a Parisian book, everything around you, the music, the food, the attractions shout “It’s Paris! Look Around!” But don’t forget that any romantic story has traps.

The greatest tourists trap in Paris is the danger of pickpockets. A minute of distraction is enough to stay in a foreign city with no money and documents. Let’s go over a few techniques Parisian pickpockets are most likely to use.

Photo by dullhunk

1. Pickpockets are not after the locals, they are looking for you, travelers. For this reason, they have their headquarters close to main tourist attractions. The queue to the Eiffel Tower, the entrance to the Louvre, around the Versailles, etc.

2. Beware of small museums too, pickpockets can surprise you with their creativity and innovation.

3. Pickpockets usually work in groups. They have different techniques planned beforehand, you could almost say they’re professionals. For example, if you realize you’ve been robbed, you will hardly manage to find your belongings. Even if you chase the suspect, he might not have your wallet anymore. They hand the treasure to each other on the way to lose the trace.

4. Other dangerous places for tourists are the means of public transportation. One of the peculiarities of Europe that I love is the widespread use of bikes. They’re efficient and safe. Buses and metros are not.

Photo by J-Cornelius

5. If you’re sitting in a metro, some people might start pushing you. They will do anything to make you nervous and lose the attention. After lots of touching and pushing you might not even feel the hand crawling into your pocket. The same can happen in a bus.

6. Also, don’t let yourself relax if you’re sitting next to a door in a metro. Don’t read a book, listen to loud music, or engage in an intense phone conversation. Pickpockets will use the moment to snatch your bag and escape just before the doors closed. You will watch them run away with your belongings as the train moves forward to the next station.

How to Protect Yourself

It’s better to avoid the pickpockets than running helplessly from one police station to another. Here are a few options that must become a habit for all travelers.

1. While money is important, documents are crucial. If you lose your passport, you lose everything. The vacation will stop being pleasant and will turn into a nightmare. You will have to go from one place to another trying to prove you are who you are. Have copies of your documents, your passport, social security card, driving license, credit card information, and so on. Leave the copies at your hotel. You will have at least something in case you lose your purse.

Photo by 401(K) 2013

2. Don’t sit next to doors in a metro, even if you do, place your purse in a very uncomfortable position for passers-by.

3. Avoid crowded places. Entering a full train is like swimming in a tank full of sharks, expect to be bitten any time.

4. Wear your bag on the front and keep one arm on it. You will notice many people doing it. Backpacks are tricky, don’t store anything valuable in them, or have a zip with a password.

5. Make sure you’re bag has a zip, and it’s closed all the time. When you go shopping and get an exclusive Dior bag, don’t be too carried away with the treasure. Place it in your bag before coming out of the store. It would be perfect if you could come out as if you didn’t buy anything at all. I know the excitement is hard to hide but you will have to make some effort for your own good.

6. Be extra careful near popular tourist attractions. You might be losing money just when admiring the beauty of Notre Dame de Paris.

7. You might come across many street shows in Paris. No matter how amazed you are, don’t remove your hand off the bag to clap. If you really want to show your admiration, watch the bag carefully while clapping.

Photo by bitzcelt

8. There is a big possibility that you will lose a great shot if the camera is in the bag and not hanging from your neck, but that’s the right thing to do. First, camera is the first sign that you’re a tourists. Second, cameras are also valuable, some pickpockets might prefer owning a camera rather than messing around with a credit card.

9. Get a compact map. You will not only look silly observing an enormous poster and not understanding a thing, but will also risk your bag. Just like the camera, a map attracts undesirable attention.

10. Don’t use an ATM at night in a deserted place. Be sure that the machine works appropriately.

11. Finally, the easiest way of avoiding pickpockets is being poor. Don’t take too much cash with you, 50 Euro is more than enough, considering the amount of ATMs in the street. Take an ID card, a credit card (don’t store any info about the pin in your wallet), and the rest of most necessary items. If you don’t have anything too valuable, you will hardly be a target for pickpockets.

Whatever happens, I hope it doesn’t destroy your vacation in Paris. Enjoy your time, the romantic atmosphere, the masterpieces of art, the presence of “snobby” French, and anything else you encounter. Your vacation turns out what you make out of it!

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