Pickpockets in Paris

This item appears on page 54 of the August 2014 issue.
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While I enjoyed Rick Steves’ article on street crime, “Avoiding Scams and Pickpockets(May ’14, pg. 59), I think he left out an important point. If you see a pickpocket in action or have someone make a grab for your wallet, make noise. Yell “Pickpocket!” or “Thief!” 

These folks are cockroaches, making quick hits and scurrying off. They don’t do well when exposed.

I returned from a lovely trip to Normandy and Brittany, with a couple of extra days in Paris, in May 2014. While there was no trouble elsewhere in the country, during my two days in Paris I saw more street crime (pickpockets and purse snatchers) than in my three prior visits to Paris combined. Indeed, the only place I had ever seen more activity of this kind was in Sofia, Bulgaria, five years before, and I’ve been in over 100 countries.

I saw pickpockets operating in the “Mona Lisa” room of the Louvre, near the Eiffel Tower and in the Métro (subway). Purse-snatching incidents occurred in the Métro and near Saint-Denis. Near the Paris Opera House, one man had his backpack pilfered — pockets unzipped and things removed. 

Don’t wear a backpack on your back in urban settings!

I was nearly a victim, myself. As I was entering a Métro car, a man in front of me went down into a 3-point stance in the doorway, blocking my way. (He wasn’t merely tying his shoe.) I was almost too late, but I reached down and caught his partner’s hand in my front pocket a split second before he got my wallet. After I twisted his wrist, he immediately backed off and started walking away.

I yelled “Pickpocket!” and pointed at the man. There were no cops in the area, so he wasn’t apprehended, but at least he was exposed. Pickpockets operate in secrecy and do not like exposure.

About five minutes before this incident occurred, my traveling companion told me she thought someone was trying to get behind me to get my wallet, so I was already on my guard.

• If someone blocks you in a doorway, be aware that you may be about to become a victim. Turn around immediately, if possible.

• Pickpockets have learned to hit the emergency stop in Métro escalators. If the escalator suddenly stops, be careful as you climb the now-unmoving stairs. A thief may be coming up behind you.

• If you’re returning late to your hotel from the Eiffel Tower, pay a little extra and take a cab. The nearby Métro station seemed especially bad for pickpockets.

GARY MOCKLI

Chesterfield, MO

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

While I enjoyed Rick Steves’ article on street crime, “Avoiding Scams and Pickpockets(May ’14, pg. 59), I think he left out an important point. If you see a pickpocket in action or have someone make a grab for your wallet, make noise. Yell “Pickpocket!” or “Thief!” 

These folks are cockroaches, making quick hits and scurrying off. They don’t do well when exposed.

I returned from a lovely trip to Normandy and Brittany, with a couple of extra days in Paris, in May 2014. While there was no trouble elsewhere in the country, during my two days in Paris I saw more street crime (pickpockets and purse snatchers) than in my three prior visits to Paris combined. Indeed, the only place I had ever seen more activity of this kind was in Sofia, Bulgaria, five years before, and I’ve been in over 100 countries.

I saw pickpockets operating in the “Mona Lisa” room of the Louvre, near the Eiffel Tower and in the Métro (subway). Purse-snatching incidents occurred in the Métro and near Saint-Denis. Near the Paris Opera House, one man had his backpack pilfered — pockets unzipped and things removed. 

Don’t wear a backpack on your back in urban settings!

I was nearly a victim, myself. As I was entering a Métro car, a man in front of me went down into a 3-point stance in the doorway, blocking my way. (He wasn’t merely tying his shoe.) I was almost too late, but I reached down and caught his partner’s hand in my front pocket a split second before he got my wallet. After I twisted his wrist, he immediately backed off and started walking away.

I yelled “Pickpocket!” and pointed at the man. There were no cops in the area, so he wasn’t apprehended, but at least he was exposed. Pickpockets operate in secrecy and do not like exposure.

About five minutes before this incident occurred, my traveling companion told me she thought someone was trying to get behind me to get my wallet, so I was already on my guard.

• If someone blocks you in a doorway, be aware that you may be about to become a victim. Turn around immediately, if possible.

• Pickpockets have learned to hit the emergency stop in Métro escalators. If the escalator suddenly stops, be careful as you climb the now-unmoving stairs. A thief may be coming up behind you.

• If you’re returning late to your hotel from the Eiffel Tower, pay a little extra and take a cab. The nearby Métro station seemed especially bad for pickpockets.

GARY MOCKLI

Chesterfield, MO