Pick Pockets, Paris
The insecurity for the tourists, mainly by pickpockets, received the attention of the French (left) government and its Minister de l'Intérieur Mr Valls. He deployed 200 policemen only for the monitoring of the main tourist areas of Paris: Notre-Dame, Champs-Élysées, Trocadéro, Champ-de-Mars, Louvre-Rivoli, Palais Royal and butte Montmartre.
The Louvre is now safer. A little more than one criminal act per day instead of five.
But pickpockets have turned to other parts of the capital such as the Jardin des Tuileries, Place du Palais-Royal, Saint-Germain-des-Prés and the Quais de Seine and the bridges (Solferino).
The pickpockets are mostly youngsters, often girls, supervised by adults and well organized. Now the paradox of France is that if Police is active, the Minister de la Justice is lax (for ideological reasons if I listen to the French!).
The Police complain that when arresting these minors they have to free them after 4 hours so that these juvenile delinquents start immediately again their activities.
First victims of this criminality are the Asiatic and especially Chinese tourists (who are supposed to have more cash on them) at such point that the Chinese ambassador complained to the Minister.
This could be read to-day in the French newspaper "Le Figaro":
"Le musée n'a pas pu ouvrir ce mercredi. Les agents de la surveillance ont exercé leur droit de retrait pour manifester leur exaspération devant les bandes qui s'attaquent à eux autant qu'aux touristes. Les visites reprendront jeudi matin.
Agés de moins de 26 ans, ceux-ci s'introduisent dans les murs en profitant de la gratuité. Ils dévalisent sans faire les visiteurs (dix millions cette année) et molestent ou agressent les agents de surveillance."
The museum was unable to open Wednesday (10/04/2013)
Surveillance officers have exercised their right of withdrawal to express their frustration with bands of youngsters who attack them as much as tourists.
Aged less than 26 years, they enter the museum taking advantage of the free entry. They rob visitors (ten million this year) and molest or assault surveillance officers.
Visits resume Thursday morning (11/04/2013). Policemen in uniform are now present.
The paradox with this free entry for youngsters is that organized gangs of minors are robbing visitors, often seniors unable to defend themselves; seniors who have to pay the full ticket price!
When the police catch these youngsters they are immediately released by justice because they are minors. A few days later these pickpockets are again at work not only at Le Louvre or Orsay but even more at the Trocadero, at the Tour Eiffel and in the Metro.
Some French politicians are well aware that this criminality is a treat for tourism but zero tolerance is not a priority presently in France.
Pickpockets are very creative. We boarded the metro and a normal looking man next to me dropped his glasses. He bent down to pick them up and was nudging my leg as if I were standing on them. He retrieved them, got off at the next stop and my wallet was gone. I even had it in my front pocket. Be wary of any disturbance or nudging in a crowd. As a precaution I always carry anything I can't do without such as my passport, airline ticket, extra credit and ATM cards and cash in my money belt. I don't think violent crime or armed robberies are much of a risk in Paris, but pickpockets are so be very cautious.
Me and my family have recently visited Paris on a holiday. Paris is an amazing tourist city with many major attractions. With the amount of tourists in the city there is also numerous pickpockets among the bustle. Pickpockets do exist and it is necessary to take certain precautions to reduce the likelihood or prevent it from happening. While on our holiday my family and I had just finished touring Montmarte and were taking the subway metro back to our hotel, we heard an announcement on the overhead saying to watch out for pickpockets, then while boarding the subway 2 Romanian girls "Gypsies" in regular everyday clothing approached us and one girl distracted my mom and the other one tried to pickpocket my dad. Luckily he felt it, snapped and literally shoved the pickpocket off the train in a frenzy of cursing and swearing. It was a good thing he didn't loose anything though. It is really easy to get pickpocketed at major tourist site or metro such as the louvre, eiffel tower or subway. Basically they're everywhere!
The best things to do are: to not trust anyone, keep YOUR hand and secure your valuables in your pocket when you are in a large crowd, don't make it obvious that you are a tourist (eg. camera, map, backpack) because they are major targets, if possible, wear pants with small pockets, try not to put things in your bum pockets, maybe wear a waist pack to avoid pickpockets and don't tuck your shirt or expose your pockets in plain sight, wear shirts covering your pockets.
If you follow these steps, it will be very unlikely to get pickpocketed, but its up to you to be aware and alert especially in a foreign country so you can protect yourself and belongings.
Remember not to get paranoid or scared because Paris is a great city to visit. Don't get discouraged by the negative aspects and focus on the positive ones. :-)
Metro and RER lines that serve popular sights are infested with thieves. Wear a moneybelt or neck pouch. Keep all important items in your moneybelt/neck pouch: passport, credit/debit/ATM cards, money, airline tickets. Keep a tight grip on your bags.
Operate with a day's worth of spending money in your billfold or wallet...the rest is kept in your moneybelt/neck pouch. If someone picks your pocket, your trip can still go on. If you need more money, step into the restroom and make a "withdrawal" from your secret stash.
I nearly got "hit" on the infamous metro line 1.
A group of young girls pushed on with me. I didn't pay much attention as I have my major valuables under my clothes and I hold my purse close to me -- but these little hands managed to get the top zipper half open before I sensed something and pulled away. They wouldn't have gotten much at all, but it was a jolt to have been "hit".
You see this all the time and even we may be guilty of doing it too. I am referring to being so engrossed in finding our way that we pull out our maps anywhere we can stop. Sure this is highly convenient, but it makes you a target for pickpockets and/or scammers. Suddenly you may be approached by someone trying to 'help' you to find your way. Of course, the person may be a genuine 'good Samaritan' but usually it's someone who is targeting you as a potential victim.
If you must scan your map do it in private: in a cafe, in a store, etc. Just don't do it in full view out on a sidewalk of in the metro station. BTW, the pickpockets love the metro station and many of them hang out in the station and in the trains just looking to see who is vulnerable.
November 2013: I was sitting with a friend outside the Louvre-Pyramid-Entrance at the side on a bench.
There was no other people around or besides us. When we stand up to leave I missed my handbag and was really shocked! We did not see anybody and had no idea how that happened! The worst experience during all my worldwide travels. Money, smartphone, creditcard, passport etc.
There was no police around und there is no video-supervision around the Louvre.
Security + Police Department did not help in any way.
Lots of police and security I only saw in the streets near Madeleine, there are ministries and luxury shops.
I think Paris mayor and French Tourismus Manager should really do something that Paris is not a heaven for criminals and visitors can feel secure!
Sounds silly not to look like a tourist. But if you call attention to yourself you'll more likely be a pickpocket's target.
Pickpockets are mostly where crowds of tourists congregate. And mostly they hang out in the subways. They've been known to divert one's attention while going through the metro's turnstiles and then grab your wallet or bag. Another way they work is to work as a couple inside the metro trains: usually a guy and girl work together, the girl diverts the target's attention, the guy is behind the target picking the pocket or bag.
They are excellent in plying their trade and therefore one needs to take as much precaution as possible: don't announce you're a tourist by displaying guidebooks and maps in the open, wear a moneybelt and use it for your passport, credit cards, and cash, don't use a waist pack (aka fannypack), if you carry a backpack hold it in front of you in the train and secure the zipper with a safety pin and don't put anything of value in it.
BEWARE of Eastern European girls dressed in head scarves and shoulder bags trying to get you to sign a petition for deaf and homeless orphans. While you say no, they will bump into you, push you while another one of them reaches into your purse or pocket and takes your phone, wallet, etc.
My phone was stolen at the Musee d' Orsey. Also spotted at Louvre, Notre Dame, Eiffel Tower, and along Siene River.
You will find them in large crowds.
Please share these photos!!!!!!
Avoid taking the métro during commuter hours of heavy useage when the cars are crowded. Last night my husband lost his wallet on a crowded métro car. Time: about 7:00 pm; Ligne: 4 (Chatelet). The wallet with 30 Euros in cash was in the front pocket and was shielded by a long coat and a tour book in the coat pocket, same side as the wallet. Immediately upon discovering the loss, we called the called the US to report the lost credit card and bank card; drivers license and other cards were reported on line. It was helpful that we had photocopies of our cards with the numbers. Then we walked to the closest police station to file a complaint, which will be useful in refuting the credit card charges. Within an hour, the thiefs had made at least four attemps to use the card, had charged two purchases and were refused a 2500.00 Euro charge attempt twice, due to the high amount. We are frequent travellers to Paris and this is the first time a thief was successful!
OK. This is nothing new. But I just wanna share my experience with a pickpocket.
I was sitting comfortably on the metro on a seat that can be folded up. In came a tall muscular guy who walked slowly to the empty seat next to me.
I guessed he noticed I had my mobile phone inside my left pocket. So when the train moved, he "accidentally" fell onto the empty seat and brushed his hands through my left pocket. It was a discreet yet cunning way to fish out my mobile.
Fortunately, I was alert enough to prevent the phone from getting fished out. And gave him a disgusted stare.
He apologized for falling awkwardly beside me (and not for trying to steal my phone!).
I remained vigilant throughout the rest of the train journey.
I'm sending this story out of my disappointment of me and my wife's traumatic experience in Paris just a couple days ago. We really hope this story could help others who are traveling to Paris/Europe.
We were in Paris for 7 nights for our Honeymoon and while the city is very beautiful eventhough we found that there are lots of homeless people on the street and on the Metro Stations, and lots of them are asking money from us(which is normal for any big cities). The tax refund in Europe is also very confusing and troublesome, even for me who have done tax refunds many times.
The worst experience for us happened on our last day in Paris on 30 November 2012 at 9:30AM. We were walking close to Gallery Lafayette(shopping malls) and just one block from Apple Store.
We were crossing the street in a crowded area where suddenly there are about 10 people with clipboards are harassing us, asking us to sign for a petition and finally stealing money from us. These people are female teenagers(13-14 years old) they have white Arabic looks.
3 of them were distracting me by forcing me to sign their papers while silently one of them are opening my handbag under the clipboard. The other 7 people are holding my wife, grabbing her hands and body, so even she is trying with all her strength to fight back, she was still completely unable to move and they are taking her away from me. Unable to fight back, my wife was screaming my name, that is when I realized that she is already 10 meters away from me and they are trying to rob us. I have to use all my strength to get away from them and running to my wife to save her from these people. I was using my hands to push them away from my wife and I saw that these people are opening my wife's bag and trying to get whatever inside the bag. I continue to use my hands violently and body to push them and started to shouted at them to get away from us.
People around us are looking at this scene and now these robbers were acting innocent by pretending that I was rude at them.
After we checked at our bags, we found all of our handbags are already opened and that two of our envelopes are missing. Those two envelopes consist of our Tax Refund receipt with value of 80 Euro. I told them that they stole our envelopes and ask them to return it back to us since those have no value to them. But they again pretend not to steal anything from us and they are now started to moving away from us. I also threatened them to report it to the Police if they don't return our envelopes, but they seem doesn't care and dare us to call the police.
Unfortunately there are no policemen on that site at that time, and my wife asked me to stop chasing them since our time there are more valuable then wasting it on them.
Me and my wife, especially my wife, were really traumatize by this experience and we really hope France government would do something about these pickpockets who continues to destroy the image of France.
France is really one of the most beautiful country in the World and it is just so sad to see these to keep happening all over Europe. We know all about these pickpockets and tips to get away from them, actually, we already escaped from dozens of them during our 2 weeks stay in Europe, but nevertheles, this last group is really beyond everything else since they are violently restraining my wife and tried to take her away from me.
My tip is to always push back any stranger or a group who is trying to get close to you BEFORE they are close enough to restraint your body and arms, don't hold back to use your feet or even use some force to keep your distance because once more than 2 people holding you, then it would be difficult to get away. If they are in group or you are in a condition where you can't get away from them, just scream and ask for help from people or police. Learn some local language if you look local, but if you don't lool local, then it would be useless. Don't hesitate to scream Help! or Police!, don't scream Thief! or pickpocket! as most local don't understand these words. Don't waste your time with the police or at the police station too long, just make your statement and go(30 mins max), as you will not get your money back and there will be no proof, and they also will release these pickpocketers as they are under age. If they stole your money anyway, just let it go, don't get emotional and ruin your day, forgive them and let God do the rest. Continue to use your precious time to enjoy the city.
The France government needs to make a new law on these kind of people. The normal law, or some special law should be applied to underage pickpockets or "robbers" in our case, and even to the illegal immigrants. The security of France's tourist places should be prioritize and the government needs to take a strong statement against these people. The cities will remain unsafe if there is still law that restrict the government to apply a significant punishments to these minorities which they will be afraid of. At least 6 months jail time, removal of them and their families from the country, create a special place or decent community for them, so they can live peacefully without stealing from others, etc.
We are Asians, so its hard for us to pretend of not being a tourist in Europe, we have been living in Asia for 25 years, I have been traveling around the world from anywhere in Asia, Europe and America. visit at least 20 different countries, hundreds of cities with some of them to have the highest crime rate in the world, lived overseas for 6 years, and this violent experience in an open public place has never happened to me(because I know how to play save). We are very shocked that this should happen at the place that we really dreamed of, Paris. We hope people of France can see this thread and I really hope to see some action from Government of France on this and to see some positive change on Tourist Security in Paris.
Another caution under the Eiffel Tower is that there are so many people, and it is normally very crowded. There are a lot of experienced 'pick-pockets' there so hold on tight to your bag and makle sure it's zipped up. I know a friend who had her camera taken away and she never saw it again.
If you feel somone pushing against you, be extra careful and make sure no one's taken anything. You'v probably known for it to happen when someone is shoving up against you in a crowd - they've really just taken your wallet.
I had two close-calls in Paris. The first happened when my friend was intently looking at her map in the Ste. Germaine area. She was taking too long and frankly, I was feeling uncomfortable. I noticed a woman lurking too close to her and checking her out so I just told her that we were looking like targets and to walk now. She had noticed the woman too and we both walked away from her.
The next day I was in the Marais and trying to figure out where I was. I pulled out my Paris guide and was looking in it when a French woman approached me and asked if she could look at my guide. I handed it to her but had a strange feeling about this. She seemed to be trying to figure out where she was when I realized that a man was standing right next to me. I had a shoulder bag with various zippered sections and kept my wallet in the one closest to me. As soon as I realized that the man was next to me (and perhaps I grabbed my bag), she handed the guidebook back to me, mumbled something and they both took off.
I noticed that the front portion of my bag - the one where my book and scarf were - was open. I can't honestly say that he opened it or if I'd left it open because that's where I was also keeping the guide, but the whole thing seemed strange and I immediately checked to see that my wallet was still with me. It was but I was pretty freaked out by the whole thing.
There are also a lot of gypsies wandering around the touristy sites asking if you speak English. Say "no".