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Paris, France CDGVAL Pick Pocketing

Yesterday, I was pick pocketed on the CDGVAL. I just read a post from August, 2018 from a woman from Long Beach, CA who apparently had the same misfortune. Ironically, my wife and I believe it was the same scenario as she had....a short woman got on the train at one of the two Parking stops, stood close to my left side and got off at the next stop. She had no luggage or carry-on with her. I actually didn't even notice her, but my wife did. She claims the woman was staring at her and my wife stared back at her, expressionless. Upon arriving at the last stop, Terminal 2, I realized my wallet-style phone case was missing from my front left pocket in my cargo shorts. Honest to God, I had no idea I had just been robbed. She got my cell phone, all my credit cards, driver's license, and other important cards. Fortunately, my passport was in one of the Velcro closed pockets. The phone had a security code and I was able to get all my credit cards blocked before our flight departed. That being said, most of my many photos from my first trip to Paris had not uploaded to the Cloud yet so all were lost. Lesson learned the hard way. Be very careful in Paris, these thieves are everywhere.

Posted by
6727 posts

If you carry valuables in pockets you are likely to be pickpocketed -- at the Louvre or Musee d'Orsay, or on the metro or RER, or in a line for a restaurant or train - or yes on the CDGval. Pickpocketing is organized crime in Europe; it is largely run by crime families in Eastern Europe; the practitioners are very skilled and they can have your credit card hit for 10 or 20 K before you notice it is gone. Front pocket of cargo shorts is not even a challenge.

Make sure you. are not a walking buffet or the risk is high. Sorry it happened to you so quickly. Lucky it was your phone and not your cards. I know someone who got dipped at the Musee d'Orsay and there was 20 K on the card by the time he realized it and immediately called the company. We sat next to two couples from the UK who had their wallets taken in the line to board a train to Prague from Vienna.

Posted by
2927 posts

Sorry this happened to you and thanks for the warning/reminder. CDGVAL is a great place for a pickpocket because I think some people let their guards down because they think everyone on it is a fellow traveler. Thieves are indeed everywhere. A similar thing, meaning his wallet was stolen from the pocket of his cargo shorts, happened to my husband in Barcelona. Now, when in Europe he uses a wallet that has loops that his belt slides through for his credit cards and passport.

Posted by
31521 posts

dm,

You're certainly not the only one that's been pickpocketed in Paris. Even Rick Steves had his wallet pinched on the Paris Metro when he let his guard down. One has to be constantly vigilant as thieves will take advantage of any opportunities.

For future reference, you might consider splitting your cards into three different groups, and store them in different locations. That way you won't lose all of them at once if you are pickpocketed.

Posted by
21302 posts

Cargo pants should come with warning tags that advise not putting anything of value in the pockets.

Posted by
12981 posts

That's why I don't wear cargo shorts or cargo pants or any pants with Velcro pockets.

I never put my credit cards all in one place, most definitely not all in one pocket. I bring three on a trip.

Posted by
2002 posts

I never put all my cards, money, phone, etc in one place. Much of it is plastered to my body in a shoulder-type money belt. If pick-pocketed thieves will get minimal valuables. Nothing is in my pockets.

Thanks for the heads up about this, though. It's always good to be reminded of it.

Posted by
8867 posts

Any time in transit, in a crowd or when you're distracted is a prime time for pickpockets. I had my wallet stolen on the RER when I was heading to CDG to go home on one of my trips to Paris. The train was packed. When people got off I discovered my wallet gone. Thankfully they didn't get my passport.

Posted by
1845 posts

I’m so sorry this happened. It is a timely reminder for us, since we are flying in to CDG in three weeks.

Thanks to those who reminded us to not put all our eggs in one basket. I’d also like to remind first time travelers to watch for any distractions. We were walking down the Champs Elyses when a young girl “survey taker” suddenly appeared out of nowhere. The hair on the back of my neck stood up because she was right there before I knew it. While saying “No!” firmly I looked for her accomplice. He saw me make him and they disappeared.

Posted by
6727 posts

I use a money belt under my clothes in transit -- for cards, money and passports and then when I am at the hotel I put everything in the room safe except for one card and money for the day which then goes either in cool weather in an inside secure pocket in my clothing or in hot weather in a cross body purse. Scottevest.com, Magellan, Travelsmith all sell clothing with hidden pockets which are great for travel; classic travel shirts that have the roll sleeves also make good light jackets in warm weather and can be found with a hidden pocket behind the breast pocket or on the seam -- the ones behind the breast pocket are most secure. Moneybelts are not purses; you don't access them in public but they are good body safes for vulnerable points of travel.

My husband has been targeted many times by pickpockets and has found someone's hand in his pocket on occasion when putting his own hand there. He had one wallet taken but stopped the guy and the guy threw it down; it was this experience and not my years of nagging on this subject that finally got him to stop using a wallet. He lost a credit card once in St. Petersburg when he was carrying just one card and a transit card in a front pocket. Within the hour, as we noticed it fairly quickly, his account already had over 20 K in charges on it and it took the full 10 weeks of our trip to cope -- this is a card with a hair trigger fraud response and yet they allowed 3 bogus financial charges in Russia of 7 or 8 K each right in a row.

Posted by
2927 posts

I'm sorry this happened to you. We've all let our guard down at some point, but most of us aren't targeted in that moment in time. Many Americans are not accustomed to public transportation or larger cities and that is part of the problem, IMO. I don't think it's Paris, Barcelona, or Rome, etc. It is any large city or transportation system, some worse than others perhaps, but don't blame the city. It could be Boston, NYC or San Francisco, etc. As someone previously succinctly stated, 'you don't put all your eggs in one basket', and you don't just wave your wallet in front of someone, which a back or unsecured front pocket does. It's a flag saying 'here I am'! (It's like the women who leave their open purses in their shopping carts and walk away...sorry I digress, but it drives me nuts.) My husband does use his front pocket, but there is a hidden, zippered pocket in that pocket as is his hand. Plus, only his daily money is in the wallet. His credit card is in his hidden breast pocket. The rest is back in his suitcase. We don't use our cell phones so they are in our suitcases. I'm for using cameras; no one wants them anymore, particularly my lovely DSLR. I don't think a money belt is necessary, but your items do need to be secure and divided when you travel most places.

Posted by
42 posts

This sounds simplistic but I just put such items in my front pockets and then use safety pins to close the pockets (I put the pins a little ways down in the pockets so they are not visible. It works: I once caught a guy in the act of trying to take my wallet while on a crowded bus in Rome. I don't disagree with the other suggestions, especially re not putting all the eggs in one basket, but this is a simple step to take.

Posted by
12981 posts

While it is true that one can be picked in any big city, be it Paris or Rome, I go by the odds. What are the chances? The chances are that getting picked is more likely to happen to me in Paris and Barcelona than in Frankfurt or Berlin or Vienna. It does matter which city it is if one is not alert and aware, and above all, if you don't have a feel for the place.

Posted by
335 posts

Those smart phone combo wallet cases are the dumbest thing ever. It sucks to lose a phone or a wallet, but if you lose both of those simultaneously, wow.

Posted by
16941 posts

But thanks for the heads up. In hind sight, it seems that this would be prime pickpocket hunting grounds. No ticket to worry about, get on and off, crowded with jetlagged travelers. Definitely a target rich environment.

Posted by
492 posts

Ouch - sorry to hear that!

Glad you mentioned uploading pics to the cloud, though, as that is something worth doing (when returning to the unlimited data allowances of one's hotel wifi, or otherwise connected to a good wifi network) just in case the worst happens.

Posted by
6727 posts

Fred -- our most recent brush with pickpockets was in Vienna where the two couples from the UK in the seats to our right had been picked getting on the train. Both men lost their wallets and they were busy canceling credit cards the first half hour of the trip to Prague. With the open Schengen borders organized crime families have infiltrated all large western European tourist cities. Americans are particularly vulnerable as it is a rather rare crime in the US and so they think that they must just 'be alert to their surroundings' or that they will 'know if someone puts a hand in their pocket.' The professionals have no problem at all plucking anyone unwise enough to carry valuables in pockets, backpacks or carelessly held purses.

Posted by
21852 posts

Well, you made it into my examples of pickpocketing for my Travel Safe course -- names changed, of course. Love it especially when front pockets are hit. There has been a dozen or more postings here of men claiming, "No way is anyone going to take something out of my front pocket without my knowing it." Tell your wife the next time to be more observant of where her hands are and don't get into a staring match. That serve her purpose because she knew where your wife was looking. Got to cover each other's back.

And, of course, you now know never to put everything in one place. I do like the travel shirts and especially pants that come with zippered pockets. My main travel pants have zippered pockets behind the front, open front pockets. For me I have no problem with wearing a money belt nearly 24/7. Even wear it when we go to New York and Chicago. With nearly a full year of travel in most of Europe over the past 20+ years we never, to the best of our knowledge, have had a pickpocket attempt on us. Of course, there is always the next trip.

I am sure that this will be your first and only pickpocketing. Expensive lesson especially the phone.

PS Just noticed this was your first posting here. Next time spend sometime with us prior to your next trips. Lots of good travel information and you might have avoided the problem.

PPS Just added your experience to the Pickpocket handout. Thought I would pass along my favorite experience that was posted on this site several years ago ----Both of us were pickpocketed in the Metro in Rome. Husband lost wallet - they got my VISA from my bra!!! I never felt a thing!!

Posted by
285 posts

Good reminder. Sorry this happened. I'm heading to Paris in a few weeks for the first time.

Had my phone stolen in Rome, was vigilant all day until the end at the train station. We were sat at a booth eating, I had my bag out and my phone on the table (apparently) and I had let my guard down. Someone came over and dropped about 100 Pope post cards on the table and walked away. It was the strangest thing. I didn't know he had taken my phone for another hour or so. Brilliant really.

Posted by
12981 posts

@ Janet...Traveling solo I've never been picked, only once when I was with the Mrs was I picked. I use a wallet which goes in the front pocket, which admittedly is not always pickpocket proof and I have the fanny/waist belt. Of course, there are places I am more on guard than in other places...all depends on where I am at the moment. The bad guys being pros I assume they can spot me as an obvious tourist.

Posted by
747 posts

Its quite easy to make yourself pick-pocket proof: Money Belt. I go one further and do also carry a wallet, but this only contains a few Euros, "Walk-about Cash." Then I'll take a plastic fork and insert that Tines up and facing inward to the hip OVER the wallet. Try this at home and you'll see that it is near impossible now to finger lift the wallet out of your pocket. The easy way to spot a pick-pocketer is to look for any one with something draped over one arm or holding a folded news paper. We will relocate, if possible away from that "mark." :)

Posted by
747 posts

No, they are the mark. :) And I am the predator: With a camera. :)

Posted by
8506 posts

The raincoat draped over the arm while reading the newspaper is the old classic, before the Wall came down. While a few of those old guys are still around (newspaper in 2019!) and we spotted one at Odeon ten years ago, todays’ professional thieves are much more varied in dress, style, national origine, age....

Posted by
6727 posts

Fred if you haven't been picked from the front pocket it is luck -- once my husband put his hand in his pocket and there was a hand already there -- he had no idea. He was also picked once from the front pocket but managed to grab the guy who then threw it down. That was when he finally stopped carrying a wallet.

And Francis. LOL. Like they really care you have a camera. The accomplice might take care of you if they feel actually threatened but mostly bravado and 'it can't happen to me' (beats chest impressively) is feckless. Be pickpocket proof and don't worry about it.

Posted by
12981 posts

@ Janet...As a solo traveler which means most of my trips since 1971, I have never been picked.

I was picked once traveling with the Mrs. That incident took place in 1995 in the Museum Island area in Berlin, when the billfold was in the front pocket. So, when I was picked that one time, ( now out of 24 trips), I wasn't solo.

Posted by
2927 posts

"Why on earth would you carry your passport around with you??

Explain -"
I do not carry my passport around but I have been told that your passport with its entry stamp is your proof that you are in the country legally and that if you are stopped by the police and asked for such proof, you will need to provide it. Despite that, I leave my passport in my hotel or nowadays in my apartment because I figure my personal odds of losing the passport are greater than the odds that a police officer will ask for my "papers."
Or it could be that the person is on the way to complete a transaction for which a passport is required like for example getting a SIM card from an Orange store or making a purchase for which you a VAT refund will be sought. Or even more esoterically, in 2016, when I bought my apartment in France, I had to bring my passport to the notaire's office. There are tons of reasons why people carry their passports around, including going to and from the airport.

Posted by
8506 posts

Well john98103–Andrea clearly wrote that she was on her way to CDG to catch a flight home when the thieves didn’t get her passport. Does that satisfy your curiosity—Explain.

Posted by
12981 posts

If I am bringing my light jacket, even just carrying it, out and about, as a matter of course, I always carry my passport with me, and always have it on me when doing a day trip. Having the passport with me is about 90% of the time now based on the last few trips.