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Oops! Sort of pick-pocketed on Paris Metro yesterday.

Oops, noticed last night I had sort of been pickpocketed!! Realized when changing Metro lines that my purse was unzipped. Silly me, I thought! How careless!! Realized later that my pouch with OTC meds had been lifted. I had day money and one credit card in a small change purse in another (unzipped purse pocket) which they missed. I had my extra money and cards in my Rick Steves money belt worn correctly under my clothes.

I had also fixed that side of my purse so I could close it with carabiners but had not done so.

Now there is a thief in Paris well-supplied with ibuprofen, allergy meds, PeptoBis, Kleenex and WetOnes! Hahaha! I felt nothing and didn't even realize anyone was that close to me! They are professionals!

My Rick Steves tour guides taught me better than this. No harm done but HUGE Lesson learned!

Posted by
21243 posts

No, silly to think you can always keep your guard up - because you cannot - not a 100%. But Pam was prepared with nothing of value easily accessed. That is what you should do. Not make yourself an easy target. Good demonstration on how easy it can be done. Reminds me of the poster a while back who could not believe that a pickpocket got a hand in a front pocket without noticing it.

Posted by
8291 posts

You did almost everything right and now you will be even more vigilant. The good news is they got nothing of value. I was pickpocketed on the Paris RER years ago. Someone got into my purse and lifted my wallet. Fortunately we were on our way to the airport to fly home so it was not a huge inconvenience. Those pickpockets have skill. This is a valuable lesson to those who think it will never happen to them.

Enjoy Paris! I wish I was there to meet you for lunch again. :-)

Posted by
8397 posts

Thanks for the comments.

Lunch would be such fun Andrea!!

And yes, I thought I was maintaining a decent level of vigilance but I stepped it up today using the carabiners to fasten the inside pocket and the main zipper. Frank, you're so right-can't be 100% all the time.

I realize they also got my nail clippers, hand lotion and cough drops, lol!! All replaced in 5 minutes at the Monoprix.

Posted by
2353 posts

So glad they got nothing of importance. A good reminder though - be alert and have good strategies.

I also carry a regular purse but the straps are just long enough to fit on my shoulder - i keep it pushed around front as well with my elbow over the opening. When walking it is on the shoulder between my husband and me.

Posted by
1952 posts

Good for you, Pam, and thanks for posting a valuable experience. Lesson "remembered" and Frank is right....it's impossible to be on guard 100% of the time. So glad nothing difficult (or annoying) to replace was taken. Reinforces the money belt recommendations! Enjoy Paris. Wish I was there and not digging out from under 15" of snow yesterday!

Posted by
2753 posts

Hi Pam,

I had day money and one credit card in a small change purse in another (unzipped purse pocket) which they missed.

Just curious, are you saying they unzipped this second interior zipped pocket, too?

Posted by
4769 posts

Oh that lucky thief, to have all those pills and paper products! I wonder if he/she is sharing them with friends as we speak..... ;-)

Posted by
31303 posts

Pam,

Thanks for sharing this. It's a good reminder for everyone on the forum to be vigilant and not to become complacent. The scammers are out there looking for their next victim!

Posted by
18021 posts

I had my extra money and cards in my Rick Steves money belt worn
correctly under my clothes.

So much for those who pooh-pooh money belts.

Posted by
10017 posts

So, Kaeleku, you say you leave your stuff in your hotel.

But what do you do when you are traveling between hotels? Couldn't you get pickpocketed just as easily at that time then when your stuff is in the hotel?

While pickpockets look for easy targets, opening up a purse or bag is easy pickings for them.

The other day on the tube in London, on my way from the airport to my hotel, there was a young lady standing with her large cellphone more than halfway outside her back pocket. Then, when she sat down, she took out her phone and credit card, called someone, and started reading the credit card number out over the phone. I must have a dumbfounded look on my face because she looked at me put away her card and her phone. My first thought was are there any crooks on board who are going to benefit from this.

I use a moneybelt and have both my wallet and phone inside my front pockets with a leash clipped to one of my pant belt loops, Foolproof, no, but an extra line of defense.

Posted by
12400 posts

True, you can't be on guard 100% and I've had a couple of close calls in Paris but still slipped away. I don't use the money belt, certainly would not leave "valuables" in the room safe, assuming one is there in the first place. The "hidden pocket" and neck pouch are both more useful, both of which I use, separate or together. Your debit/credit plastic you disperse them on your person...never all in one place. I use the inner right pocket with a zipper, put in extra by a tailor, in my light jacket. .

Posted by
8397 posts

Wray, I am not actually sure. I ~may~ have left the inside pocket unzipped after I paid for lunch or I may have moved enough that I disrupted the picking.

I didn't mean to sound self-righteous. I will add that I am one of the ones that carries my passport at all times. I have it in a snack sized ziplock so it gets neither wet or smelly. In case of a catastrophic event I want to be able to put an action plan in to place without having to return to the hotel to retrieve valuables.

I've also decided when I get back home I will add some anchor rings to the inside of my purse like some of the higher end bags such as Tom Bihn. A friend was telling me before I left she does that then attaches coils her purse items.

I did use the internal and external carabiners yesterday every. single. time. I am working on making this a habit.

Posted by
12545 posts

It's sad that traveling to some locations requires so much care to prevent being victimized. Although I also recognize that being away from your main support system in and of it's self dictates some additional care. I think your precautions were reasonable and your attitude about the whole event absolutely perfect. Well done.

Posted by
2163 posts

I don't travel with my regular big wallet and found that a thin Coach (or any brand) wristlet is perfect because I can open the loop and if there's a clip in my bag it gets clipped to that; if not I securely pin it to the bottom lining. This allows me to pull it up to access but it's not going anywhere without a struggle.

Posted by
1965 posts

Pam,
So glad this incident was "relatively" minor and it happened at the beginning of your trip. Good reminder for us all.

My question is: what is your itinerary, a RS tour, etc. traveling vicariously you see! I'm waiting till September for my Heart of Ireland tour.

Happy Travels,
Judy B

Posted by
8397 posts

Judy B, I'm in Paris for 8 nights then out to Britttany to meet up with a Road Scholar tour. It is an itinerary Rick does not offer and includes the stones at Carnac.

Posted by
3899 posts

Just thinking when we were on the metro a few weeks ago and there was a guy with a day pack type backpack. There was a fellow standing behind him (crowded and standing room only) and he tapped him on the shoulder and pointed out that his zipper on the pack was partially unzipped. Guy thanked him and zipped it up. I'm fairly sure the fellow who pointed it out was just being nice...he wasn't trying to cover his tracks or anything - but what a chance this guy was taking on a crowded metro with no means of at least securing his pack zippers. Who knows if someone hadn't already got into the bag while this guy was unaware earlier in his journey...he didn't even check if anything was missing...

Posted by
3554 posts

Split keyrings and little carabiners are my friends in these situations.

Lest we think tourists are the only ones pickpocketed or that it's a recent phenomenon, I thwarted a pickpocket who was trying to get something out of a French woman's purse on the Paris metro way back in 1983.

She was standing facing the doors with her crossbody purse in front of her. I was sitting on the fold down seat next to the door. Her purse was at my eye height. A man stepped on right in front of and facing her. I could see him start to put his hand on her bag. I called her attention to it in my lousy French. She looked down and grabbed at her purse. He stepped off to the platform backwards. All this happened within seconds and before the doors closed. He got nothing.

See something, say something at work, although my friend from Chicago who was with me said she would never have reacted for fear of being stabbed by the guy. Different worlds we grew up in, eh?

Posted by
21243 posts

We had a posting early here about the use of chain tied to the billfold. When he walked out of the subway car, realize that his empty billfold was flapping along side his leg. He had a decent attitude and decided that the chain only told the pickpocket where his billfold was.

The point I always try to make is that the easier it is for you to access your money the easier it will be for someone else. If you cannot get to your money, short of a mugging, neither can anyone else. That is the test.

Posted by
207 posts

Same thing happened to me at the Rome bus station last year. My husband was walking behind me and never saw a thing. He said did you know your back pack is unzipped. Luckily the only thing in it was my small camera at the very bottom which they didn't get. I was taking the back pack with me to put souvenirs in. It did teach me to pay better attention. Glad they didn't get anything important.

Posted by
940 posts

Oh Pam, so glad what he/she got was of little value and things you could replace! Yeah, maybe you weren't as careful with that bag as you could have been but you WERE careful with the most important things - your cc's and passport. We all forget things. I'm happy that this was a relatively easy reminder. Enjoy the rest of your time in Paris and have a wonderful tour!

Posted by
2349 posts

Those pickpockets can get in and out faster than Kaeleku can delete a post!

My current bag has a small inner zipped bag that is attached to the purse. So if you wanted to put your money there, it would be attached. I put my meds in it because it was the right size. No one's getting MY ibuprofen!

Posted by
225 posts

Pam
Sorry to hear of your adventure. But glad it was minor.

Posted by
10017 posts

As I stated earlier, I attach both my zipper waller (similar to the one RS sells) and my phone to a "leash" that is connected to a belt loop. I also wear my shirts out so they cover all of this.

I'd like to ask Frank how he carries his wallet and phone while out so he is pickpocket proof?

Posted by
8397 posts

Lol Karen, to both statements!

So far the hardest thing has been trying to get into the darn hard plastic wrapper around the new nail clippers with no scissors at hand! Yes, I was in pjs already and did not want to dress to go down to the hotel reception!

Lynn, I'm gonna install your coil system when I get home!

Posted by
3173 posts

Pam, your positive attitude after being a victim of some lowlife thief is impressive. I would have been beyond furious; you took a more positive light. Thank you for sharing your story.

Posted by
9832 posts

Dang, I'd hate to lose my ibuprofen and (especially) Wet Ones!

Brava, Pam! We are heading to Paris in a couple of weeks. Forwarned is forearmed!

Posted by
8397 posts

Continental, I first was heartsick over what might have been then realized it was a life lesson about being mitigating risk.

Laurel! I was more careful this time about dividing up pills and potions so I’ve always got a stash back in the room.

Posted by
3173 posts

Continental, I first was heartsick over what might have been then
realized it was a life lesson about being mitigating risk.

Pam, you are clearly an experienced traveler with your can-do attitude when crap happens! Love it! I went to the Le Sportsac store and bought the Deluxe Everything bag (25% off too). Your experience being pick-pocketed (not "sort of" by any means) got me thinking that this purse was the way to go. Thank you so much.

Posted by
853 posts

Those pickpockets are goooood! On the bus in Rome it was standing room only. Hubby is standing and
it was late fall and pretty chilly. (He doesn't feel a thing) But since his right hand is cold he puts it in his pocket and holds hands with a pickpocket. He takes the man's hand out of his pocket and starts telling him in a forceful voice, "Get your hand out of my pocket" Of course he gets a lot of attention, the guys starts acting drunk and saying in English "accident". Hubby says no get away. An Italian businessman and another italian man start talking to him in a very angry voice. Don't know what they said but they turned to hubby and said something that sounded very nice. The pickpocket jumped off the bus almost before it stopped.

He only had about 20E in his pocket, and it's a good thing his hand got cold. The ironic thing is he didn't want to wear a money belt. It was our first trip to Europe and thank goodness I had read the RS Travel Forum and had finally shown him the posts about the pickpockets. So he relented and wore one. By the way, I didn't even say, I told you so. But now before we go on trips he sees me on the Forum and wants to know what I have learned!

Glad your pickpocket only got the medicine pouch!

Posted by
4645 posts

Pam, thanks for posting. It's a good reminder that even experienced travelers get pick-pocketed. Every time I read a post from someone who says "It could never happen to me," I think "Hah! Just wait." Even Rick was picked this year.

Posted by
11798 posts

Glad it wasn't worse, could be they had limited time to clean your purse for you so you got off easy.

I'm wondering about details that may increase the lesson. Was the metro crowded? Did you have other things in your hands? Were you distracted in any way? Were you tired or jetlagged? What time of day or evening? Did you know it was zipped when you boarded then that it wasn't when you got off (could it have happened outside the metro or in a station while transferring)? Were you carrying or wearing anything that would make you a target, brand names, jewelry, etc.? Is your purse an expensive brand?

My French girlfriend carries a nice purse but it has one big center zippered pocket and a smaller side one. She keeps anything of value in the big pocket and tucks it under her arm, and puts the strap over her neck and shoulder, on the metro or in crowds. She's concerned about pickpockets, but not enough to get rid of shopping bags from expensive stores. She was worried about carrying a very expensive (1,150 euros) Hugo Boss coat, for her son, on the metro by herself. I suggested she ditch the shopping bag and hold the suit bag in a way that the logo wasn't visible. She wanted to keep the bag ;-)

Posted by
8397 posts

Well Brad, I originally posted this experience last April when it happened but I think I can recall most of the details.

-The Metro had not been particularly crowded but had gotten off at Motte-Picquet Grenelle to change lines. The platform was crowded which was when I looked down at my purse and saw it unzipped. I had not been aware of anyone crowding me at any time.

-I was not carrying anything else.

-I was not distracted.

-I was not particularly tired and I had been in Paris for several days so was not jet-lagged.

-It was later on a Saturday afternoon and I was headed back to my hotel.

-I know I zipped it when I made a purchase, then headed to Odeon Metro stop.

-Yes, it could have happened in the station as I was getting on or at Motte Picquet when I transferred.

-I don’t have anything expensive either for travel or to leave at home. Timex, Fitbit, Lands End clothes, Altra zero drop athletic shoes, Le Sportsac purse. Typical overweight, senior American female, light packing travel attire, lol!!

**Update: Just completed 12 days in Paris with nary a problem. I added split rings (like for key chains-purchased at Michaels) to my zippers and on the ring on my purse strap to make fastening s-biners to them easier. I sewed a ring inside my purse to snap an s-biner to from the zippered interior pocket where I stashed my money and sewed another loop to the bottom of my purse. I fastened a DryDock coil (thanks Lynn from Boise) to that and added a ring to my OTC pouch so that was connected.

I made sure I stopped to fasten the zippers every single time. There were 2 levels of home-made security for anyone to get thru. I had extra money and cards I didn’t need for the day in my money belt. Things worked great altho I was still on higher alert than I would have been before last Spring.