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Pick Pocketing

I am going to Antibes, France for ten days at part of a foreign exchange program with my high school. I will not be with my parents. I wanted to know how big of a problem safety and pick pocketing is. For example do I need a purse with a zipper?

Thank you

Posted by
3313 posts

Paulina - A purse with a zipper does not invite pickpocketing, it invites purse snatching.

Antibes is hardly the crime capital of the world but carrying a purse makes you a target. Keep your essential papers (passport, etc.) in a money belt. Use a purse, zipper or no, for things you can afford to lose.

Posted by
11507 posts


Of course you can carry a purse,, look around, most women do.

What you will not do is keep your passport in it, or any large sums of money or credit cards. A money belt for those items.

Some of the men on here are anti purses. I have no idea why . Sigh,, I think they are jealous really, perhaps a secret longing to carry a purse,, LOL

Yes, purse should have a zipper. Better yet a bag you can wear across chest( messenger bag style) that has a zipper and a flap that buckles over the top .

Pickpocketing happens in most touristy areas( I mean all over Europe, not just in Antibes) , do not be freaked out about it, just be aware. In any crowded area try to keep as far away from people as you can,, meaning, on a subway , bus, train station area, beaware if anyone is standing near enough to touch you. Keep you hand on your purse, do not , ever, loop purse over chair back at a restaurant, do not put on floor, nor on top of a table if you are sitting outside( where someone could literally snatch it and run into a crowd).

Do not assess money belt in public, go to a washroom , or if desperate at least stand back with a friend blocking view. You do not need to tip anyone off where the money is. You should have a bit in your purse for lunch and extras.

Worst case scenerio is you lose a good lipstick ,, since your purse should only have spending money for one day in it. Rest of stuff in moneybelt, or if they have safes provided for lock up, I have no idea what your sleeping arrangements are. Do not lock money in a suitcase and leave in room. Suitcases are portable. Moneybelt or safe.

You will be fine, its going to be so fun, you will never forget this trip. Go with an open mind.. be prepared for many things to be different.

Be aware, but not paranoid.

Have a fun trip.

Posted by
12172 posts

As long as you assume that anything you keep in your purse may be lost or stolen. I look at it the same as my daypack. I don't keep anything I couldn't live without in it.

You may prefer a neckpouch to a moneybelt or even a leg wallet, just don't keep your passport, credit card, debit card, large amount of cash or any paper ticket (if anyone has those anymore) in your purse or pockets.

For security, one of my rules is to only carry one item at any time. If I'm shopping, I always consolidate everything to one bag. If I'm traveling, my daypack is inside my carry-on. By keeping it down to one thing to keep track of, you minimize the chance of anything being lost or stolen.

I also only bring one small wedding band (not my regular one) and a timex watch for jewelry. You aren't likely to be held up for your jewelry but when you change hotels often, you may inadverdently leave something behind. Don't bring jewelry you can't live without.

Posted by
15665 posts

As Pat mentioned, a purse is fine if carried messenger bag style. Once you get to Europe, you'll see that's how most European women carry them.

But that doesn't mean you should keep passport, important papers, all your cash and credit cards in it....the important stuff goes in a moneybelt. I know it's been stated before but it's important so I mentioned it again.

Posted by
46 posts

I carry a wallet and my wife carries a purse since it is handy for the constant shelling out of euros. You cannot constantly be digging in your money belts.

We only take enough cash for one day, no credit cards, no passports, no ID. The rest is in our money belts.

There is some great advice in this string of responses. I have been PP 5-6 times, and the worst they got was a coat, most has been a zero loss, due the type of advice you have read here.

I will note that pick pockets are not the clever slight of hand in movies. Seville: a double team on the metro with the squirted stuff on your clothes that they offer to wipe off. Mexico city: Box cutters or razors to cut through purses on the bottom. Italy (Coloseum): A group of 10-12 youths we just jumped me and quick grabbed everything they could; no damage, no big loss, just empty pockets. France: Stolen while sleeping in a couchette.

Be careful. You can avoid being a victim. Try to travel with a buddy. You will have a great time!

Posted by
23464 posts

If Chris was the common experience I don't think anyone would travel to Europe. It is hard to believe that someone could be a victim that often. We have done 300+ days over the past 15 year or so with no problems. And I knew that there are other posters on this board with similar experiences. You need to review your total look and behavior. In other words, what message are you sending to potential pickpockets? ---- I have something, come and get me or I have nothing pick so pick on someone else. ---- And, of course, some of this is learned behavior that you acquire over time.

Pat accuses me of being anti-purse but I am also anti-wallet. We are creatures of habit -- Women like to carry purses full of stuff and men carry wallets equally stuffed in hip pockets. And most pickpockets know this. So those items and areas become reasonable targets. Get rid of them and they will look elsewhere. Pickpockets always look for the easiest target.

If you are going to carry a purse make sure there is nothing in it that is important -- but if there is nothing in it, then why carry it? And every opening on the purse should be closed with a zipper and have some way for that zipper to be secured with a lock or even a safety pin. My wife has gone from purse to fanny pack to nothing. The few critical items she needs are carried in our day bag. But since you will not have a traveling companion to carry your items, a simple day bag (small book bag) would work for the few necessities you really need. A scruffy day bag sends a less positive message. A bag is easier to handle in crowded situation -- wear in front, drag on the floor, etc. In very crowded situations never wear the bag where other hands can get to it. With a few simple precautions, you should be fine.

Posted by
139 posts

If you go to a travel store you will find lots of options, money belts, fanny packs etc. They have clips and cable straps etc. that make PP more difficult. In my trips to europe I have not had any problems but practice good common sense when accessing money etc. It is a good idea to make several copies of you Passport. We carry a copy with us rather thent he real thing. This is for emergency purpose only. The original is left back at hotel, either at front desk, safe etc. And as other have mentioned only take euro you expect to need for the day. You will have fun. Be relaxed and do what you can to reduce your loss if you are pp.

Posted by
11507 posts

Frank, I doubt very much if a pick pocket sees a day bag as any less interesting then a purse. And, a daybag is often worn on ones back.. a purse can be worn over shoulder and neck and positioned on front of hip,, alot less interesting to pick pocket.A daybag definately says "tourists" but a purse may be a local lady..

As for you wife not needing a purse, well, you carry her stuff, Pauline will not be with a husband to do this.

Also , just so you know there are things girls do carry in purses that are important, but not nessesarily expensive. Lip stick or lip balm, femminine hygiene products, hair brush, map, small umbrella( yes, there are small purse size ones) sun hat, sunglasses and reading glasses. This stuff will not all fit in her pockets.

Chris you have had an amazing string of bad luck,, in all my trips I only had one "almost " encounter.. and I learned from it. I was walking in Paris, the sidewalk was not crowded, but I realized a man was walking almost elbow to elbow with me and then felt a little tug, I looked down and noticed my purse was unzipped. I knew I had it zipped up when I left hotel. I immediatly clicked onto what happened and yelled and swung on man( I was young, and acted impulsively, I would not swing on anyone now, I was actually just pushing him away). At that exact momment my friends who had been walking about 10 meters behind me clued into what was happening, and ran up,, man ran away empty handed. I learned no one needs to walk close to you ,, I never let anyone in my " personal space bubble" now. They can't steal what they can't reach.

Posted by
11507 posts

Kent, btw,, that is a great travel tip video link provided, especially for those who posters here who don't get Rick Steves show.

Posted by
10344 posts

Thank you! but I can't take credit for it, Michael of New Paltz clued me in: the Rick video clips are on youtube. I only do it when it looks like the OP landed here on a Google search but is otherwise unfamiliar with Rick's work. It's quicker than writing out the spiel on money belts for the umpteenth time.

Posted by
15665 posts

When I'm out and about, I keep my phone, camera, umbrella, etc in my daybag (which has since become a messenger bag.). Not only are the zippers closed, but they are somehow linked together either with a small lock or a tiny screw-type carabiner. It's not pickpocet-proof but hopefully enough of a deterrent.

The messenger bag, btw, covers the front pocket where I keep my wallet. In this wallet is the day's cash--that's it. Everything else is in a moneybelt.

Posted by
1358 posts

Also being young and female, you'll need to be aware of your surroundings. Make sure you're always with someone else, especially at night. If something you see makes you suspicious or uncomfortable, leave. We've learned from being pickpocketed before that it's not enough to keep your eye on someone that looks suspicious. And don't show your friends the cool stuff that you just bought until you get back to where you're staying.

So all that being said, don't be paranoid. Just be smart and careful. I'm sure your parents will give you the same speech! :)

Posted by
515 posts

Paulina, you will be fine. Just find yourself a cute, yet practical cross body bag to keep lipstick, sunglasses, camera, small amt of money, etc. Your bag should zip or close in some fashion; open bags are an invitation. With a cross-body style, you are hands free, and you can protect your bag/purse if you feel insecure at any time. It is VERY important to keep items like passport, debit and credit cards in your money belt. Practice wearing your bag and your money belt in advance, so it feels natural.
Wow, what a great experience for you. Have a wonderful time.

Posted by
5 posts

Not to hijack this post, but it got me thinking. Has anyone ever had a problem trying to use a photocopy of their passport for ID purposes? Some of the under 26 discounts I can get on trains or at museums require that I show proof of my age - ie. passport or student id card. I am not a student and don't have that kind of id. Will they accept a photocopy of a passport? Or have you ever used your local driver's license and had it accepted?
I too am a little nervous about pickpockets, and don't necessarily want to carry my passport with me if I don't absolutely have to.

Posted by
11507 posts

Michelle , I used my Canadian drivers licence last year that the Louvre as a deposit for the audio guides. They accepted it no problem.

Posted by
2349 posts

It does sound like Chris has had some bad luck. Or really, good luck with the trusty moneybelt. But I think it was valuable to list those different pickpocketing experiences, especially to someone who thought a zippered purse would be the best defense. Paulina, you do not need to be paranoid but you do need to be prepared.