I have concerns about safety in Paris. They say that in the past year, the pickpocketing situation has gotten completely out of hand and that gangs of teens are now not only pickpocketing, but showing violence towards tourists such as spitting, kicking, swearing and threatening them. What are the odds of being a victim of this type of harrassment. I have travelled extensively and visted London, Barcelona, Rome, Florence etc., and have seen firsthand the usual pickpockets and have learned to stear clear...HOWEVER, I am really worried about these swarms of gangs exhibiting some violence in order to get my money. What is the chance of this happening and is the press exaggerating?
jennifer, Unfortunately, my reply fits one of the three categories that James mentioned. I've never had any problems, but I'm usually very vigilant when in crowded places and always wear a Money Belt. I've thought about a PacSafe strap for my Camera, but it seems to get "mixed" ratings on photography forums so I haven't bothered. On crowded public transit, I often tuck it inside my Vest or under my arm (with the strap around my neck), and keep a firm grip on it. So far no problems with that approach. I expect to be back in Paris in a few months, so I'll be able to see first-hand if conditions are indeed worse. I hadn't planned to visit the Louvre this time, but might pop by there just to have a look. Happy travels!
ok, i guess i will soon find out when i arrive in 3 weeks! lol
We've visitted Paris many times and never had a problem, including trips in December and February. Use common sense and a good money belt. Avoid flashing cash and make sure your camera has a strong strap. Have a great trip!
Thanks..i have purchased a backpack and a camera strap from pacsafe which has the wire in it so it cant be cut....
"might pop by there just to have a look." That would be so helpful Ken. I'll really be interested in what you think, please let us know after your trip :) You too Jennifer!
We spent 5 days in Paris in June, just follow the aforementioned posts re money belts-we saw no gangs nor individuals showing violence. Do pay attention to the procedures, however, if you choose to use one of the spotless/free/automatic public bathrooms (one is in the 4th near St Paul Metro stop). I entered, incorrectly it was later determined, and was seated when the automatic door opened-embarassing for me, and it discouraged the next guy from even trying.
Mike thanks for the chuckle!!!
@Susan, When are you planning to be in Paris? I'll be there towards the end of June, so won't be able to post anything until after that.
Not before you Ken :)
NBC Evening News with Diane Sawyer just had a story on this very topic tonight. It is the last story on the show. It is worthwhile to see the video on how groups of 2 or 3 work.
Jennifer, are you traveling alone?
Thank you for posting about this. I look forward to hearing the replies, as I will soon be heading to Paris. Merci
Here's the link:
http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/04/10/17690214-louvre-museum-in-paris-shuts-for-day-as-workers-protest-pickpockets?lite They appear to be Romanian youths working the tourists in Paris.
Chun-- I will be with my husband. We arrive May 4th..will let you all know what the atmosphere is like over there on this topic..should be interesting!
IF you're looking for the Diane Sawyer video...she's with ABC ;-)
I just returned from Paris on March 31. We were there for 8 days and visited the Louvre as well as most of the other well known sites of Paris. I was there with my husband, it was my first time there. I did not feel unsafe. We both wore a money belt under our shirts, and I carried an over the shoulder small purse for my camera and small change. The Louvre is EXTREMELY crowded, so much so that after about an hour we could not take it anymore and had to leave. We witnessed on person that was 'bumped into' and then (apparently) pick pocketed, but we did not stick around to find out what exactly happened. This was near the Opera. We also had one person approach us with the 'I just found this ring' scam, but as we had heard about this before we went we firmly said 'NO' and kept walking, and there was no attempt to badger us further. These were the only two instances we saw, and had no trouble keeping our belongings safe otherwise. It was Easter week and everything was crowded, but if you stay aware of your surroundings and keep your valuable safely stowed under your jacket or shirt you should be fine.
We talked to a Canadian couple at Versailles who had the 'gold ring' scam pulled on them near the Louvre. If you go to Sacre Coeur, do not let the 'friendship bracelet' guys tie one on your wrist for 'demonstration'...it will then be yours, for a price of course! The only issue we had was on a mid-Sunday morning leaving a metro, no one around, hubby ahead of me on the escalator and two girls got on the esca behind me...I just happened to be looking back when they got on...all of a sudden the esca stopped...then I computed very quickly that I saw the girl bend down and hit the emergency stop button...they were both around me pretty fast to 'help' me carry up my carry on bag...I almost struggled with them telling them no, as my 'alarms' were going off, and hurried up the esca (by this time, hubby was at the top already). When I got to the top, I checked and made sure everything was still there, but I'm sure there was a zipper open that wasn't before that on my bag. So be vigilant, if something seems funny, don't be afraid to 'offend' someone. I had another 'helpful guy' a metro stop before that try and carry my bag up the steps for me - it's a carry on, I'm not handicapped! A firm NO and he left me alone. Whether they will ask for money at the top, or try to open your zippers while 'carrying' the bag...or maybe they were helping out of the goodness of their hearts (yeah, right) but we've been very lucky so far on our trips (knock on wood). Be aware of your surroundings and don't put anything in your pockets (money/phone) or on a table (camera, purse) that you don't want to lose...I would also recommend a cross body purse/bag...harder to pull it off your shoulder...
Actually, I think there's a pretty good graffiti wall topic on scams to watch out for...
Great information!!!! Thanks!!
@Nicole, reading your experience, I can't help but remember when people write that it has never happened to them and that the victim must not have been vigilant. You were vigilant, but let's face it, the two girls could have overpwered you, knocked you down the escalator, etc. and succeeded. So to all those "not me, I'm too smart" people, if it can also happen to Nicole, who is a savvy traveler and contributor to the Helpline, it could happen to anyone. Jennifer, thank you for posting the concerns. The more people are aware of the problems, hopefully/perhaps the sooner the government will do something about it.
So true, Bets!!!
So true, Bets!!!
Awww, Bets, you're making me blush...I don't think I'm that savvy a traveller...lol. You should have seen our 1st trip to Europe in 2008, what a learning experience that was! Our 1st stop was Rome and I was on high alert in the train station for the 'gypsy' ladies and kids as I had read all about them and seen the topic on the Rick shows...not a sign of them, but lots of police presence. And we are still learning after 2 subsequent trips...but the graffiti wall topic on scams really opens your eyes on what to look out for...we've just been lucky...I guess when there are millions of tourists, your chances are pretty slim, but made even slimmer by being aware, as much as you can in the craziness that is touristy cities. Oh - and ignore the ones who hang out at train stations and the such who ask you to sign a petition against drugs or whatever...then ask for a donation...hubby fell for that in Venice in 2010(only a few euros)...then did it again in Florence last year! He never learns...~shakes head sadly~ I just ignore them and walk away, but his innate Canadian politeness won't let him I guess :)
After several trips to Europe in the last 20 years, I have come to realise that unfortunately, thieves/pickpockets see tourists as their major source of income. It is a fact of life that we visitors have to accept and take all precautions necessary without becoming paranoid. That for me is wearing a money belt and a day bag which I wear across my body and wearing your back pack in front of you, especially on the Metro. For everyone who says' I haven't had a problem' there are twice as many who have.
My husband works in Paris one week a month and has never been pickpocketed. He rides the metro from his hotel in the 6th to suburb just outside Paris. He walks everywhere.
I think Judy's math is way off, I would bet that for every person who does have a bad experience, there are dozens if not hundreds or thousands who do not. In my latest 1000 days in Europe (over three years' time) I have been approached once with what could have been an attempt at pickpocketing but it turned out to be nothing. I was once robbed - inside a church, no less - but that was over 30 years ago. I've had dozens of offers from people to carry my bag up a flight of stairs at train stations (especially the summer I traveled with a broken toe), and accepted most offers of help, or smiled and said no, thanks, I've got it. No reason to be rude. I haven't encountered swarms of gangs exhibiting violence. Gangs are a red flag to police. People in Europe - even criminals - are less violent than in the US, in my experience.
hi, fyi there are scammers all over the louve area and the eiffel tower and the adjacent park. i had the gold ring scam pulled on my 2x. once on Champs Elysees but not UNTIL i pullled my camera out to take pictures. When youre walking by yourself and someone makes a b-line for you, you know somethings up. I couldnt help but laugh my head off when it was happening since it was "text book" right out of RS book. they also have the mute person wanting you to sign something too. i met the same girl 2x and the second time i reminded her that i met her back at the tower, she just left. if you read RS book, he covers alot of the dumb things to do if you want to be a target. also, fyi, be weary of people wanting to "help/assist" you or your elderly up/down stairs. ONce they get close to you, thats it. they cant pickpocket you if they arent near you! just a fyi, people and tourist are target anywhere. Paris inst special either. We have our own "paris" in the Columbia River Gorge. Most of the people use/rent cars to get into it and people leave their belongings open to everyone to see. ONce youre up hiking one of the trails, the theives know you wont be back for a while, so they will do the break-n-grabs. Every year it happens too and people still dont learn. Alos, the theives are sitting in cars waiting for people to put things in trunks too so they know whats there. be aware and dont be a target. happy trails.
"They appear to be Romanian youths working the tourists in Paris." The Roma (gypsies) are not Romanians, but come from Northern India. They are considered dishonest so a great many are unemployed. Therefore, their only source of income has to come from crime. Kind of a vicious circle.
Oh yes...the 'mute' girls in Avignon! Who grabbed me husband's arm SAYING you sign...you sign (the 'petition')...and the signs all over the gift shop at the Pope's Palace warning you that they are 'neither deaf nor dumb'! It's shame they can't make an honest living...oh...and the ones on the trains in Italy that swiftly moved up the aisles passing out a note asking for money...one was 'trying to feed my younger brothers' and I can't rem the other note the 2nd time
We were in Paris last September and thought it was amusing that in the Louvre there was a sign posted on the wall next to the Mona Lisa stating that you should be aware of pickpockets.
@Leslie, The area around the Mona Lisa is one place where pickpockets congregate. It's often crowded and visitors are so intent on seeing such a famous piece of art, that they're not paying attention to what's happening around them. Perfect conditions for a pickpocket! To provide an example of how focused people can be when viewing the Mona Lisa, I assisted a woman that fainted there on one of my visits to the Louvre a few years ago. She and her husband could only speak a bit of English, but from what I could gather with my very limited French skills, seeing the Mona Lisa was a lifelong dream for her (she was originally from North Africa), and when she finally stood in front of it, it was so overwhelming that she fainted. At the time, I didn't consider that it might have been a pickpocket scam, and it turned out that the situation was genuine. Cheers!
I just received my pacsafe portable safe and pacsafe camera strap and can confirm they are of excellent quality and look forward to using them during my trip!