Please sign in to post.

Pickpockets in Paris?

Just wondering if anybody has had recent experiences with being pickpocketed in Paris and while traveling on the trains in France in general?

I just can't see myself getting everything I want to carry with me in a money belt. Not sure I even want to wear one (like a lot of women: does this money belt make me look fat?). LOL!

I typically carry a small backpack, or one of the smaller Ameribags, which I can sling across vs. just having it hang on my shoulder.

Any thoughts on this?

Thanks (as usual),
Veronica

Posted by
10344 posts

Yes, I've had a personal experience in the Paris metro. My wife and I were in the Chatelet station changing subway trains, I made the mistake of getting 5 feet in front of her, she had all her vital stuff in her money-belt but was wearing a video camera cross-ways across the body (not carelessly over a shoulder) in a camera bag. Two strong, tall young men apparently sized her up as a woman tourist with something valuable and walking alone (I was too far ahead of her)--they surrounded her in a flash and were blatantly going to open the camera bag and just take the video camera. She yelled aggressively, "Am I going to have to slug you?", that surprised the thieves. When I heard her I turned around and ran at them, there was a tense second of us men sizing each other up--they had to make a decision and ran for it. This was in a crowded metro station tunnel--they know exactly what they're doing and when to pounce. Nobody around us moved to intervene but perhaps they would have but it was over so fast. Our mistake: I got too far ahead of her and she was then (apparently) perceived as a target because she was a woman tourist alone with a camera. People here use the word pick-pocket but that day we learned that more direct tactics are also used--these people are very good at what they do and you don't know what you don't know about how they make a living off of tourists who think they know more than they know.I now hold her hand at all times when in the Metro, Rome subway, any public transit stations. And of course we each keep ATM/credit cards, deep stash of cash, passports (our trip is seriously disrupted if they get this items) in money-belts worn under our clothing.

Posted by
5105 posts

On my last trip to Paris (admittedly about 10 years ago) my wife and I were going from CDG to our hotel. We were in a Metro station (don't recall which one, but it was busy, probably a typical one for tourists coming from the RER from CDG). We had all our luggage with us: full carry-on size convertible backbacks worn on our backs. We both had our passports, big money wallets, etc. in our hidden money belts.

My wife had a little "fanny pack" with a small camera and personal items; she was wearing it in front (this was her first trip to Europe, and I had warned her repeatedly about pickpockets).

A train pulled up to the platform and we got on. It was crowded. We were standing near the still-open door of the train. A group of young teenagers got on the train and pressed up against us. One kid had a fairly large jacket slung around his neck, so it hung down in front of him, effectively hiding his chest and his arms. This kid was standing right up against my wife, face to face. She felt a little tug at her front-worn fanny pack and realized that the kid was using his jacket to hide the fact that he was trying to open her pack. All this happened in just a few seconds. She yelled HEY!!! and physically shoved him back. He and his buddies jumped out of the train car, back onto the platform, just before the doors shut and the train moved off.

I think they had timed the effort such that they were going to try and get off as soon as they had grabbed something, the doors would shut, and the train would be gone. Also they picked an obviously foreign, female tourist, with a "fanny pack". The jacket draped over the shoulders to hide what the arms/hands were doing was also key.

Fortunately she realized what was happening and she didn't lose anything, but it was a surprising introduction to Paris for her.

Now she leaves the fanny pack at home, and we secure all zippers on all our packs with mini carabeeners.

The pickpockets are definietly out there. Look out!

Posted by
10308 posts

The moneybelt worn around the waist is just one type of moneybelt. There are those that go around your neck, the ones that attach to a regular belt, ones that go around your lower leg, and more.

I use the Eagle Creek Hidden Pocket. It has two loops on one end that allow a belt to go through and is worn inside the pant leg. I've seen women who don't wear belts, attach the Hidden Pocket to the inside of their pants with a safety pin. It's very comfortable and won't make you look fat.

Carrying your valuables in an unprotected backpack is risky. I'm not going to say you're going to lose it, but it's risky. Others here will disagree and say it's fine since that's what they do and they've never had a problem.

I wear my moneybelt wherever I travel--even in the U.S. Anyplace there are tourists, there are thieves.

Posted by
152 posts

"I typically carry a small backpack, or one of the smaller Ameribags, which I can sling across vs. just having it hang on my shoulder. "

Not a good idea. Bags like that make you an obvious target. Thieves look for opportunities. Yes, many people will say they carry bags like that with no problem, but the various trip advice sites are filled with stories of people that have been victimized carrying those kind of bags. You really need to use a money belt, both for the peace of mind, and also to remove the opportunity from the bad guys. Aside from loosing valuables, there is the risk of injury, and as Kent indicated, you shouldn't expect people to get involved.

Posted by
40 posts

Gosh, Kent! That sounds like a scary experience! Guess we will be using that money belt for sure!

Posted by
1602 posts

I like to travel as lightly as possible on all day walks around cities. This past trip I used one of those bags (about 8 by 10 inches)which are designed to be a zip-around book cover. (They sell them at Borders and similar stores.) I carried it by its little suit-case type handle in non-threatening places, clutched in front of me when walking. We never had any problems in either Paris or London, possibly because it doesn't look touristy? The bag (which doesn't make me look fat) is big enough for my wallet, tour book, granola bar, small water bottle, tour book, map, and small camera. Passport stays at the hotel,zipped in a bag inside a pocket inside a suitcase. We don't use the metro--I hate loud dark underground places. We have never had any problems with thieves. Hope this helps.

Posted by
1568 posts

Many prefer to carry the sling bags...personally I don't.

There are sling bags with slashproof, tamper proof and snatchproof with wire inside that prevent them from being cut.

Here is the link for PacSafe:

http://www.pacsafe.com/www/index.php?_room=12

I use one of their day back packs and StashSafe 100 and 200. They are great.

Posted by
11450 posts

My thoughts are in dozens of trips to Paris I have never been pickpocketed, and with a few simple precautions you will not be either.

First, money belt will not make you look fat, the most anyone needs to put in it is a passport and their CC( and most of us only bring one or two of those) and their ATM bank card and some cash( not a huge wad ) . How can that look fat?
You do not need to put plane and train tickets in it, the pick pockets aren't after them,, put them in hotel safe.

I only wear my moneybelt when travelling, in town I leave those items in the hotel safe. Some people are too uncomfortable with this idea, I will not debate it , I feel perfectly safe doing this and have never had a problem. Do as you feel best.

Back packs are a pain, you will have to watch it so carefully, I wear a purse/messenger bag style, over the neck and across the body. I make sure it is positioned in front of my body( so it sits in front of right hip) . I keep my hand on top of bag when in crowded places. My bag has a thick nylon strap( can't be cut easily) It has a top zipper, and then a flap that goes over zipper and clicks into a two fingered release..
I carry my camera inside my bag, inside another zippered compartment. I feel totally safe.
I only every carry one days worth of cash( about 100 euros) that way if pickpocketed ( which I doubt could ever happen) it would not be the end of the world.
I carry a copy of my passport. I also carry my Drivers licence which I use for id( no one has ever asked,) but is also useful as deposit collateral at the Lourve, where they ask for your Passport for deposit for the audioguides. I wonder how many people hand over their passports for that but are afraid to use the hotel safe!!LOL
I only use CC for hotels and train tickets, and an occaisonal fancy dinner, so once again, they are not with me all the time.

Pickpockets look for the easy hit. Don't be one and they move on.

Posted by
251 posts

I wasn't pick pocketed (that I ever discovered) but a guy did try the gold ring scam on me in Paris. Thanks to this forum, I knew what he was doing immediately, said NO forcefully, and never stopped walking.

I was fine with the money belt until it got hot it Italy and I just couldn't stand it on my tummy.

Posted by
89 posts

All I can say is wear a moneybelt. I have for every trip to Europe and have never had any problems.

Posted by
100 posts

We hit the ring scam 3 times in less than a half hour along the Seine outside the Musée d'Orsay. The last one I saw coming, so I now have a photo of one very suprised ring lady straightening up, ring in hand, right in mid-scam.
She didn't have nice things to say to me after I took the photo. LOL

Posted by
711 posts

I guess this is a dumb question.. but, what is the ring scam? We travel to Paris and France alot and I have never seen it in action. We always wear money belts though and my husband once caught a woman with her hand in his pocket on the metro. He had nothing in it, but we felt there were 2 or 3 surrounding us with coats over their arms to hide the act. It is wise , if possible to get a seat on the metro.. many of the items mentioned happen when the metro is full and you are standing near the exit. The thieves grab and run off at the next stop.

Posted by
38 posts

As mentioned before, check out the pacsafe bags. They're great, the only bag I use anymore.

Posted by
11450 posts

Ring scam is just a scam, not stealing. A person approaches you, pretends to just have found a "valuable gold ring" on the ground right in front of you, for various reasons they will offer the ring to you( "I can't keep it, it is against my religion" is one example) . They then hand it to you, ... STOP do not touch ring, walk away ,, you shouldn't have stopped anyways, no talking to strangers,, LOL,, see now they will just nag you for a " reward" since they were so generous to give you the "valuable" ring...LOL

I have only had it happen once to me, on my last trip as a matter of fact. The lady did a poor job of throwing the ring down in front of me and pretending to " find it" that I actually burst out laughing at her, and my daughter said "why did the lady throw the ring down" she hurried off after my laughter drowned out her "madame.." . Note, she was dressed nice , blazer, jeans, smart bag, so don't assume it is only carried out by people who look down and out.

Posted by
43 posts

We had a guy that we think was sizing my husband up to pickpocket him, but I just glared at him so hard that he became nervous and walked away. We always travel in jacket/coat weather so keep our valuables either in the moneybelt or in interior coat pockets (sewn in if needed.)

Posted by
11450 posts

Lauren, I stared what I believe to be a pickpocket down on the subway in Rome. A man boarded the metro, and he had in his hand a newpaper, just one of those free handout types, which he positioned over his arm,,( like a waiter would a towel) I think he was trying to hide his other hand. He was standing near a doorway ,, and I just had this very strong feeling about him. He kept looking around, till he caught my eye, then he kept looking away from me, but then at me .. I did not stare at his face, I stared at his HANDS,, I cannot never be sure, but I have strong feeling that I was hampering him . He got off before me,, and I'll never know for sure,, but sometimes you just have to trust your " spidey sense " LOL

Posted by
2 posts

Three of us traveling on Metro in Paris for a few days this past July did have an encounter with pickpockets. Even though the gal with us had a sling purse crossing in front of her, a young teen-ager used a common practice of pushing ahead quickly of my friend, abruptly stopping,quickly turning, and just as quickly attempted to put her hand into my friend's purse. Two things were not in play here, though. One was that my friend saw what was happening and most importantly had her purse zipped up and yelled at the young gal. Also, there were two other young teen-agers who were suppose to push from behind leaving no space between the first gal and my friend. It was our feeling that these teen-age gals had not yet honed their craft and perfected it. Take note: as our metro pulled away the teen-agers could have cared less that their attempt failed. They went right back to sitting on a ledge in the station. Carry all money in a money belt except for what you think you might need for the day and know those Metro cars are packed at times and you must aware.

Posted by
258 posts

Luckily I have not been pickpocketed anywhere in Europe including Paris. I wear a purse that is slung across my body. It has two zippered compartments and a flap the comes over the zippers and attaches to the front of the bag. I bought this type of bag after seeing a few recommendations for such a type of bag on here and possibly another website too. I think it is very important to not have the zippers exposed & definately do not have anything that does not shut somehow. The bag was not overly big. But I could stuff it with a guidebook, lunch, camera, and other odds n ends with no problem. I mostly kept my hands free. I would also place my hand on top of my bag whenever I was in close quarters with others.

I took the money belt with me for both my trips, but did not use it either time. I felt fairly safe. I also think using a purse more blends you in with the crowd instead of using a backpack. Try not to draw attention to yourself and blend in with the locals. That is just something I try to do and it has worked thus far.

Posted by
43 posts

Thanks Pat. You're right - I guess I always pack my "spidey sense"! I'm glad that folks post their experiences so that other travelers will not be scared but rather prepared to take reasonable precautions. By being an "aware" (but not paranoid!) traveler, you are better placed to more fully enjoy your trips and lessen your chances of problems.

Posted by
152 posts

I wear a money belt. No problem. I nagged my 3 friends about not being robbed. I was robbed, they got my brand new camera. I was surrounded by daughters and friend. I go back in May. Maybe I'll get some pictures this time! LOL

Posted by
10344 posts

Mary Joe: So you're saying the pick-pockets got your camera but not the things in your money belt, right?

Posted by
1158 posts

I've never been pickpocketed but I've see many of the bad guys all over Europe. I can spot them all the time.
I don't like money belts or other things like that.
I wear a jeans jacket with large inside pockets where I can fit a lot such as:passport, credit cards air, plain tickets , camera.
Sometimes I carry my camera in a day backapck I always take with me. THis when I don't take pictures for a while.Otherwise I wrap the camera strap around my wrist and that's how I use it all the time.Then it goes inside of one my jacket pockets.
Some people here on RS like Pacsafe. I also read in some other forums about a safe camera strap that has wire inside.
I like the idea of carrying a sling bag or messagnger bag because you have everything in front of you all the time but I feel more comfortable carrying a backapck.However when I am in the subway I hold the packpack never carry it on my back.

Posted by
273 posts

While in France in June I wore a money belt the entire time. I felt it did make me fat (because I carried all my cash as we stayed in an apt. with no safe) and it did get hot sometimes but I never lost anything. My husband had a pair of pants from Magellans with a hidden pocket he could fit his passport & his money.

Posted by
51 posts

Here's what I do while Traveling, and thus far, I have never been robbed!

I use a money that goes around the waist and under your clothing. I store my passport, any important tickets, credit cards, ATM card, and most of my cash in it.

Then I use a Healthy Back Bag as a purse. I got mine from LL Bean. They are teardrop shaped purses that go over one shoulder but are designed to distribute weight differently than a purse. The zipper lies flat against your back, so you would feel if someone was trying to get in your bag, as opposed to a regular backpack where someone can walk up, unzip it, and you would never know. The bag comes in two sizes. I use the larger size and its great because I can stuff small purchases in it as the day goes on. You can also choose microfiber or leather. I like the microfiber, it's easy to clean and very durable. I store things like maps, guidebooks, a small amount of cash, sunscreen, and water in the bag and know that if they do get stolen, the most important things are safe in my money belt. The only valuable I carry in the bag is my camera. But I feel pretty safe with my Healthy Back Bag. I've been on 3 overseas trips with it and it's served me very well!

Posted by
11798 posts

I lost a camera on a bus ride in Munich during Octoberfest. Since then I always reduce everything I carry to one bag. Whether it's a shopping bag or a day pack, having only one item makes it a lot easier to keep track of and secure.

Posted by
7205 posts

I'll let a moneybelt make me look fat any day of the week...I'd rather have a few bulges than stolen credit cards and passports.

Posted by
711 posts

Veronica... Besides always wearing a moneybelt, we try to sit on the Metro. My husband once caught a woman that was in a group of three with her hand in his pocket when we stood by the door. He never carries much money in his pocket, but the point is that they target tourists on crowded metros standing. There are so many metros is is easy to wait for a less crowded one or find a car as they go by that is less crowded.

Posted by
108 posts

Our son who has lived in Belgium for the last 2 years made fun of me for wearing a moneybelt when we were there visiting, as if it were totally unnecessary, and even silly. Well, today he was in Paris (not his first time) with friends visiting from the states, and was pickpocketed. Even before it happened to him, he had witnessed someone taking a wallet out of a woman's purse, and chased after the guy until he dropped the stolen wallet on the street, and our son returned it to the woman. I might add that our son foolishly carried his wallet in his backpocket. He was lucky he didn't have a large sum of cash in it, but he lost a credit card, 2 debit cards, a Belgium driver's license, and a military ID. Needless to say, I couldn't help but have a really good laugh over it because of his mocking attitude towards my moneybelt.

Posted by
10344 posts

Gina: Yep, we've had a lot of stories posted here over the years about other travelers who learned what your son today learned the hard way: you only have to put in your money belt the things you want to keep.

Posted by
108 posts

Exactly, Kent. Maybe Mr. Invincible will be getting a money belt for an early Christmas gift.

Posted by
10344 posts

And after today, he might even wear it (ahhh, they say youth is wasted on the young).

Posted by
2023 posts

We have seen the rings scams and the guys with pieces of cardboard and the dropped coins trick--this is usually on bus or train. And we encountered this scheme in Paris: two people approached us and asked (in broken English) if we would make a purchase for them (in nearby shop) on our credit card. They offered us a fist full of money. We said no and walked on. Later we learned that this is a fairly common occurence and the money is counterfeit--beware of this.

Posted by
19 posts

just returned from a week in Paris and we used our money belts every day. I agree if you just put your 2 or 3 credit cards that you need, passport and money in it then it isn't bulky. My husband's backpack was unzipped while we were in a crowd but nothing was in that pocket. I would not take the risk of losing your valuable things!

Posted by
225 posts

Keep your wits about you, keep your bags and belongings in sight, make back up plans for documents, etc. and have a good time.

Posted by
9 posts

We had no problems when we were there in September, and my naive husband chose to keep his wallet right there in his back pocket.

Posted by
1 posts

Hi Veronica (& everyone).

Just 4 days ago, I was a victim of pickpockets in the Paris metro. I was traveling with a friend of mine and both of our handbags were opened. Mind you, my friend was using a handbag with a flap which comes with a buckle to secure it. Still, her handbag was pried open. My wallet was stolen but hers was OK. She's lucky because she put her wallet in an inner compartment with a zip. This made it difficult for them to fumble about her handbag in a short period of time. Also, it's highly recommended that you always place/clutch/hold your handbag in front of you.

In my case, I was clutching it on my sides. Their modus operandi: they'll swarm in with you into the metro, pushing and jostling you from behind and the sides. This will eventually cause you to lose your footing and that's when your hand reaches out to grab something to hold on to. This gives a window of opportunity for them open your handbag and to steal your wallet etc. Since they crowd you on all sides, no one in the metro will get the chance to see what's happening. Just before the metro is about to depart, they'll jump off from it. They are adolescents and they look like locals. So do take a look of the people around you before you board the metro at a particular entrance. If there happened to be a group of adolescents around you, just be extra careful. To be more aware of their modus operandi, go to this site: http://france.usembassy.gov/pickpockets.html

At this moment, I am going through a very painful process of reapplying my French visa from zero! Worse, I might have to call off a 2 weeks training course in the Netherlands because of my stolen visa.

Hope it'll help everyone.
Normi

Posted by
360 posts

Normi, thanks for that information. I've been to Paris many times without an incident, but I know it can happen. It happened to me many years ago in a London underground station. Even tho I didn't lose much, It left a bad feeling. I went to the site you gave & copied the info regarding how to report so I can take it with me when I go to Paris later this month.

Posted by
368 posts

I almost lost my wallet today at the Barbes-Rochechouart station. Saw the pick pocket coming and felt him go for my front right pocket with my wallet before I slapped his hand. We chastised him and his buddies from the other side of the turnstiles once we got through.

Luckily I didn't have much left in the wallet as it is the last day of our trip! :-)

Posted by
208 posts

The pants I plan on taking on my trip all have velcro on both back pockets. I have never been able to access a pocket without the noise of opening and feeling it. Just wondered if anyone has had experience being pick pocketed with these type of pockets. I still plan on the moneybelt but will have nothing in any pocket that is not zippered or with velcro. I will be using a R/S backpack bag and also have a messenger bag when I arrive in Paris. I wondered if it is best to sling the messenger bag to the front like I plan to do but then carry the backpack until I get thru Paris and onto my train to Bayeux. WIll be travelling alone and don't want to give them the opportunity to try me. Also if I knock the H_ _ _ out of somone who tries it, what might the consequences be in France for me????

Posted by
8960 posts

Velcro may make noise in a quiet room, but on a noisy subway car it's not as noticeable. Also if it's rush hour and the train is crammed like a sardine can you may not be able to stop pickpocket even if you do realize something fishy is going on.

Posted by
10308 posts

Wear the money belt.

Keep the messenger bag in front of you.

If you wear the backpack, lock the zippers.

As Michael said, the Velcro pockets will do little in a crowded situation.

You have the right to protect yourself and your property. If you feel someone pickpocketing you, you can forcibly remove their hand. (Smacking their hand usually works.) If you escalate and hit them, you could be in trouble. Not just with the police as many pickpockets work in groups. While most pickpockets are not violent offenders, they will defend themselves if you get violent. And you could wind up going to jail instead of them.

Posted by
1357 posts

TC, my husband was pickpocketed in Prague, and his wallet was in his back pocket with a velcro closure over it. We were on the subway, a group of men pushed him, and he knew when it was taken, but he didn't know which one took it, and they passed it out of the train doors before they closed.

I had suspicions about one of the guys in the group when we were walking to the train, and did the stare-down, but that didn't work. Next time, we'll leave and get another train.

Moneybelt, moneybelt, moneybelt! I've never felt fat wearing mine! And, luckily for my husband, I had his passport in it! I wear a moneybelt and carry a small purse with a bit of cash in it.

Posted by
1158 posts

Normi,

Sorry for your wallet, but I guess you learned a lesson. If I carry a purse or a backapck , it always goes in front of me and not on my back or shoulder. I don't like money belts, I carry a small backpack, but never put my money or passport in there. I put my camera in the backapck while I am out on the streets and not taking pictures for a while.
My money and passport go inside of a large pocket of my jeans coat.

Posted by
41 posts

Wear a money belt and have no stress during your trip. The consequences of being robbed is terrible, terrible, terrible.
You Want to avoid that. Fat? Well, just consider yourself more voluptuous, that's all!

Backpacks are out.

Posted by
515 posts

Passport and credit/debit cards and any other vital info should be in money belt or inside hotel safe, period. Ours stay in money belt even if there is a safe, because you just cannot be certain of anything. Across the body small bag is for small camera and batteries, lipstick, tissues, small amount of money.
Money belt, money belt, money belt...even more important than pack light, pack light, pack light.

Posted by
45 posts

We returned from Paris two weeks ago. I wore a knee length raincoat with zippered pockets and carried my money and camera in inside pockets. Once at the Concord Metro we saw some pickpocket action. A very young girl was running along the platform bumping a woman next to me but didn't get her purse and also ran into me. She was so fast. We also saw the "ring" scam people in that area of Paris.

Posted by
16 posts

Just returned from Paris. Wore the moneybelt, which wasn't very comfortable under my jeans or khakis (I'm slim and tall, and it just didn't hit right). I ended up using it only for my passport, bigger bills and big-ticket credit card. Otherwise, I kept my non-wallet-like wallet in my front pocket, with my lower-balance ATM card, petit cash and drivers license in it - no biggie, and given how form-fitting my jeans are, a thief would have to work hard to get their hands in there (even I had a tough time, and I have slim hands).

But I'm glad I did, as I was picked at Luxembourg Gardens: let my guard down, and somebody made off with my digital camera, which was in a non-zipped pocket in my hooded sweatshirt. My bad, wasn't thinking - I was enjoying the sailboat piloting experience too much. Thankfully, I'd backed up the memory card the previous night, so I only lost around 35 pictures.

I didn't let it ruin my day or my trip, and I found a great deal on a newer model digicam at Darty the next day.

On the Metro, I kept my wits about me and wasn't hassled. The thing is to blend in, look confident and, if anything, dismissive - i.e. look local, not wide-eyed, and it's easier to blend. Sure, for most travelers, this is tough, because Paris is a beautiful place with much eye candy; but it's best to set that tendency aside while in areas where security is an issue.

Just my own experience. Loved my trip, regardless.

Posted by
186 posts

Veronica: My wife and I use the PacSafe systems, One that goes around the neck or over the neck and a larger (200 series) that can carry packable rain gear, etc. Dorsey

Posted by
1 posts

I was traveling with a tour group in Italy. One of members had already been pickpocketed at the Vatican when she purchased water from a vendor. All her money and id...gone in seconds.

A couple of days later, as our group prepared to board the train, out of the crowd, a man begin to walk next to me, getting closer and closer. He wore a suit and carried a briefcase.

I called to my husband, about 10 feet in front of me walking with another tour member and I said "This man is making me feel uncomfortable!"...my husband and the other member turned around, as most everyone else, and that guy next to me quickly darted from the right side of me (where he was nearly leaning on me) to the left and into a store...super fast, he was gone.

Our tour guide said that is how it happens, the pickpockets are so quick and blend in so well with the crowds and are experts at their craft.

The thing here....be aware...be bold!

Posted by
4 posts

We spent quite a bit of time in both Paris and Rome, lots of pickpockets. Just be aware of your surroundings and don't keep valuables in your pockets or purse. I didn't carry a purse at all-that's what husbands are for. I don't care if he looks fat.

Posted by
23 posts

As to looking fat: Buy shirts that are not fitted at the waist! Our travels are much more relaxed using a money belt. We do take two small cameras in case one gets snatched. I also sometimes carry a shoulder bag with things that I do not worry about such as guide books, hand sanitizer.....

Posted by
331 posts

I definately believe in the Money Belt. Yes, they can get hot and uncomfortable ( I had my passport and my 2 daughters passports in mine), but after a few days, you actually get used to them. Chances are you Wont get Pickpocketed, but what if you Do? What a horrible way to end your long awaited holiday.

Posted by
21356 posts

I always find posts like Debbie's interesting. How do you know that there are lots of pickpockets? We have traveled over 300+ days in the past 15 years in some great reported pickpocket capitols of the world with no problems and to the best of my knowledge have never seen a pickpocket. I know they exist but don't know how to recognize them. Will someone describe a pickpocket so I can recognize them the next time?

Posted by
1787 posts

We used the neck pouch under our shirts and were comfortable and felt secure, and luckily had no problem. They easily hold a passport, some cash, credit cards and tickets..you don't need much more for the day. We met a man in Paris who was relieved of 2000 Euros and all ID before he got off the Metro from the airport. In Rome a young couple described how a pickpocket took his camera from the buttoned pocket on the side of his pants while riding the subway. He confronted the thief and actually reached into the pickpocket's pocket and pulled out his camera! Not a technique I would recommend but more power to him. Such thievery may not be as rampant as sometimes is suggested, but it only has to happen to you once to take on a whole new statistical significance.

Posted by
118 posts

So, are you all saying that if you want to have a day pack with a camera, light jacket, food, etc, not to take a back pack? To take a pacsafe, or a messenger bag that you can carry in front of you? I read all these posts and got really nervous to take the metro! I have a digital slr camera so I need to have it in some kind of bag, any advice, besides getting a smaller camera?

Posted by
85 posts

I always wear a money belt then carry a small backpack for non-valuables - like guidebooks, sweater, bottle of water, etc. I lock the backpack zippers together with small locks.

Out of curiosity, on my last trip, I decided to see if I would get pickpocketed while in Paris. I left the zipper on the top pocket of my backpack unlocked, but nothing was inside the pocket. Sure enough, it happened twice. The first time, I left the subway car and took the backpack off my shoulder and the top pocket zipper was open. I had not heard or felt anything! The next time, I was standing in the crowd by the door of the subway car and I heard and felt someone opening that pocket. I looked in the glass of the door and saw a dignified looking "businessman." I slowly turned my head around and gave him a STARE. When I left the car, the pocket was open. As far as where to keep cameras, I found a jacket that has hidden inside pockets where they are safe.

So the moral of the story is: don't ever keep valuables in purses/backpacks!! Use money belts so your vacation is fun and relaxing. No sense in inviting trouble.

Posted by
1787 posts

We did carry a small drawstring bag as a backpack for jacket, tour books etc. Nike makes one that we got for about $10 at a large sporting goods store. Did the drawstring bit deter the thieves? Or the fact that we look like soup kitchen regulars? (not the most fashion saavy travelers we). I couldn't say. I would carry nothing of real value in the bag ,however, and just as well because we spared the pickpockets the trouble and left it behind ourselves in the excitement of traveling in the most fabled cities of the world. And truth be told...we lost 2 that way. En Garde! and have a safe trip.

Posted by
10308 posts

LIndsay, you can take a backpack. But the times you're not using the camera and keeping it in the backpack, lock the zippers together so no one can get into them. That's what I do.

Now I use a messenger bag but still bring locks/fasteners to make it difficult to open the zippers of the bag.

And, when on the metro, carry the backpack/daybag in front of you.

PIckpockets are opportunists. They look for people who aren't paying attention to their belongings.

Posted by
1 posts

Pacsafe also makes a camera strap that you can use on an SLR camera. It can't be cut off you, and if you wear it around your body rather than just over your head, it can't be easily taken from you. That is what we used on our camera while in Paris.

I also have a Pacsafe pack. It has an adjustable strap that can be worn either across your body or around your waist like a fanny pack. Because the strap cannot be cut (it has wires in it), I chose to wear it around my waist. I used a lock to keep the strap attached (just as a precaution) and it fit nicely under my coat. So, I had a safe pack as well as made it more difficult for someone to access it.

Most of all, look like you know what you're doing and always be aware of your surroundings and you shouldn't have any problems. :)

Posted by
1357 posts

As far as identifying a pickpocket, we did see the man who took my husband's wallet in Prague. Look out for anyone who seems to follow you around, then get out of the metro or take another train. Don't try to outsmart them, they have much more experience than you. I saw this guy following us and thought we needed to keep an eye on him. We kept our eyes on him walking into the train in front of my husband with his friends and taking his wallet before passing it out to someone before the doors closed.

Posted by
2 posts

I always thought it would be a treat to figure out a way to rig some mousetraps in your bag, leave the pocket half-zipped and hang out where the pickpockets like to prey. How funny would it be for one of them to stick their hands into your pocket thinking they'll find a nice digital camera, only to pull their hand out in excruciating pain!

Posted by
21356 posts

Kevin, that is not a good idea or very smart either. You do not want a pickpocket to get that close. If the money belt is worn as intended, it will not show and will not make you look fat. However, some people prefer to wear the money belt at the waist line in front for easy access. Why I don't think that is particularly smart, it is better than not using a money belt. If you wear it like that it will add a little girth. But traveling to Europe is not a fashion show.

Posted by
35 posts

Veronica,

I was in Paris last May with just my son and I . I never felt scared or threatened. I did wear a money belt with my and my son's passport, airline tickets and money in it. They all fit and I think the belt may have flattened my stomach a little :) Wear the money belt you eventually forget you even have it on. I also brought safety pins and used them on our pockets and the zippers of my day pack. Have a wonderful time Paris is a beautiful city!!

Posted by
1 posts

In May of this year my wife and I were part of a tour group. On our first subway train trip in Paris, several young girls, 10-12 years old or so, boarded 2 adjacent cars. The locals knew they were pickpockets and told one of our group members, who failed to communicate the alert.

My wife was carrying a shoulder bag, and she had the bag in front, to keep a hand and an eye on it. I recall one of the girls standing near my wife. I did not watch the girl though. The girls got off the train after a couple of stops.

After we got off the subway and were walking down a street with our group, my wife discovered her bag had all the pockets unzipped and that her wallet was gone, which contained our credit cards. Being we were with a large group, it took us a couple of hours to get back to the hotel and call in the theft.

Fortunately, my wife had recorded all the credit card data and emailed it to herself. Using that email, she could give accurate information to the credit card companies. In the 2-3 hours it took us to get this done, the thieves had racked up several thousand dollars in charges. The children appear to be working for adults and have quite a racket going.

Despite this, Barcelona was the absolute worst place on our trip for pickpockets. There were at four pickpocket attempts on our group of about 40, and over a 2 day period, that was about a 5% chance of a pickpocket attempt per day.

A relative of ours and a friend were hit too in Barcelona. 2 guys came up and said they were with the police and wanted to see their passports. That required them to dig out their wallets, where people usually keep their passports. The guys snatched one of the wallets and ran. The wallet had about 800 Euros in it.

Be careful over there. Europe is packed with thieves.

Posted by
1035 posts

I think marching around in a large group like this probably increases the odds of being a victim by a power of 10. Sorry to hear about your experience.

Posted by
1170 posts

I stared down a line-up of "Goth" (gypsy) girls on a ferry from Amalfi to Capri in Italy a couple of years ago. There was a small group of elderly American tourists in the front seat upper deck of the ferry and sitting directly behind them a group of girls who very quietly sat there sizing them up. One of the girls caught me staring intensely in their direction and let the others know what I was doing. Each one turned at some point to see me staring back at them. Then "Mama" came over and sat next to my traveling companion and chatted her up and attempted to draw my attention away from the girls. It didn't work. I warned my traveling partner not to speak to the woman (who said she was from Naples...Why was she on the ferry from Amalfi to Capri?). For the entire ferry ride, I stared blankly at the girls and spoiled their fun. They got off the ferry in Capri to take care of their "business", and we saw them again on the ride back, this time, the girls rode on the lower deck.

For the lion's share of my cash, credit/debit cards, passport, etc. I use a neck wallet. It's a personal preference for me, others prefer a money belt. Keep a smaller amount of money in a front pocket so that you don't have to go digging into your money belt in public. It's a dead giveaway as to the location of your valuables and very inconvenient. Go to a restroom stall if possible to get at your money belt to retrieve additional cash or a credit card.

For my larger valuables such as cell phone, camera, iPod, etc...I use a PacSafe Metrosafe 200 bag with all it's security features. It's safer than using an unprotected backpack.

Posted by
961 posts

I have always used either the bra safe daily and when going from town to town the neck safe worn diagonally under my arm. I shortened the neck safe and removed the slider. When traveling with my husband he wears the moneybelt and I use only the brasafe.
In the past I've always bought something at a local grocery and used one of their recyclable bags ( not the throwaway ones)to carry my guidebook, umbrella, small camera case and kept a scarf on top. Wouldnt stop a slasher -likely I flatter myself I blend in with groceries.

Posted by
273 posts

I felt I looked fat with my money belt but I wore it anyway. I now travel with men's Magellan pants that have a secuity pocket that will hold a special flat travel wallet I have that has my passport, credit cards & cash. The pants have two large velcro pockets on the legs where I put my cell phone in one and camera in the other. Don't need the money belt with those pants and I don't have to carry anything!