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Vultures

We heard this announcement multiple times yesterday on the train from Rotterdam to Antwerp (more or less exact): “Be aware of your personal belongings. Pickpockets have been known to work these trains and the station.”

“I beg of you, monsiour. Watch yourself. Be en garde. This place is full of vultures. Vultures everywhere. Everywhere.”

Posted by
6539 posts

It's a two-way street. If tourists didn't make themselves so vulnerable, they wouldn't be victimized. I'm not sure what the point of this warning is, it sounds like hyperbole to me. Most transit systems, including where I live, make a similar public service announcement. If there are a lot of "vultures" circling around, then there must be a lot of easy prey as well. But newbies reading this will take it to heart and be even more frightened...do we really want to motivate people purely through fear and to make travel so anxiety-ridden?

Posted by
8927 posts

Don't blame the victim. Be it petty theives or violent attack nobody "deserves" to be a victim of crime.

Posted by
2773 posts

I'm not sure what the point of this warning

Surely the point is self evident. If there weren't people being careless, or ignorant of the need to be watchful, there wouldn't be a need for the announcements. I don't see this as scaring the poor innocent newbies, but as a good PSA for the careless or clueless. And I've heard similar announcements on countless other transit systems.

Posted by
12096 posts

Larry may have posted the translation (in quotations) for a bit of a chuckle. I don't know as I've heard pickpockets formally called "vultures", and wonder if some tourists might peer fearfully around for very large, rail-riding birds!

Posted by
6539 posts

I wasn't blaming the victims, just pointing out that tourists have a role to play to not be victimized. They have to assume some responsibilities in that regard, rather than needlessly worry or hand-wring about pick-pockets as seems to be the case. Even with the best preparation, unfortunately it happens sometimes. As for the PSA, I thought the "vulture" language was over the top - it's obviously for effect, not to simply educate.

Posted by
2397 posts

It’s amusing and worthwhile even if it saves one person from falling victim to these opportunistic thieves. To imply that tourists making themselves “vulnerable” is the reason this sort of crime continues is a bit of blame the victim. Yes, people need to be aware that pickpockets are present and know that they are pretty talented. The only real solution is don’t have anything in a pocket or bag you are not willing to lose. Use a money belt!

Posted by
6539 posts

LOL:-). I haven't seen Casablanca....it's way before my time. But I'm embarrassed now since I missed the whole joke of the post. My bad.

Posted by
12096 posts

DOH!!! Guess it's been too long since I've trashed a box of Kleenex over Casablanca!

Posted by
12158 posts

Great scene in "Casablanca"

I know what you mean by the repeated announcement on the train. . In 2016 at the Frankfurt Hbf I heard the same type of announcement made in English and German when I saw the Roma types (girls) circulating in the station. 2016 was my first time seeing them there, before I had always seen them, if at all, at Gare du Nord but never at Gare de l'Est

Posted by
2166 posts

And it looks like our noting that the young girl on that same train walking the aisle with a large hanging basket/contraption selling all kinds of snacks was passing for Little Buttercup would be even more lost here.

Did not mean to start any arguments or such. I just could not figure out any other topic better suited to our observation. And BTW, Antwerp Centraal is at least as awesome as reported.

Posted by
5538 posts

And of course when the announcement is made, people immediately pat the places where their valuables are hidden ... thus pointing them out to anyone interested.

@Larry/Michael Schneider, "this looks like the beginning of a beautiful friendship."

Posted by
2901 posts

Are Larry and me the only ones who have seen "Casablanca" around here???

When I saw the "vulture" quote I thought it was familiar, but I couldn't be sure. It's been about 25 years since I last saw Casablanca.

Posted by
4532 posts

Why don't they just round up the usual suspects? ;-)

Posted by
4249 posts

Ah the old pickpocket hysteria! Anyone reading this forum would think that Europe was a hotbed of pettty theft and scams. It is not, sure there are thieves and scam artists everywhere (the only time I've been scammed was in Dallas) but not once in all my travels in Europe have I been a victim or felt concerned. I was even in Tangier today on a day trip from Spain walking through the souks and not once did I feel concerned or vulnerable. There is too much hyperbole around petty crime in Europe and it serves only to heighten concerns and paranoia.

Posted by
8927 posts

My last five trips to Europe (London, Amsterdam, Vienna, Antwerp, Hamburg) myself or someone I have been traveling with has been nabbed by a pickpocket. Fortunately we used money belts/hotel-room safes so there was no major disruption of the vacation. So in my experience petty crime/pickpockets is a very real thing; not theoretical or something akin to being struck by lightning. If you are lucky enough not to have targeted by one of these creeps congratulations...but your day is coming.

Posted by
8293 posts

JC. How very right you are. Anyone would think, reading a thread like this one, that the pick pockets , thieves and all round evil doers, are waiting just outside the airport in any European city to steal from or scam all those trusting, naive, good hearted American tourists. The only time I experienced an attempted pocket picking was in a super market in my own city. I heard a rumour that even in US cities there are pickpockets. Only a rumour, of course.

Posted by
868 posts

Also just a good very well crafted piece of cinema.

That's putting it mildly--it's a consistent presence in Top 10 all-time movie lists. I remember the first time I saw it I couldn't believe all the lines I knew--but didn't know were from Casablanca.

And, I've had one pickpocket attempt, the Metro in Rome, a young woman with a baby slung on her chest came up next to me and put her hand in my pocket. There was nothing there--I smiled at her and she quickly slipped off at the next stop

Posted by
7671 posts

Casablanca was way before my time too but I took a film class in college and Casablanca was the first of many films we had to study, dissect, critique and write a paper on.
It’s a classic.

Posted by
12158 posts

Yes, "the usual suspects"...Claude Rains says that phrase twice, ie, in two different scenes in "Casablanca."

Posted by
1042 posts

Casablanca is my second all time favorite film, just behind Singing in the Rain and just ahead of An American in Paris!
And pickpockets are real. Recently in Lisbon my friend and I were separated by a couple of them, but because our day bags were well secured and in hand in front of us they had no luck with us.
It doesn’t mean that one should walk around in a paranoid stupor. But I feel that if I take reasonable precautions, I can relax in the moment and not telegraph vulnerability.

Posted by
59 posts

In rome on the train...I guess you'd call it a train, it was more like a subway, we had a 80 year old women with us who was a bit shorter. They swarmed around us, pressed in on us tight, all of them like 5 foot tall younger girls. Then when the train doors opened, they seperated the older women until someone cried pickpocket real loud, then they all scurried out.
So it does happen. Just wear a money belt and keep your bag in front of you... unless theres nothing of value in it. Hopefully there is nothing of value that you bring at all.
Its good to be reminded often of the amount of thieves in the world. Very easy to become complacent when having a good time or at home. I never felt threatened and I am not afraid.... so reminders are very good.
I was suprised at the amount of scam artists and beggers around the vatican. It was like street performers.
One begger in Rome was a cute old man. He had his pencils and art supplies out, drawing something, so I gave him $5 euro and smiled. Then I started thinking about what I saw. The art supplies didnt look very used and I dont think he drew that picture. It may have been printed lol

Anyway even here in Portland. Dont leave anything in your car anyone can see. Many breakins.
We want to feel comfortable and safe, so its a tendency to forget.
Bring your money belt leave the fear :) Be thankful for reminders.

Posted by
12158 posts

Yes, it does happen. Venotraci..that reminds me in a way of an incident I thought was happening in Vienna on a recent trip...2016? I was waiting at the U-Bahn station, this girl stands close by, as if she were waiting for the U-Bahn to pull in. But something tipped me off about her behaviour...very agitated, couldn't stand still, like bouncing around. The U-Bahn train arrives almost in front of me, I go straight to opposite door and stand, the car was mostly empty, the girl also boards, stands nearby me. I thought she must be thinking I'm a solo target, then I move to the right center near the last rows. At that point she moves to get off the car just before the doors close.

Getting off the coach told me either she couldn't make up mind or never intended to take that U-Bahn line in the first place.

Posted by
2166 posts

“I am shocked, shocked to find out there is actual pickpocketing being reported here”

Posted by
1267 posts

When boarding my train from Paris to Amsterdam last March, the check-in steward at the carriage door told me to check on my luggage every time the train stopped at a station enroute, to make sure it didn't get off without me.
And this was after going through security to get to the platform in the first place.
Thieves are buying tickets now, I guess!?
There were also six heavily armed guards, and sniffer dogs, on board all the way, continually walking up and down while we travelled.