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Robbed at ATM near Rue Cler

On our first day in Paris Sept. 3, our son in law went to the ATM on La Motte Picquet next to the SuperMarche in front of Ecole Militaire..At the exact time that 300 euros were emerging four 12 year old attacked from behind and grabbed the money. The son in law and two onlookers gave chase but at 57 years old the chase was over after 2 blocks. First time in Paris was not all fun. But the Hotel Muguet is wonderful for all the usual reasons and Martin is a pro.

Posted by
494 posts

Wow! That was brazen. So sorry to hear that. Hope the rest of your travels is wonderful.

Posted by
85 posts

My husband and I visited Paris last year and used this exact ATM. What we did is we never used it alone and while my husband was using the ATM I had my back to him and was looking out so no one would get that close. We used several ATMs in Paris as well as in Venice Italy (where to be honest with you I was more worried) but did not have any problems. We are staying again in Rue Cler next May so don't think I won't be on the lookout for these kids.

Posted by
9363 posts

Sorry to hear that this happened to you! I try to use ATMs within the lobbies of banks during business hours (or those with enclosed glass booths outside). I travel alone often, so I don't have a lookout available.

Posted by
11507 posts

Sorry to hear this happened to you , I too use the buddy system using the ATM , no one is allowed near us, and when on my own I am careful where I use it too, usually inside building, but do use street ones too, but I really make sure no one is near me at all.

Posted by
1568 posts

We also use the buddy system....back to ATM and watching.

Posted by
91 posts

I too am sorry for you. Like some others I marvel at some of the posts here that gush with praise about Paris when in many areas you can't walk more than a few feet without being accosted by some scam artist or roving packs of Roma. Paris has it's perks but it's a shame you have to be on your guard there to the extant that you do.

Posted by
11507 posts

ha ha Russ, been to Rome, loved the gyspy woman who latched on to my 11 yr old daughter when she looked at her parasols for sale, then the two others that appeared out of nowhere and also surrounded her, yuckers, but hey part of the experience.
Barcelona is worse!

Posted by
91 posts

Self defense has nothing to do with it. These kids are pros. I've seen them in action. They move with lightning speed.

Posted by
501 posts

My experience in Paris occurred as I went into the subway. For some reason this one had turnstiles; I remember their were some young children hollering and running around at the time. As I went through the turnstile I could feel a little hand reach into my left pant pocket; I quickly grabbed his hand through my pants and hollered real load and nothing was stolen. I was simply astonished that a nine year old would even try something like this. Later we went to Rome; I was paranoid the whole time; nothing happened, but I was on high alert. Have been back numerous times without incident, guess I don't look as vulnerable as I used to.

Posted by
11507 posts

Michael, ,most people would feel a certain reluctance to attack 12 yr olds, and if you hurt them you would be in trouble. Sorry, although pickpocketing is a crime, force must be in proportion to threat of force and a 12 yr old grabbing your wallet is not going to warrant a kick in the head .. And the stories are quite real, not frequent but yes, they do happen.. and yes, they target those who look a bit duh,, dull..

Posted by
9436 posts

I have to say, I'm having trouble with this story. When I'm alone at an atm, here at home in a small town close to SF, or Europe, or anywhere, I am hyper alert as to who is around me, who is close, and I am very on guard. As soon as I hear the atm making noise indicating the money is about to appear, my fingers are right where it comes out and I grasp it tightly before it's even finished coming out. NO ONE is going to get to the side of me, or in front of me and be able to grab it out of my hand. Definitely not someone young or an adult unless they had a gun pointed at me. I do believe it's possible this happened but not because Paris is not safe. I believe it is very safe. This story could only happen if the person was totally not paying attention to anything going on around them and didn't grasp the money tightly as soon as it came out of the atm. Paris is very, very safe when it comes to physical danger. That is how I measure safe. Paris is certainly 1000x times safer than anyplace in the US. Pickpockets, scammers, purse snatchers in Paris (or anywhere) are not in the same category as someone that will physically hurt you. There is a huge distinction between the two. Physical Safety is how I measure if a place is safe or not. And in that regard, Paris is very, very safe. So, to warn people of the "dangers" of Paris when the person getting money at an atm was totally not paying attention and not taking any common sense precautions isn't reasonable imo.

Posted by
144 posts

Mike, Regardless of their age even if you give them a year or two, how does this story sound unbelievable to you? I witnessed a girl chasing after a group of teen thugs in the metro who had stolen her purse. The only thing that prevented me from helping was I was on the train already and the doors were locked. Telling somebody to be prepared for something they can't control is misguided. I am sure he wasn't flaunting the money he was taking out and yelling hey look at me I have three hundred euros. If someone wants to rob you, hurt you, or do something, they will no matter how prepared you think you are. You may be some amazing theft proof person who can thwart off any oncoming trouble (sarcasm) but it is low of you to attack a person posting an experience. I doubt they were so bored in their day they decided to make up a story. Maybe we should all hope you get robbed so you can experience a little hardship, but we won't because we are not as petty as you.

Posted by
11507 posts

Michael, this is a thread that clearly indicates the "thugs" were twelve yr olds, so give or take a years, they are 11 or 13, still, they are kids. Thats where I got the "12 yr old" thing. Secondly, I don't doubt any of the stories, pickpockets do exist, and yes, sometimes people are set on by groups, almost always ( in fact I have never read to the contrary) by young teens or children. Its a distraction and of course works on the reluctance most normal people have to fight or really wallop a kid..
These stories however shocking, should be taken in context, I have visited Paris and Rome solo, and have never been attacked ( many visits to Paris in particular) .. so people do need to realize that they are most UNLIKELY to be a victim, but it can and does happen, and the best thing they can do is be aware of who is around them. And the kids are not attacking you, they are grabbing at the money, they are not trying to punch you, they are not armed. And yes, if you as a grown man hurt a minor , even if he/she was trying to steal from you, you will be held accountable if the force used by you is considered excessive or not warranted. You can push them away ( who wouldn't ) , but a 200 lb man may not punch a kid in the face. Self defence courses tend to teach you to react quickly and severely, one has to temper when one should go into the "fight " mode carefully..

Posted by
9109 posts

"...So, to warn people of the "dangers" of Paris when the person getting money at an atm was totally not paying attention and not taking any common sense precautions isn't reasonable imo...." Charming... blame the victim. You don't think it's possible that son-in-law was distracted by one of the robbers while the others took the money. Paris is a city of 10 million. It's got "big city" problems like any other metropolis around the world. There are homeless people, thieves, junkies, gang members, white collar criminals, shoplifters, crooked politicians and everything else in between. It's a great place to visit, but don't fool yourselves into thinking that it's some sort of trouble-free urban nirvana akin to Mayberry.

Posted by
9436 posts

Attack me because my opinion is different from yours. Charming of you Michael. But then, you've always been a charming one.

Posted by
989 posts

He was jumped from behind - can you not see the possibiltiy that his hand could have been jerked away from the dispenser as he was grabbed/knocked about from behind? I don't know why some of you think this incident is just another of "them Paris stories". This same type of mugging could happen anywhere, even in Indiana . Susan - IMO, I don't think you were attacked by Michael - he just has a different opinion than you. Nothing in the original post led me to believe that the SIL was "totally not paying attention" and she wasn't whining about the "dangers of Paris". And yeah, you kinda, no, make that totally, were blaming the victim.

Posted by
144 posts

the attacking mike is just a message board troll and the webmaster needs to ban him. secondly Susan, really? not everyone who goes away is a professional or even an experienced traveler as say some of us. Some of us have read rick's advice word for word, memorized it, and take it to heart. To say in so many words that the victim was being careless and not cautious is an unfair assessment. A good thief especially a gang of them are not rookies at this. they know which atm's are easier to rob from, location location location is not just for real estate. you may shield yourself at every atm world wide but as i said before if the perps have to opportunity to take from you they will. they may not cause bodily harm but they sure as hell will get what they want. that is what criminals do. some are smart, some are dumb, but they always have a plan. it is amazing how people on these boards who are seasoned travelers feel the need to "educate" others because they have gone over seas. I can guarantee you one thing though, when the bad things happen to you, you will most likely be the first one to say how could this have happened. you thought you were smarter than this. You are but you can't keep what others want to take. this section of the board is to share their trip details and not to be criticized, not even constructively. Advice though is always welcomed and next time maybe others will try to give that instead of condescending opinions of how it is to be done in europe

Posted by
177 posts

The statistics don't lie. Crime is seriously on the rise in western Europe. The police is overwhelmed and politicians are fighting each other. Here are the statistics for Canton Geneva this year compared to last year (I am sure that it is similar in Paris): Robberies in general +29% compared to last year. Street crime +103% (pickpockets, scams etc...).
There are several factors such as the Arab spring that made a lot of young people unemployed, rising unemployment in southern Europe, and people free to travel since Schengen.

Posted by
177 posts

Keith, I read the French and Swiss media and it is a hot topic currently. You hear call for resignation of officials in charge of security from all directions. There is a degradation in Paris also since May. I agree that you can find punctual statistics in contradiction but the trend is crystal clear and it is not good. Violent crime is down but petty crime is definitely up.
I am glad the UK is doing well according to your data. Maybe being insular and not part of Schengen helps.

Posted by
9904 posts

I haven't read all the back-and-forth on this thread, but wanted to note the OP's story is totally believable to me, based on some amazing footage I saw on a TV newsmagazine a few weeks ago. The thieves working the ATM machines were incredibly aggressive to an extent I simply wouldn't have believed if I hadn't seen it there. I've never had an issue at an ATM, but I take the line 1 metro home from work every day and can't count the number of times I've caught the young girls with their hand in the bag of a tourist or warned someone who looked like a tourist to watch out for them. They work that line like the professionals they are. Professionals who are too young to be really put in jail, that is.

Posted by
260 posts

We try to get money at ATMs at the airport. We then go to the bathroom and out all but sending money in our money belts. It is a bit less likely to encounter gangs of kids at airports. We also nearly got robbed in the metro although the kids would have found maybe 25 euros had they been successful.

Posted by
10371 posts

Thank you for posting this. By putting Rue Cler in the title, readers can know that they have to be on the look out even on the very recommended Rue Cler, which is in one of the upper class, old money, sleepy, districts of Paris. (Never did understand how a "back door" philosophy fits into the 7th, but oh well.) Foot patrols were eliminated a few years ago, but the present government is re-instating the foot patrols. Also, Romanian police have been working along side French police to break up some of the gangs that have imported youngsters from Eastern Europe training and forcing them to commit these types of crimes. Again thank you for posting. I've lived in France on and off for 39 years and do believe this and much more can happen. We and our French friends have all had incidents over the years. Always property crimes; never bodily crimes.

Posted by
177 posts

No Bets, I am not misinformed. I never implied a connection to the presidential election, Sarkozy, or Hollande. It is linked to seasonal migration and the recession that hit severely some regions. In fact Pres. Hollande has been quite tough which has made some NGOs uncomfortable. I also lived in France, studied there from école enfantine to the Baccalauréat, and I am completely fluent in French.
I am not interested in further debate.

Posted by
11507 posts

Mark , wow, how rude.. " I am not interested in further debate". If one is not interested in having others people state their opinions etc , even when they are contrary to yours, then why go on a public forum, you can't just dismiss people, unless you simply stop posting on the thread you don't like. Does that dismissive attitude get you far at home? And btw, Paris was same as always this July and August, and my family who have and still live there have noticed no particular difference since May,, the problems seem to be same old same old from what I hear around the table.

Posted by
177 posts

If I reacted that way it is because there was an attempt at politicizing my post. That is unfair.
It is not business as usual. It is foremost a growing human tragedy. Those kids are trained to steal. If they do not bring back one or two smartphones (or cash) everyday day back to their camps they are severely punished by their boss. The French newspaper Liberation has an article "Ces mineurs roms maltraités pour voler" dated October 23 that relates the findings of a police investigation on the abuse of those young girls.

Posted by
10371 posts

@Mark "since May" is code for since the Socialist won the election for anyone who votes in French elections (like me). I'm sure other dual nationals or French nationals read these posts. Because you meant something different, I'll edit what I wrote. Perhaps you'd like to make your original statement clearer. We happen to be on the same page as far as deploring what is happening to the lives of these kids.