Don’t Get Robbed in Paris
Paris, like any major tourist destination, has its fair share of sketchy characters looking to take advantage of disoriented travelers, whether struggling to read a map or trying to figure out how to use the Metro there are a few things you can do to hopefully avoid an unpleasant confrontation.
1. DON’T BE A TARGET – Leave your fancy watch and jewelry at home. Especially if you are planning on visiting the main tourist destinations, your “bling” can draw the wrong type of attention. The “bump and run” technique is a favorite of pickpockets in crowded areas. A person might “accidentally” bump into you and before you realize it your watch or necklace has disappeared.
2. PROTECT YOUR WALLET/PURSE – I would not recommend carrying anything of value in the back pocket of your jeans. Just like scenario number 1 in crowded areas it can be easy to lose your wallet while trying to navigate through the crowds. Try carrying your wallet in your front pocket if possible. Also, if you are carrying a purse or handbag, never set it down on the ground, on a table or on your seat on the bus/metro. A money belt is also a popular option, however, these are no secret to thieves either.
3. DO NOT SIGN ANY PETITIONS – This is a distraction technique used to get you to drop your guard and focus your attention elsewhere while an accomplice tries to snatch your bag or lift your wallet etc. In all the tourist spots, you will see many young people with clipboards/papers and they will ask you if you speak English, and if you would please sign their petition. Do not stop for these people under any circumstance. Say “non, merci” and quickly walk away.
4. BE CAREFUL ON THE METRO – The Metro is an awesome way to get around Paris and its cheap. But it is also a favorite hangout of petty thieves. At most metro stops you will need to use your ticket to get through the automated security gate. If you are carrying luggage, a backpack, purse etc. you should always carry it in front of you so your bag is the first thing through the gate. The gate closes quickly behind you, giving a thief a brief moment to snatch your bag from behind as the door is closing and you will be stuck helplessly on the other side as the perpetrator easily gets away. The same can be said for the doors to the trains themselves. When carrying a bag, you should try to stand as far inside the train as you can so that someone can’t easily grab your bag as the doors are closing and the train pulls away. While riding it is also a good idea to hold your backpack/luggage in front of you so you can keep your eye on it when the train is crowded.
5. CROWDING – This is something most frequently seen around the Metro but is used in other places as well. Beware of situations where a group of people seem to be “crowding” a certain area unnecessarily. This can be used to block your exit from the train or make it difficult to pass on the sidewalk. Typically, this is done to force you into a tight space where you can be easily taken advantage of.
These are just a few suggestions to help you enjoy a fantastic city as safely as possible. Crime in Paris is no different than most big cities, the only difference for Americans, in particular, is the language barrier, which can add to your confusion. Use common sense and your best judgment and you should have a wonderful time in Paris.
*Photos courtesy of dailymail.co.uk