Paris, the city of love and light. A dream city for lovers and the romantics. Heartbreakingly, it is also a hunting ground for pickpockets and thieves.
Their favorite targets are the tourists. Where the tourists go, the pickpockets go. Eiffel Tower. The Louvre. Opéra Garnier. Notre Dame de Paris. Montmartre. Champs Elysees. Expect them to be there and also in the Metro Lines covering these tourist zones like Line 1, 9, and 2.
Among the tourists, pickpockets prefer Asians. Why? Because we’re known to always have cash with us and that we’re the gentle kind. The kind that does not fight back, not create a scene and choose to remain discreet. That’s the stereotype and some of you might disagree but that’s it.
Because of COVID-19, the frontiers are closed and tourists could no longer come to Paris. Without tourists, pickpockets’ targets are getting limited. The Asians remain to be their favorite target and a band of pickpockets lurking in Belleville metro station has become more aggressive.
So how can you outsmart those pickpockets and prevent your dream from becoming a nightmare?
1. Do not bring cash and valuables.
Just bring around 10€ just in case. Pickpockets prefer cash because it’s easy to get and easy to spend without a trace. So do not bring more than you are willing to lose.
2. Wear a money belt. The day when you’ll be bringing some cash, put them inside your money belt.
3. Opt for solid sling bags or belt bags and hold them in front of you.
If you’re wearing a backpack. Do not put your valuables inside or wear the bag on your front. When bringing valuables, hide them by wrapping them with a cloth or tie them to your bag so they cannot be plucked out without effort.
4.Put your wallet and phone inside the interior pockets of your coat or jacket.
If it does not have one, make a DIY pocket.
5.When paying for something, take your wallet out discreetly.
Look around you first or try to stay away from the crowd. Cover with your hands well when you enter the code of your credit/debit card. Look around including above you when using your card to buy tickets in the metro station. Sometimes they stay on the stairs looking down at you.
6.Make a photocopy of all your identity documents.
Do not bring all of your identity documents if you don’t need them. Article 78-2 of the French Criminal Procedure provides that “persons subject to identity checks can prove their identity by any means”. In case of checks, persons hesitating to bring their original documents with them could therefore present a photocopy. The probative nature of these photocopies would then be left to the discretion of the officials who carry out the control. You can probably bring one original but determine first the hierarchy of which document is the most essential and most difficult to obtain. We know that the carte de séjour and the passport is very difficult to obtain, so you must hide them well and avoid promenading with them.
7.In the metro, be extra careful when staying near the doors.
Avoid using your phone and hold your belongings tightly especially when the doors are about to open or to close.This is the perfect moment to snatch your belongings.
8.When walking in the Metro corridors, have an eye behind your back.
You think no one’s behind you but then it turns out a small lady or a young boy is already scouring your bag. Which was what happened to me by the way. But it seems like 555 sardines didn’t interest them.Nothing was lost. Got lucky.
9.Be mindful of persons standing so close to you even if the train car is not crowded.
Don’t be deceive by their looks. Usually the pickpockets are young girls who look just like classic teenagers. They employ several tactics to distract you. For example, the pickpocket walking in front of you would turn back and the last thing you know, the person is already right behind you and opening your bag.
These are some of the tips that I’ve consolidated. Please feel free to add something by commenting below or by contacting me. And I hope that this article serves as a reminder to all of us.
Being victimized by pickpockets is traumatizing. They do not only take our valuables. They also take from us our peace of mind. You do not want anyone searching your personal affairs.
In May 2015, the Eiffel Tower was closed for a day as its staff went on strike to demand assistance in dealing with the pickpockets in the area.
In April 2013, the staff of The Louvre stopped working and closed the museum to protest against the growing pickpocket problem.
On 13 March 2021, a Chief of Police was victimized by a group ofBosnian pickpockets (teenagers) at the Gare de l’Est. The pickpockets were arrested later.
Disclosure: This article contains Amazon affiliate links. It means that I’ll touch a small commission for any purchase made through those links but without any cost on your side. Wink!