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Read this for the sake of you and your family

Sanford, Florida
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Read this for the sake of you and your family

I am posting this from Paris. Many of you gave terrific suggestions and your help contributed to the success of this trip. Upon my return, I will post a full report.

However, something happened today that I thought you should be aware of.

My sister was “pickpocketed” this morning at the Sentier Metro station. It was obviously professionals. It had to have happened in front of both of us, and we didn’t notice. No bump and run. A ‘normal’ woman distracted my sister for a second, while we were looking at the Metro map, and the woman's partner must have gingerly unzipped my sister's purse and reached in and in that moment, stole her wallet with credit cards and cash, and her passport.

Thank goodness no one was hurt.

You MUST wear a pouch under your clothing, with your passport, credit cards, and large cash bills. I keep a ‘throwdown’ wallet in my purse, with a small amount of cash. My husband keeps an expired credit card in his ‘throwdown’, so a thief will think they were successful, at least long enough for you to get away.

You MUST keep your purse in FRONT of you, tight against your body. Men, keep wallets and valuables ONLY deep in your front pocket(s).

Just my 2 cents. And I want to be clear. While this happened in Paris, it is not in any way meant to be ‘anti-Parisian’. It could happen anywhere.

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Kansas City
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1. Re: Read this for the sake of you and your family

Thanks so much for taking time out of your vacation to write this friendly reminder. Way too often, we all suffer from the "it will never happen to me" syndrome! So sorry for the headache this must be causing your sister and hope the remainder of your trip is wonderful!

Virginia Beach
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2. Re: Read this for the sake of you and your family

Thanks for this sobering reminder. Forewarned is forearmed. We surely don't hold this against Paris. Such is any big city anywhere.

New Hampshire
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for Paris
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3. Re: Read this for the sake of you and your family

So sorry this happened to you and your sister. It happened to my husband on the metro on our first trip (though, just a bit of cash, removed from the wallet!, nothing else). He had his wallet in (I know, I know) a fanny pack, right on top, under the zipper. The culprits, I think, were three school girls who hopped on at one stop and off at the next. They knew exactly when the train would slow down and everyone would be grabbing for something to steady themselves and be distracted.

After that, we could recognize them all over. I wouldn't described them as "professionals", rather a group very practiced in their "art". They are especially expert in selecting their targets.

I think the first line of defense is to never have all your valuables in one place!

If you must carry a purse, one with a recessed zipper is more secure. Double zipper pulls, that you can twist tie together when in/on the metro, are even better (especially slid around to the bottom). And, your valuables should be in an inside zipper pocket, not right under the zipper!

The pickpockets go after what is most easily accessible. So, it's essential to ensure that anything important to you is not. They will target someone else.

I never carry my passport, rather a copy (with the original in the hotel safe, along with any extra cards/cash). I wear only slacks/skirts with very deep pockets and carry a card or two in one and a bit of cash in the other. My favorite slacks have a full size zipper pocket behind the regular pocket on one side.

Besides the long hallways and stairways in the Metro, and that you miss all the scenery, this is another reason I prefer the buses - I've never seen pickpockets on the buses.

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4. Re: Read this for the sake of you and your family

I lived in Prague where pickpocketing is endemic and the best defence against it is awareness. One useful trick for men who want to have a wallet in their front pocket is to put the wallet in as normal then twist it round 180 degrees so that the fabric of the pocket has a twist in it as well. Then the wallet can't be pulled out of the pocket due to the twist. When you're in a shop you can then simply untwist and get the wallet out.

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Bohemia, Czech Republic
United Kingdom
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for Barnstaple, Robin Hood's Bay, Whitby
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5. Re: Read this for the sake of you and your family

That's a real shame and I hope you and your sister can still enjoy what remains of your holiday.

Loire Valley
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6. Re: Read this for the sake of you and your family

I have serious doubts about the wisdom of wearing a pouch under the clothing

The only time I was ever robbed was when I was wearing a pouch - and because it couldnt be stolen without me knowing, I was robbed at knifepoint. This happened when I was 17 - 31 years ago. Since then I have relied on awareness.....

The main problem with pouches is that a professional thief will know you are wearing one. If you are wearing a pouch, you must be varrying valuables, therefore you are a more appealing target.

Add to that the fact that if all (or most) your money is in a pouch at some stage you will need to access it. This makes it all rather obvious. A lot more sensible way is to carry your bag in front of you with an arm across it - see how the Parisiennes do it - and your money etc in a zip or button up pocket in a jacket. Most, if not all, pickpocketing is opportunistic - the thief will steal something if they see they can do it easily.

Sorry to hear about your sister's loss, but as you say, this can happen anywhere.

Paris, France
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7. Re: Read this for the sake of you and your family

Best to always keep passport at hotel - have a photocopy with you. Travel as light as possible. Some cash and a credit card in a zipped/inside pocket always. Rest (map, umbrella...) can be in bag or backpack.

Beware of money belts and bags held in the front too. Those can be stolen in metro even when you are careful.

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8. Re: Read this for the sake of you and your family

I've got a 10% discount card from Galeries Layfayette, which says that I need to produce my passport. Will they need to see the original (which otherwise I would not carry with me) or will a photocopy do?

Kamloops, BC...
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9. Re: Read this for the sake of you and your family

Hi --

You both have my sympathy - I hope that you are able to enjoy the rest of your time in Paris - that's the worst thing - they not only take money, etc., they take away your holiday.

I use a money belt under my trousers and inside my undies, as well as a neck wallet under my clothing, and a small envelope pocket that hangs from my bra straps - it's just the right size for credit cards.

I use my money belt only if I must carry my tickets, emergency fund, etc., with me. My passport goes into my neck wallet along with my emergency travelers checks - the TCs are for emergency use only, since they're so impossible to cash. I've been carrying them for about 15 years. They'll be valid as long as Amex continues to survive.

I lock up my passport when possible and carry only a copy. It was good enough for the KGB when I was in Russia, so I expect it to do the job everywhere else I go.

On top of all of these precautions, I make a point of being aware of who and what are around me. Since I travel alone a great deal, it's a little easier for me. I have nobody to converse with, so nothing really distracts me.

Up to now, I've had only an "almost" problem. I reached into my jacket pocket and found a hand already there. I grabbed a finger and bent it as far backward as I could, and screamed bl**dy murder.

I was not particularly frightened - I was doing major damage to the finger, but I thought that the more people who saw this fellow, the fewer folks he could victimize. By the time I let go, the finger had taken on a completely new shape, and I expect the fellow had to take on a completely new profession.

I agree that awareness is important, but it is merely one of the protective tools. For me it's an extra layer of protection.

New Hampshire
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for Paris
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10. Re: Read this for the sake of you and your family

I had no problem with a photocopy of my passport in any of the shops with discounts/tax refund assistance. It was also accepted at the bank when I exchanged currency.

I think it's best to leave your wallet at home. You don't need all that stuff, anyway.

I use a business card case for cards and a bit of cash, but leave it and anything I don't need for the day in the hotel safe. I've finally convinced my husband to carry only a very slim wallet.