Paris, like most major cities in Europe, is notorious for pickpockets. I wrote a similar article for my Rome trip, check out the article here.
I’ve been reading a lot about pickpockets in Paris prior to my trip. What I didn’t expect was they are literally everywhere in the city, especially the normal tourist destinations. After my experience in Rome, I was even more cautious. I constantly reminded the whole group traveling with us whenever we go near a crowd or public transport areas. Despite our efforts, there were 3 attempts on us, and 1 was successful.
Attempt 1 – Louvre Museum
This was our 3rd day in Paris (read original blogpost here). In my opinion, what lead to this was the ridiculous Nintendo 3DS guide for the museum. Many tourists were so fixated on figuring out the device that they lost focus on their surroundings. That happened to me. I noticed the many “Beware of pickpockets” sign in the museum, but I wasn’t expecting them to operate so openly.
Later, as I was going up a flight of stairs in the museum, I was so engrossed in trying to figure out the Nintendo 3DS guide that I didn’t realise somebody was reaching out to my wallet behind me! Thank god a friend of mine, standing at the top of the stairs, turned around and shouted “hey!”. The pickpocket immediately acted as if he is stretching his hands and walked away. I turned around quickly to see the guy, and to my surprise he is a European, with a small bag, and a camera over his shoulder, looking like any other tourist! The perfect disguise for pickpocketing! Absolutely shocking!
Attempt 2 – Louvre Museum
The second attempt was again in The Louvre. After the first attempt earlier, the group became more alert. At the Mona Lisa, there was a massive crowd. While pushing through the crowd, I made sure my sling bag is in front of me. Somewhere in the middle of the crowd, as I was taking the photo above, I pushed my bag to my side. After a few minutes, I checked my sling bag only to find the side zipped has been unzipped! Damn, that was quick! I quickly looked behind me but there was nobody suspicious (Like I said in Attempt 1, the pickpockets look like normal tourists).
Attempt 3 – Quick Fast Food
Ok, this is where we least expected it to happen. We were having dinner at Quick Fast Food along Champs-Élysées (original blogpost here). While ordering at the counter, my brother Aiman accidentally blurted out that he had no small change, he only had a 50 Euro note. I guess somebody must have heard that. After paying for our food, we sat upstairs, far from everybody else.
While we were eating, an individual sat directly behind Aiman (look at photo above). I thought it was weird for somebody to sit there as there were so many empty seats around. Aiman had his jacket on the seat, with his wallet on the inside pocket. After we were done, as Aiman was putting on his jacket, he got panicked as his wallet was not in the inside pocket. I asked him to check all pockets. He then found his wallet on the front-side pocket of the jacket. He was puzzled. He said he didn’t put it there. After checking his wallet, the 50 Euro note was gone. It was then we realised what happened. While we were shocked, I couldn’t help but to think how skillful was the pickpocket, being able to retrieve the wallet from behind the seat and then returning it back!
My siblings were quite traumatised with the experience, but I reminded them that we only lost money, so we should be grateful. We could have been in a much worse situation if the whole wallet was taken.
Pickpockets is a major nuisance in Europe. The BBC made a special news coverage on pickpockets during the London Olympics (Youtube video above). Apparently, Barcelona is the center of pickpocketing in Europe. And surprisingly, the pickpockets are not even locals, they are Romanians! These Romanians have a massive pickpocket syndicate operating in Europe!
It is my hope that readers of this blog could learn from our experience and have a safer trip whenever they visit Europe. Stay sharp and you’ll have an enjoyable trip!