Your trip to Paris is upon you, you are thrilled and that’s only normal. But you are not the only one. The streets and metro of Paris are also generally bustling with people. The hustle and bustle can be exciting, but it can also make one vulnerable to pickpockets. And it’s important to know how to protect yourself from theft. Rather than letting your guard down this holiday, here are five simple ways you can prevent pickpocketing.
Tip #1: Avoid putting anything in your pockets
Yes, you have heard that tip a thousand of times, and you know it well. Yet you still put your phone, your wallet, or your hotel key in the back pocket of your jeans. But you also know if makes your vulnerable in public areas, in the queue of a famous landmark, or in the metro. Pickpockets are unfortunately amazing at looking where you put your belongings. If your wallet or your phone is visible at all times, it makes it easier for them to rob it.
It’s time to change this habit. Perhaps place your credit card in an inner pocket, and your smartphone at the bottom of your purse; to make sure they are not reachable too easily for pickpockets to steal!
Tip #2: Close your bags properly
Don’t make your bag a target by leaving it open. It’s always better to close it properly with a strong velcro, or even better, a zip! An open bag will immediately catch the eyes of the pickpockets. And trust me, they don’t need that extra help!
If you are unsecure about carrying a bag in public areas, you may place it in front of you. That way you will always have an eye on it. And that is actually a tip to keep in mind when riding the metro!
Tip #3: Travel light!
Your day is starting, you are getting out of the hotel, but you put in your bag half of your suitcase? Just think twice. Will you really need all the items you are currently carrying with you?
A metro pass, your phone, your accommodation keys, and your wallet are probably all you need with you to enjoy the day. You may need an extra layer, or sun cream depending on the weather. But remember to take only the essentials with you. It is not necessary to take more than needed, and at it the end of the day you may realise that you haven’t made use of all the additional you took in the morning.
Traveling light has three main advantages:
- It makes your visits more enjoyable.
- It gives you the chance to be aware at all times, of where your valuable items are!
- And it makes it harder for pickpockets to steal from you.
All the advantages are not negligible. At the end of the day you are here to enjoy your days in Paris. And the three reasons above should convince you to leave at your accommodation all the things you probably won’t need for the day!
Tip #4: Beware of Parisian scams
Some scammers sneak up on unsuspecting victims with furtive movements, or their backs turn suddenly to look around. Don’t make assumptions about someone’s motives based on their looks or behaviour. If they act suspiciously, cross the street. If you’re shopping at an outdoor venue, you’ll find yourself more alone.
Below are the two main scams that happen frequently in Paris.
Pickpockets will ask you to sign a petition:
It became more and more frequent over the years. One person will come to you with a piece of paper and a pen. And will ask you to sign a petition for whatever reason: help children in some poor countries, protect the rights of certain citizens, or fight against a specific cause… The topics are various and will usually trigger your emotions.
What you won’t realise is that at the same time the conversation started, another person comes behind you and steals from you. He won’t need minutes, but seconds! So avoid being too close from these people, and tell them that you are not interested.
Beware, these people are likely to be waiting for tourists near the Eiffel Tower, or any other famous attraction of Paris.
If anything happens, try to take a picture of them, and report them to the police. So are well-known from the police officers…
Pickpockets will offer you their help at the metro station:
Some thieves will pretend to offer their help in the metro station. They will either try to sell you one metro ticket, or they will explain you how the machine works. In the meantime, they will quietly put their hand in your bag, or in the pocket of your jacket to steal from you.
Some other people will have a look at you, while you are getting your tickets at the machine. They will guess from your movements, the pin code of your credit card. After what they will find a way to steal it, and get money from an ATM a couple of minutes after.
If you come across one of these person, avoid them quietly. And if you still need an advice, go to the official counter to ask for help!
Tip #5: Do not put all your items in the same place
That’s something we all think about at some point, but that we rarely do… Don’t put all your belongings in the same wallet or purse! Indeed, if you travel with a couple (or more) credit cards, make sure you don’t put them in the same place.
As a traveller myself I always try to have one credit card in my wallet. And a second one in the inner pocket of my purse. The second one is usually staying in the same place during my entire trip and is just here for backup.
If you end up losing your wallet, your second credit card will become handy, and you will still have a way to pay for your food, commute, or your hotel bill. And your trip can continue!
A lot of people read nasty stories about Paris prior coming to the French capital, and it scares them more than it needs to. Having visited over 30 capitals in my life, I can say that Paris is not safer or more dangerous than any other big city. You will be safe as long as you keep paying attention to your surroundings and your valuable items!
Keep in the back of your mind all the tips mention above, and be ready to enjoy Paris as a true local!