Paris has been drawing visitors for centuries. When you think of the charming French capital, you think romance, historical monuments, amazing museums, beautiful cafes and enchanting gardens. And honestly, you also think "pickpockets".
Getting pickpocketed is, unfortunately, a common occurrence in places like Paris, touristy areas that tend to get crowded a lot.
Facebook user Naufal Bakhudin and his group fell victim to this exact crime during their trip there recently. Surprisingly though, Naufal, who was recording their trip using his 360-degree camera accidentally recorded the thieves while they picked his friends pocket!
In the video, you can clearly see the modus operandi of the two women as they steal several things from Naufal's friend's bag. The trick the pickpockets are using in the video is called the "concealed hand". It's one of the three common techniques pickpockets use. The other two are called the "helpful stranger" and "the stall". Read on to understand these techniques better, and to find out how to avoid becoming a victim to these type of thieves!
What They Do
"The Stall": Thieves operating in pairs work by one member stalling the target (by getting stuck at the underground ticket barrier for example). While the victim is being stalled, the other member will smuggle the victim's valuables quickly away.
"Concealed Hand": As they steal, thieves often cover their hands with a newspaper or a coat, so that the victim and people around them will not be aware of their movements.
"Helpful Stranger": Sometimes, a stranger will offer to help you out of the blue, like brushing something off your coat or helping you with directions, and while you're distracted, this is the perfect opportunity for someone else to take your belongings.
Now that you know how pickpockets tend to operate, you'll find it's not that hard to prevent yourself from falling victim to their schemes.
How To Beat Them
1. Place your things in your front pocket instead of the back and wrap an elastic band around them.
Having your valuables stashed in the front pocket will make it harder for a pickpocket to gain access to it, while the rubber band prevents your things from sliding smoothly out of your pocket.
You can also consider using a dummy wallet, as most thieves will not look for another wallet once they've found the first one.
2. Do not accept food, drinks or any goods from strangers you've just met in hotels, on buses or trains.
They may be trying to distract you.
Otherwise, they could be attempting the "lost ring" scam. It is one of the oldest and most famous of the tourist scams in Paris. The scammer will walk up next to you and then bend down to pick up a ring on the ground. The scammer (usually a woman) will then offer to give you the ring. When you accept it, she will harass you to pay her. Sometimes, the scammers work in groups, and they will harass you so loudly you end up paying to avoid being embarrassed.
In reality, the ring is worthless and made of cheap brass but it looks like gold.
3. Females should consider sewing a pocket into your undergarments, such as your bra, to keep valuables.
Thieves are aware of money belts, and know how to target them. Having your valuables stored in your undergarments will keep them out of reach.
4. When sitting down, keep your bag looped through your leg, or under a chair leg.
Besides pickpockets, there will also be snatch thieves. Having your bag looped through your leg or under the chair leg will make sure no one can run away with the whole bag.
When carrying a backpack, wear it in front of you rather than behind you, and wear sling bags across your body, not on one shoulder.
5. Consider using an anti-theft bag.
These bags are designed with special features that make them more difficult to gain access to and harder to steal, such as slash resistance mesh body panels, RFID blocking, slash resistant shoulder straps and locking straps and compartments
6. Avoid continuously checking for your valuables.
When you keep checking your pockets or bag compartments for your valuables, you also alerts thieves on where exactly these things are kept.
7. Stay alert.
This is the oldest rule in the book, but it's effective. Pickpockets often succeed by successfully misdirecting your attention. Also, if you appear to be more alert, they're less likely to pick you as a target. So, be suspicious if someone tries to distract you.
8. Spread your valuables instead of keeping them all in one place.
If despite your best efforts, you end up being unlucky enough to be a victim of pickpocketing anyway. Keeping your ID, passport, cards and other important documents spread out will ensure that you will not lose everything in one go.
9. Carry a backup ATM or credit card and photocopies of your travel documents and passport.
Similar to the tip above, if you end up being pickpocketed, you'll still have the backups and photocopies to fall back on and won't be completely stuck.
We hope these tips will help prevent you from having your stuff stolen and ensure you have a great holiday on your next trip!