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5 Pickpocketing Schemes You Need to Avoid in Paris

Although Paris is renowned for its romantic atmosphere, rich culture, and exquisite cuisine, it is notoriously filled with pickpockets. Tourists and locals alike are often targeted by skilled pickpockets who operate in various sophisticated ways. To help you stay vigilant and protect yourself, here are the five most common pickpocketing schemes in Paris:

1) Distraction Technique

Pickpockets often work in teams, with one member distracting the victim while the other swiftly steals belongings. Common distractions include asking for directions, offering to take a photo, or even staging a sudden commotion such as a fake argument or a dropped item. While the victim’s attention is diverted, the accomplice adeptly snatches wallets, phones, or bags.

2) Hunting in Crowded Areas

Busy tourist attractions, metro stations, and popular landmarks are prime hunting grounds for pickpockets. In crowded places, thieves take advantage of the chaos and close proximity of people to discreetly steal belongings. They blend in with the crowd, making it difficult for victims to notice the theft until it’s too late. Always keep a close eye on your belongings and be wary of any sudden bumps or jostles in crowded areas.

Specifically on the metro, avoid standing near the exits as much as possible. Oftentimes, pickpockets will swiftly snatch valuables on their way out of the train, so that by the time the victim reacts, the doors have already closed and the train has began to move to the next station. Try to stand or sit near the back of the train so that you can avoid being targeted.

3) The Friendly Approach

Some pickpockets employ a friendly demeanor to gain the trust of their victims. They may strike up casual conversations, offer assistance, or even feign concern about a supposed stain on your clothing. While appearing helpful, their true intention is to get close enough to steal your valuables. Be cautious of overly friendly strangers, especially in tourist-heavy areas.

4) The Pickpocket Ploy

Pickpockets are masters of sleight of hand, capable of swiftly removing items from pockets or bags without detection. They often use subtle techniques such as bumping into you, brushing against your belongings, or creating a diversion with a map or newspaper. By the time you realize what’s happened, your valuables are long gone. Stay vigilant and keep your belongings secure, especially in crowded or touristy areas.

5) The ATM Scam

Paris is filled with ATMs, and pickpockets have devised schemes to exploit them. Thieves may loiter near ATMs, pretending to be bystanders or offering fake assistance. Recent tactics include people walking up and asking for directions while someone is using the ATM. While the victim is distracted, the crook gets the pin and card numbers. After the victim leaves, the crook then empty their entire account. Always shield your PIN when entering it, be cautious of anyone loitering nearby, and check the ATM for any suspicious devices before using it.

Tips to Prevent Pickpocketing

  • Keep your belongings secure: Invest in a secure crossbody bag or money belt and keep it close to your body.
  • Stay alert: Pay attention to your surroundings, especially in crowded areas or tourist attractions.
  • Trust your instincts: If something feels off or too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t hesitate to walk away from suspicious situations.
  • Avoid flashy displays of wealth: Keep valuables such as expensive jewelry, large sums of cash, or high-end electronics out of sight.
  • Be cautious of strangers: While Parisians are generally friendly and helpful, be wary of overly persistent strangers, especially in touristy areas.

By staying informed and cautious, you can enjoy all that Paris has to offer while keeping your belongings safe from pickpockets. Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of gold when it comes to protecting yourself from pickpocketing schemes in Paris.

Article written by My Private Paris

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