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cloudship

Pickpockets in Europe

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I am going to be visiting London and Paris next week. After reading a few travel sites I am now starting to get quite paranoid about pickpockets and hotel room safety. Am I overdoing it? I usually travel pretty light - I hate carrying backpacks and all sorts of stuff with me. In the US I usually carry my wallet in my front pocket, and a small cheap digital camera around my neck. Everyone these days is talking about money belts and other security measures. Is the crime rate that bad in these places that I need to have one? Is my laptop guaranteed to be stolen if I leave it in my hotel room?

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I wouldn't leave a laptop or other valuables in ANY hotel room in the USA or Europe. Take it, as all hotels advise, and have it locked in the hotel safe. Lots of people have access to the rooms while you are gone and you have no idea who might be in there.

Pickpockets are bad in most tourist cities except in Japan. London and Paris are no exception to this and in some of the train stations there will be signs advising people to mind their valuables and money. However with that said, I think that if you are aware of the situation, carry your money and passport in your front pocket, and so forth, you will be fine. It is no different than visiting DC, NYC, Chicago, etc. My advise is not to carry that much cash and instead use credit cards to pay for everything. There are also extensive ATM networks in London and Paris and you can get smaller amounts of cash at these locations and the exchange rate is pretty good.

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In certain sections of Paris, one can expect pickpockets to be in the area. Essentially anywhere there are large groups of tourists, it is a good idea to be aware of one's surroundings. There is very little violent crime in Paris, but theft of personal property is rampant. Situational awareness is always prudent.

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Probably a tad late, but better late than never.

Train stations, bus/trolley stops, and tourist sites are the most likely place pickpockets are going to target you in Europe. Beware of people "bumping" you. Bumping by a good pick pocket can get them into an unlocked bag or a wallet out of a pocket before you even know it. I had an experience with some folks in Prague who had that happen to them while boarding a train. The pickpockets actually bumped me too, but since I had my stuff secured in a locked bag in front of me over the front pocket with my wallet they failed to grab anything, however the folks just behind me lost several items because they had unlocked bags and had wallets in open cargo pockets.

Also cameras can and will be ripped from you hand or neck so pay attention and make sure when you aren't taking pics to have it secured.

Most folks will be fine if they clearly indicate they are paying attention to their surroundings, have their valuables secured and/or preferably not visible, and don't act overly touristy/non-localish. Pick pockets target easy picks.

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When sitting in a bistro in the street, put your backpack/bags straps around one of your chair legs if your not going to have it on your lap. Also, for you Ladies, if a nice gentlemen comes up to you and starts throwing the whole Fabio routine, watch your bag, b/c his buddy may just walk off with your bags while you're not looking. The best advice I can give to anyone is to try and not stick out. Whatever you do don't wear white tennis shoes and try not to act like too much of a tourist. :)

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For what it is worth. I just got back from my trip. I have to admit I was pretty apprehensive about pickpockets, etc. I did not find London or Paris to be any worse than other cities I have been to, and in fact I can say I ended up being a lot less scared of pickpockets than I am in NYC. They were very typical cities, really.

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Perhaps the additional warning regarding pickpocketing in European cities is that tourists may not be expecting it there. Perhaps tourists expect Europe to be a place where Londoners say "Tally Ho" to all who walk by and to get swept up off their feet in Paris by a charming Frenchman. These 'romantic' stereotypes aren't present within the US, so people's guard may be more down or they may be more surprised by it in Europe than other cities.

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i've heard the worst pickpocket horror stories about italian cities, especially rome.

i've never had an issue in new york, nor have i heard of anyone i know (people who spend a lot of time in new york) having problems there. i think the problem is that people go on vacation and want to relax and have fun and don't think about things like security. and most tourists stick out in a crowd, making for easy targets.

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^

Sticking out is why some Americans get pickpocketed in Europe. I'd suggest not wearing the Hawiian shirts, ball caps, white tenis shoes, etc. The places where I've had encountered or seen encounters of pickpocketing in Europe are Armenia, Southern Italy, and Ukraine. It really isn't as bad in most W. Europe & Central European countries as most people say. Oh yeah, Prague is another hot spot for pickpocketers.

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