Pickpockets, scammers, and thieves….. Oh, my!


No matter what happens, travel gives you a story to tell. — Jewish proverb

On a busy street in Paris, a man bends down, picks up a gold ring from the pavement, and asks you if you’ve dropped it. When you say it isn’t yours, he demonstrates that the ring is too big for him, and offers it to you. If you decide to take it, the pressure starts. Now, you’re harassed  to give the guy a bit of money for his generous gift. And the ring? Worth squat, of course.

“Will you sign my petition for saving the environment?” asks a perky young woman. While you’re scanning the clipboard to add your support to cleaner air, the petitioner’s pals are reaching into your backpack and lifting your wallet.

At the Arch de Trimphe, you crane your neck upwards, taking in the magnificence of the famed monument. Lurking among the throng of gawkers is an artful dodger, slipping a wallet from your back pocket.

The Trip Advisor France Forum is loaded with inquiries about Paris crime. Plenty of Nervous Nellies and Neds worry about being  victims as they window shop on the Champs Elysses or gaze at Notre Dame Cathedral. One tourist even inquired about what weapons he could bring, to ward off would-be criminals. Paris experts advised that guy that maybe he ought to just stay home, and they continually reassure others that Paris is very safe, as long as one employs a bit of vigilance.

Whether in Naperville, Illinois or Paris, France, it’s never a good idea to keep valuables in a wide open bag slung over your back, or to plop your purse on an unoccupied chair or on the floor of a restaurant,  or to be sucked in to a juggler’s street performance while your wallet is in your back pocket.

In Madrid, a woman approached and offered me a flower. When I shook my head, I was surrounded by several woman who materialized out of nowhere. Instinctively, I clutched my purse with both hands, said no, and walked away briskly. The women disappeared before my husband and friends even realized what had happened. Was I scared? No, just relieved that some street smarts had kicked in and I still had all of my possessions.

in my hometown, I wasn’t so lucky. Two years ago, I left my purse on the floor of my locked car when I went for a walk on a river trail. I returned to smashed car window and no purse.

In Chicago, where gun violence is a disgrace, I don’t feel unsafe when we’re enjoying neighborhoods or tourist sights, Meanwhile, horrifying and tragic murders occur daily in some areas of our beautiful city. If only stopping pickpockets were our city’s biggest headache!

No where on earth is immune to crime. We’re taking all of the sensible precautions, hanging on tight to our stuff, and crossing our fingers that our Paris stories don’t include one about a pickpocket.




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