Travel Tips: How I got robbed in Paris
Exactly two years ago, I lost my travel wallet in Madrid. Inside that wallet were my passport, some cash, and other travel documents. Apart from the fact that I lost my money, I also had to spend more money on getting a police report and new travel documents from the Philippine Embassy in Madrid. This process was not a pleasant experience because it cost me much money, and I also spent a whole day running around for it.
During my last visit in Paris, I come with a different kind of story; the story of how I was robbed right in my very eyes. It all happened too fast that I hardly could notice that I was already a victim of pickpocket.
This was how it all happened…
We arrived at Place de la Concorde, which was supposed to be our meeting point for our city tour at about 8:00 am. We stayed there till some minutes past 8:00am, and our tour guide was nowhere to be found. We were all getting bored, so we decided to go and check out the other side of the square.
While we were waiting for the green light, a group of about nine or ten young gypsies, approached us and asked if we speak English, and if we could help them sign a petition paper.
Although some Filipinos residing in Paris had already warned us about the mode of operation of these gypsies, everything happened so fast that we couldn’t have enough time to be smart.
About four of the teenagers approached me; one was asking me to sign the petition paper, while another one was asking if we could kiss. The request was so weird coming from a total stranger, so I refused. I looked around and saw that my friends were already freaking out. After I turned the girl down, she quietly walked away.
Yen, one of my travel buddies then asked to check our bags, and that was when I realized that one of the “Roma Gypsies” managed to unzip my sling bag and my wallet was already stolen. I screamed out for help, and the kids all started running. They were so fast, and even the girls were able to jump over the fence quickly.
From afar, I saw one of the guys open my wallet and collect the cash inside it before throwing it down on the floor. I immediately picked up my wallet and checked; though they took my 900 Euro, they left all the ATM cards. I was also grateful that I kept my passport inside another pocket.
Though I was sad about the loss of my money, and the fact that those kids played a fast one on me, I was secretly happy that this wasn’t like my last experience in Madrid. At least there wouldn’t be a need to go to the embassy to process another travel document. I decided that the best thing to do was to file a report at the police station, so I headed off to the police station along Avenue des Champs-Élysées.
As I went to the Police station, a myriad of thoughts were going through my mind. I wondered why such young and promising kids have decided to tow such a dangerous path. I also wondered how they were able to outsmart me despite all my experience and exposure; then I realized that no matter how well travelled you are, shitty things may still happen anytime and anywhere you are..
How to avoid Paris Scams Gypsies
- Always put your bag in front
- Don’t put your cash in just one wallet. It is always best to leave some in the hotel for safety or distribute your cash in different pockets.
- If someone asks for direction, just say “I don’t know”.
- Most of these Gypsies will approach you by asking, “Do you speak English?”
- If anyone approaches you and says that they have found a valuable ring, and asks if it’s yours, it’s a big old scam.
- Avoid the street flower peddlers that will offer you free roses for your loved ones
- Avoid Gypsies asking for your petition signature
- Bring a whistle and use it if you feel threatened
- Shout “Police” when needed
- If you are traveling alone and visiting a crowded area, make sure to stay close to the police stationed in the area.