I love reading old newspapers and magazines. Yesterday, I was reading an early 2000 (long before the November 2005 riots) rating of Chirac’s success in making Paris crime rates drop. Well, guess what? It’s now 2006 and the pickpocketing business in Paris – and Bordeaux – is booming.
In the last two weeks, we’ve had two friends pick-pocketed. You remember from my Bordeaux entry that the last incident occurred at the Bordeaux train station.
This time, Bill (who just arrived in town a few days ago – still not entirely over jet lag) was pickpocketed as he attempted to board a Metro train at the Concorde Metro stop.
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“I could FEEL the hand in my pocket,” Bill said, but I didn’t want to leave Joan alone in the train – she’d already boarded. I think we must have been watched for a long time, probably before we even entered the Metro station. We had stopped to look at the Metro map outside. But he didn’t get much. Fifteen Euros. I’d forgotten to bring my credit card with me and we never carry our passports on us. Usually we have a plan when we go on the Metro – if we get split up, Joan gets off at the next stop and backtracks. This time we didn’t have a plan. A few years ago, I would have gone after the guy – but I wasn’t going to do it for fifteen Euros – if it had been a hundred Euros, I probably would have gone after him.”
By the way, don’t think this is happening to you just because you’re a tourist. I already mentioned in my last post that a one French friend, Alain, had his wallet lifted. Now I can add to that another friend, Nicolas, who is a born-and-bred Parisian. He was getting out of the Asnieres Metro Line (Asnieres is a Paris suburb) and he had his cell phone lifted out of his knapsack.
Whoever these pickpockets are – they’re FAST, SMOOTH and EFFICIENT. Don’t say you weren’t warned.
Now, just because you have yet to lay eyes on a gendarme in the Metro – don’t think they’re not there doing their best to fight crime. Although we have yet to witness a pickpocketing in process, we have seen a plainclothes policeman dressed like a backpacker (yeah, backpackers!) walking off with a handcuffed, very unhappy camper. We HOPE that’s one pickpocket less you’ll have to worry about.