Paris in the morning is beautiful
Paris in the afternoon is charming
Paris in the evening is enchanting
But Paris after midnight is magic!
Well, that's what we all learned after watching Midnight in Paris, Woody Allen's exquisite ode to Paris.
Alas, all that glitters in La Ville-Lumière (The City of Light) is not gold.
Paris, it seems, has turned into a big draw for pickpockets.
How and when this happened is for academics and criminologists to ponder over.
Suffice it to say, these pickpocket vermin are now a big menace, causing enormous grief to both natives and tourists in Paris.
Just the other day, employees at the famed Louvre museum (home of the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo) staged a walk out protesting against violent pickpockets targeting visitors.
Following the strike, the Paris police has dispatched 20 officers to patrol the vast museum.
The pickpocket menace in Paris has become so bad that the web site of the U.S. Embassy in Paris now has a special page devoted to the issue: Pickpockets in Paris: How to Avoid Becoming A Victim
U.S. Embassy Suggestions
Here are a bunch of suggestions from the American Embassy to guard against pickpockets in Paris.
Whether you're a first-time visitor to Paris or an American on an extended stay in the city, you'd be wise to follow these precautions.
* Never keep more in your wallet than you're willing to lose. Keep one credit card/ATM card, one ID and no more than €40-50.
* Keep in mind that pickpockets work in gangs, often using adolescents since it's hard to send minors to jail in France.
* Put a rubber band around your wallet and keep it in your front pocket. This will make it hard for pickpockets to get it out without you knowing.
* Reports show that 70% of pickpocket victims in Paris are women. Ladies, carry your purse tightly under your arm and slightly in front of you. If you have a backpack-type purse, swing it around so that it loops slightly in front of you. It's harder to steal something if it's in your field of visionl. Ladies' handbag with a zipper or clasp are a dream for pickpockets if it's dangling carelessly out of the owner's sight. Do not keep your bag or purse on the floor in a restaurant or shop.
* Ensure that you have a copy of the passport, and other key papers in your wallet. Keep all phone numbers and contact information to cancel your stolen cards and passport.
* Be aware that the most likely places to get pick pocketed are close to major tourist attractions like the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Louvre Museum and the Champs-Elysées.
* Americans in Paris should be alert to pickpockets and purse snatchers who usually work near tourist spots like museums, monuments, restaurants, hotels, beaches, trains, train stations, airports, subways and target vehicles with non-local license plates.
* When trying to get on or off a train, you will be swarmed by several people. As you're being pushed, your pocket is also being picked. A second trick is to grab the purse of someone sitting right by the door and to hop off just as the doors are closing. Always, find a seat away from the doors.
* Pickpockets are masters of distraction techniques to rob their victims. Two or more people will approach you and ask for directions, try to sell you stuff, or just crowd you. While you are occupied with one person, another is picking your pocket. Another favorite technique of thieves is to have something thrown or spilled on you, like water or ice cream. One person will approach you and offer to help clean you up and while you are distracted another person picks your pocket.
* Pickpockets usually trash the wallet after taking cash and credit/ATM cards. Contact the "Lost and Found" to find out if your items were returned.
Centre des Objets Trouvés de la Préfecture de Police de Paris
36 rue des Morillons, 75015 Paris
Métro: Convention (line 12)
Opening hours: Weekdays, Monday through Thursday 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
For information in English and French (toll call). Tel: 0821 002 525
Don't ruin your holiday in Paris.
Follow the above precautions and you'll minimize the chances of being pickpocketed.
Help from U.S. Embassy
The Consular Section of the American Embassy in Paris has an information sheet on how to replace certain items (such as credit cards and airline tickets) that have been stolen or lost.
If you have lost your money, the Embassy will provide information on the most rapid means for money transfer, and can help you in contacting family or friends.
If your passport was stolen, the U.S. Embassy will issue you a replacement.
American Citizen Services
4, avenue Gabriel
75382 Paris Cedex 08
Phone: 01 43 12 22 22
From the U.S. 0011 33 1 43 12 22 22