I Got Pickpocketed in Paris

Last night I sat down to write an editorial about off-season travel. As I was writing, something reminded me of the time I got pickpocketed in Paris. I thought to myself, “why haven’t I shared this story before?” Truthfully, it’s one of those things that I’d like to forget and I still cannot believe happened to me. So, it doesn’t really come up much. But it happened to me. I got pickpocketed in Paris.

The Setting

It was summer 2012, June I think. This was my first trip to the world’s most beloved city: Paris. Instagram barely existed in 2012, and I remember I had just gotten my first iPhone. I actually bought an iPhone just so I could have Instagram. Back then, it didn’t exist on Android devices. Now you can’t walk anywhere in Paris without someone snapping a photo. When I went it was different. I got to experience the real Paris before everyone was obsessed with their phones.

Paris was a gift from my mom after graduating college. I spoke conversational French, as I had taken it all throughout high school and in to college. So Paris was the final French exam, if you will. There’s really no point in learning French if you don’t plan on visiting Paris. Outside of Paris, I have never used the language. We went full throttle and rented a cute little French apartment above a cafe. If there was ever a quintessential Parisian experience, we had it.

The Pickpocket

We spent nearly two weeks in Paris, and on the second to the last day, I got pickpocketed. On this particular day, we decided to head on over to the Ile de la Cite via the Pont Saint-Michel bridge. My memory is a little hazy, because it was so long ago. But somewhere in this area, there were shops after shops of trinkets. Most major tourist destinations have these little makeshift shops. They contained cheap key chains, Eiffel Tower mugs, Paris t-shirts, and so much other crap. We decided to browse through some of these shops in order to pick up some gifts for family and friends.

I had paid for something previously, so I left my purse slightly unzipped (about halfway actually). I was careful the entire trip, so I decided that “it wouldn’t happen to me now.” Do you ever have one of those moments where you tell yourself not to do something because it might have consequences, but then you’re like nahhh? When you know you should probably do something, but instead you don’t and then it comes back to bite you in the butt later. This is exactly what happened to me.

A little background on me: I am the most careful and calculated person I know. I am always paranoid about closing my bags and typically if I am traveling, I check my bag about every 30 minutes. Hell, I even check my bag throughout the day when I am home! If I am in Starbucks, I am watching my car through the window. Yes, I am this person. I never in a million years thought I would get pickpocketed, so I stubbornly left my bag unopened for a short period of time.

As we continued to browse through the shops (bag halfway opened), they were getting a little more crowded with people. We moved in to a shop that was a bit less crowded with tourists, because let’s be honest, every shop has the same damn stuff anyway. I browsed for a minute or two, and all of the sudden two men bumped in to me simultaneously. It’s hard to describe, as it was almost if one guy bumped in to me and caused me to fall back on to another gentlemen. Hence the trio of bumping that was happening. The best way to describe it is that as one bumped me, I fell in to the other. The walkways in the shops were insanely narrow, so it makes maneuvering them very claustrophobic.

I apologized of course, and then went about looking through the rest of the shop. As we were leaving, I started to feel a bit guilty that I left my bag open, so I went to check it to make sure I didn’t leave anything behind. At this time, only about five minutes had passed since those two men had bumped in to me. When I checked my bag, my wallet was gone. And as clear as f*cking day, I knew. I knew almost immediately what had happened. I don’t even think I could add 2+2 as fast as I realized what actually just happened to me. Those men had stolen my wallet.

I caught up to my mom, who was only a few steps ahead of me walking out to the next shop. I told her that my wallet was gone. At the very least we did search the shop together and we asked the owner if anyone had found a wallet. It was a shot in the dark since I was 99% sure that it was stolen. It didn’t turn up. I proceeded to tell my mom that I was pretty sure I got pickpocketed by two men who ‘bumped’ in to me, and it appeared they were working together. I knew from living in a big city that pickpocketers often worked in pairs, so everything made sense.

We decided the best course of action was to head back to our apartment immediately and start the cancellation processes. Luckily, I only had about five euros in cash on me. I am almost sure when they realized I had no cash, they probably just tossed my wallet. But god damn did they have to take my student ID?! Goodbye $7 student discounted movie tickets (I still suffer today). The ironic thing was, at work in San Francisco when we’d go out to eat as a team, everyone would roll their eyes at me because I never had cash to split with. But to this day I am so glad I didn’t have wads of cash on me in Paris.

On our fast walk home, we spotted a single cop. We decided to try and ask him if we should report the incident, or basically if he had any advice. He spoke broken English, but gave us a number. From what I gathered by his facial expressions and impatience, my wallet was pretty much gone forever, and that was that. When we got to the apartment I was able to successfully cancel all my cards, and not one fraudulent charge had been made. Yay! I remember feeling really relieved. I still had my passport at home, so I was good to go. If anything, someone is running around in Paris pretending to be me, or going to $7 movies. We ended up not calling the number, because we really felt like it would have just been a waste of time with the language barrier.

A Lesson Learned

A big gigantic enormous lesson was learned on this day in Paris. Don’t ever think that something won’t happen to you. I shocked myself that day. I am always so careful about closing my bag and triple checking everything. It was a crazy moment when I realized that I had actually got pickpocketed. I think what helped me the most is the fact that I realized it within five minutes, and we were able to call my card companies within 20 minutes of my wallet being stolen.

Do be careful of pickpockets in Paris. They happen. Though I think they’ve cracked down on them in the last few years. There used to be loads of people who stood out on the bridge asking you to sign ‘petitions’, and then they would pickpocket you as you sign. Stay far away from those people. Always keep your bag closed, and never think that it won’t happen to you. I wish I hadn’t gone through this, but hey, at least I can sort of laugh about it now.

Has something similar ever happened to you in another country? Or have you witnessed it before? Leave me a comment below!

41 Comments

  1. What a story- such a bummer that had to taint the last few bits of your Paris trip, but so good you didn’t have a ton of cash on you! Definitely good advice to keep in mind for summer traveling- you just never know!

    -Ashley
    Le Stylo Rouge

    Reply
    1. I know! Haha. I am actually really glad it was one of the last few days. It would have been so much harder to get by had it been like the first day! By that time I had bought what I wanted to and all that. 🙂

      Author Reply
    1. Yes! I did have my ID cards with me, which unfortunately were stolen too. But the passport was a good thing!

      Author Reply
  2. The whole two men bumping into you thing sounds like something right out of a movie! I’m not the most organized person but I am always paranoid about people pickpocketing from me when I travel. I feel like it’s one of those generic tips that you always get before you go on any overseas trip lol. On the other hand, when I’m in the US I’m so carefree about my belongings. There are plenty of times when I’m in New York and freely walk around with my bag open with my slr in full view. I guess I should take this as a word of caution that I should be more careful. Thanks for sharing your story and I’m glad to hear it didn’t ruin your trip 🙂 At least it happened at the end of it!

    Mili | Sharmtoaster

    Reply
    1. Haha doesn’t it! It was definitely movie-ish. New York is one of those places too where I am always checking, but it totally makes sense just getting used to it if you live there. I am definitely least paranoid in my own city. I also have a habit of setting things down in stores and walking away, so I think that’s always why I am constantly checking my bag! Haha.

      Author Reply
  3. Ugh that just sucks that it happened! But I’m glad you’re sharing it, because it’s definitely a good reminder for when you’re traveling. I find that I get so used to living in a small town that when I’m traveling to bigger cities, especially abroad, I really have to keep telling myself to be careful with my purse/wallet/etc. It’s good that you didn’t have much cash on you, though!

    Kathryn • simplykk.com

    Reply
    1. Yes! I also find it super easy to just set things down, especially if you’re in the moment and shopping or something. Thanks Kathryn!

      Author Reply
  4. I’m going to Barcelona in two weeks, which is apparently it’s pickpocket central, so I’m very conscious when I hear stories like this! Good job you didn’t lose anything to valuable, I never carry much cash on me either.
    I lost my passport in Paris so I feel your pain haha (luckily I live in UK so I managed to get home!)

    Reply
    1. Yup! I’d say Barcelona and Paris are two of the worst for those types of things. The best thing is being aware! Which it sounds like you already are. Have a great trip!!

      Author Reply
  5. I studied abroad one semester in Paris, during those three months our class of 18 students had 2 passports stolen, a camera, laptop, 2 phones and 2 wallets stolen. Luckily I didn’t get anything stolen but seeing my classmates stuff disappear made me extremely cautious. I’m sorry to hear about your experience but at least it happened towards the end of the trip.

    https://dreamofadventures.com/

    Reply
    1. Dannnnnggg! That is intense! I can’t believe someone was able to steal a laptop too. Just goes to show that these people are good haha. I mean I still can’t believe they were able to get my wallet off me so well. I felt literally nothing. Thanks for sharing this story!

      Author Reply
  6. Omgosh that is so terrible! I’ve heard that can happen in Paris but have never actually heard about it happening to someone. Good thing you didn’t have too much money in there at least. I need to be more cognizant like you and check my bag every 30 minutes when I travel. That’s something I never thought of!

    Tina
    http://www.justatinabit.com

    Reply
    1. Thank you Tina! It’s just a habit I always got in to. I think because I’ve left so many things behind in stores before haha. I am always checking my bags just in case. 🙂

      Author Reply
  7. I’m so sorry this happened to you Emily! You always hear about pickpockets in countries like Paris and Barcelona but you just never think it will happen to you and I can’t imagine how it must have felt!

    Musings & More

    Reply
    1. Thanks Emily! That’s exactly what happened. I just didn’t think it would happen to me haha. Out of all the cities I have visited and other stories I’ve heard, I would say Paris and Barcelona are for sure the worst.

      Author Reply
  8. I’m sorry this happened to you. When I was in Spain, everywhere I went people kept telling us to be careful of pickpocket. I was so aware of it all the time that I made sure I had a small bag with zip. I was so paranoid that I kept checking my bag. There were people at the hotel I stayed who weren’t luck. Thanks for sharing your experience. It’s helpful.
    http://www.comfycozyup.com

    Reply
    1. That’s crazy! It’s a good thing people were so persistent in telling you to be careful! Pickpockets are definitely bad in Spain and France.

      Author Reply
  9. Oh no, that’s terrible, so sorry that it happened to you 🙁 I’ve heard similar stories from several people, including a friend who lives in Paris that got her pickpocketor in action! As a result I’m also super paranoid when I travel, always making sure my bag zipper is closed and the bag near the front of my body rather than the back.

    Jenny // Geeky Posh

    Reply
    1. That’s so good you’re aware! I was always aware, but just being careless in that moment a I guess. The one time, I swear!! Haha.

      Author Reply
  10. That sounds like such a stressful situation but like you say, at least you had your passport safe back where you were staying. I had my purse stolen once in a different scenario and although I too had little money in it, the most upsetting part was losing the purse itself, as it had been a gift and one I loved. Also I can relate to the loss of ID thing, also very annoying.

    It’s good that you’ve shared your story though, it reminds people (myself included) to take care of their belongings at all times whilst travelling, or just out and about in general.

    Samio
    http://www.samio.co.uk/

    Reply
    1. Thanks Samio! It was definitely a good life lesson. I would have hated if it was a wallet I loved! That sucks you got a purse stolen you really liked. Ohhhhh people…

      Author Reply
  11. Ahhh how awful – this sounds like such a nightmare! I’ve heard pickpocketing is quite a problem in Paris, it’s a shame as such an experience can completely ruin someone’s time in Paris. I was stolen from in a slightly different situation – my debit card got hacked and the perpetrator spent over £500 on my card! Luckily the bank were incredible and completely refunded all that was stolen, but it was still a very stressful situation!

    http://www.whatevawears.co.uk

    Reply
    1. Dang! That is crazy! That’s a lot of money too. It’s insane how they can just hack debit cards these days. Glad you didn’t have to pay any of it!

      Author Reply
    1. Definitely don’t be sorry! It totally happens. Unfortunately we cannot control everyone’s actions, and I’m sorry it happened to you as well!

      Author Reply
  12. Noooo what a horrible thing to happen to you! I don’t trust annyone when I travel because of situations like this! Unfortunately it happens and what could you have done?! At least you were able to cancel all your cards afterwards?! Thanks for sharing this story though, people need to know that it can happen to anyone anywhere!

    Kim
    Simply Lovebirds

    Reply
    1. Thanks Kim! That’s definitely why I wanted to share this story. I just honestly never thought it would happen to me, but it can and it does happen. 🙁

      Author Reply
  13. Alexandra Nicole

    That’s unfortunate Emily. I had my iPhone stolen from me in a similar fashion. I was in Downtown San Antonio, Texas (on the riverwalk) and a man bumped into me extremely hard (enough to know the phone out of my hands!) and another ended up reaching out to prevent me from falling. After I thanked the second man– How stupid of me, right?!– I bent over to pick up my phone and it was gone. It was so heartbreaking, I didn’t even realize it was stolen, I almost convinced myself I left it in the car/ sister’s purse/ anywhere else. It wasn’t until I was calling my father from my sister’s line to tell him what happened that I connected it was the two men and they PURPOSELY bumped into me, JUST to take my phone. When I made the connection I will never forget experiencing the sinking feeling you get in your stomach when you’re on a rollercoaster, just awful! Ever since then I have been overly paranoid about my purse/ phone/ car.

    Reply
    1. Oh no! That is an awful story and so similar to mine. I totally know what you mean by that rollercoaster feeling when you realized they had stolen your phone. That was exactly how I felt. And then shortly after I felt anger haha. I wanted to find them and punch them! It’s so crazy how they perfect these techniques! It can truly happen to anyone. 🙁

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