SURVIVING PARIS'S UNDESIRABLES
There are many beautiful parts of Paris and the city has an amazing wealth of history and culture to it. However, like every good city there are those who wish to spoil it for you. Paris is a well known player in petty theft crimes, pick pocketing and other scams, making it imperative to learn some street smarts if you wish to leave with all your belongings and dignity. Don’t let the details of our scams put you off talking to anyone and being suspicious of everyone, just use them in case you’re feeling suss of some shady characters. Have a browse at our little tips to help ensure you’ll have a holiday memorable for all the right reasons.
Begging is one of the simplest and heart wrenching ways to get your money. Begging occurs in every country and is usually a rather safe exercise. However, keep in mind that most places around the world use beggars as money making tools for organised crime by international mafia. You may think you’re helping but you’re feeding and encouraging a gang related activity. And when you tear up for the sleeping babies or children, know that in third world countries these babies are often kept docile after being drugged up on heroin.
Solution: If you’re feeling far too compassionate to walk away then buy some food or drink for the beggar so that you know where your money is going. Otherwise donate to reputable charities in the area that have long standing relations with legitimate homeless people.
Any Parisian will have a sixth sense that points out conniving gypsies from everyday people. Tourists however, will not. Pick pocketing is run by huge organised crime gangs, most of which are extremely dangerous. It is becoming more and more common for children to do the actual task of stealing as they are unable to be charged under the age of 12, making them the perfect criminal.
Solution: Never keep your possessions in easy to reach places. Money, wallets and phones should be keep in inside pockets with jackets done up, or in bags that are all safely zipped up. Women, stash big notes in your bra. If you feel someone touching your pockets or possessions, try and grab their hands and make a big scene, it will hopefully scare them off.
Metro Pick pockets
Not that different from normal pick pockets, these train surfers incorporate the element of surprise in their crime. Normally young girls from the age of 12-16, will run onto the train at the last second just before the doors close. As they bump into you and have a laugh about how they almost missed the train all your stuff in your pockets will be gone. Sneaky, sneaky .
Solution: Try and get a seat on the train and if you can;t then don’t stand right near the doors. Most stations are ok but if you see groups of young, tough looking girls lingering you should keep on high alert. Keep your things close to you and hidden. If you find yourself being stolen from, try and confront them and remain confident. Tell them to give it back and perhaps look towards locals for assistance. Just remember these young ladies have been trained by dangerous gangs, if they don’t meet their quota they get beaten up, punished or sometimes raped. They are aggressive and tough so don’t put yourself in danger. If they steal ten euro let them have it, it’s not worth your safety.
In this scam a group of children will approach you, ask if you speak English and ask for your signature to support their charity or petition. The general idea is that your signature on the clipboard will help to make a difference for something or another. Meanwhile, as you’re signing away you will be pick pocketed by some other charming little children.
Solution: If you’re asked if you speak English a simple non in a semi French accent should do the job. However the other option is to say sorry and continue to walk to your destination. Be firm and confident and continue to say sorry and just keep moving.
Damn these tricksters get more and more cleaver and this one is a classic. Put simply, some kind soul taps you on the shoulder and asks if you just dropped a gold ring, which they’re holding in their hand. When you say no they’ll ask if you want it but insist on a small price for giving it to them. The ring will be marked as real gold so throwing 50 euro their way won’t seem like a big deal…right? WRONG! The ring is worth about $1.
Solution: Say "No, Thank You" and walk on and keep your hands over your pockets in case they try and steal from you.
Friendship Bracelet scam
Perhaps the most annoying and embarrassing scam, you’ll no doubt encounter this one near the Eiffel tower or walking up to Sacre Coeur. A friendly person or child will come up ask how you are and ask if you hold something for a second. That something is string that will quickly be braided together and attached onto your wrist. Despite saying you don’t want it they will be very persuasive and even get aggressive and demand you pay them something.
Solution: Politely decline and keep walking, unless of course you are in need of new friends and an expensive pieces of string, up to you really.
So to wrap it all together in a nice parcel, let’s just say Paris can be dangerous if you let yourself fall prey to scams and scallywags. If you keep a good eye on things and play it smart you should get through with nothing but a few kissing photos at the Eiffel tower and a slightly larger waistline (don’t fight it, just roll with it). If you are a worry-wart then check government warning pages and continue the research, otherwise Bon Voyage!