Dec 16th, 2019, 04:05 PM

Faire Attention Aux Pickpockets

By Sofia Quintero
Image Credit: Meaxgang via Unsplash
Student Victims of Pickpocket Warn Others To Be Cautious

"Beware of pickpockets," "Cuidado con los cartelistas," "Faites attention aux pickpockets," "Fate attenzione ai borseggiatori." You have probably heard these phrases over the intercom and thought to yourself, "that would never happen to me."  However, it's a real problem and could. Hopefully, these stories about two college student victims of pick-pocketing in Paris will change your mindset regarding petty thieves in the Paris metros.

Paris, just as the rest of the big cities around the world, is known for its overpopulation, extreme traffic jams, constant always-in-a-rush behavior and, of course, the dependence on public transportation. From buses to metros to trams and bicycles, almost everyone who lives or visits a big city uses public transport daily to get pretty much anywhere and everywhere. Unfortunately, just as in every big city, dangers come hand in hand. Although it is not extremely common, there are often cases of mugging and robbery in the metro. Pickpockets can be found just about anywhere and if you catch their attention, it will not be a pleasant experience. During November, two of my close friends were mugged in the metro on two separate occasions. One of them is a university student studying fashion design in Paris, while the other was visiting Paris with her parents. 

As most tourists do, it is a classic attraction to visit the Sacre Cœur Cathedral, located in the 18th arrondissement of Paris. At around roughly 3 pm, Natalia and her parents headed to the metro from the Eiffel Tower. They hopped on the 6 line at the Trocadero stop and headed towards Montmartre. They then got off at Charles de Gaulle Etoile stop and changed to the 2 lin, where they planned to get off at Pigalle and walk to the monument. In conversation with Natalia, she told us what happened as soon as she got on the 2 line.

"I first got on the metro and sat down next to a lady, and my parents were standing right beside me. At the next stop, two men entered the metro and asked a man that was towards the center if he could move in front of them. Since this occurred, it became apparent to me and some of the passengers that they were pickpockets. This was evident because the lady beside me stood up from her chair and clutched her purse tightly. At this moment, I told my parents that they seemed odd, and we kept a close eye on them. As we approached the next stop, the two men grabbed another man from each side and forcefully held him still. They later proceeded to empty his pockets and run out of the metro as soon as the doors opened. Almost as if they had perfectly timed the whole robbery. The men ran towards the exit, and before going up the stairs, they handed the items to a lady who was waiting for them."

Image Credit: Hannah Cauhepe via Unsplash

The second story differs immensely from Natalia's story, mainly because she has been living in Paris for a year and a half now and is familiar with how to behave and pay attention in the metro, or so she thought. Charlotte Sauter, or as most people call her, Charly, is a 19-year-old fashion design student who experienced a "fight" reaction when a man snatched her phone from her hand and attempted to run away. 

After a night out, she was returning home with a couple of her friends at around 1:30am, and 2:00am. After getting on line 1, she noticed the metro was still pretty crowded, but not immensely. 

"I was sitting next to my friend Alex, and another friend was on the seat in front. I was using my phone to send a voice message to a friend. Then, the train stopped at the Palais Royal. Right before the doors closed, a tall man with dark hair grabbed my phone and ran off the train. I immediately stood up and went after him, the doors were already closed, but the train was not moving yet, so I opened the doors with my bare hands and probably a lot of strength from the adrenaline and chased him down the station. When I got close enough, I began to hit him with my umbrella as hard as I could. I was also screaming at him in many languages. After a couple of seconds, I grabbed my phone from his hand, and he pushed me, so I hit him back with my umbrella and ran as fast as I could."

Image Credit: Aurelien Lemasson via Unsplash

It is safe to say that although the metro is the best way to get around a city, being cautious and alert is essential. From tourists to locals, petty thieves will never miss out on an opportunity when they see one. Dressing in flashy clothing, and displaying valuable devices or pieces at any time of day, can catch the eye of many pickpockets.