Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Pickpockets in Paris

i guess it was just 
a matter of time.
my wallet was stolen
right out of my bag
at the grocery store.
we know many
people  who have
had their homes
broken into..
computers stolen
wallets stolen
until it happens to you..
you just don't understand 
the feeling of being violated.

hannah and griffin and i
went to our local grocery store
and like usual..
i made a stop at the ATM
after we do our big shopping..
i stop at the produce market
the meat market
the boulangerie
and i need cash
for those shops.

while strolling up and down
the first few isles..
i knew
two women were following me.
i had a sense about them.
one kept getting very close to me.
i didn't know they were together.
a few minutes later
one of the women asked me
a question which made me 
turn my back from my cart.
i replied that i didn't understand 
her question..
and kept shopping.

after putting all my groceries 
up on the belt..
i looked in my bag..
saw my wallet missing..
and knew immediately it was them.

the rest of the day was spent
walking to the
police station..
where the rude
non-english speaking man
told me that i had to walk to 
the other police station
half way across my 
arrondissement to file
my complaint.
once i got there..
of course no one spoke
english and treated me
as if i were to blame.

after filling out paper work
receiving my temporary 
carte de sejour..
i walked back to the grocery
store where i waited for the security
guard to come talk with me.
he was yelling at me in french
and i just starting crying!
he took me into 
the security room
with the cameras 
and showed me 
the women following me
and the one woman stealing
my wallet.
what a sick feeling.

no one was hurt.
and for that i'm thankful.
i know now
to be much more 
protective of my
and to trust my instinct. 


  1. Oh Pam!! I am so very sorry that you had to go through this--I would give you a big hug if I could.

    I had mine stolen in the Marais near the Picasso museum--this after having lived in Manhattan for 14 years and never having an incident! Alas, they must have been disappointed--just a maxed out credit card and ten Euros--I didn't even go to the police. Luckily, my return metro ticket was in my pocket. I am sure those ladies had a bigger score with you and again, I am so sorry...Plus, yes, I can never understand why people can be so impatient under such circumstances.

    And yes, instinct is everything--plus the idea that sometimes you have be willing to be rude if you feel that you are in danger...

    I hope today is a better day!!!
    Gros, gros bisous,

  2. oh how horrible Pam! I'm so, so sorry.
    I hope, somehow, you can get it back, and they will be punished.
    Yes, listen to your gut, and always keep one hand on your purse at all times, or have your children watch it when you step away.
    And P.S. I would have started to cry to at that very same moment!

  3. Oh Pam I am so sorry to hear this! I know when we were there in April that we were continually being reminded to be on the look out for potential pick pockets. And how sad to think that the security guard was so rude!! Once again I am so sorry that you had to endure this!!

  4. Dear Pam. Sorry this happened.

    Pickpockets and the likes are a big problem all over Western Europe. It used to be that using common sense in Paris was enough to keep your belongings safe; but not anymore. Incidentally, during my years as a Parisienne, the only time I lost my wallet was in London. People always let their guard down in the excitement of a trip abroad.

    When I teach my France travel workshops in the Seattle area, I always spend at least ten minutes discussing pickpockets and showing my students (women in particular) what makes a good - ie safe - handbag, and what to do with it in public places (street; cafés; public transportation.) Several have been kind enough to report back after their trip, and had interesting stories to tell.

    You can be too trusting anymore. These are very organized gangs. They use women, children, whatever works. Rick Steves recently did a special on that topic and mentioned Barcelona as one of the most sensitive places in Europe.

    The feeling of being violated is bad enough, but then you have to deal with the excruciating follow up (id and credit card replacement etc.) My American house was broken into twice in the last two years. I know how you feel. This incident may help understand why so many Parisians seem aloof and are reluctant to engage strangers. I used to be that way too while I lived in the French capital.

    Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

  5. Oh wow Pam, I am so sorry. I would have broken into tears too! I hate that the entire situation was so stressful and difficult, but so proud of you for pushing forward to file a complaint and going back to the store. I wonder if they followed you from the ATM?

  6. Oh, I'm sorry. It's happened to us too. My wallet stolen in a store and our house broken into while we were away - both in the Paris suburbs - so never let your guard down. It's violating and almost worse, SUCH a hassle to replace everything and file police reports. I think it is in the job description of French Police that they should know no English. They certainly don't let on if they do speak English!

  7. I am sorry for your loss and I understand the feelings of being violated. Our home was broken into so I understand. What I have never understood is why some women leave their purse in the shopping cart, opened??? When one does that you are inviting trouble. I always carry a shoulder strap purse so that I know where it is at all times.

  8. Hi Pam, I have been following your blog for a little while now, I'm also an expat American mom. I'm sorry to hear about being pickpocketed, what a major bummer. And then the way you were treated, ugh. I noticed your photo with your son is at Place des Etas-Unis. That is our regular park, maybe I'll see you there one of these days! I find a lot of comfort and enjoyment in reading about your experiences in Paris, in sharing a similar perspective. Some things are so frustrating and difficult and others are beautiful and breathtaking. Anyhoo, a friendly hello to you!

  9. That's awful :( I'm so sorry that you had to go through that.

  10. I am so sorry to hear of your experience. I would have cried, too. That is awful.

  11. So awful Pam! I would have BALD!!!! Not only being violated like that, but the inconvenience of the whole thing. So glad everyone is ok. What a lesson learned.

  12. I am so sorry that you had to go through that. I would have been crying right there with you. Nothing worse than that feeling of being violated ~ It leaves you numb and vulnerable. As an expat I have been kind of living my life holding my breath hoping that "something bad" does not happen. I have been kind of guarding myself ~ the stress that comes with those awful moments is crazy. Your post has shown me that bad things do happen and it is just part of life. The good the bad and the ugly. Somehow you find a way to cope and have a good cry. Thank goodness there is so much to be thankful for. Wishing you better days ahead.

  13. Hello Pam
    I have often dropped in for a visit to your lovely I hope that you won't delete my comment because it's not meant to be disrespectful towards you in anyway. Maybe it's because I've read similar experiences (rudeness to Americans) in Paris, France. So what is the big "aha thing" about Paris? I'm sure it's breathe taking and all the other wonderful things...but why live in places where they probably don't really want Americans to live? Just asking and I'm glad you where not physical hurt but the emotional lost can be just as bad.


    1. Dear rita and dear Pam,
      First of all, I apologize for my English.
      I think the trauma of pamela has nothing to do with the mentality of Paris but rather a significant increase of poverty in Europe in recent years and the free movement of persons in the different European countries. Paris is one of the most visited cities in the world, thus it attracts many pickpockets.
      But to be honest I'm French. If I love Paris (museums ..) I don't like Parisians ( pretentious they are, thieves i don't think so ).
      Have a good day and i love yours blogs ( both pam and rita )

  14. Ohhh Pam! I'm so sorry you had to have that experience. :-( I don't know why us women choose to ignore a gut instinct every now and again, it never fails... our gut is ALWAYS right. Hope it all ends up ok!

  15. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Bellissima foto, bellissimi tutti voi
      e felice di sapere che avete trascorso un periodo di vacanze nella mia amata Italia, soprattutto a Capri.

  16. Oh Pam.... I was so sick to hear about the theft of your wallet. But to be yelled at by the security guard?! Talk about insult to injury! I'm so sorry.... xo

  17. Thanks for sharing this experience.
    Sorry this had to happen to you.
    I hope today has been more beautiful for you and your family.
    Keep your faith and love for God.
    Psalms 91

    -a reader from Texas

  18. So sorry to hear of your experience but unfortunately this is what Paris has become. The police don't care. They have hundreds of complaints a day and these kids are put back on the streets in a few hours if the police do catch them. Paris is easy meat and the pickpockets know this. The mayor of Paris doesn't care because he is chauffeured everywhere he goes. I have a very simple rule now. I don't talk to anyone, I don't help anyone and if Gypsies are coming my way I simply move to the other side. More than once I have got in front of gypsies ready to pickpocket someone. The French haven't got a clue when it comes to security and frankly they don't care. It was never that way in the 80's and 90's. Now we are seeing the French exception full tilt. Inability to guarantee security. Yes. This is part of the French exception. Don't trust anyone It's unfortunate but if not they have all kinds of ploys to rob you.

  19. What a terrible, awful day... I'm so sorry!