The Truth About Pickpockets In Paris

Oh well, Paris and pickpockets can never be separated. Learn how pickpockets in Paris make you their ideal victim.

Merry Go Round near Eiffel Tower
Photo de Liam Gant provenant de Pexels

Paris has always been labelled the ‘city of romance’ and the ‘city of lights’. However, everyone forgets about one more important thing. Paris is also a city filled with pickpockets and scammers.

I’ve been living in Paris for quite some time, and after being an unfortunate victim myself and experiencing endless attempts, I can definitely tell you how pickpockets in Paris make you their ideal victim! 

Have you visited Paris yet? Do you love it? Have you ever been pickpocketed before in Paris?

If you had been in a situation where you realized that you just lost your wallet, you are not alone. 

I am pretty sure most of us came to had gone through the moment where you scrambled all the things in your bag finding for your wallet to pay your croissants and a cup of café latté, and your wallet is no longer there…

Or perhaps, when you’re waiting for the metro. You are chit-chatting with your family or your friends. The metro arrives. You take a step in and you realize that the number of people around you increases significantly and you are separated from your friends or family.

You tell yourself that it might just be the peak hour, and that’s why it is so full. As you are trying to figure out where to get a grip, you let your guard down. The next thing you know, your zip bag is already open and your belongings are gone…

Quand il y a de la merde dans ta vie en France, on me dit souvent : 

France Frag
Photo de Matt Hardy provenant de Pexels

Bienvenue en France les gars. Bienvenue. 

Et ca c’est totalement vrai!

(When there’s shitty stuff that is happening in your life in France, they always tell me: Welcome to France. Welcome. Which is totally true !)

I was a victim too…

It is a very very very horrible feeling when you become a victim. I know that feeling… I became the ideal victim of the pickpockets when I first arrived in Paris in 2013. Lost almost 600 euros in a blink of an eye. That was my fault for being gullible and letting my guard down. Oh well, I’ll save that story for another time. 

I’ve read a lot of articles or blog posts and even watched vlogs of tourists becoming victims in this lovely city. I mean, to be honest, pickpockets in Paris is everywhere and anyone can be their ideal victim. It saddened me to read what they had gone through. The worst part is that they could not do anything about it! 

Photo de Luca Nardone provenant de Pexels

It is super hard to find someone to help you out in that situation especially when it is already too late. Police won’t do anything about it. Trust me, I’ve been there. They can’t even speak English and can’t even understand what you tell them, so don’t expect them to be there for you cause they won’t. And definitely, they can’t get back what you have lost.

I spent a year in Paris and I had bumped countless times with scammers and pickpockets. While most of them work in a group, some work individually. Just like how we have beginners, intermediates, and professionals for everything, pickpockets, and scammers have that too. Don’t be surprised!

Do not be deceived by their looks. Ever. 

Let me tell you something. Pickpockets and scammers come in various forms. If you think they look poor and messy, you are wrong. I’ve seen those who wore suits and normal daily clothes. Sometimes they look way better than how I dress myself up. 

Pickpockets in Paris work very very smoothly and once you are on their radar, that means you’re one of the ideal victim. You won’t even notice them carrying out their mischievous naughty trick, and by the time you realize that you’ve lost something, it is already too late. 

So, how do they target you?

Let me tell you bits on how pickpockets observe, analyze and make you their perfect victim and turn your holidays in Paris into a nightmare.

Backpacks / Cross Body Bag

It can happen anywhere in Paris. They usually do it in the metro, RER, while you are walking, while you are asking someone for help, practically anywhere and anytime. 

Backpacks at the back: This is easy peasy for them to open up, get your wallet, close back the zip of your bag and walk away. Yes, in a short amount of time and you will not realize it. Why? Because while you are walking down Champ Elysees or strolling along La Seine, you are too busy enjoying the scenery or the things around you. You tend to look elsewhere and not pay attention to your bag. Yeap, IDEAL VICTIM.

The same concept applies to cross body bags.

Photo de VisionPic .net provenant de Pexels

If you have a bag with valuables inside, please put it to the front of your body. It does look ugly and not stylish, but at least you keep your belongings safe. 

If you don’t have anything important, then yes, you can put it on your back, or swing it behind. I always do it as I don’t carry my wallet in my bag.

All I need was my bank card and Navigo to move around. Debit cards are accepted almost everywhere in Paris which makes life much easier.

High-End / Branded Cameras

This is one legit way of telling pickpockets and scammers that you are rich. It’s like giving a “ Please rob me” signal to everyone. When you have Nikon, Canon or whatever branded cameras around your neck, you’ve put a price on yourself.

Photo de ATC Comm Photo provenant de Pexels

This is one way most pickpockets will aim for you. Want to know how I know? I used to work as a part-time tour guide in Paris. I do ground support, so basically, we travelled everywhere using Metro or on foot. 

There was this one time, I had a group of girls. One of them had DSLR. As we started off our journey, everything went smoothly until we used the metro to go to another touristic attraction. The metro arrived and the door opened. Suddenly, everyone was being pushed inside the metro and out fo nowhere, it got so crowded.


Which was weird because back at the platform, no one was waiting with us on the platform. I assure you that it was not during peak time. Yes, that weird feeling, where did all these people came from? 

I noticed between me and my clients, there was also a group of people who look similar to each other. They just look the same. They do not look like tourists. For example, imagine how Asians look like. They all look similar (No offence yea, I’m Asian as well and I am giving the best analogy for you to imagine this scenario).

Their eyes will look as if they are on a lookout. They will try to avoid looking at you. 

Fortunately, I realized that I was separated from the girls and one of them was being cornered by these people. Yes, they SEPARATED US. Higher chances to pickpocket one person than to pickpocket the rest of the group right? Right there and then, I just followed my guts and pulled the girls all together around me. I didn’t care if I was being rude to the pickpockets anymore.

And I was right. They were preparing to pickpocket one of us. For your information, three attempts were made on the same day. It was horrible.

English is spoken

It is normal to speak in your language while travelling. No problem with it. This is also one of the ways being marked as tourists. French people don’t speak English in their own country, therefore, it is easier for them to filter out the locals and the tourists. 

I speak English all the time with my friends. I’ve been approached with the young girls asking for a signature for a donation for people who are deaf or mute just because they overheard me speaking in English. 

What I advise you to do is : 

Step 1: Learn a little bit of French. Saying “Non merci” would be enough to push them away. If that doesn’t work, repeat it without a smile and in a higher tone, like when you are angry at your kids for scribbling on the wall with crayons. Tourists tend to be so nice and smile all the time. No, don’t smile. Don’t be nice. 

Step 2: Don’t show that you are interested to listen. Just walk off and continue your journey like these scammers don’t exist.

Step 3: If they keep hovering you, and in most of the case, go back to step one, and this time releases the beast in you. 

What I normally do is, either I speak French and ask them to go away. “Non, merci, bonne journée!” works all the time, but they will tend to insist.

Sometimes, when I do get really annoyed, I’ll speak and scream in my mother tongue, be blunt and just walk off. 

Travel in a group

If you are travelling in a group, be there for one another. Pay attention to the surrounding. They will try to separate you and attack you individually. It is much easier for them that way.

Just to share with you another story (yes with the same group of girls above), while crossing over La Seine, they distracted a few of us by touching us and joking with us slightly, another two girls were then approached at the same time suddenly from nowhere.

Everything just sort of happens so fast and thank god we managed to pull the girls back together and walked away quickly. The most surprising part is that one of the pickpockets tried to grab our client’s handbag publicly. Fortunately, we quickly slapped that filthy hands away from the bag. 

Fabulous high-end clothes

Photo de Artem Beliaikin provenant de Pexels

I get that most of you readers out there would love to have the perfect picture for Instagram. Therefore, fabulous bling clothes. Of course, sure. Go ahead, nothing wrong with it.

However, if you are wearing top designers fashion couture and you plan to take public transportation….. I think you might rethink that for a minute. 

Metros and RERs are daily public transportation used by literally everyone. It is the cheapest way available to go from point A to B in Paris. It is one of the easiest places to be a victim, especially during peak hours. 

I understand that you want to indulge the Parisian experience like locals, or you want to save up money and avoid the Parisian traffic, but being extravaganza in an old rusty underground platform … Mhmm. You will be noticed by these pickpockets (read : you will be the ideal victim) and you will put yourself in a vulnerable situation in the beautiful city of Paris.

But, if you are sure and confident of yourself then, go ahead! Just be extra careful and don’t let your guard down 🙂

Nevertheless, if you’ve never been to Paris, add it on your next destination bucket list!

I’ve lived in Paris. I could say that it is a wonderful place to visit and discover.

Paris has surprised me a lot of times, and it’s wonderful how this city makes me feel fresh and new every time.

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