This past spring,a group of American tourists was sightseeing in Paris. They were travelling on the Metro when a group of kids , in school uniforms, got on. Shortly afterwards, my friend who was one of the group , felt a little hand on the moneybelt that he had around his waist . He held tight to the money belt and looked to see whose hand it was. It was one of the schoolkids, a cute looking girl who couldn’t have been more than ten. She blandly returned his look as if nothing was the matter. My friend warned his wife who was standing next to him and they were extra vigilant until the kids got off a couple of stops later.
My friend and his wife escaped unscathed but three others in their group were not so lucky. When they checked their moneybelts/ wallets/ handbags they discovered they had been pickpocketed. In in one case , a lady had her money inside a zipped purse inside a buttoned down handbag. Somehow one of the kids ( it must have been one of them , it couldn’t have been anyone else) had opened the bag , unzipped the purse, removed the money, zipped upthe purse , closed the outer bag …. all without the victim knowing what was happening.
Since tourists carry sizeable amounts of money when they go sightseeing, the losses were quite high. The lady lost two thousand dollars. Another gentleman lost $ 800 and his passport and it is about this that I want to write. The gentleman tried contacting the U.S. embassy but the passport/visa services section was closed for the day and he was asked to come back early the next morning. That evening , they returned despondently to their hotel and were hailed by their concierge ” Monsieur, I have your passport here for you .” A miracle ! But, how ? Particularly, since they had changed hotels while they were in Paris and no one else knew where they were staying.
It turned out that the gentleman( who was pickpocketed) had made an arrangement with a cabdriver to be driven to the Lido and other nightspots.The cabbie had given him his cab service card which the gentleman had put in his wallet. Because of their change in plans, he had later called the cabbie to cancel the reservation. The cabbie’s card remained in his wallet. The child pickpocket, in a hurry to dispose of incriminating evidence, had filched the money and credit cards and thrown the wallet and passport in a trash can. A good Samaritan had recovered the empty wallet and passport and , upon finding the cabbie’s card, had called him. The cabbie remembered the tourist and where he was supposed to pick him up. He directed him to the first hotel and the desk clerk was able to direct him to the current hotel. The Samaritan then returned the passport etc. to the hotel desk there. If that isn’t a fortunate turn of events, I don’t know what is! Yes, the tourist was out $ 800 but he did get his passport back..
If you go to Paris and are riding the Metro in the middle of the day and a group of young schoolkids gets on, watch out ! They may be perfectly innocent … or not.