Obviously, nothing is new when it comes to stories about pickpockets in Paris. If you’ve been there, or know enough people who’ve been there, you’d possibly know someone who had been a victim.
So am I. And I used to think it will never happened to me, because I’m smart. HA! Jokes on me. It did.
It was a nice sunny day in Paris. My family and I were taking lots of pictures with the Eiffel Tower in the background. There were five of us (parents in law, brother in law, hubs, and me), and we started from Trocadéro, walking all the way to the Parc du Champ-du-Mars, right behind the tower.
We sat on the grass, taking even more pictures: family pictures, jumping pictures, ourselves with Eiffel on the background pictures,… all the combination we could think of. We took pictures with different cameras, phones. Just think of us as photo addicts (just imagine happy Asian tourists, snapping away 😉 ).
I guess somewhere along the way of us changing devices and posing, I had forgotten to put my phone back in my bag. I might have just leave it laying around on the grass in the middle of our group, or on top of my bag, or inside but visible. I really don’t remember this part (it’s one of my flaws when I’m too focused on something else).
At this point, there were two gypsy children approaching us. The girl put a piece of paper on our pile of bags. I didn’t know what it said, I would just assume they were asking for money of some sorts, so we were just shaking our head asking them to go away. The boy danced as the girl removed the paper from the pile of bags, while our eyes kept watching just in case they stole one of the bags. In which they didn’t, and we were feeling a little ashamed for being suspicious.
Except a couple of mere minutes later, I realized that my phone was missing. It was not in my bag, I didn’t have a pocket, it wasn’t on my husband’s. My heart sank, I must have looked very pale because I have never seen my husband so concerned and panicky over me. The whole family was also panicking, my father in law just had his wallet stolen two days prior. How could we let this happened to us again?
We searched for the kids, even though everyone kind of felt in their guts it’s a wild goose chase. They could’ve been anywhere by then. But we had to try.
My only hope is that I secretly misplaced the phone somewhere. I kept thinking of the data I’ll miss and most importantly: my testing device for my soon to be app was gone! How the f** can we afford another one?
As we were running around everywhere, my father in law called (he was staying put guarding the bags). I had a glimmer of hope that he would find it just laying there on the grass. So we ran back to him, and he yelled, “Hey, someone found your phone!”
I was in disbelief, “What? Where?”
He pointed towards my brother in law, telling us that someone came up to them, asking if we were the owner of the phone because someone retrieved a phone from the thieves.
Naturally we ran towards the brother, who were also standing flabbergasted, can not really digest what had happened, but lo and behold: he had my phone on his hand!
Until now, I still can’t really fully understand what happened. From what I managed to conclude, someone probably saw what happened and notified the authority. Which alert them into arresting or interrogating the guy who used the kids as thieves. Then somehow one of the kids went up to my brother (he wasn’t sure if that’s the same one who stole the phone), told him the phone was found and asked him to follow. My brother hesitated at first, thinking it might just be another scam to get the rest of our bags. But my father guarded the bags, and as he saw some sort of police looking guy arresting some thug looking guy, he followed the kid, and then the police looking guy gave my phone back. Just like that. (Well, he did try to ask my brother something but unfortunately my brother didn’t speak any French)
I really wish I know who helped me out that day and be able to thank him properly. If you ever read this post: Thank you, Sir! You’re an angel. Not just because you’ve returned my phone, but also because you reminded us all of the good in people, and in Paris. You reminded me that it only took one simple act to stand up. Thank you very much! I promise I will be passing on your act of goodness.
Last words as an (almost) victim of theft:
It’s easy to say to others: “Oh, you should’ve put your bag in front, you shouldn’t bring this and that, you should dress like this and that, you should’ve just sew all your important documents and cards on your body.” I am guilty of this myself.
But I realized preventive is not 100% fool proof. Ultimately as humans we could have that 1% margin of errors and the pickpockets are professionals. They are trained for this. It’s not your fault when someone stole something from you. It’s always the thief’s fault. If you’re a decent person, you wouldn’t take something just because it’s there when you know it belong to someone else, would you? It’s already bad enough when someone lost something, you don’t have to add insult by implying it’s their fault.
Take precautions, of course. Do your research and do the things you thought were best for you. Read the tips. Keep a copy of the important documents somewhere else, just in case. But please, relax and don’t stop yourself from enjoying your wonderful vacation. You deserve a great time!