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-   -   Pickpockets in Prague--don't be stupid like I was! (https://www.englishforum.ch/general-off-topic/48954-pickpockets-prague-don-t-stupid-like-i.html)

Arizona Ben 15.04.2009 12:07

Pickpockets in Prague--don't be stupid like I was!
 
So, here is the story of how my wallet was stolen in Prague over Easter weekend. Let me criticize myself first--If I had been smarter it wouldn't have happened. I've traveled to a lot of places over my lifetime and I guess I just have gotten complacent over time (used to carry a money belt instead of a wallet)--well, I will be complacent no more. They got my cash, my credit cards, drivers license and my keys--such a violation--you just feel so angry, embarrased, bitter, etc. Yeah, I know--why were all my things in my wallet? (I'm hitting myself about this now). Thankfully, they didn't get my passport or my B permit.

My wife and I went to visit her friend, husband, and their 3 year old child in Prague for Easter. Beautiful city, weather was amazing, and the trip started off really well. I'm not writing this thread to trash Prague, although anyone who has had a crime committed against them knows that it is hard to disassociate place and events. Really though, this could have happened to me anywhere in the world.

We were getting onto Tram #9 which was really crowded. We had to lift our friends' tot who was in her stroller into the back of the tram. As we got on, a few more people pushed their way into the back. One guy started falling all around into people as though he was really drunk. In retrospect, we all knew there was something funny about this as his movements were so exaggerated. It was hard to tell if he was really drunk, drugged out, or just being a general aggressive a**hole. But, everybody naturally focused their attention on him, which of course is what he wanted.

He was falling hard towards the stroller so I blocked him off from the tot with my back facing him while the tots dad held grabbed him and kept him steady. Meanwhile, I had noticed a young blond woman getting on the tram as everybody crowded in...in fact, I actually took her arm to help her up the back steps as she was getting pushed around. So, she ended up standing behind me and to my right side as all the pushing was going on (also not good in retrospect). Like a dumba** I had my wallet in my back pocket, although it was buttoned in. I even felt for it as I was initially being bumped around, and it was still there.

Things calmed down for about a minute and then the man started falling into people again, and it was during this time that the girl got my wallet. It was right before a stop, and I realized about ten seconds too late that it was gone, the two criminals had just gotten off at the last stop and by that time it was too late. The mans bumping into my back and legs had been done well enough that I never felt my pocket being picked.

Even though I knew it would be pointless ran around looking for them for about half an hour. Then I decided that I was going to file a police report just to have it on record. After five hours of waiting around in a Czech police station, I was able to file a full report with descriptions of the criminals, the events, etc. As much as anything it made me feel better just to be doing something about it. To their credit, after the really long wait, I did get a copy of a fully detailed police report (in Czech of course). I'm hoping that maybe if enough people report similar descriptions of the two criminals they might get caught while attempting another crime.

Clearly, they targeted us because we had a child with us, they saw my wallet, and they knew they crowd would also work to their advantage. The kid was the key though--you just focus on protecting the little ones more than anything else.

I've had fantasies now about starting a reality show catching pickpockets in the act--maybe putting exploding dye packs or fishhooks in bait wallets and purses, or even better watching undercover police catch them in the act.

I'd be curious to know if anybody else out there has stories of being pickpocketed, scammed, or robbed. I felt so stupid afterwards, but the bottom line is that they were the ones that were doing something wrong, not me. I'll never root for the pickpocket in any books or movies anymore (sorry Oliver Twist). I hope they all get caught and put in horrible dungeons.

If just one person avoids having a similar crime happen to them because of this post, then it will have accomplished its purpose. Moral of the story--bad people are out there and stay vigilent. Do not let yourself be distracted like I was.

Oldhand 15.04.2009 12:11

Re: Pickpockets in Prague--don't be stupid like I was!
 
The same can be said of Switzerland. Watch your bag and belongings when your out and about.

OP I can empathise. Sorry for your loss.

Guest 15.04.2009 12:31

Re: Pickpockets in Prague--don't be stupid like I was!
 
It makes me so mad to read about this sort of thing. These common thieves just wait for an opportunity to present itself and pounce.

I've never been pickpocketed, although once in Barcelona I think I came close but swatted the woman away before she had the chance.

I try to keep everything in either my handbag or rucksack zipped into internal pockets. A pain when you want to get to anything but so far seems to have worked. I usually leave expensive jewellery at home and swap my usual watch for a cheapo Swatch when travelling abroad.

EDIT: to the OP - don't beat yourself up about being distracted. Nobody is 100% focused on their surroundings 100% of the time. You were just unlucky.

MrTechy 15.04.2009 12:57

Re: Pickpockets in Prague--don't be stupid like I was!
 
My wifes wallet was lifted from her purse while standing in a crowded bus in Copenhagen, Denmark. Public transport seems to be a popular location for these thieves.

HollidayG 15.04.2009 12:57

Re: Pickpockets in Prague--don't be stupid like I was!
 
A friend of mine was also recently pickpocketed in Prag.

Hopefully, you and your loved ones are safe.

Arizona Ben 15.04.2009 13:02

Re: Pickpockets in Prague--don't be stupid like I was!
 
While I was waiting at the police station, talked with some other victims who had also been taken in by a distraction. In their case, it was a man next to them who was suddenly kicked by another man causing a huge commotion.

I've also heard of the "baby distraction", where thieves hand or throw a baby at their victims to distract them--but not sure if this is a real tactic or more of an urban myth. I've always wondered what happens to the baby after the thieves get away. Somebody told me that the "mother" acts as though she is in danger or being assaulted so that the victims won't be hesitant to give her kid back after the crime.

One thing for sure now, whenever I see someone acting strangely or aggressively I'm going to start focusing a lot more on the other people in the near vicinity of the distraction.

Arizona Ben 15.04.2009 13:05

Re: Pickpockets in Prague--don't be stupid like I was!
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by HollidayG (Post 437925)
A friend of mine was also recently pickpocketed in Prag.

Hopefully, you and your loved ones are safe.

I would be really curious to hear the details from your friends experience if you have any.

Thanks for the concern and it least it is a crime that doesn't involve violence, so we are all fine except for bruised egos.

15.04.2009 13:05

Re: Pickpockets in Prague--don't be stupid like I was!
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Arizona Ben (Post 437889)
Like a dumba** I had my wallet in my back pocket, although it was buttoned in.

I do that all the time in Summer and my wife is always telling me off about it so it ends up in her hand bag if she's with me. But where is a bloke supposed to put it when he's not wearing a jacket? And don't say a man bag....it's not an option at least where I come from! Sorry to hear about your experience. It's horrible.

ChrisW 15.04.2009 13:09

Re: Pickpockets in Prague--don't be stupid like I was!
 
Why do people keep their wallet in their back pocket? Compared to having it in your front pocket, having it in your back pocket must be: 1) Harder for you to get to, 2) Easier for pickpockets to get to, 3) Be uncomfortable when sitting down, 4) It can cause alignment problems in your back if you sit on it constantly. Compared to these four obvious disadvantages, I don't know of even one advantage. Anyone care to enlighten me?

J.L-P 15.04.2009 13:14

Re: Pickpockets in Prague--don't be stupid like I was!
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by ChrisW (Post 437936)
Anyone care to enlighten me?

It looks nasty in the front pocket. ;)

And I've been pick-pocketed too... in Paris on the RER.

englishtim 15.04.2009 13:14

Re: Pickpockets in Prague--don't be stupid like I was!
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Nev (Post 437935)
I do that all the time in Summer and my wife is always telling me off about it so it ends up in her hand bag if she's with me. But where is a bloke supposed to put it when he's not wearing a jacket? And don't say a man bag....it's not an option at least where I come from! Sorry to hear about your experience. It's horrible.

I always wedge the wallet in one of my front trouser pockets. I'd also recommend being extra-aware when there are street entertainers around. So far, I've avoided being pickpocketed out in the street, although I did get my wallet stolen once when staying in a YHA dorm in Munich years ago.

Arizona Ben 15.04.2009 13:14

Re: Pickpockets in Prague--don't be stupid like I was!
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by ChrisW (Post 437936)
Why do people keep their wallet in their back pocket? Compared to having it in your front pocket, having it in your back pocket must be: 1) Harder for you to get to, 2) Easier for pickpockets to get to, 3) Be uncomfortable when sitting down, 4) It can cause alignment problems in your back if you sit on it constantly. Compared to these four obvious disadvantages, I don't know of even one advantage. Anyone care to enlighten me?

Ever seen the Seinfeld where George's wallet gets so big that it basically explodes apart...that sometimes happens to me and I find that it fits better in the back pocket...also, I'm really tall and things seem to fall out of my front pockets with some pants when I am sitting down, especially in lower chairs.

I'm sure it is harder to take from the front pocket, but I'm not so sure I would have noticed that either considering the level of the distraction (and my front pockets on the pants I was wearing could basically be accessed from the side as well. My real error was putting as many important things in one place, as I would still be hitting myself if I had merely lost it as well.

jacek 15.04.2009 13:14

Re: Pickpockets in Prague--don't be stupid like I was!
 
Sorry to hear about this incident Ben Arizona. It makes me mad how things can go wrong sometimes when people travel on holidays and such misfortunes happen unexpectedly. I hope these people realize that they badly contribute in tarnishing good image of their part of the world in terms of tourism. My father was a victim of such a petty-crime in the past and one usually develops instict to be more alert in crowdy trams, buses which attract the pickpockets. These famous scams are very popular and common sense can only dictate to keep eyes always open when travelling in EU or elsewhere.

Corbets 15.04.2009 13:18

Re: Pickpockets in Prague--don't be stupid like I was!
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by ChrisW (Post 437936)
Why do people keep their wallet in their back pocket? Compared to having it in your front pocket, having it in your back pocket must be: 1) Harder for you to get to, 2) Easier for pickpockets to get to, 3) Be uncomfortable when sitting down, 4) It can cause alignment problems in your back if you sit on it constantly. Compared to these four obvious disadvantages, I don't know of even one advantage. Anyone care to enlighten me?

For some of us, it feels more comfortable in the back pocket. I haven't done a scientific analysis of the topic, but I imagine it has something to do with the fact that the back pocket doesn't move around when you sit down, whereas the front pockets do. And I never feel mine (which would make it very easy for pickpockets to get).

And my arms are sufficiently long that reaching it adds zero extra burden...

Anyway, sorry about the pickpocket. Heard a story about someone just this week in Spain who had his wallet stolen, chased-caught-beat the thief, and then had his camera stolen by someone who came over to "sympathize" with him over it. Suck.

CH_Me 15.04.2009 13:18

Re: Pickpockets in Prague--don't be stupid like I was!
 
I have survived various distraction techniques by would-be pick-pockets and fingers crossed it never happens to me. My family is not so lucky and pick pockets really messed up my father's trip to Rome and left him without money for food that evening. Always keep some spare cash elsewhere on your person or in your luggage/safe at the hotel.

I got in the way of one thief in London and got someones wallet back and in Madrid I saw someone taking a bag in a cafe and my husband cased him and got it back, along with over 10 other wallets. The cafe called the police and we had the thief's wallet to identify who he was too :p

Guest 15.04.2009 13:18

Re: Pickpockets in Prague--don't be stupid like I was!
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Nev (Post 437935)
I do that all the time in Summer and my wife is always telling me off about it so it ends up in her hand bag if she's with me. But where is a bloke supposed to put it when he's not wearing a jacket? And don't say a man bag....it's not an option at least where I come from! Sorry to hear about your experience. It's horrible.

Bingo. From a wife who has to carry half her body-weight in other peoples possessions (husband's wallet, sunglasses, mobile, blackberry along with son's usual toddler gubbins) I fully advocate the use of manbags.

If anyone did pickpocket my handbag they'd have to get through 15 kilos of cr*p before they found anything valuable. :rolleyes:

15.04.2009 13:35

Re: Pickpockets in Prague--don't be stupid like I was!
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by ChrisW (Post 437936)
Why do people keep their wallet in their back pocket?

because if the wife isn't there the keys to house and the car are in one front pocket amongst the loose change and the cell phone is in the other front pocket?

jacek 15.04.2009 13:43

Re: Pickpockets in Prague--don't be stupid like I was!
 
I always keep my wallet in my front pocket. Initially you might find it annoying to get used to it, but I have always been taught when young that it is much more unsafe and yet difficult to get hold of attacker or be able to catch a glimpse of what might have happened in a split of the second when it had come to the worst. Thus I always keep it in my mind and try to arrange the things in my pockets accordingly.

Guest 15.04.2009 14:05

Re: Pickpockets in Prague--don't be stupid like I was!
 
how about this for bad luck...

a few years ago my mum was travelling to see her folks in Poland. She boarded a crowded train and eventually found a seat. by the time the ticket inspector came my mum had realised that not only had her purse and passport been stolen, but her rail ticket as well. but a kind passenger bailed her out. My mum managed to get a replacement passport during the following week, only to have that stolen on her way back home!

In total, through her carelessness, my mum had lost about 5 passports in as many years!

and what about this... when my partner and i went on a road trip to spain, we'd heard about the levels of crime and so were extremely careful not to give the pickpockets any advantage... but nothing prepared us for what happened near Valencia. We were on our way to Barcelona but stopped off at the famous tomato fight festival en route. we had a hire car but left everything in the boot, with nothing in sight in the main part of the car. after the fight, we returned to the car to find that it had been broken into... they took anything electrical of value, rummaged through our clothes and took our money. they were kind enough to leave us with our passports though. We only had 10 euros and less than half a tank of fuel. we had no choice but to head back to Valencia and hope that one of the hotels would take pity on us and accept our friend's credit card details over the phone, which fortunately one place did (but bearing in mind, we were expecting to be turned away immediately given that we were wearing tomato sodden clothes, which by this did not smell particularly nice). for two days we waited for a wire transfer - we could do nothing but eat at the hotel and amass a nice big bill!

oh the joy of going on holiday!

NotAllThere 15.04.2009 14:17

Re: Pickpockets in Prague--don't be stupid like I was!
 
Wallet - front pocket, keys and change in other front pocket. Mobile attached to ear...

If I'm going out without a jacket, I'll take just what I need from my wallet (id, cash, card). Then it fits nicely in my pocket with my keys and change. Mobile phone in the other.

I've never put my wallet in my back pocket.


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