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Pockets Picked in Paris

Apart from the obvious Pun, this is what unfortunately happened to me a few days ago. I was buying some snack before entering the train back home at Paris Gare de l'Est and was probably spotted tucking my wallet away. I put it in an outside jacket pocket, a circumstance that immediately retaliated itself as I stood waiting by the platform for my colleagues to arrive.

I was approached by an Asian looking women of middle age and asked for the train to Basel. It struck me odd to be asked for this for my obviously tourist look (after all I was carrying a backpack and a camera bag) but not odd enough to raise my suspicion. While talking to the woman, which took a good amount of time I felt something brush my backpack but again it did not alarm me enough to make me look around. I think I was set up with a classic distraction manoeuvre to give the thief opportunity to pick the wallet from my pocket. It can not have taken him/her more than a couple of seconds despite the pocket being zipped shut.

I did not notice the loss before the conductor asked for my ticket, a good while after the train left the station. I was baffled, but quickly recovered and phoned the emergency hotline of my bank to have the banking and credit cards suspended, avoiding additional financial losses apart from some cash that was in my wallet.

Still, I've now lost my ID, drivers license, credit and banking cards and a couple of other documents that can all be replaced, still there is a significant amount of time and money to be spent now to have them all back. Definitely gives you a sour taste being ripped off like this.

What to learn from this? Crowded places should keep you alert. Strangers approaching you should make you look around for other strangers standing close. Wallets should not be kept in outward pockets. Documents should be kept apart from the money to limit the damage and the amount of time to spend recovering from the loss.

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