Are Americans targeted by thieves?

Discussion in 'Travel Security' started by MSYgirl, Nov 3, 2013.  |  Print Topic

  1. MSYgirl

    MSYgirl Gold Member

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    About 10 years ago, in sweet, magical Barcelona, Spain, I was walking down the bustling and heavily touristed La Rambla when about six guys in their late teens or early 20s, clustered on the side of the pedestrian way, hollered something at me.

    My Spanish is moderate at best, so I made some marginal attempt to beg their pardon in Spanish, which immediately outed me as an English speaker and possibly as an American.

    The six of them sprung up with large smiles, saying in rough English that they wanted a photo with me. They clustered around me as one draped an arm around my shoulder and, curiously, raised his leg onto my lower back. Another did the same from the other side and a couple of them crowded in behind me.

    They smiled and oozed enthusiasm, but instinct told me I was about to get my pocket picked. At the risk of upsetting my new Spanish friends, I pushed them away, hard, barked a curt "no" and walked away.

    I explained the scenario recently to Robert Siciliano, a personal-security expert, and he agreed that, yes, I was more than likely a target for a theft, albeit good-naturedly. Then again, that's how much of the world's milder forms of crime work: You're goaded into distraction and dropping your guard, then, poof, the wallet is gone.
     
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  2. KENNECTED
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    KENNECTED Silver Member

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    SMDH! Some folks have no "street smarts"!
     
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  3. jwsky
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    jwsky Silver Member

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    I was pick pocketed in Barcelona about ten years ago. While getting on the subway, one guy grabbed my pants leg and started brushing it off. As if he had spilled something on it. The other guy reached in my pocket to grab my wallet. I knew right away what was happening, but not fast enough. Then I chased the guy (dumb) for a bit. He emptied my wallet and dropped it. Someone picked it up an handed it to me.

    The good news was that all I lost was twenty dollars and a train ticket. My real money and passport were in a money belt under my cloths.
     
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  4. anileze

    anileze Gold Member

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    In mosr tourist sections of many cities worldwide, you will find touts and con-artists. They smell outsiders, just by the walk and body language. If you are gullible, greedy, needy, and naive you are pickpocket, con-bait. La Rambla, and Playa Catalunya (at the top of the La Rambla) are infested with tourists.

    It takes maybe 5 New York seconds to spot a tourist or a non-New Yorker.
     
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  5. Newscience

    Newscience Gold Member

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    And "street smarts" makes all the difference in the world, between being a "victim" and being "aware". That said, even the most savvy person can be a victim of street crime. And the bottom line is that there's nothing in your wallet worth your life.
     
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  6. Newscience

    Newscience Gold Member

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    And that's what it's often all about: spotting the oblivious tourist from the aware native. The reality is that there are many areas of the world in which naturalized Americans travel that we are spotted in a heartbeat as not "from the 'hood". Largely, that includes travel through Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. That does not mean that you need to be a victim, or unaware of dangers. A great place to start with your personal overseas travel awareness is the US State Department website at: http://travel.state.gov/visa/americans/americans_1252.html
     
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  7. Newscience

    Newscience Gold Member

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    Good for you! Having been forewarned about a common con that's used in the former Soviet Union (and elsewhere) saved my bacon a few years ago when I was walking in downtown Kiev by myself, and was jet-lagged. It works like this: someone throws a wallet down in front of your walking path when you don't notice. If you stop to pick it up, you get accosted by a con who says that's his wallet, and then asks you what happened to the money that he left inside it. He then yells to a uniformed "policeman" (con #2), who then tells you to pay up to con #1, or else. Having learned about this con from the US State Department website, I kept walking (and fast!), and thankfully avoided getting ripped off. And pickpockets are very common there also.
     
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  8. jonspencer

    jonspencer Silver Member

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    Asians are targeted by thieves because they carry cash :cool:

    many Americans have more credit cards than $$ on them :confused:
     
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  9. anileze

    anileze Gold Member

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    True, I'd go a step further an read up atleast on the country-specific crime section of the Embassy website e.g. http://hungary.usembassy.gov/tourist_advisory.html

    Here are a few quick links -

    http://business.time.com/2013/06/22/5-summer-travel-scams-to-avoid/

    http://www.ricksteves.com/plan/tips/298scam.htm

    http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/feature-0027-travel-scams
     
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  10. FetePerfection
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    FetePerfection Silver Member

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    Just this morning I was targeted by an elderly gypsy in Paris. Walking along the Seine an old woman approached and bent down as if picking up something, directly in front of me. She stood up and showed me a large mans gold ring. She said GOLD RING. Immediately I was feeling badly for the fellow who lost it, but my son who was with me, grabbed me by the shoulder and said, "keep walking". He later explained the scam. which he had immediately recognized from reading a Rick Steves guide. I am such a sucker, I was truly was feeling badly for the guy who lost his ring. Apparently her goal was to either sell me the ring or get me to pay her to leave me alone. In either case I was happy my son intervened.

    I just now saw the above link from Rick Steves and there is the ring scam...too funny...well not funny, kind of sad.
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2013
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  11. anileze

    anileze Gold Member

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    Yes, a pretty common scam in Paris and London too.
     
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  12. Newscience

    Newscience Gold Member

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    Absolutely! If someone looks at the State Department link for country-specific information at this link:
    http://www.travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_4965.html
    they should have a reasonably updated set of country-specific travel warnings. And it never hurts to check other non-USG travel websites also!
     
  13. Newscience

    Newscience Gold Member

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    Wow! Good on your son, it sounds like he knows how to avoid the scams!
     
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  14. flynhwn

    flynhwn Silver Member

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    Pickpockets are working in large groups (5-15) in Madrid. They make their own congestion making an opportunity to lift your wallet. They almost got us as they pressed my wife and I in a manufactured crowd and opened and was rifling through her backpack. After being discovered it was amazing to see the crowd casually disappear in all directions. We spoke to a vendor in the market place and they said that was the technique that they are warning tourist about.
     
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  15. estnet
    Original Member

    estnet Gold Member

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    SMART!!!!!
     
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