By Holly B. Morris
Several years ago, my husband was almost pickpocketed on the Metro in Paris. Almost. Since then he has bragged about the incident on numerous occasions. Any woman can imagine it. It turns into a fish tale. Before you know it, he’s a swashbuckling defender of the honor and wallets of all the people on the train, including helpless women and children.
The truth is, he just got lucky. He managed to catch the guy sliding a skilled hand into the buttoned side-pocket of his cargo shorts. The train was crowded, there was shouting, and before I knew it, we stood breathlessly thankful on the train platform. The culprit was long gone, but the story of how my husband thwarted this would-be thief lived on.
Recently, we returned to Europe and my husband proudly packed his cargo shorts, recalling the story of his near miss in Paris. While I hoped he was right, I was a little skeptical. After all, it’s just a button between us and the loss of everything keeping us afloat on a long journey through another continent.
“Watch your wallets,” the hotel owner in Barcelona warned us. My husband smugly patted his cargo shorts pocket acting as his vault. “These men are artists,” the hotel owner implored. “Closed pockets are nothing to them.”
As you can surely guess, my husband’s wallet was stolen for real on the Metro in Barcelona. When the doors opened in the station, the thief merely brushed up against him and took off. It happened in an instant.
Apparently, pickpocketing is common in Europe. When we told a police officer in the train station about our trauma, he merely shrugged. Probably how an officer in the U.S. might respond to a reported jaywalking.
We spent the rest of that day canceling credit cards — no easy task with no credit card or phone numbers to go by. On top of that, he had not bothered to empty his wallet of other non-essential items such as his driver’s license, voter registration card, Costco membership, various gift cards, and even priceless family photos.
The good news, our hotel friend informed us, is that most of the thieves are only after the cash. Our thief managed to get away with five euros. The joke was on him. I’m sure he cursed us as he threw the wallet with all its cards, IDs, and treasured photos into the nearest trash can.
Let vacation stories be full of adventures, not misadventures, by following these tips:
1. Keep wallets and valuables close — preferably in a money belt or an inside pocket that zips or buttons. Don’t carry a phone in your easily accessible back pocket. Don’t let purses and bags dangle.
2. Empty wallets of non-essential items before leaving on vacation. It’s easier to cancel and account for lost items if there are only one or two cards and not a lifetime’s worth of wallet build-up. Don’t carry your passport unless necessary.
3. Don’t carry all your cash at once. Leave some in the hotel room safe.
4. Keep a list of credit card account and phone numbers somewhere safe — not on you.
5. Have an auxiliary credit card. We were lucky I had a separate credit card to use for the rest of the vacation.
Our banks cheerfully informed us new cards would be sent to our home address and would more than likely be there upon our return. Not helpful for the next two weeks in Europe. A bank abroad could probably have issued a replacement, but this would have eaten up more precious vacation time.
If you would like to purchase this article for your publication, please click here to contact the author directly.