As big cities go, Paris is relatively safe. That being said, it is a big city and you need to be aware of yourself and your belongings whenever you are out and about. We’ve written about this before here and frankly, while it’s easy to become complacent, it’s important to keep your guard up.
A couple of recent news items make this imperative clear. The International Herald Tribune reported this week that aggravated robberies are up 40 percent in Paris’ public transportation system with iPhones and other smart phones being a particular target. The article notes: Often, phones are grabbed quickly out of a victim’s hands as the subway car doors are closing; robbers tend to work in small groups, so that a stolen phone can be quickly passed to someone else to prevent an easy chase by an outraged victim.
Bottom line: keep your phone in your zipped bag or your front pocket, unless you absolutely need to use it.
Another troubling development is the presence of bands of teenage girls (ages 12 to 16) who have been conscripted by a central European crime boss to pick pockets in the Paris Metro to the tune of 200 euros each per day. The French police are hard at work trying to bust up this ring, both for the safety of the public and for the benefit of the teens themselves. (You can read more about it here.) But in the mean time, be aware of groups of girls in hoodies and jeans, traveling in small groups, and often making a lot of noise and commotion to distract you, their mark. These girls may look like your daughter or your sister, but don’t be fooled, they are professionals. Be on the lookout especially in areas with high tourist traffic such as along line 1. Keep your bag zipped and close to your body; if you are a man, carry your wallet in your front, rather than back, pocket. Better yet, stay away from the doors as their modus operandi is to snatch and grab wallets, handing them off to a friend on the platform just as the doors close.