Travel Hack Tuesday: To Catch a Thief

This may seem like the oddest of ways to start a new website dedicated to travel and uncovering our world, but it’s also one where I feel it is better to be open and informed instead of keeping it hidden in the dark. Through this short story, I hope to bring you the knowledge to be secure in your world travels, and that it’s always good to be a little vigilant. Like the title suggests, one summer holiday in Paris led to the catching of a thief in plain sight…

Eiffel Tower

There we were, myself and 3 friends chilling inside Trocadero station browsing through one of the tourist merchandise shops. We had just been to the Eiffel Tower at night and taken pictures and were slowly making our way back home. So as you can imagine, at this point we were feeling pretty relaxed, and somewhat tired and therefore less vigilant – or so it would seem. Myself and one friend had just finished our browse around of all the little trinkets and whatnot and we were stood to the side waiting for the others to finish. My good friend Xarius had this big rucksack on, you know the kind where if you’re not too careful you could knock off half a shop display. He was browsing through one of the shelves looking for a potential gift to bring back home when out of nowhere this guy who had been loitering around started walking towards him.

Eiffel Tower

Now this guy had been there pretty much the whole time we were, and it being a busy station and shop, none of us were paying any particular attention to this random guy. But his sudden burst of purpose and intent in his stride caught our attention out of the corner of our eyes whilst we were in conversation about our evening plans. There was just something incredibly odd about the way this guy started walking. It wasn’t like someone had called him from afar, nor did it look like he was just casually walking off after browsing. No, his change from apparent lethargy to purposeful intent and movement was too strange to not pay attention to. It was to my friends good fortune that the two of us were suddenly brought to the attention of this man, as just as quickly as he started moving with an agenda, he started to reach out his hand towards my friend’s rucksack and the zippers available to him.

Eiffel Tower Dusk

We quickly shouted. “Oi! What are you doing?!” And we ran up to where he was, also shouting out to our friend, “Xarius, watch out behind you, there’s a thief!” The guy was off. He started running, knowing that he’d been caught in his act. And what a vile act it is, to steal from unaware tourists. Now, as dramatic as this perhaps sounded at the start, we did not make chase after him and just let it go. After all, nothing was stolen, and he was not worth a chase where nothing would be done once he was caught. 

So why tell this story? Well it’s really just to make a case of no matter where you go, there will be thieves who look to take opportunities wherever they can. So what can you do as a tourist and how does this become a travel hack? Well first of all, always remain vigilant of your rucksack and belongings. If there’s nothing worth stealing inside then of course, don’t feel the need to pay attention at all times, but if you’re like me who always carries an expensive camera and other electronics, then you would be better off keeping aware. The best way to protect your goods is to keep them in zipped and locked pockets, or to carry your bag in front of you when in crowded places. 

For valuables such as a wallet or phone, deep pockets are the best and never put anything in your back pockets that you wouldn’t want stolen. The chances of being robbed of course are very small, but it does happen, and I know of friends who it’s happened too even in a secure place like Japan where the idea of theft happening is strange. 

Then as well, act like a local. If you’ve ever looked at the way a local walks compared to that of a tourist, you would notice that a local always walks with some form of purpose, as if they know exactly where they are going. Even if they look around, it is not to the extent of tourists who glance around at every site they see. It’s something I’ve always done my best to act like, even with all my gear. And it’s weird to think that by acting like you have purpose, people start to pay less attention to you and you look less like a prime target for thieves. So where does this experience come from? Well when I was in Tokyo a while back, I would often walk around tourist areas with my camera, and many times I’ve been through Kabukicho with a camera, but walking with purpose to go through it. The one time I decide to behave more like a tourist and look at everything, I was suddenly approached by many annoying guys offering to take me to 18+ services. Truly, I became a prime tourist target much to my irritance as I was just passing through the area to get to Golden Gaia – an area full of cool bars. So really I hope this tangent to Japan highlights the act like a local point!

Eiffel Tower Night

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed the story and gained some new knowledge out of it. Do you have any of your own similar experiences with theft when travelling? How did you deal with the situation and any of your own tips to avoid it? Would be great to read about it below and spread more informed travel tips to everyone!

Editor: Leonardo Buter
Uncover Our World
Instagram: @lwcbuter

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