I consider myself lucky to have got once in a lifetime chance of living in Paris – the Fashion Capital of the world for a few months as part of my work back in 2013. It was Christmas time and there were Flea Markets setup all around the La Défense area which is a major business district. They also offer heavy discounts (Winter Sale) on most of the top brands to attract the masses towards shopping during the usually dull winters.
I too decided to indulge in some shopping and enjoy these moments. My friend and I headed towards the Westfield Les Quatre Temps Mall. Both of us were carrying backpacks and wore a heavy winter jacket to prevent ourselves from the bitterly cold evening. We hopped in and out for a few shops grazing and trying a few outfits. After about 20 minutes, I reached out to my backpack for something and realized that it was open. My initial thought was that I might have accidentally left it open but then the reality dawned upon us.
I groped in for my wallet and hit the fact that I had lost it! We instinctively starting searching for it everywhere and ran back to the previous shops we had visited. I tried to think hard as to how and where the wallet would have been lost. All I could recollect is that while we were checking out dresses in one of the shops, I got a slight jerk / push on my back but I ignored it thinking I might have hit something while walking in the shop. We realised that I was robbed.
My colleagues had warned me when I landed in Paris to be aware of pickpockets and thieves. I too had been very careful all the while until this happened. I had my Indian Driving Licence, a few Debit and Credit Cards and about 20 Euros in it. Panic struck in as I didn’t know what action to take next. We then called up a friend who had been staying in Paris for a few years. I asked him to immediately block my Debit Card to avoid losing my hard-earned Euros. Post that he suggested me to walk up to the nearest Police Station and lodge an FIR. This is very important as it would help in getting hold of the robbers and save yourself from any other crime they might commit by impersonating you with the stolen Identity cards.
By the time all this happened, it was already 8 PM in the night. Fortunately, the Police station was just across the street. I was scared and almost in tears when we got there. This was the first time I was going to step in a Police Station that too in Paris. The Police were very co-operative and with their limited knowledge of English, asked us for the sequence of events. They requested for my passport as Identity proof and thankfully I had kept it in another zipper of my backpack. Keeping your passport safely is of utmost priority when you are staying in a foreign nation. Post all the formalities, the police handed over a bunch of papers (FIR complaint documents). They asked me to submit it at the India Embassy office in Paris.
We returned home after being told by the Police that they would give me a call if they are able to clasp the thief or find my belongings, but the chances were bleek. I also blocked my Indian Cards just to be safe and avoid any misuse. The next day my colleague told me that these pickpockets usually take away only the cash from the wallet as they are in search of easy money and throw away the rest of the stuff. The police never found my wallet. But this is a Lesson Learnt for me as well as for all of you reading my anecdote. Beware and watchful and keep your belongings extremely safe when you are travelling anywhere in the world!
You can refer my blog to know all the Budget Travel Tips for Paris by clicking – 10 Paris Budget Travel Tips You Need to Know.