Picked Pocketed in Italy: It Sucks!

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By: Katie Greenaway

When living in a different country either as tourist or a student one thing that is constantly drilled into your head is, watch out for pickpockets.  They can be disguised as other tourists, gypsy children, just to name a couple.  I am very familiar with the gypsy children; I had my encounter on a sunny July day sitting at my favorite ristorante in Piazza Signoria, Firenze.  Just a few minutes prior I took out my change purse and set in on the table.  Then out of nowhere there was the gypsy child waving a sign in my face so he could distract me and steal my change purse, which had more in it than just change.  Funny how I didn¡¯t recognize it was gone until we were getting ready to pay.  Yeah I felt like complete idiot.  I realized that I wasn¡¯t as cautious with my belongings as I thought.  I spent the rest of the day going to the Carabinieri office back to my apartment for my passport and then back again to the Carabinieri.  The whole meeting with the disgruntle officer last at least 5 minutes.  The words he left me with were ¡°Good luck¡±.  Grand! 

Nothing came of reporting the perpetrator; they just want you to feel that they might do something.  It was a great learning experience for me, obviously.  One, always have a spare credit card in your apartment, which I did.  Otherwise, I would have been screwed.  Two, don¡¯t assume that you are safe even if you in a city you felt so safe in the first place.  I thought I was theft-proof, a wrong attitude I had that led to me calling home to Mom and Dad and saying, ¡°HELP!¡±  I felt helpless, alone, stupid, frustrated, and homesick.  These feelings can be detrimental to your whole trip. 
It was your entire fault, which sucks.  You were the one that said silently to yourself, ¡®It will never happen to me¡¯.  You were the one acting as if you were a native in a foreign city that you knew so well.  It really makes you realize that even if you feel safe, you may not always be. 

My suggestion to anyone traveling anywhere is to never once stop thinking that you might be safe from a crime such as pick pocketing.  Because once you do, it will happen.  I am a person that fits in rather well and after this happened to me I made sure I knew the people I was hanging out with.  Never knowing that a friend of Iacopo¡¯s could be a thief.  I am not saying you should be constantly paranoid but just be smart.  Always keep your purse or wallet with you at all times.  Always know what pocket you put it in.  Before leaving for your trip, stop by a travel store and pick up a money belt or neck pouch.   Never for one second leave your belongings with someone that you don¡¯t know.  These all common sense thoughts that people don¡¯t think about as much I realized.  When I was waiting for my turn to report the evil doing in the Carabineri office, there was a really LONG line of Americans, Swedish, Canadians, and even an ITALIAN waiting to report their unfortunate crime.  From a fellow traveler to another, watch your pocketbook and happy safe traveling!


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