Europeans against pickpockets

Europeans Against Pickpockets

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Imagine it’s summer, the beginning of travel season. You’re still at home, anxiously looking at the calendar and counting the days until you can go off on a trip. And finally, the day comes. You’ve packed your bags a week in advance because you couldn’t wait. You get a taxi to the airport and the adventure you’ve looked forward to all year begins. Full of enthusiasm, you land at your destination, you take a deep breath and think to yourself that life is good.
You arrive at your apartment, take a shower, dress and go forth the explore your destination. With your mind at ease, you go here and there, taking in the new location, visiting some tourist attraction. You grow hungry and thirsty so you pop into a small restaurant which smells simply divine. The prices are a little high, but you’re on vacation, you’re in a good mood, so you treat yourself. You order, you eat, you enjoy watching the people go by. Then it’s time to pay and continue your exploration, so you reach for your wallet and to your surprise, your wallet is gone. You search through your bag in a panic, but you can’t find it. You understand that someone has picked your pocket while you were naively enjoying the beauty of the town and left you without any money in a foreign land. 

Has this happened to you? Has your long-awaited vacation been thus brutally interrupted and turned into a nightmare? I hope not, but the truth is that this has happened to a lot of people. Instead of taking home happy memories from these truly beautiful places, they’ll come back home full of negative emotions, determined to never come back. The problem, of course, is not with the place itself, but with the fact that every tourist town is full of thieves and scammers. They stalk the streets and prey on the absent-minded or naive tourists in order to rob or scam them. 

However, there is a ray of hope. While looking for videos about Prague on YouTube, I found a very interesting channel, called Honest Guide. It’s run by two locals from Prague who make videos about their city, which spots to visits, where are the tourists traps, where to eat but among other things, they make videos about how to identify scammers in Prague. More specifically, they target scammers which hang around exchange offices and offer people a supposedly better rate of exchange for their foreign currency. Often the scammers will give people old Belarusian banknotes which have no value. In some cases, they manage to thus steal hundreds of Euros from tourists. 

What’s really interesting is that these two YouTubers, disturbed by the brazenness of these criminals, have started on their own accord to disrupt their scams. They stake out the scammers from nearby cafés and when they catch them scamming a tourist, they run towards them and make them return the money to the scammed victim. You can see one of those videos here

As you can see in the video, the police doesn’t treat this scam as a felony, but there’s a moment in the video where the scammer, who is an ethnic gypsy, is arrested and deported, along with an entry ban to the Czechia for a period of 2 years. It’s fascinating to me that white citizens organise to do something about the situation, regardless of all the unpleasantness they face in this and other videos, such as for example being threatened, spat at and bitten by the gypsy. 

This is not the only instance of Europeans organising to protect their cities. Some time ago, I found a similar organisation from Spain. Citizens of Madrid organise in large groups, they take whistles and follow known pickpockets, while yelling “pickpockets” and whistling. You can see one of their videos here. The idea is to point out the pickpockets to people and to make their faces known, as well as to shame the pickpockets, although I suspect these people have no shame. As you notice, all of the pickpockets are nonwhites, usually gypsies or Arabs. With everyday actions such as these, pickpocketing operations can easily be disrupted and pickpockets will never be able to freely operate. 

Another similar group of young Europeans, numbering around 200, works in Paris. This is their instagram page. They follow pickpockets around the streets of Paris with placards and megaphones. I’m very happy that such initiatives exist in European cities, where locals organise to solve pressing problems and I hope we’ll see more such groups in the future. Good work! 

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