Eiffel tower

I got robbed at the Eiffel Tower. Here are my mistakes

Here’s what you can learn from my mistakes.

Admittedly, Paris is pretty, but the magic of La Ville-Lumière does not protect you from petty theft. Even Kim Kardashian couldn’t visit the City of Light without thieves using some of her belongings in 2016. Last August, I too fell victim to petty theft that can plague popular tourist destinations like Paris. . Of course, so far I haven’t shared the details of what happened to me out of sheer embarrassment, but perhaps there are a few lessons in my experience that can help future travelers avoid the headache of being robbed overseas.

He was tall, dark, handsome and worked at Goldman Sachs.

I felt like I had won the Tinder lottery when I met Phil, the six-foot-seven French banker. We first met on the steps of the Sacred Heart Basilica. There we shared a bottle of wine and a hug. Our next date was a steak and french fries dinner at Bouillon Pigalle, which also ended with a platonic hug.

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We didn’t officially seal the deal with a kiss until day three. On a blanket under the Eiffel Tower, illuminated by shimmering golden lights dancing like butterflies in my stomach, our lips finally met. I didn’t even know his last name. But if he had gotten down on his knees, my answer would have been “Yes.” For a few seconds no one else in the world existed, especially not the person who ran away with my purse while I was busy kissing Phil.

INSIDER TIPNever put your purse on the floor, even if it’s by your side and touching you. Always keep one arm securely in place through the strap.

Goodbye Scholarship, Hello Police

It happened so fast. One moment my purse was by my side and the next moment it was MIA. Immediately I realized who had taken it. Phil and I were seated in a fenced area under the famous monument. The only other people on the lawn were a couple listening to a boombox playing obnoxious music. I knew they had been watching us, but I was too engrossed in Phil to care.

Suddenly there was silence. The couple was gone, as was my purse containing my passport, iPhone, credit cards, cash, driver’s license and COVID vaccination card. Phil, who was wearing an Omega watch that was worth more than all my valuables put together, said he felt terrible. I made a lame joke about how he probably would have framed me.

The couple having been gone for a long time, we tried to bring an Uber to the nearest police station. But I didn’t have a mask because it had been buried in my purse, rendered useless because I was kissing with my French suitor. We walked to the police where we found an officer on duty who spoke no English. Luckily, Phil served as the translator. It was just after midnight, and the officer told me to go to another police station the next day to report the incident.

Phil had to work the next morning, so I walked alone to police station number two. I sat in a waiting room next to a crying woman and drank coffee so strong my hands were shaking. After an hour, I was handed a form. As I did not speak French and the agents did not speak English, I made my statement via a multiple-choice questionnaire.

INSIDER TIPDo not assume that an experience with the police in a foreign country will be similar to what you expect from your country of residence. Chances are they have different budgets and priorities.

First priority: get a new passport

Then I walked through the Jardins des Champs-Elysées to the US Embassy. I took a number, stood in line and an hour later stood at a service window where I explained my situation. The easiest and cheapest solution was to get an emergency passport. However, emergency passports are only good for immediate return to the United States. I needed a real passport because my plan after leaving Paris was to go to Tenerife, Spain. It cost me $145 which had to be paid on the spot. After picking up a pile of paperwork to fill out, I headed back to my hotel. The only silver lining in this situation was the Kimpton St. Honore Hotel graciously offered me an extra night free of charge. They felt sorry for me.

INSIDER TIPDon’t keep all your cards and cash in one bag. I was able to buy a new passport because I always keep an emergency credit card in my toiletry bag, which always stays in my hotel room.

The pain of replacing everything can rival that of a root canal

The hardest part of stealing my purse was replacing everything. I was disappointed to lose $2,000 – the value of my phone, cash, purse, wallet, etc. – and an additional $2,000 to cover the cost of my extended stay in Paris and a new flight to Tenerife. But I was most bitter about the endless hoops I had to go through to replace everything. Since I didn’t have a phone to hail an Uber, I had to walk an hour each way to the Apple Store to buy a new iPhone. I had to search for copies of my birth certificate and social security card for my new passport application. Since the embassy did not know when my new passport would arrive, I had to deal with the uncertainty of spending another 5-10 days in one of the most expensive cities in the world during the high season. I also had to buy a new purse, wallet, sunglasses, lipstick, and all the useful things we fill our purses with. When I got back to the US, I had to go to the DMV to replace my driver’s license, which is very much like going to the dentist for a root canal. I should also contact my county nurse’s office and go there to pick up a new vaccination card. If time is money, I spent a small fortune replacing everything.

INSIDER TIPHave copies of all important documents saved in cloud storage so you can access them from any phone or computer.

Looking back, here’s what I would do differently

After six days my new passport finally arrived and I bid Farewell in Paris and Phil. Do I regret having met him? Yes. But only because he would continue to ghost me soon after. Do I blame myself? No. It’s not my fault that someone took something from me. Will I wear a money belt the next time I go to Central Pickpocket? Probably not. I think they are ugly and uncomfortable. Will I start carrying a copy of my passport instead of the real deal? Absoutely. I will do the same with my vaccination record.

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The main thing I regret is my response. I spent my “bonus” days in Paris strolling around the Eiffel Tower. Convinced that I would spot the couple who stole my purse, I was ready to confront them and/or notify a nearby police officer. Except I didn’t see them, and even more depressingly, I didn’t see any police. But I noticed a lot of situations that gave me more than serious pause. There were women carrying clipboards, soliciting donations for charities that didn’t exist and men gathering in small groups, smoking and scanning the crowds for their next target. At first it was exciting to feel like I was ‘catching’ them with bad intention, but it wasn’t long before they started noticing me noticing them. If looks could kill, this would have been RIP for me.

INSIDER TIPThieves sometimes work in sophisticated groups. Even if you are able to confront someone or try to stop a robbery, there may be co-workers nearby waiting to help. Don’t be a hero.

Deja vu: what I would do again

I call it the $4,000 French kiss. That’s about how much it cost me — financially speaking — to play tonsil hockey at the Eiffel Tower. Was it worth it? Nope. Still, that doesn’t mean that if I happen to swipe right on Mr. Right in Rome, I won’t agree to meet him for a date night at the Trevi Fountain. Life is too short and I’m too single not to.

INSIDER TIPConsider Tinder’s Passport feature, which lets you connect with people at your destination even before you arrive. This way you can already have plans when you land.