I almost got pick-pocketed in Rome.
This also almost happened to me when I went to Dublin in 2013 but thats another story for another time. I guess I’m just an easy target?
But back to Rome. These pick-pocketers know what they’re doing. They’re experts. They’ve made a career out of it. They’ve even made a life out of it. Hunting for fresh meat. And I happened to be the kill of the day. Luggage tumbling over. Me tripping over that, falling behind the rest of the pack. Clearly, I was the weak one of the herd, and the scam artists saw their opportunity to pounce.
My friends and I had just gotten off the train from Florence, at around 11 a.m. We had all of our belongings, since we were hopping from one city to the next. We decided to walk to our hotel since it was only about a 10 minute walk. Easy enough right? WRONG. At least not when you have a huge suitcase, a duffel bag, a back pack, and a small cross body bag to look after. And there’s exactly where I went wrong. I thought a cross body bag that held my passport, credit cards, ID, and money would be safer – separated from my back pack, which would be easier to access for thieves. Rookie mistake.
As I was walking, or I should say struggling to keep an eye on all my bags, while trying to not get hit by a car, some lady tripped me. Of course, I didn’t think anything of this, so I thought it was an accident, as she apologized profusely. Right at the same time, some souvenir vendor was trying to sell me something. Luckily, I remembered that these people all work together. Pick pocketers team up with vendors so that that the vendors can distract you, and voila! When you’re not paying attention, you will look down to get your wallet and only then will you discover it’s gone. Then you’ll try to retrace your steps, thinking what went wrong, and how you could have lost your wallet.
Fortunately, that scenario did not play out for me. I ignored the vendor and turned around to see that the same lady who had ‘tripped’ me had opened my cross body bag. I yelled, “EXCUSE ME” and she apologized in Italian and ran off, without getting any of my valuables, thankfully.
Everyone who I’ve told this story to tells me I should have punched her, or bitched her out. Which, normally I would have. But the truth is, when it’s actually happening to you, you don’t really have a reaction – because you wouldn’t expect it to happen to you. Especially if you’ve been warned by other tourists, or even if you’ve read about it in your travel guides. It’s like I saw it happen in slow motion. And it happened pretty early on in my trip so if she did actually make off with anything, I no doubt would probably have been pretty upset for the rest of my vacation.
I was pretty shaken up but I’m just really thankful that nothing more serious happened. Like my girl Taylor Swift says, you gotta just “Shake it off!”
P.S. Three days later when I was leaving Rome to go to Venice, I noticed a lot of shady people at the train station. They seem to be lurking around, waiting for you to turn your head for one split second and then they’ll grab your valuables. I was a tad smarter when I was leaving though. I got rid of the cross-body, had my backpack in the front and was just more alert than when I had first arrived. I wasn’t too worried about my luggage because it was so heavy that the thieves, or gypsies, or whatever you want to call them could not have gotten away with it. Part of me wishes they would have tried because I would have just laughed (and eventually caught up to them). My Fodor’s travel guide had also warned me about random people helping you with your luggage onto the train and then demanding payment. That, or they would help you while their accomplice stole your valuables. Someone had tried to help us with our luggage but luckily, I had remembered that tidbit.
And people say New York City is a dangerous place. Unless you’ve been to Rome, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.