We just got back from our 3rd trip to Montreal! had a fantastic time again! However, this time we did have one bad experience...we had our wallets stolen. Sadly we came to found out that this is not uncommon in Montreal. However, we did find out there are "rings" of people that watch bank machines and then follow you until the opportune moment to take your wallet comes.
We have always taken pride in being "educated" travellers, but were not aware of this type of theft.
So here are some tips for keeping your money safe while travelling.....
never count your money in full view
never announce to friends or spouse how much you took out
do not hand money to friend or spouse in full view
be aware of those around you. ...apparently these people stand around with cell phones and watch to see what direction you go and then you can be followed by as many as 5 different people at various points. Because they change people, you tend not to notice.
If you suspect that you might be targeted....go into a restaurant, a cafe and sit for a bit or hail a cab and leave the
Change the area of where you put the money, they already know where it is, so move it.
Be aware of those around you, not paranoid, just aware.'
If you are carrying a purse, carry one with zipper pockets, not open pouches or pockets, and carry the zippers to the front, so you will notice of someone tries to open it.
Try not to carry much cash, carry debit/credit cards
Keep a photocopy of all your id and cards in the hotel and at home. This will make it easier when you are trying to replace it or just trying to remember account numbers.
Take advantage of the in hotel safety deposit boxes and safes.
Keep a list of the toll free bank and credit card numbers in your hotel...you will need these quickly in order to cancel your cards.
Remember, reacting quickly is the best defense. A thief can max out a credit card before you even know its gone.
Do not carry more ID or cards with you then is necessary...leave excess id and cards at the hotel.
Remember, it can take up to 3 days to have your cards replaced....weeks for driver's licence or health cards
Know where the nearest branch of your regular bank is....again, time is of the essence....we found them all to be very helpful and understanding.
Do not go to the police first....go to your bank! the police can only take a report, they can help you find your walltet and the report is only for credit card companies and in case they find your wallet.
Our incident started at the Canada Trust at McGill and Notre Dame...we know now that we were followed by at least 3 people by the time they took the wallet on St Catherine's street.
Thankfully, we always take our own advice and prevented a much worse situation from occurring.
Remember.....you're on vacation.....they do this everyday to survive!