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RER B Mugged in broad daylight! (Reposted in correct forum)

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RER B Mugged in broad daylight! (Reposted in correct forum)

Last weekend me and my girlfriend landed in Paris at around 10:15 AM We landed at terminal 2B on a flight from Luton & had no bags in the hold so went straight through passport control (quite literally as the guard barely looked at my passport or my partners) and started to try and find our way to the RER station for a transfer to Paris city centre. Whilst en route to the station inside the terminal building we were offered a taxi by what looked like a rogue taxi driver we pleasantly said no and carried on. After getting some tickets at the manned desk at the RER station at terminal 2 we made our way down the escalator and to the platform where there was a train in the platform (platform 11) waiting to leave. We boarded the train at the nearest doors to the bottom of the escalator and were stood up as nearly all the seats were taken. We were the only two people stood up and we were stood next to the opposite doors to which we had boarded the train. After a 3 or 4 minute wait the train left and made the short journey to Terminal 1 station. At this point I should mention I had a smallish wheel bag & my partners hold all bag over my shoulder. She had her handbag over her shoulder. As the doors opened at Terminal 1 there was a huge guy of African appearance stood right at the doors and he began to snatch my partners bag off her shoulder. I managed to get a hand to one of the straps but he yanked it that hard he almost fell over. He then sprinted along the platform through the panic door and gone. I wasn’t prepared to give chase as we had other luggage, was in massive shock and my partner was hysterical. Thankfully I had the passports, the mobile phones and the flight tickets, but he snatched an expensive handbag with my partners purse in including 600 Euros, her cards and her ipad. Now before anyone mentions that we are stupid for carrying 600 euro on us and in one place I am aware this was a daft costly mistake but the whole point of this piece is to help people learn from our mistakes (not go over and over about them as I have many times in my head) and make people aware that the RER B is a dangerous intimidating line to use. Thankfully we are insured for all the possessions taken and after being taken to the police station by the kindest good Samaritan I have ever met (a young French gentleman who could speak great English) we got the required documents and got a taxi to our hotel. I just wish I had done this in the first place, but I live in London and use the tube/train system daily so I though using a similar system in Paris wouldn’t be an issue. I have to say as well that the French police were absolutely fantastic. They were very compassionate to my partner who was utterly devastated and myself. Thumbs up to them as they were truly professional and really welcoming after such a horrible incident. After reading many online reviews and speaking to the police I believe that we had been spotted in the airport and this was a well executed planned attack. I also believe that even if we had been sat down the man would have come on the train for the bag, this guy was the sort of man you wouldn’t be arguing with and purely relies on the size of his presence to pray on people. Please all be careful when using the RER and for the sake of 30 euro difference if travelling as a two get a taxi, its way safer. Me and my partner are in our mid twenties so don’t think these guys prey on older people or people with huge suitcases they prey on anyone they see fit to having money, documents and electrical goods coming fresh from the airport so that means everyone needs to be on alert. Paris is a beautiful city far more so than London but is ruined by rife crime that in my opinion is out of control. I didn’t feel safe at night, was followed at least twice in four days and so many situations where you just know that crime could potentially or is taking place. The authorities really need to get a strong hold on what is going on as it is going to deter so many people from going there. If you’re heading over there learn from our mistake and please stay safe and enjoy it. Best Regards.

Paris 4th Arr
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1. Re: RER B Mugged in broad daylight! (Reposted in correct forum)

As someone who uses the RER-B and all other public transport in Paris and environs exclusively, I am sincerely saddened by your ordeal. We haven't experienced anything like what you've been through in many hundreds of journeys on the RER but we know it happens and we're so sorry it happened to you on your trip to Paris. It's not the norm. The RER is not a dangerous transport option and shouldn't be considered unsafe or to be avoided. I understand that you will probably disagree with me but we use the RER almost daily and we know it by heart. Again, I'm truly sorry this happened to you.

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2. Re: RER B Mugged in broad daylight! (Reposted in correct forum)

very sorry to read this...what an ordeal and after hearing this type of experience so many times on trips by some sort of mass transit from airport to hotel (perfect time money in hand...excited...tired victims) I say just take a taxi. Many here will disagree but thats my opinion.

Paris 4th Arr
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3. Re: RER B Mugged in broad daylight! (Reposted in correct forum)

Even though we use the RER and all other modes of public transportation in Paris almost daily and have for more than a decade without fear, you can't argue with the taxi recommendation. Safe, reliable, private and right there, waiting at the airport taxi rank.

I don't believe the RER is a particularly risky option to get into the city but there is alway a petty crime risk in any city. Relative to all other major cities I've visited or worked in, Paris is the least intimidating as far as crime is concerned.

London, United...
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4. Re: RER B Mugged in broad daylight! (Reposted in correct forum)

Thank you metro mole and gene for your sincerity I just wanted to post what happened to us to help future tourists heading for the city from cdg and completely agree with your comments.

Edited: 4:56 pm, December 13, 2013
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5. Re: RER B Mugged in broad daylight! (Reposted in correct forum)

You are not stupid at all for carrying your belongings with you! I feel so badly for you. I'm actually glad you spoke up about RER B, because in the past, when people have mentioned there *can* be problems on this line (since it contains so many tourists), others have downplayed the problem. We all have different tolerance of risk.

I'm glad you praised the French police. We've never had to report a crime, but have watched police in action at other times and have been impressed. Property crime is up in nearly every major city (source: American Journal of Sociology; papers of the Woodrow Wilson Institute; newspapers; web crime reporting sources - that's for SeanBee).

Carrying 600€ when you have insurance is not a terrible mistake. I'm sure that with hindsight, you'd do things differently and I'm so sad that you and your partner have to go through that second-guessing on your vacation. I totally agree that it's worth the price of a taxi to avoid the chances of this happening at arrival time (we have two sets of friends to whom this happened within the past three years; not right at the terminal, but later on down the same line; once with cameras, once with a handbag). Our rental agency just sent me an email this week with a warning in bold letters that pickpocketing on RER B was up, so I assume they've been hearing from their clients about it.

RER in general, as Metromole says, is safe, but for us as new arrivals (tired, excited, etc), we think a taxi is a better option (plus, hearing stories like this just makes me want to cross one worry off the travel checklist). BTW, most warnings I hear about RER B are about *incoming* trains, but in our case, we are going to use taxis both directions. We want to minimize our worries while on holiday.

This is also a good reminder to me *not* to use a handbag while in transit or in any other way have an obvious place where there's money. I sometimes take my handbag out on the plane and carry it (cross-body) through the airport, but that's obviously a dumb idea. My DH insists on carrying most of the valuables (you're very lucky you decided it that way). We've often pondered to what degree thieves assess value of handbag (etc) into their schemes - your post makes me think that they do assess such things (as does the experience of my friends, who had camera equipment in branded camera bags - stolen as they exited the RER B station, past the turnstiles but still within the station).

Finally, thanks for such a calm, reasoned and detailed post, given the content. I too am so sorry this happened to you and you can trust that you helped at least one set of travelers think clearly about how to handle the airport situation. (And my husband will be very glad that this convinces me to wear my darned money pouch thing, which I hate and to keep my handbag inside the carryon).

Hopefully, others will chime in without making you feel worse about this (I'm curious as to what people think about carrying identifiably branded/expensive handbags in Paris). Our plan involves using no currency inside the airport, having no reason to get out a wallet (etc) and heading right to the taxi stands.

Paris 4th Arr
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6. Re: RER B Mugged in broad daylight! (Reposted in correct forum)

««Finally, thanks for such a calm, reasoned and detailed post»»

I too appreciate that you took the time to explain your ordeal in objective detail.

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7. Re: RER B Mugged in broad daylight! (Reposted in correct forum)

This is an extremely unusual event and does not in any way mean that people should take a taxi instead. I have lived in Paris long enough to have heard many taxi horror stories which do not bear repeating here -- but in any case, you are safer in the RER.

I'm glad that the police were excellent. Even the locals are often unsure of this.

I have been mugged in Paris and Johannesburg and had my baggage stolen in Los Angeles and Indonesia. I have been scammed by taxis in Manila, Tunis and New York City. I have been pickpocketed in Saigon. So believe me, I have plenty of experience and probably more than most about what can go wrong on a trip. In half of the incidents, it was entirely my fault. In the other half, it was not my fault at all -- but obviously each event was a learning experience. The more you travel, the more problems you can have.

I don't travel as much now, but not because I was traumatized anywhere -- just because of family responsibilities. I will probably put myself at risk again soon.

London, United...
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8. Re: RER B Mugged in broad daylight! (Reposted in correct forum)

Not a problem, the event no matter how distressing it was & still is, is now in the past and to move on from such an ordeal is vital for both me and my partner to regain confidence in crowded public places. LeBiscuit D my advice to you regarding using expensive bags etc around the city is to leave them at home and use something subtle that does the job. We all like nice things but it just isn't worth having someone take them from you or for you to be singled out so having a nice expensive possession. I believe we had been spotted in the airport and it had been a planned attack (I can't confirm this obviously as I don't know) but the way we got robbed was way to slick for it to be a random lucky dip at the train station. Make yourself stand out as least as possible and be confident that's my main advice. Enjoy your trip and stay safe.

Edited: 5:24 pm, December 13, 2013
Paris, France
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9. Re: RER B Mugged in broad daylight! (Reposted in correct forum)

It is true that the very first thing I learned was to travel with cheap luggage. (Well, I never owned any expensive luggage in the first place.) I use floppy canvas type bags for my checked luggage and have been known to carry my camera and other important items in a ratty plastic shopping bag in certain countries.

This should help you to imagine how I dress when I am on the road! And yes, I do have nice clothing in my luggage if I think that I will have any reason to use it on my trip.

Paris, France
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10. Re: RER B Mugged in broad daylight! (Reposted in correct forum)

Take a taxi to get from the airport into the city. Not for security reasons but simply because it makes more sense.