Setting: Metro quay, uncrowded on mid Sunday afternoon.
Usually I am ALWAYS aware of my surroundings when I am walking in the streets of Paris or on the Metro/RER. This time, though I looked around me... I was also conversing with the ladies I was with (from Philly) so my attention wasn't 100% like usual. Still, I noticed nothing suspicious on the quay. I noted that there were hardly any people and that as the metro pulled up... it was crowded.
Action: My two friends enter first and I get in last. They sit down and the wagon is half empty. Plenty of seats. We were by the door and my friends were sitting in the pull down seats. Three other young French adults were also sitting down in the area. As I stood there by the open door talking to my friends, I became suddenly aware of someone's presence practically pasted to me. As I turn my head, there is a young person (anywhere from 16- 19) standing right up against me in a VERY uncrowded wagon.. I look down and notice that her sweatshirt is COMPLETELY covering the top of my bag... i.e., she had placed her sweatshirt over my bag so that she could help herself to the contents.
*Side note - When I go up to Paris I ALWAYS carry a purse that goes over my shoulder and that I have draped around my front body, so that I can see it at all times... But, today... that purse was in a plastic bag inside the bag and then placed inside the main bag I was carrying... because I had spilled my water bottle in it and was soaking wet.... Because of the wet hand bag, I had taken both my camera and my wallet and placed it openly in the open bag.. making it "fair game" to anyone who wanted to steal it!)
How I reacted instantly: As soon as I saw that she had placed her sweatshirt over my bag... I gave her a dirty look... YANKED my bag away and pushed her slightly away from me. She quickly stepped down off the metro. At that exact moment that I looked in my bag to see if she had taken my wallet or anything else... The conductor announced in French: Attention! Il y a des pick pockets dans le train!" When I heard this announcement, I went to the door, looked out and saw the girl who tried to pick pocket me, know standing about 30 25 feet away with about 4 other young girls. I immediately pointed and yelled out, "C'est elle, C'est elle!"
About 30 seconds later... the metro doors closed and the drove away!
I am VERY happy that I reacted so quickly and I think if she had got something out of my bag, since she was still there, I would have gone after here right away! That's me... I'm only sorry that I didn't slap her in the process. I'm not a violent person, but it would have served her right!
A few months ago, Alex and I watched a long report on tv about the bands of Bosnian teens who are notorious pick pocketers on the metros and RERs in Paris... I'm not even really sure about the gypsies but I know they also do this kind of thing, too.. I see them "working" the metro and RER lines with music and begging... but I've never yet seen one in the act of pick pocketing... though I have been curious....
I looked up "Paris pick pockets in the metros" on Google and came up with this link: HERE.
Anyone traveling to Paris or any other big city should be aware of their surroundings and on the alert for potential incidents. It's the first time in almost 4 years that something like this has ever happened to me... but in a way... (not to blame myself)... I think I was a great "target" for them.