We were in France ten, maybe fifteen years ago. Driving from lisieux (Normandy) to Paris. Had a real fleamarket trip planned. The euros take pleasure in getting rid of items they find in their dying an dead elders’ homes that hold God, Angels, Jesus in reverence.
We pulled in to St Owen fleamarket. The place looked like the gold market in Riyadh. But crowded
Quick change in plans. No flea market. I was willing, the guy with us with Intel shook his head and (he was the driver) took off
No. Very sudden and determined.
Ok. Safety first.
I was actually in Paris last summer. We were at the circle (etoile) that faces the Eiffel Tower, where lots of tour buses stop and steps away from the plaza that’s between 2 museums. It’s a very crowded plaza and 1000’s of people are there taking photos you can see the full tower and all the left bank from the vista. Also scores of people selling trinkets, hats, t-shits, and slingshot helicopter toys. (I actually bought a pretty cool laser pointer for 10 euros, it was the coolest thing there - not French per se but what the heck).
Anyway, we sat on a bench behind a couple of older ladies speaking a language we did not recognize - eastern European probably. A few minutes pass and the two ladies left. When we got up and turned around we saw that one of ladies left their purse. We were 99%+ sure it was innocent but being Paris and touristy location the Mrs and I decided not to stay too close. We didn’t touch the purse but, keeping an eye on it, we went to several of the buses to ask the drivers and tour guides to announce if anyone lost their purse. Nobody responded.
There was a man who appeared from around the bend and he saw the purse, stopped in his tracks smoking a cigarette and kept eyeing the purse. We knew he was going to steal it and we stood back and watched. He kept walking closer and closer, pretending to be nonchalant about it. The missus and I watched him and quietly joked how long it would take for him to grab it, what he would do etc. We were probably even a little too irrational - it was just someone’s purse. But better safe than sorry. We weren’t going to confront him and there wasn’t a cop to be seen anywhere. We did our best to locate the owner but simply did not want to touch it so we stood away watching.
Finally the guy casually inched towards it, then pretended as if he just found it, even making a phony “surprise and concerned” facial expression. He quickly picked it up but he didn’t say “hey did someone lose a purse”, he announced loudly (in French) “I’m going to find the police” but rather than walk towards the crowds where you might expect to find a cop, he walked quickly away up one of the streets away from the etoile. He even stopped and pretended to speak to a taxi driver parked about 20 yards up the road, I guess in case he thought he was being filmed. From there he ran out of sight holding the purse like a football.
Our friends met up with us a couple minutes later and as we were recounting the story with them the guy reappeared and put the purse back where he found it.
We assume it was missing all its cash, credit cards, IDs and if it had a passport that could be worth thousands of dollars in the black market. Under the circumstances we felt we did what we could.
Not a cop to be seen anywhere around there the whole time which is surprising because it is such an obvious location for thieves, pickpockets, or worse. But it’s also very crowded with cafes, tour buses. We assumed the whole place was wired with CCTV cameras but still... doubt they would be used for something as mundane as common theft.