We were "almost" taken by a band of children in Barcelona. A group of about six kids (ages 5-10) came into a cafe, with an adult, and started running around playing "tag". They got closer and closer to our table and then knocked over a chair to distract us.
As I bent over to pick up the chair, right away, I felt a little hand going for my front pocket. I grabbed his hand and told him, and the adult, to get away from us. They immediately ran out of the cafe. The owner was grateful and comped our meal. My wife believes that he was in on it and did it so we didn't go to the police. She may be right.
The other thing to watch out for is in using ATM's. There is a BIG problem in Europe where they will put a false card slot on an ATM and a small camera, on the top ledge, above the keypad. With this they get your PIN number and can clone your card. Always put your other hand over the hand you enter the PIN number with. My nephew, who is an English Police Sergeant, told me about this scam. Also run your hand under the top ledge to feel if there is something there. If you feel something, go to another ATM.
The other is when withdrawing money from an ATM always make sure you watch the card slot and the money dispensary slot. Three years ago I was on the Carnival Breeze, Cruisemates Cruise, in Florence, and I was taking a few seconds longer than usual, at the ATM, because I was unfamiliar with the layout of the bank's ATM. The money dispensary slot was lower than I was use to and just as I saw the money coming out, a hand, that wasn't mine, reached in to grab the money. I brought up my left elbow and hit the person square in the face. The blood (not mine) and bruise on my elbow gave me the satisfaction in knowing I made good contact. He ran off down the street holding his face.
Overall, you are "reasonably" safe when traveling but you always have to keep your guard up and you can't be as "helpful" as you normally are because of the scams that perpetrated to get your money.
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"There is a great difference between being well traveled and just having been to many places." ~Me
With regards to ATMs, and this applies anywhere, if you can use the ATMs that are inside a shop or bank as there is far less chance that these will have been tampered with, or that someone will make a gram for your money & hope to run away.
One potential scam that we avoided was in Spain where an immigrant wanted to show us some of his country's currency, and was really keen to see a 20 or 50 Euro note, and kept telling us that the 1,000 whatever it was note we had was worth a lot, so if he trusted us with that, then he must be a trustworthy character - yeah right & I arrived on the last boat - oh hang on I did ;o)
I am sure that if he had seen our money, he would have legged it, possibly grabbing my wallet at the same time, leaving us with a foreign note worth a cent or two - presuming it was actually real.
Last Cruise: Azamara Journey August 2014
Next: Queen Victoria November 2014
Followed by: Queen Elizabeth December 2014 and Minvera April 2015
The one I heard alot before I went to Europe was the baby one mentioned..There are many varaitions, one where the person drops the pretend baby,and when you run to help, eveything you left, is stolen,or gone through by the thieves.
Trip, with her book & tea!
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