iPhone Filching and Foodspotting Article

iPhone in the Box

Last night I went to L’Imprévu Café with my new friend Annie (see how many new friends I’m making lately? Amazing what happens when I get out of the house!)

We were enjoying our chai tea (it’s so good there) when two young guys approached us asking for money. They were using a technique I see more on the metro or on the street – silence, with their sad story written on a sign.

But bastards!

The sign proclaiming them out of work was really the prop. My friend had her iPhone on the table waiting for a call and one of the guys laid the sign on the table.

No, no, we said.

What he was really doing was stealing the iPhone from underneath the sign. It all happened so quickly and we didn’t see a thing. Though I had been immediately wary we didn’t even have time to realize what was happening.

I had instinctively clutched my bag closer to me when they approached, feeling something off. A decade of city living and I either always have my purse actually on my lap or on the floor, but with a leg fully through the strap and twisted. (I wonder what would happen if someone tried to take it. I’d feel the tug, which is the point. But would I be dragged along with it? At least it would create a scene).

But that I did not see coming. I feel so bad for my friend!

This sort of thing is running rampant in Paris. Just this week I heard of another friend getting his phone filched in a cafe and Kim of I Heart Paris tweeted that she’d run after a thief who had lifted someone else’s phone on a cafe terrace. (Whoa, Kim! Superhero!)

So, just another reminder to keep your guard up. Resist the temptation to keep your phone out. Someone will try for the grab.

Fondant au chocolat at Le Pearl

The only real reason to have your iPhone out is if you’re say, at a Foodspotting event, where the main activity is taking photos of your food (segue?)

Foodspotting is a website and mobile application that welcomes users to upload photos of favorite foods they’ve encountered on their culinary adventures. This helps other users see (literally) what’s on the menu at a given restaurant near them.

Foodspotting also holds offline events and one finally came to Paris.

I wrote an article about the debut event for Girls’ Guide to Paris that just went live today. Freel free to check it out.

As for me, I still don’t even have a smartphone, so no snapping pics with it for me. Then again, my phone’s such a dinosaur it means no one in a million years would ever think to steal it. Maybe not so dumb after all.

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18 Responses to “iPhone Filching and Foodspotting Article”


  1. 1 Barbara November 1, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    Awful. This happened to me this summer on the Champs de Mars. Was sitting chatting with a friend on a blanket, suddenly noticed two kids beside us with a piece of paper asking for money. My friend and I immediately recognized what they were after and started grabbing our bags. I knew that my phone was somewhere on the blanket and asked my friend to call it. The kids suddenly realized that we were on to them (I think they thought we were looking for money to give them) and took off – I stormed after them (with my 20-month old in my arms), and finally they just stopped and looked at me. I held out my hand and they gave me back my phone. Then I told them to run, which they did.

    I see this scenario all the time at the Starbucks on Sebastopol. The kids come in groups and create a diversion. This also happened to me at an ATM! The kids threw a piece of paper over the screen shortly after I’d entered my code. Luckily, I was just checking my balance. Had I been taking out money, they could have easily grabbed it and ran.

    Lesson: Avoid people asking for money with pieces of paper!!

    On a happier note, congrats on the Foodspotting article!

    • 2 paris (im)perfect November 1, 2011 at 6:51 pm

      Oh, it’s so frustrating! How bad-ass are you, though, Barbara! Amazing that you went after them and got your phone back. Yay you!

      This type of thing really does seem to be getting out of hand. I’m thankful there isn’t a lot of *violent* crime in Paris, but this is crime nonetheless.

      So much energy always having to be wary, but that’s the only safeguard. We can try to avoid people with paper, but it’s not really that – they come up to you! I say don’t ever leave anything valuable out and always keep your purse physically on you. Would be nice to actually be able to relax on a picnic blanket, but nay!

      Anyway, thanks for the congrats, too. Yeah, nice having the article up!

      • 3 Barbara November 2, 2011 at 11:40 am

        You’re right Sion – I was being a bit glib about avoiding people with pieces of paper. It’s sad but you definitely need to stay on your guard in Paris these days. And don’t forget to pay attention to who is around you when at an ATM – it was pure luck that I wasn’t robbed that day.

        (And I wasn’t even thinking about being bad-ass when I chased after those thieves…I was so pissed off my body acted on its own!)

  2. 4 SAS Fiction Girl November 1, 2011 at 10:54 pm

    Yep, I know allllll about the signs.
    I visited Paris with my sis back in 1990 when I was 18 and Alex was 26. We were walking through the subway to get to our train when a group of about 6 or more kids (all ages) got between us and held signs in my face – they were posters of sick and starving children, I think.
    The little urchins were babbling and creating an awful commotion. By the time Alex realized what was happening and came back to help me, one kid had unzipped my bag, but nothing was taken. Later, we saw them sitting on a platform across the tracks, laughing at us.
    Sigh…

  3. 6 Paris Paul P November 2, 2011 at 11:02 am

    I first saw this ruse in a train station in Rome when a group of itinerant women came up holding a cardboard sheet with postcards. I felt them grabbing my banana bag and yelled at them in English.

    That said, I’ve had my pocket picked about 4 times in Paris, so no one is immune!

    Oh yeah, for the bag at the café, instead of putting it around *my* leg, I put the *chair* leg through the strap. I’m so large, ain’t no one gonna be able to move that!

  4. 8 Franck November 2, 2011 at 6:10 pm

    Alas!
    Being a Parisian since my birth there has been no surprise in your adventure. But the sugar addicted person I am has an embarrassing question about your dish photo: did the dark one spit onto the white one?
    Was it racial? Have you witnessed the incident? Or was it just a neighborhood problem so common in Paris? Did you eat both protagonists by yourself? Were they that punchy-moody as a Parisian or a New Yorker? Did you know who shed the first cherry juice?

    • 9 paris (im)perfect November 2, 2011 at 9:51 pm

      Sometimes I have no idea how to respond to your comments, Franck. All I can say is both elements of the fondant au chocolat get along/go together very well.

      • 10 Franck November 2, 2011 at 10:10 pm

        Just don’t! I have no ego anyway! No big deal! I know I am an embarassador from my very first second on this planet to the last one I hope. No offense but nice photo! lol

  5. 11 Sonic Pompadour November 2, 2011 at 8:33 pm

    Oh Sion, so sad to stop by your blog and see some bad news! Boo. These gypsy kids are fast and furious when it comes to stealing phones….the last incident I witnessed was at our opening picnic this spring in the Tuileries. One actually managed to steal my friend’s iphone from her back pocket! And what’s with that “picking-up-a-fake-gold-ring-and-giving-it-to-you-as-I-steal-from-you” charade? Clearly enough tourists and maybe some parisians fall for it enough for it to be “successful”.

    I’m with you. I have a cheap 1 euro blackberry that no one would bother stealing. :)

  6. 13 Lindsey November 2, 2011 at 9:35 pm

    It seems to happen a LOT at Starbucks. Always be on guard!

  7. 15 3samovar (@3samovar) November 3, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    hootsuite won’t;let me send you a reply, but this link in your tweet
    “Shout-outs to @LostNCheeseland @sugar_daze @sweetpeaparis @LolasCookies + mobad, because it is a good article, found it by googling it!

  8. 17 aureliad November 3, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    Wow! It’s an epidemic! I saw this scam go down at a Paris restaurant in the 11e earlier this year. To process it, I wrote about it, too: http://myveganparisianadventure.blogspot.com/2010/10/dejeuner-drama.html

    I’m sorry for your friend. It’s a violation, no matter how you slice it. Hope she’s in better spirits now.


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paris (im)perfect?

Sion Dayson is paris (im)perfect. Writer, dreamer, I moved to France on – no exaggerating – a romantic whim. As you can imagine, a lot can go wrong (and very right!) with such a (non)plan. These are the (im)perfect stories that result.

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