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Is getting mugged in Europe cool now?

Attenzione borseggiatrici, attenzione pickpocket!

Is getting mugged in Europe cool now? Attenzione borseggiatrici, attenzione pickpocket!

«Being robbed in Europe is now so common among Chinese tourists that some argue that if you haven't been robbed, you haven't had the full experience on the continent,» said journalist Manya Koetse on the site What's on Weibo, recounting how on Chinese social networks - including Xiaohongshu, Douyin and WeChat - exchanging stories of the time one has been robbed in Europe has become a real trend online. Chinese tourists, following the end of travel restrictions due to the pandemic, have returned to travelling in Europe, but also to being the target of pickpockets, especially in big cities. According to Koetse, Chinese tourists are not able to go unnoticed, especially because they usually travel wearing visibly expensive designer clothes and accessories, thus becoming an easy target for petty criminals who often operate in the city centres of European capitals. Their credit cards are not always compatible with payment systems operating in Europe, so they also tend to carry a lot of cash, despite being less used to handling a wallet and physical currencies - as payments in China are almost exclusively cashless. According to findings on active social networks in China, Chinese tourists this summer were victims of theft and unpleasant experiences especially in Paris, Barcelona, Amsterdam and London.

The European cities with the most pickpockets

@neapolitantwitcher Attenzione pickpocket a venezia #pickpocket #attenzionepickpocket #attenzione #venezia #borseggiatrici original sound - Best Napoli Twitch

The French capital is the European city where the most pickpockets have been reported: many said they had been victims of theft in the metro during a moment of distraction. In the past, Chinese newspapers had already pointed the finger at Paris, claiming that clubs were taking advantage of the Chinese clientele by raising the prices of their products for them only. Chinese authorities even intervened diplomatically, asking France to provide more security for their citizens. In Barcelona, on the other hand, the stories narrate instances where criminals sprayed dye on tourists as they are leaving metro stations, in order to rob them while they are busy cleaning themselves. One posts reads that in London, groups of youngsters would operate by running down the street and snatching phones out of people's hands as they stand on the sidewalk, waiting for the bus or at a red traffic light. In Italy, cities in which Chinese users advise people to be more alert are Venice, Milan and Rome: here, cases have been shared in which birdseed is strategically thrown near tourists in historical squares, so that pigeons go to them practically all in unison, and the pickpockets can take advantage of that brief moment of excitement to rob them.

How to avoid being robbed on holiday

@helloangelia Replying to @1andonlydezzz 5 Tips to Prevent Pickpocketing

In addition to tales of theft during a trip to Europe, many are sharing guides and tips on how to avoid becoming the target of pickpockets during a holiday on Chinese social networks. Several users who have been victims of this phenomenon, or who have lived in a big European city for a long time and are therefore more used to having to plan ahead from petty thieves, have started to share real anti-theft tutorials. In addition to recommending accessories such as padlocks and strings for smartphones, the experts suggest choosing low profile outfits with, namely ones that are not visibly showing the name of the designer, and avoiding sporting bags of newly purchased products from a luxury brand - in such cases, it is preferable to put them in inconspicuous canvas bags, for example. This trend of sharing stories of theft and advice on how to avoid it on platforms frequented by millions of people is helping changing China's view of Europe: «Instead of being a dream destination, Europe is increasingly portrayed as a chaotic, unregulated place,» Koetse reports. Even the «Attenzione borseggiatrici, attenzione pickpockets!» phenomenon has contributed to this idea, with the voice that went viral this summer on TikTok warning of the presence of pickpockets now being used as the background for a variety of videos on the app. But Chinese tourists say they have had frustrating experiences, even when reporting these same robberies to local law enforcement agents, described on social networks as uninterested in dealing with individual cases and, more generally, with the problem of petty crimes typical of big cities.