Crime and Scams in Nice France

How to Avoid Crime and Scams in Nice France

Knowing what to watch out for, and taking a few simple precautions that might not be necessary back home, can make the difference between a great trip and a fiasco:

  • Beach grabs are on the rise: if you go for a dip, don’t leave your stuff unattended, and if you are sunbathing, better to use your purse for a pillow rather than have it just lying there, waiting to be plucked.  Better yet, don’t take anything to the beach that would be a heartbreak if stolen.  …But if it happens, click here for what to do.
  • Nice is somewhat famous for a particular kind of robbery called the Vol a la Portiere, or Car Door Grab, where they yank the passenger’s car door open in parking lots or at stoplights and snatch the purse/wallet/phone.  It’s a lot less frequent than a few years ago, but if you rent a car, be sure to always lock your doors from the inside the moment you get in the car.  The Mayor himself even had an attempted vol a la portiere once when he was parked on the Prom!
  • Empty your your wallet/purse of things that you don’t need (photos, address book, extra credit cards, agenda, etc.)   These things are a major pain in the ass to replace, and are often a worse loss than the money.   Keep big bills in one of those interior money pouches… the French Riviera attracts world class pickpockets, so best to not have much of value in your pocket or purse to be picked.
  • In a sidewalk café, put one purse strap under the leg of your chair, and don’t set your wallet or phone on the table or it could get whisked away in a blink of an eye.
  • In the market, tramway, train station, or any crowded place, keep a hand on your wallet and your backpack in front, especially if you’re pulling a suitcase.  These guys are good: your wallet will be gone and you’ll never even feel it.  On the positive side, the thieves here just want your cash, and whereas you will obviously want to cancel your cards, just know that they will probably toss your cards into the trash, and they’re definitely not into identity theft.

All this sounds rather dire but it’s really just petty crime: if you prepare yourself, even if it happens, it won’t ruin your trip.  Here are a couple of things you can do before your trip, that can really help keep an unfortunate incident from taking over your whole vacation:

  • If you have an iPhone, install the free app Find My Iphone and test it before you go.
  • Get a second debit card with a PIN code and keep it somewhere out of your wallet (hidden in your luggage lining, maybe?) so that if you get pick-pocketed the problem is not compounded by a complete inability to get cash.
  • Make two copies of your passport and credit cards, then leave one with someone at home and keep the other in your money belt.

On the positive side, random violence and gun crimes are quite rare here, so from an American perspective, whereas you are at risk of a petty theft, you are physically much safer here than in a US city.  Graffiti here doesn’t mean gangs, it means naughty boys, and beggars and homeless people are generally not menacing.

There are over 1000 surveillance cameras around Nice, and another 150 will be added by the end of summer.  The Mayor has formed special brigades to deal with the various types of crime and publishes security statistics quarterly so show the progress.  He is cracking down on juvenile delinquents and working to stop the revolving door for minors.

See Related Page:  How to Deal with an Emergency in Nice

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Photo credit: Nice Beach courtesy

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