5 Tips to Lessen the Blow when your Purse is Stolen

Hi there and Happy New Year.

This is not the first post that I had planned for the first of 2016.  But, things happen and plans change and my purse was stolen while we were in New Orleans last week ~ literally from right under my feet! So, because we are all friends, and I don’t want this to happen to you, I’m sharing what to do and not do and how to make this unfortunate incidence not ruin your vacation.

5 tips to lessen the blow when your purse is stolen

Here’s the background: on the second day of our trip to New Orleans, we stop for an afternoon drink and snack at Napoleon House, an iconic bar/restaurant at the corner of Chartres and St. Louis in the French Quarter.  If you’ve ever been to New Orleans, you know exactly where I’m talking about.  Napoleon’s is famous because the building was owned by Nicholas Girod, the mayor of New Orleans from 1812 to 1815. He offered his residence to Napoleon in 1821 as a refuge during his exile. He never came, but the name stuck. It’s a great place, with a beautiful courtyard in the back and French doors that partially open to the street. Great bar, good food. Mario has been the bartender as long as we have been going to New Orleans.

5 tips to lessen the blow when your purse is stolen

I love their Pimm’s Cup.

5 tips to lessen the blow when your purse is stolen

When we first sat down at the bar, I took a few pictures with my phone and put it back in my purse.  Here is a picture similar to the one I took. The bust of Napoleon sits on the bar.

5 tips to lessen the blow when your purse is stolen

I looked for a bar hook for my purse, but there wasn’t one, so I set my purse down on the floor at my feet.  One couple was sitting to my left and Sweet Shark sat to my right. We struck up a conversation with another couple from Texas sitting to his right.  At one point, I picked up my purse to get a business card and the lady gave me hers, which I held in my hand. Another 10 minutes of talking and we were ready to leave. (Fortunately, I had finished my Pimm’s Cup.) I looked down to pick up my purse and it was gone.  Of course, I yelled, “My purse is gone!” and everyone starts looking around and asking what it looked like.  The manager and the gentleman we had just met ran out of the restaurant, looking down the two side streets.  They looked in trash cans to see if my purse had been thrown in one.  No such luck. It was gone, never to be seen again.  The restaurant did have surveillance cameras, so Sweet Shark and the gentleman went to the office to see it. Sure enough,  a man walked into the restaurant and started looking around, he glances down, leans over, and has my purse on his arm, folds a jacket over the straps, looks around again and walks out. Another contributing factor: there was no one standing at the hostess station.  If there had been, the thief probably would have left and certainly wouldn’t have had the opportunity to steal my purse. Here is what the bar looks like.

5 tips to lessen the blow when your purse is stolen

See the man in the light shirt? That’s where Sweet Shark was sitting. I was sitting in the empty chair. The bar is about 10 feet inside the front door.

So, here is what I could have done, here is how I lessened the blow, and what you should do to prevent this from happening to you.

First, to prevent your purse from being stolen:  Look for the Hook ~ and use it. If there had been a hook under the bar, I would have my purse today. Never leave your purse hanging from the back of your chair or bar stool (That happened to me 9 years ago at Spago in Las Vegas.).  Don’t set it on the chair next to you (Our last day, we saw a large Louis Vuitton bag sitting on a stool and the lady’s back was turned away. I was a good girlfriend and warned her.) Don’t have the strap around your shoulder with your purse behind you. A good thief could open it, grab your wallet and be gone. (I also saw this and warned the girl.) If there is no hook, hold your purse in your lap.  There was a gap of two feet between me and the couple to my left and that’s where I set my purse: next to my foot, but clearly visible and easy to grab.  I should have had my purse in my lap, between me and Sweet Shark or right under my feet. So Look for the Hook is my new mantra.

 5 Tips to Lessen the Blow when you Purse is Stolen

  1. If you don’t need it, leave it ~ that’s my 2nd mantra. Here’s what was in my purse: my driver’s license, 1 credit card, room key, my phone, a Sony CyberShot camera, lipstick, lip gloss, lip pencil, travel size lotion, contact case, eye drops, nail file, $10 in cash. That’s it. Yes, I can’t replace my camera, but everything else is replaceable.  When we travel and are out and about, I leave my wallet in the safe in the hotel room.  I don’t need my department store credit cards, my Sam’s card, my debit cards, my grocery reward card, my insurance cards. My guess is neither do you. Calling all those credit cards and replacing them is a hassle.  Leave prescription medicines in the room.  And never carry your Social Security card with you. You will never need it until you are being hired for a job. I cancelled my 1 major card in 5 minutes while Sweet Shark was watching the surveillance video. Thieves don’t want all that stuff any way; they want
  2. Make a police report ~ I learned this the first time my purse was stolen 9 years ago. We called the airlines about my I.D. to get on the plane to go home. We immediately made a police report. This will prove why you don’t have an I.D. and you may need it for insurance purposes. Fortunately, on this trip, the French Quarter police station was 2 minutes away.
  3. Make copies of documents ~ we always keep a copy of our passports in every suitcase.  Walking around without any way to prove you are who you are is a little disconcerting.  When my new driver’s license arrives, I’ll make a copy of it, too. My Sam’s card also has a picture. Know your driver’s license number by heart and write down any pertinent numbers and keep them in the safe in your room.
  4. Make sure your cell phone has a passcode and Find a Phone and MAKE SURE YOU HAVE INSURANCE ~ I wasn’t worried about someone accessing my phone and passwords since I have a passcode.  We actually used Find a Phone while waiting at the police station. The police officer went with us to the location about 4 blocks away. Unfortunately, when we turned the corner, instead of 1 trash can to look though, there were 7 or 8 huge ones full of trash bags from a nearly restaurant. Sweet Shark called my phone, but it went straight to voice mail.  I’m sure the thief turned it off. The officer and Sweet Shark both said I could not empty out all that trash. As soon as we returned to our hotel room, we called to suspend my service and report the phone stolen.  The one thing I miss is my really cute, monogrammed phone cover from Claire Belle. Insurance is well worth it.  When we arrived home, we went to the A T & T store to order a new phone.  My phone was only 6 months old.  If I didn’t have insurance, I would still had to pay off the first one and buy a new one.  The guy at A T & T said it would have been about $1500.  Instead it was a $99 deductible.  And he needed that police report to verify the phone was stolen.  Because I’m on the Cloud, I won’t lose any data or photos.
  5. Don’t carry cash in your purse ~ I had about $10 in my purse.  Sweet Shark carries the cash in his front pocket, not in his back pocket or wallet.  Cash is what thieves are after; they don’t want our credit cards or even our phones.  The lady that we met at the bar at Napoleon’s told me she had $400 in cash in her purse.  I guess it’s better my purse was stolen rather than hers.

Bottom line, the only thing that I can’t replace is the actual purse and my camera, which I don’t even use that much.  At the last minute, I decided to bring it to take photos with it and my cell phone, just for comparison.  Never again.  Also, at the airport, without a valid I.D., you may have to go through a pat down.  I did, but I got on the plane and everyone feels sorry for you when you tell them your purse was stolen.

I hope these tips help you.  Do you have any others to share?

The most important thing is, I didn’t let the incident ruin our trip. New Year’s Eve morning, I went to the DMV and got a temporary license (take your birth certificate), so I feel better.  Now I’m just waiting for my new credit card and my new phone to arrive by Fed Ex.  I can’t wait to order my new phone cover.  You can bet it will be monogrammed.

On Monday, I’ll share the really good stuff from our New Orleans trip.

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  1. Hi Carol – this is such a great post. I shared it in the MySideof50 Facebook group this week and am sharing it again in my newsletter that goes out tomorrow. I’m sorry this happened to you!

  2. This is no fun at all! Sorry that this happened to you. I have had things stolen before as well and it isn’t any fun. I definitely take the “if you don’t need it, leave it” approach. Thanks for linking up with The Alder Collective!

    1. Next time I want some sympathy, I’ll let my purse get stolen. Just kidding. It is traumatic, when you realize how close a criminal-type person is to you. As soon as my new driver’s license arrives, I’ll make copies to put in all my suitcases. Love linking up with The Alder Collective.

  3. Oh my gosh Carol, this is stellar advice! I honestly wouldn’t have thought to lock my wallet up in the room, or keep copies of photo ID in my suitcase. Thanks so much for sharing this!

    I truly hate that this happened to you, though. It can feel so violating to have your personal items taken. My mom had her wallet stolen right out of her purse while shopping at Marshall’s. A man distracted her by asking her opinion on a purse “for a gift for his mom”, while a woman took her wallet while she was distracted. She reported it but the damage was done.

    Some people are just mean. Glad it wasn’t a ton of cash or anything totally irreplaceable, though!

    1. Kirsten, the same thing happened to my mom 30+ years ago, and it really caused her a lot of anguish out in stores for a long time. We learn from our mistakes, don’t we? I hate to admit that I’ve had my purse stolen 3 times in the past 13 years, all out of town and twice sitting at a bar. Really nice places, too. Maybe I should give up bars! Everytime I only lost the one credit card and minimal cash. But I really did like the purses that were taken and I’m not even a purse person.

  4. Oh no Carol!! I’m so sorry that happened. I’ve had mine taken twice before. Once at a gas station…I walked away from my car and a man took it. The bad thing was that I realized what he was up to and turned immediately but it was gone. Another time I left it in a taxi. We called the driver within a minute or two but never got it back. Both times we filed a police report to no avail. It’s the most exposed feeling to suddenly realize you don’t have your purse and that someone has all of your personal things. Unfortunately, we live and learn.

    1. Stacey, oh the dreaded taxi! I’ve left my car unlocked at the gas station too. I now realize how foolish that is. Getting my new phone has made me feel better, but I will be so much more careful from now on.

  5. So sorry this happened to you. It’s not a very good capper to a fun time in NOLA. I agree with your tips. Sadly, we all have to pay close attention to our belongings these days. Wishing you a happy and healthy new year free of crime.

    Big Texas Hugs,
    Susan and Bentley

    1. Susan, We do have to pay attention. As my husband said, maybe the guy needed my $10 more than I did. What’s annoying is the time it takes to replace (driver’s license, phone, etc.) stuff that is taken. So far $110. My new phone finally arrived today and I feel so much better. Happy and safe New Year to you, too.

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