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Travel advisory: Aix and pains

A warning about criminal gangs working the first-class TGV carriages in Aix and Marseille, from travel editor Stanley Moss
August 22, 2018/11.42

Train thief Nabil Boughanemi. Wonder what’s in his pouch

If you’re travelling the French Riviera on the TGV First Class, be on the lookout for the bad guys. They’re everywhere. Teams work the train with a simple technique. If you put your bag on the overhead rack and it’s out of your sight, one member takes a seat behind you, removes your bag, puts it on the seat next to them and goes through it. If you catch them at it they get an innocent look on their face and say, ‘Is this your bag? I found it here.’ If you raise a ruckus, another member of the gang confronts you and tells you can’t accuse people like this in France. How do I know? It happened to us.
   Be on the lookout for this guy, whose name is Nabil Boughanemi. How do I know his name? When the police tried to bust him I got a look at his ID card—he’s from Marseille. I snapped this photo of him surreptitiously. He didn’t have a ticket. And the lady who came up to us and defended him didn’t have a ticket either. She got sent out of first class later. I caught Nabil early in the process. He’d gone through the bag, unzipped pouches, made a mess and dumped unwanted things on the floor of the train when interrupted. He got nothing of value from us, so no arrest. Nabil and his ladyfriend took off separately at the next station, though the gendarme took his info and tried to make him buy a ticket—the guy pulled out a handful of credit cards, probably other people’s.
   Gangs like this board the first-class car in Aix every day, quickly rob the unsuspecting, then evaporate at the next station. So be on the lookout, keep an eye on your bags. Don’t leave them unattended, don’t let them out of your sight, even on a genteel first-class car. Crime is rampant in Aix–Marseille. (We’ve been robbed there before.) And if you happen to encounter Nabil, give him our best. Tell him I’ve got his address and we’ll be in touch.—Stanley Moss, Travel Editor

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