Tourists urged to ditch expensive watches for cheap plastic copies in holiday destination

Simon Calder on the impact of travel disruptions

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French actor Daniel Auteuil had his £34,000 Patek Philippe watch stolen from a taxi in Naples last week. Two men on a moped snatched the watch as he rested his arm on the open window.

Naples’ mayor Gaetano Manfreid apologised for the theft and offered Auteuil a 100 euro (£86) alternative.

The cheaper Swatch watch was given to the actor who was in the Italian city for a theatre show.

Cesare Foà, president of Aidit tourist association, suggested hotels should offer tourists a cheap plastic alternative watch.

Foà told local media: “I asked the councillors to make plastic watches that have the symbol of our region to be distributed to tourists staying in hotels, in the Bed and Breakfasts of the area for several days.

“They leave their valuables in a safe and we provide them with the courtesy watch.”

The city had used a similar policy back in 2006 but halted it after it ran out of the cheap watches.

The tourist association said that the watches could be made attractive to encourage tourists to make the switch.

Meanwhile, Flavio Briatore, the ex F1 chief said the “crooks” were just “doing their jobs”.

Elsewhere in Fiumicino near Rome’s airport, two Chinese tourists were robbed of their watches at gunpoint in a restaurant.

One of the stolen watches was worth £1.2million while another was a £17,000 Rolex.

Italy welcomes around 60 million tourists a year and often has issues with pickpockets in popular areas.

According to figures from the Italian National Institute of Statistics, Milan is the most dangerous city in Italy.

In 2016, there were 7,800 complaints to the police per 100,000 residents while Naples didn’t make the top five most dangerous cities.

However, the southern Italian city did have a high rate of robbery with 291 incidents per 100,000 residents.

Busy tourist areas such as popular attractions and squares are likely to be the worst pickpocketing hotspots.

Train stations and the area around an airport are also likely to attract thieves as tourists may be distracted.

It’s best to avoid walking around with a map or Google maps as this could draw the attention of pickpockets.

Former flight attendant and consumer expert, Jane Hawkes told “It’s not really advisable to go away with your best jewellery anyway as you could go into an area that’s rife with pickpockets.”

Although both Rome and Florence made a Tripadvisor top 10 list of Europe’s pickpocketing hotspots, the Spanish city of Barcelona is where tourists are most at risk.

Las Ramblas and the Boqueria market are both areas where tourists could be targets for pickpockets in the Spanish city.

Expensive watches may be best left in a hotel safe or at home even if a cheap plastic copy isn’t to everyone’s taste.

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