If there were a “criminal hall of fame,” with an award bestowed on the “coolest” criminal, it would have to be a pickpocket. Pickpockets are sneaky, devilish creatures who function exactly one degree below the radar.
Pickpockets whisper through society, undetected and undeterred. They are subtle and brazen at the same time. They are like a bed bugs, crawling on you and injecting a numbing venom that prevents usb charging backpacks you from detecting their bite until it’s much to late. They aren’t violent like a drug crazed mugger or confrontational like a stick up robber. They have much more gumption than any criminal hacker because they don’t hide under the anonymity of the Internet.
One second is all a pickpocket needs. A brief diversion, a quick move, and before you can take a breath, your wallet is gone.
Pickpocketing is one of the oldest criminal professions, and is still very prevalent in Europe. Their target? Clueless Americans. Americans just aren’t as aware of pickpockets, since it isn’t as prevalent here.
One victim’s story: “My wife and I were at a Paris Metro station where the loudspeakers were blaring, ‘WARNING. THERE ARE PICKPOCKETS PRESENT AT THIS STATION.’ We got on the crowded subway. A woman stayed half on and half off, blocking the door. At the same time, another woman was bumping against me, indicating that she needed to get off. She got past me and she and her friend exited the train, allowing the door to close. As she did, I realized that my cash (about $120) was gone from my pocket. As we pulled away, I watched the two women at the station, smiling and waving at me.”
Pickpockets’ greatest advantage is the fact that most people don’t believe it can happen to them. Including me.
Years ago, I met this cat named Gene Turner at a convention. A great guy who has the skills of a real pickpocket, but uses his abilities to inform, educate and entertain people. Real nice guy, very personable. He introduced himself to me by – without me knowing – taking my watch off my left wrist. Then asked me what time it was. I looked at my left wrist, no watch. He pointed to my right arm, where he re-fastened it. Freaked me out.
Gene says, “Personally, I get ‘caught’ maybe once out of a thousand times when I’m lifting a watch. And usually it’s either a really difficult watch or I’m taking it from the same person for the third or fourth time. I have always said a good pickpocket could pick me clean and I would never feel it. Even the best multi-tasker can be distracted, and it only takes a split second of distraction to become a victim. I have lifted watches from and put watches on many magicians, security people and yes, even other pickpockets, without their knowledge.”