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Pickpocketing is one of the oldest and most widespread crimes in the world

Pickpocketing is one of the oldest and most widespread crimes in the world

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Published by DANNY SLITHER

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Published by: DANNY SLITHER on May 27, 2008
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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02/03/2012

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Pickpocketing is one of the oldest and most widespreadcrimesin theworld. The appeal is its relative safety: A skilled pickpocket can makeoff with just as muchmoneyas an armed robber, without muchdanger of confrontation or risk of being identified in a line-up. By thetime the victim realizes what's happened, the pickpocket is long gone.And since noweaponsare involved, pickpockets who do get caughtface minimal jailtime.
The pickpocket appears to be engrossed in a magazine whilesneaking a hand from under his jacket into the mark's purse.See more crime pictures.
All of this is bad news for the rest of us.When you'retraveling, a pickpocket caneasily ruin your trip, lifting your money,credit cardsand identification in a fewseconds. And there's very little hope of getting any of it back. In this article, we'llsee how these thieves can rob people blindwithout them even knowing it. We'll also findout what you can do to avoid being a
"mark"
(a con or pickpocket target) andwhat you should do if your wallet is stolen.There are all sorts of pickpockets in theworld, working at various skill levels. Thelowest level is made of simple opportunists.
The "sandwich" technique: Thestall stops suddenly, and thepick bumps into the mark frombehind, lifting her wallet.
 
They don't employ any special technique; they just seek out peoplewho've left themselves vulnerable. For example,college students often study in crowded public areas, with their backpacks sitting opennext to them. A pickpocket simply sits nearby and surreptitiouslyreaches into the victim's backpack. Opportunists also target peoplesleepingat the beach and waiting around with their luggage inairports.Getting a wallet out of somebody's pocket or purse is a little moredifficult because the pickpocket has to touch the mark or somethingclose to the mark's body. The basic approach is to mask the illegalcontact with expected, benign contact.In a crowdedsubwaycar, for example, it's normal for strangers topress against you, so you don't notice something pressing againstyour pocket or purse. If the pickpocket is good, you never feel a thing.Usually, pickpockets carry jackets or newspapersto cover their hands.The same approach works in less crowded areas as well. Apickpocket team might casually
sandwich
you between them in order to press against your body. In a standard scheme, the "stall" suddenlystops in front of the mark so that the mark bumps into her. The "pick"pretends to accidentally bump into the mark from behind andgraciously apologizes while removing the mark's wallet. It might seemstrange that the stall suddenly stopped, but the pick seemscompletely innocent, so the mark doesn't notice she's been robbed.
Compassion and Distraction
Just as in a magic show, the major methodat work here is
distraction
. Human beingsusually focus their attention on one thing, soif you give them anything interesting tofocus on, they won't pay attention to their moneyand valuables.
 
In the pickpocketing world, distraction can get pretty elaborate. Twomembers of a team might stage afightwhile the third member takesadvantage of the inattentive crowd. Child pickpockets may try to showsomething to a mark, like a drawing or atoy, while other childrensneak up from behind. Another common trick is to surreptitiouslyspray someone with bird droppings, or a convincing facsimile, andthen offer to help clean it off.One of the most effective distractions is
: An attractive woman,usually pretending to bedrunk, will touch an unsuspecting manaffectionately, and lift his wallet or watchwhile he's distracted.Some pickpockets play on
compassion
in their distractions. They"accidentally" drop change or shopping bags on the ground so thatsomeone will stop to help them. While the mark is kneeling on theground with the first pickpocket, another member of the team stealshis or her wallet. At the beach, one member of the team may pretendto be in trouble in the water. When the mark runs in to help out,another member of the team walks off with whatever the mark has lefton the beach.
One member of the pickpocket team pretends to drop whatshe's carrying. When the mark stoops to help, the secondpickpocket lifts her wallet from her purse.
Sometimes, pickpockets don't want to distract you from your money;they want to bring your attention to it. For example, one member of apickpocket team might yell out "Somebody just stole my wallet!" in a

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