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How Pickpockets Work

Pickpocketing is crime that dates back centuries. And, as one of the most common crimes in the world, there will no doubt be an endless stream of victims. Pickpockets choose this line of crime for it’s relative safety; it’s fast cash without being caught or suspected by the victim. Since the skill is in the hands, there’s no need to carry a weapon and a raid by a police officer will likely end in a minimum jail sentence.

Tourists are easy pickings for a pickpocket. Cash, credit cards, identity documents, keys and valuable information can easily be lifted and used for far larger crimes. But does that mean you should never travel? Hardly!

My team and I often preach the concept of talking about HOW crimes happens so that we can all be aware of the modus operandi and take precaution.

With that, here are some of the ways pickpockets carry out their work.

Money Scam Image Gallery The pickpocket appears to be engrossed in a magazine while sneaking a hand from under his jacket into the mark's purse. See more money scam pictures.

The pickpocket appears to be engrossed in a magazine while sneaking a hand from under his jacket into the mark’s purse.

The "sandwich" technique: The stall stops suddenly, and the pick bumps into the mark from behind, lifting her wallet.

The “sandwich” technique: The stall stops suddenly, and the pick bumps into the mark from behind, lifting her wallet.

One member of the pickpocket team pretends to drop what she's carrying. When the mark stoops to help, the second pickpocket lifts her wallet from her purse.
One member of the pickpocket team pretends to drop what she’s carrying. When the mark stoops to help, the second pickpocket lifts her wallet from her purse.

Protecting Yourself from Pickpockets

In general, a pickpocket does not wear a sign identifying himself as a thief. Just as we become aware of the branding of criminals, pickpockets disguise themselves as wealthy businessmen and women; mothers or fathers with babies, tourists and even disabled folks, just so that they fit the description of a criminal. Whatever character they take on, pickpockets all have something in common… they need to hide what their hands are doing to be successful at their gimmick.

If it’s impossible to decipher the body language of a pickpocket, your next best bet is to protect your valuables.

Don’t store your wallet in your back pocket. A pickpocket can easily walk closely behind and take it.
Front pockets are safer, but one better than that is a money belt stored under your clothes.
Moon bags or fanny packs are extremely easy to pick, unless you have one where the zip rests against your body and not visibly on the outside.
If you must carry a purse, handbag or satchel, tuck it under your arm. The aim here is to cover your bag with your hand so that you can feel if it is being lifted.

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