Hands in Your Pockets

(And They Aren't Yours)
  |  Gorp.com

Pickpockets abound the world around and most are master craftsmen. Fortunately, I've learned that pickpockets tend to hang out in predictable places and to strike in predictable circumstances. Any traveler who knows those places and circumstances is ready to foil the quickest hands. Who's going to be the target?

Let's start with the principle that pickpockets prefer easy targets. Their top three favorites are:

Anyone who's had too much to drink
A wallet in a rear pocket or a purse dangling from a shoulder
Any traveler wearing or carrying anything that's obviously expensive. Like the bank robber Willie Sutton, pickpockets go where the money is.

The Diversion
Picking pockets becomes child's play, sometimes literally as we will see, through skillful use of diversions. So what's a diversion? A drunk drops a bottle that shatters at your feet. A beggar clutches your sleeve. A fight breaks out and draws a crowd. The drunk and the beggar, of course, are not what they appear to be and the fight is staged.

These and an almost infinite variety of other diversions are anything designed to take your attention away from your wallet, purse, camera, daypack, and anything else of value.

I'll give you a few examples of how it works on the street.

Published: 30 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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