Hands in Your Pockets

Magic Fingers
  |  Gorp.com

Here's a clever team effort I witnessed in Rio. A man stood behind a card table set up on the sidewalk. He was showing off his sleight-of-hand tricks.

A group formed to watch. Seeing the gathering, I walked over out of curiosity. We all applauded the man's quick hands as he made pens and keys temporarily disappear.

Since I'd arrived late and was at the rear of the crowd, I was in a position to see another man who was also making things disappear, this time from the pockets of people in the crowd. When I shouted he ran but I have no doubt that he was back within an hour. Nor do I have any doubt that the magician behind the card table was his partner.

Show Me
Why would we show a pickpocket exactly where we keep our money? Well, we do it all the time. Whenever we pay for something, a seasoned pickpocket notes exactly where your money came from.

The solution? Keep only enough money readily available to pay for small purchases during the day. Keep the rest of your money, and other valuables, in your money belt.

When local people know that pickpockets are a problem they sometimes try to warn tourists—and sometimes the best intentions boomerang. Here's an example.

Officials at a certain temple on the river in Calcutta have posted a sign warning tourists to be wary of pickpockets. Maybe they wouldn't have done that if they'd read about Sherlock Holmes. When Holmes wanted to trick a lady into revealing where she'd hidden a valuable letter, he set off a false alarm of fire. Hearing the alarm, the lady raced to save her precious letter—and Sherlock pounced!

When most tourists see that pickpocket-warning sign they immediately touch the place where they keep their valuables to be sure they're still there. Finding them safe, the tourist is relieved. The pickpocket, who now knows exactly where to strike, is delighted.

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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