Almost anytime when you are out in public, traveling, shopping or even dining you are being sized up by thieves to become a potential target for theft. Pickpockets come in all sizes and shapes, ages and genders. Some work alone, some work in groups and are impossible to identify, that is, if you are not a cop who is assigned to work in their world. For nineteen years I was the supervisor in charge of the Chicago Police Departments undercover units of about 42 Cops who's primary assignments were focused on Pickpockets, bumpers, cutters, chain snatchers muggers, scalpers, and phone grabbers etc .
At most of Chicago's events, sporting, taste of Chicago, concerts, any and all that draws crowds and distracts people from their surroundings. All these events are fertile happenings for hundreds of local thieves itching to get at your valuables, and boy do they ever. Right now for thieves, it's their World series, the hectic shopping season where folks are busy traveling from store to store and using public transportation, restaurants, rest rooms, and otherwise focused on other things and not their surroundings.
Some simple precautions can save a whole lot of grief and misery. One of the first things to do is be prepared before you leave the house or work place. Make sure that all your credit cards are listed by name and numbers and kept in a safe place at home or at work. Never carry all your cash in one place on your person, and never in a wallet or a back pocket. Carrying a wallet in a back pocket is an invitation for a thief to make you a target.
Always carry money and credit cards inside clothing, preferably in front zipped pockets and if possible separate from each other, or in a purse that is anchored to your body. By that I mean in front and inside a coat or jacket. Never ever carry a purse strapped on your shoulder, see the accompanying photo and you can see why. Never ever carry valuables inside a backpack that is on or attached to your body. Remove the back packs when on public transportation and carry them in front. The number one ideal deterrent is of course a money belt worn on the inside of a coat or jacket, it will reduce the chances of theft by a hundred fold.
When in a restaurant or bar never ever hang a purse on a chair or put it on the floor. Way to many sad stories from unsuspecting victims not only losing an entire Purse but everything inside. Those thousand dollar Gucci bags and all your valuables and drivers license can disappear in an instant. Within minutes your credit cards and IDs will be running up charges fast and furious, thats why it's so important to have access to your credit card numbers and their phone numbers to make contact to cancel those accounts.
When using public rest rooms is it critical that you never hang your coat or your purse on a hook inside the door of a stall. While you are sitting down all a thief has to do is reach over or under to grab a purse and or coat while you are sitting down. This was so common back in the 80s we had to lobby stores and restaurants to change the location of the hooks to avoid the rash of thefts. Also never lay a purse on the floor of the rest room for the same reason. You never know who is in the stall next to you. It happens so fast it's impossible to react.
Pickpockets come in all different sizes, shapes, genders and ages. However they all need to have one thing to be successful and that is DISTRACTED prey. Some use jostling and bumping (Crowded Transportation Venues) some use fake distractions. Always be aware of diversions such as a phony fight, a lost diamond ring or other objects with several people excitedly on their hands and knees blocking the path way. They do travel in groups. Beware of the person who has a cleaning bag or coat draped over one arm and is in your space. If your are the mark he or she needs to cover your wallet or purse with the bag so they can smoothly pass it to an accomplish who is exiting the scene. Even if you felt the bump and accuse the person, your property is long gone and you you are made look foolish. Always get into the habit of looking back when you are traveling or shopping, it gives the appearance that you are alert and aware of your surroundings and are less likely to be a target.
I Phones, or any phone for that matter has brought a new source of revenue to the thief profession. Of course it's a lot more risky for them , but a budding huge problem nonetheless. Common sense dictates that holding a phone to ones ear while walking or just going about, you are a distracted mark. Hundreds of phone thefts are reported daily. Most thieves are young, quick, and damn hard to catch. There are some ways to be less a victim and of course one of them is cease entirely from communicating while on the go. The other is ear phones with the actual phone tucked into a safe pocket. Never ever talk on a cell phone while on an escalator.While your going up or down the thief is going the opposite way, all they have to do is grab the phone and they are up, down, and out, and you are another helpless victim.
Protect yourself and your valuables and be aware of your surroundings, beware of who and whats around your personal space, be suspicious of anybody that's to close or to friendly. They are out there and they are hoping you are too distracted to notice them. Chicago is not Rome yet but getting closer . Happy safe Holidays. Hope some of this helped.
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