Pickpockets at Work
Pickpockets often operate in gangs of three. One of them is distracting the victim, another one is stealing the valuables, passing them immediately to a third one who quickly dissappears with the loot.
A few stories might highlight what to expect in extreme cases. The selection of cities in the following posts is random, they just came up in a discussion on Urbanrail newsgroup:
- "I remember some years ago in Sol station (in Madrid) how three people of a pickpocket
gang were stealing the baggage of a tourist in this way: Keeping the door open with
the leg while the driver was trying to close it. In two seconds they took the
luggage, got off the train, and the train started moving!"
- "I was pickpocketed in Barcelona metro this summer. On my first metro
ride an old man fell over me, like as if he had lost his
balance, but it was kind of weird. Later I understood why... He had stolen my
wallet, which was in the side pocket of my shorts.... His move was not very
natural, but as he was an old man, the idea of him being a thieve didn't
cross my mind (or the mind of the three friends who were with me)."
- "I had a somewhat similar experience in Barcelona. Just as I was stepping onto a train, a man on
the platform got down on one knee and grabbed the hem of my pant leg
and started hitting my pant leg with the palm of his hand, making a
loud sound. I was confused -- what was happening? Had I been at home,
I probably would have just shouted at him to leave me alone, but in a
foreign country where you don't speak the language, you feel less at
ease trying to understand what was going on. Anyway, this only lasted
a few seconds -- not long enough for me to react. At the last moment,
just as the doors were closing, another man brushed by me to get off
the train (since I was obviously standing in the doorway, with one foot
still outside the train on the platform). Just then the doors closed,
the man outside let go of my pant leg -- and the man who had brushed by
me had taken my wallet. Fortunately he did leave me my passport, which
was in the same pocket!"
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