Saturday September 15, 2012
Pickpockets have plenty of tricks up their sleeves
By EDWARD R. HENRY
PICKPOCKETS often use objects to divert a person’s attention.
One of the oldest tricks is to drop some coins or notes and get someone to help pick it up. Another is to show a map and ask for directions to distract their prey.
On Aug 18, while at a bus stop in Jalan Yong Shook Lin in Petaling Jaya, accountant S. Salim, 38, felt someone reaching into his pocket and grabbing his wallet as he was giving directions to a passer-by.
Before he could get a look at the person’s face, the person had walked off into the evening rush hour crowd while the person who had asked for directions had zipped off.
PJ OCPD Asst Comm Arjunaidi Mohamed said crimes of this nature were prevalent in crowded areas such as shopping complexes, bus stops or even as you stand in a queue to pay the bills.
“Pickpockets lurk in markets, shopping complexes and ride crowded buses, hoping for the perfect opportunity to swipe a person’s wallet. Some pickpockets can dip into a person’s pocket so smoothly that the victim would not realise it,” he said.
PJ police headquarters has come out with flyers on how to avoid being victims of pickpockets. The flyers have been distributed to the public to create awareness so that people are alert at all times against street crime.
ACP Arjunaidi said in the case of Salim, pickpockets work in teams — a distracter would ask for directions while the pickpocket takes the wallet from the back pocket.
“Our advice is to be alert in large crowds. It’s easier for a pickpocket to take your wallet or cash when people are packed in, body to body.
Carry your wallet in an inside pocket, preferably one which can be fastened, not your back pocket. If someone bumps into you in a crowd, check if you still have your wallet or purse,” he said.
ACP Arjunaidi added a person should put a rubber band around the wallet as the band’s friction against the fabric of the pants could act as an alarm and foil a pickpocket’s attempt.