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Workshop Teaches Pickpocket Recognition

NCJ Number
Law and Order Volume: 53 Issue: 6 Dated: June 2005 Pages: 116-119
Bambi Vincent
Date Published
June 2005
4 pages
This article provides an overview of the information presented in a workshop that teaches law enforcement officers how to recognize a pickpocket team in operation and make an intervention.
Surveillance for pickpocketing is typically done at events that draw crowds, such as sports events, rock concerts, championship fights, and festivals of various types. Pickpocketing is usually done in teams, with one person diverting the target through conversation or other distraction, another taking the wallet or other valuable from the target, another shielding the theft from observation by others, and another receiving a transfer of the stolen item from the pickpocket team member. The profiled workshop, which is conducted by security consultant Bob Arno, includes a video that demonstrates the strategies used by pickpockets, including preincident behavior by team members in the context of public transportation and tight, distracted crowds. Some tips for spotting preincident behavior by team members are constant looking-around, team members conversing and then separating, frequent changing of seats at an event, and positioning around a target. Regarding intervention when an extraction is observed, priority should be given to following and detaining the team member who is observed receiving the stolen item. Obtain information from the victim sufficient for follow-up contact in building the case.