Skooblevart’s Pickpocket Repellent
We’ll use the situation described in our April 29 and May 6 posts, where “Dad” removed money from his pocket, gave some to the kids, and put the rest back in his front pants pocket, carefully zipping the pocket all the way up. We have described Dad’s first mistake, which was to conspicuously give money to the kids, then put the rest in his pocket. Yes, it was front pants pocket, against the body, pocket fully zipped, (so apparently safe) but the pickpocket knew exactly where to go.
We also know that Dad was on high alert, that having been left alone to guard the luggage he knew that he was a target for pickpockets at that very moment. How then, did the villainous scalawag manage to sneak up from behind, unzip the front pocket, make a ‘withdrawal,’ and then melt into the surroundings without being detected?
Easy. In fact, the pickpocket was almost 100% certain of success, with the only real risk being that someone else would see them and raise the alarm.
Dad compounded his first mistake (of conspicuously putting money into his pocket) by doing exactly what he was left behind to do: He was “watching” the luggage. He positioned himself where he could see the luggage and anyone approaching it, and his gaze never left the luggage. But attention in the wrong direction is almost as bad as sleeping while on sentry duty.
The pickpocket saw money go into the pocket, the rest of the family left, and after half a minute, could see that Dad’s attention never left the luggage. That meant Dad's “six” was not being watched, and the Scalawag could move in carefully and take the time needed to extract some dough.
Here’s what happened.
Scalawag was accompanied by Scoundrel and Lowlife. They approached Dad from behind, but acted as if they were with him so that no passersby will notice anything amiss. Had Dad turned toward them, they would immediately stroll away as if they were just passing through. This is something they practice, and can react instantly in the same way to a trigger. “If his head turns, everyone walk that-a-way.” Lowlife and Scoundrel pretended to look at a map or tour guide, while their bodies shielded Scalawag from view. Scalawag carefully unzipped the pocket and separated Dad from some cash. Then they went to a nearby café for a cookie, and to watch for their next victim.
Tip: The jitterbug dance involves relatively small moves and changes in direction. Add a little jitterbug to your sentry duty. If you’re guarding something in an open space, you can keep your attention on that something and also protect your ‘six’ by simply moving around. Shift positions and angles, somewhat randomly, so there’s no way for pickpockets to predict where to set up the screen or the heist. By being unpredictable and mobile, you’re automatically making the pickpocket work hard and take more time, which they don't want to do. Chances are that they'll move to easier pickin's.
Too Bad Dad! You should have done the east coast swing.
Next week, ingredient #5.