Skooblevart’s Pickpocket Repellent
If a group of elephants is a herd, a group of lions is a pride, and a group of wolves is a pack, what do you call a group of pickpockets? As best we can tell, there’s no official term . We thought we might go with an intrusion (cockroaches), a plague (locusts), or a scourge (mosquitoes), but we received complaints from the cockroaches, locusts, and mosquitoes that this would tarnish their images. We therefore propose to use the word “filch,” as in “a filch of pickpockets.” Hereafter, we'll use the word "filch" in this manner.
This post describes how to improve your tactical situation as compared with our most recent scenario (see Ingredient #4, A pinch of jitterbug, May 22). We described in that post how Dad was guarding luggage in the train station, and because his attention was directed exclusively toward the luggage, he left his hind quarters unguarded. This then afforded the “filch of pickpockets” an easy opportunity to approach and make their withdrawal from what Dad reasonably imagined was an impregnable location to place his money (in the front pants pocket, against the body, carefully zipped all the way up).
This tactical situation was created in part because Dad felt the money was an impossible target, and that the luggage represented the ‘risk’ at the moment.
Our suggestion was to incorporate movement to your sentry duty if ever left behind to guard bags or other belongings. Don't give anyone either time or a predictable angle from which to approach. But just as squash is better with brown sugar and mini marshmallows, sentry duty is better with more than just movement.
Dramatically reduce your sentry’s risk by “squashing” your belongings between the sentry and any impenetrable structure that may be at hand. A wall is brown sugar. A corner is mini marshmallows.
In other words, actively seek the tactical situation of having your “back against the wall” or being “backed into a corner.” By taking this position, the laws of physics preclude anyone approaching from astern (quantum mechanics notwithstanding).
Had Dad backed himself against a wall (and one can assume there were walls in a train station), he could have completely eliminated the chance that a filch could approach from his blind side.
Tip: Identify and utilize any objects that completely block access to you and your belongings from at least one direction. This implies that you understand a truth of pickpocketing. You are always at risk if your back is exposed. No exceptions. Recognizing this truth leads you to shift position a few feet, and reduce the risk of even being a target by an order of magnitude.
Tip: Shrubbery and other barriers that have holes do not completely block access. No barrier is impenetrable unless it's impenetrable.
Next week, ingredient #6.