November 14, 2010

Pickpocketing dies out as younger folk turn away from the craft.

The police say the "picks" are all old guys now.

33 comments:

shoutingthomas said...

Shit, next it's be the whores.

You don't think that's going to "die out," do you?

Jesus, I hope not.

That's about my only hope now that I'm an old man.

AllenS said...

Younger folk stick a gun in your face and say "Give me your money."

Jason (the commenter) said...

It seems young people don't have enough self esteem to be cutpurses anymore. I blame America's educational system. (Do they have this problem in Europe? I bet not!)

John Burgess said...

No, it's not guns in the faces, it's time spent on computers hacking into credit card files. Much better return at much lower risk.

HKatz said...

it's time spent on computers hacking into credit card files. Much better return at much lower risk.

That's one avenue, yes. Or as the "old timers" in the article also point out: Young guys now just want to deal drugs.

Also the aging of pickpockets doesn't mean that getting your stuff stolen from you in the NYC subway or wherever without your notice will go away. There are opportunists who don't need special pick pocketing skills to snatch something from an open backpack/purse or from a commuter who's dozed off.

Another popular scam is where one person, very friendly and lost-looking, will approach you for directions to such and such a place, while their partner sneaks up from behind and takes something from you. Haven't seen this play out on a subway car, but in airports and train stations.

The Crack Emcee said...

Jason (the commenter),

Do they have this problem in Europe? I bet not!

They certainly don't. Pick pocketing is huge there.

ricpic said...

Europe is cursed with Roma. Gypsies that swarm you. Certain to be imported soon by our compassionate masters.

MrBuddwing said...

That's about my only hope now that I'm an old man.

Maybe if you made up with that ex-girlfriend with the 35-year-old son that you mentioned in a previous thread ...

Word verification: fiersu.

bagoh20 said...

To Hell in a hand basket.

Like too many other things, pickpocketing has been monopolized by the government. The little guy can't make it anymore, with the government offering much better pay and benefits for young pickpockets.

shoutingthomas said...

Maybe if you made up with that ex-girlfriend with the 35-year-old son that you mentioned in a previous thread ...

Been thinking about that.

I'm a loser. May have to think about compromise.

Misty said...

ricpic, I find your remark about the Roma offensive and inaccurate. There were just as many others willing to lift your wallet or passport. The Roma people are being beaten and murdered because of racial sentiments like this. It is individuals who commit crimes, not entire peoples.

DaveW said...

Picking pockets is a "craft"?

shoutingthomas said...

Picking pockets is a "craft"?

Diversity is our greatest strength!

edutcher said...

Kids have no time for finesse or artistry any more.

bagoh20 said...

If you're gonna live off other people's money, there are other easier and safer ways. Today it just involves filling out a few forms. You still get the money and the mark still loses it, but non of that getting punched in the nose stuff.

ironrailsironweights said...

Shit, next it's be the whores.

It already is.
Newsday, the local rag here on Long Island, often has articles about police raids on Asian massage parlors. The women who get busted generally are age 40 on up, sometimes way up.

Peter

Ann Althouse said...

"Picking pockets is a "craft"?"

Read the article. Young people don't want to learn how to do it anymore.

The preference for drug dealing shows why it's important to keep drugs illegal: So we won't be robbed. Criminals need work. Let them do that and stay out of the way of law-abiding folk.

ricpic said...

Hey Misty, the most important thing in the world is not establishing how noble you are. Facts are facts and the Roma are way over-represented in crime statistics.

EDH said...

There's even a pecking order. So-called "lush workers" are at the bottom. They prey on bombed riders who pass out on trains and won't wake up when the train screeches, comes to the end of the line or even goes off the rails.

To a purist, that used to be called "rolling a drunk," not pickpocketing.

Roll, 11. To rob, usu. a person unable to resist, as an unconscious, drunk, or sleeping person, by removing valuables on his person; as, to roll a drunk.

Alas, pickpocketing on the subway has been replaced by the grope and the reach around.

Juba Doobai! said...

Okay, the younger ones are turning away from the craft of pickpocketing. But what about the ART of it!?!?

What?! Am I to feel safe with my wallet in my pocket when I return to NYC!?!?! That is madness! It's unheard of! I protest!!

Ah, AllenS has answered my question: there is no more ART of pickpocketing, no more finesse, no more style and practice of legerdemain. All that remains is brute and violent force.

Bring back the ART! I'd rather be pissed off that I got picked and have to change all my cards than to be scared poopless and/or shot and still have to change all the cards.

jeff said...

"The Roma people are being beaten and murdered because of racial sentiments like this. It is individuals who commit crimes, not entire peoples."

There is a reason for the stereotypes. Over here we have the fortune tellers, and physics who are over represented by gypsies. We also have the Irish travelers who are grifters,

Joe said...

A correction is owed: "The police say the "picks" are all government guys now."

William said...

Is street crime really that lucrative anymore? Who still carries around a wad of cashZ? Mostly drug dealers and they tend to be strapped. If you acquire the mark's credit card, how long before it gets cancelled? And don't get met started on bling. So much of that crap is fake and not worth the time and risk of a mugging. I wouldn't recommend a life of street crime to any young man just starting out.

Belkys said...

Picking pockets is a "craft"?
Yes like murder is a fine art

DaveW said...

Read the article.

I did read it professor, and that wasn't a dig at you. I thought the phrasing humorous.

Penny said...

In order to maintain their sense of personal dignity, the old guys have created a storyline about their "craft".

I'm not sure if this is a sad story, or a sweet little tale about the never ending wonders of self preservation.

In any case, keep these guys away from a newspaper.

Stephen A. Meigs said...

What I find interesting about pickpocketing is that it is the sort of crime well-suited for criminals who can't help looking like criminals.

Mostly the sort of deceptions that tend to be really incompatible with moral or beautiful traits are those that involve deceptions as to moral character. Anyone skilled at character deception is bound to have many ancestors deceived as to the character of what they were mating with, and so strongly tend to be immoral and just not much possessed of beautiful characteristics. But a criminal who commits his crime with stealthy skill without giving his mark an opportunity to size him up can look like the criminal he is and still succeed. He needn't be immoral in the strongly vile sense of the criminal whose skill lies in hiding what he is. There is little reason to think that his mates won't have known exactly what he is before choosing him.

Mostly, good people don't tend to have much use for deception because the people they are around most, tending to be people they like, they have scruples against deceiving (deceiving tends to cause harm). Why good people tend to be honest probably has much to do with their having so poorly evolved an ability to deceive that it is just isn't worth the reduction of credibility toward themselves and fellow good people to try to deceive. If a good person had great skill at deception, it wouldn't be wrong of him to use it for the greater good, I'd say. To a lawful good person, deceptive skill tends to be of such little use that one typically very much prefers other skills in mates, like an ability to understand.

Suppose, though, that a few people, notwithstanding they aren't much into character deception, actively very much seek out mates skilled at deceptive criminal tricks. They can succeed because they can adopt professions (like pickpocketting) where these deceptive sleight-of-hand tricks are very useful. Rightly, the law requires proof of crime--just because someone looks obviously like the crook that he is is not sufficient for conviction--and this is something that a certain criminal class can exploit. There can arise a small class of humans that are akin to a subspecies in the uniqueness of their deceptive skills. Who is to say that the predator is bad, especially as regards non-violent predation? And what is the great danger since mostly everyone knows just by looking at them that they are the sort of people who are crooks, and understanding actually is more powerful than trickery in the aggregate.

Sometimes I come across obviously-very-tricksy-looking females that are quite good-looking. I could'n't even trick a drunken sailor into believing truths he actually wanted to believe. But that doesn't mean I don't respect the skills associated with artful deceptions somewhat. Deceptive abilities are not only slightly useful even in good lawful people, but also are but a stone throw away from the ability to persuade, the ability to tell great stories a la Stevenson, and perhaps most importantly, the ability to detect cunning trickery.

People who are obviously cunning remind me of Leprechauns, somehow. They're rather dangerous to be around much, but if one could just catch one (in such a way as to keep one's wallet, etc.), one could gain a great insight taming it to obey law and dealing with all its tricks. It would definitely be exciting trying. And mating with cute ones might create children who are great bards and crime catchers. Hybrids between greatly skilled tricksy lawless people and those lawful people with sterlingly honest integrity might be presumed to be so rare that the particular skill set expected in offspring might enable great useful things in them.

Penny said...

Miegs, we can learn BIG things from little stories.

Where once we may have thought there was no honor among thieves, we may begin to understand that even petty pickpockets have a sense of right and wrong...as they continue to do "what they've always done".

Penny said...

We can say the same thing about most politicians, and about most income tax filers.

But hey....that might be too big a story in a nation of people that was raised on fairy tales.

dairy queen said...

There is a reason for the stereotypes.

Yep, cuz folks are lazy.

peter hoh said...

Kids today . . . .

DaveW said...

Actually the more I think about it the funnier I think it is. Read that article again carefully and note how the reporter's approach is that this sort of life of crime is just a somewhat different sort of 'making a living'.

And the talk about how young guys don't want to train to be pick-pockets - they're too lazy nowadays, just want to make easy money selling drugs!

I mean, the way the article is written you almost expect the pick pockets to have a local union shop where guys apply for apprenticeships.

So, if I was an industrious young man and wanted to learn a good craft or trade like pick pocketing, how would I get training anyway? Who would I see, where would I go? From the way that article is written it seems sure the reporter can tell us.

blake said...

Miegs sounds like a D&D player.

wv: botomene