When you are walking down the street with ear-buds in or headphones on, listening to music, watching movies, browsing the web, or simply talking to a friend on your cell phone, you are saying to any pickpockets in the area, “Take my wallet, please!”
Although the idea of pickpockets carries a mystique of deft, almost charming con artists, do not be deceived. A judge may give them a slap on the wrist again and again, each time unable to justify something as supposedly simple as a stolen wallet with a hefty punishment.
But more is taken from the victims of the crimes than what may first be apparent. Connected by the fact that they were chosen at random in crimes that exposed their vulnerability, the victims say their losses also include a sense of security and trust.
No, it isn’t as bad as a strong-arm robbery, when one’s personal safety is being threatened, but it is costly. It can be a time consuming hassle. Having to replace a driver’s license, cancel credit cards, and dealing with the possibility of identity theft, makes for a very painful process.
What can you do to prevent someone from lifting your wallet?
1) Try something simple, such as paying a little attention to your surroundings.
2) Look at the faces of the people near you. Pickpockets want to fit in and not be seen. If you see someone trying real hard to avoid being seen it is all the more reason to keep him or her in sight.
3) If you are going to have your headphones on keep the sound low. You need to hear what is going on around you.
4) Don’t leave your purses or backpacks open and don’t sling them over the backs of chairs. Put them in front of you.
5) Keep your cash separate from your I.D. and credit cards. Keep them in your front pockets.
When are you most vulnerable?
You probably read about the increase in crime on the CTA. This environment is ripe for pickpockets. How many times does someone bump into you as you ride the bus or L? It is almost always benign, but can you tell when a nudge is just that, and not being used as a distraction to take your wallet?
When you attend large public gatherings such as concerts, or festivals, you are focused on having a good time, and are vulnerable to being pick pocketed.
You’re also vulnerable any time and place where your attention is focused on your cell phone or i-Pod and not on the people around you.
“Like sharks in the water looking for an injured fish, a pickpocket is looking for someone who is distracted to take advantage of,” said police Cmdr. Christopher Kennedy of Chicago’s Central District, which covers part of downtown.
More articles on personal safety and self-defense written by Ed Kress can be found at: http://www.examiner.com/selfdefense-in-chicago/ed-kress