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FOX News is

Apparently giving pick pocketing lessons.

Most of those things are obvious

Spent some time recently with a woman who'd had a number of things stolen from her. I think people who don't pay attention to what they're doing lose stuff and often can't seem to change their behaviors even after losing stuff (this woman was going to walk away from her pack in the front lobby of a hotel the day her phone went missing). Carry what you need, watch people's body language, and if there's a sensible way to do this, don't let anyone you don't know in arm's length, and wear your purse. Lived in NYC, Berkeley and San Francisco, and here -- never had anything stolen from my person yet. One kid realized that he was contemplating a felony for two dollars (I showed him my wallet to give him a bill for his change, but since I had another dollar and change, not much of a target).

That program was a show with a cooperative fake victim. More interesting if the guy had lifted wallets from people who weren't in on the gag.

Someone did a study showing criminals photos or videos of various people and having them sort for who they'd have robbed and who they wouldn't have robbed. The people they'd spotted as possible victims turned out to be people who were robbed more than once. I've noticed this -- either people are chronic crime victims or they've never been mugged in the street, never had pockets picked. Burglary seems less connected to personality.

Rebecca Brown

Might be obvious to you

But it could be really good advice for someone else.

I read about a couple of studies (wish I could find them) where criminals would consistently pick out the people with the same walking style. The reason the same people are victimized is because of their body language, because apparently it screams, "I'M VULNERABLE!"

I always thought it was interesting, since I'm pretty lanky, wear very loose fitting clothing including baggy shorts, and generally look pretty weak (skinny arms and legs). I've never been pickpocketed or otherwise victimized, though (*knocks on wood*).

Basically, I think it's more paying attention

and the people who get robbed tend to be people who don't pay attention, sometimes not even after they're robbed the second time by the same person.

I used to listen in a particular block near my Mott Street apartment because it was near a subway entrance and also rather isolated and near the Bowery in the other direction. I remember having trouble getting one person to shut up there. I see people here being oblivious to what was around them.

I've always been female, relatively short, and fat -- and remember two kids telling each other not to mess with me in Soho one night. Why, I don't know, possibly just teasing me.

I watch ahead for possible problems -- and a whole lot of people don't.

I knew one guy in NYC who'd been robbed on the street a number of times -- and who said sometimes the kid with the knife was so nervous, he had to talk the robber through the act for both their safety. The guy who got robbed wondered if he was the training victim for a local crime school. Getting mugged just didn't bother him all that much.

I don't think you can teach people to pay attention if they just don't see other people as entities with agendas of their own.

The one pickpocketing I witnessed, the perps got between a sort of aggressive man and his wife -- and he started shoving against one of them while the guy behind him got his wallet. He wasn't upset enough to get off the bus and report the robbery.

I think "not paying attention" covers most of it. And if all black people or all Hispanic people look alike to you, then you can't see the differences between the body language of the good ones and the bad ones, and the bad ones make out like bandits when they're aware of that sort of looking at black people. The bus pickpockets made their man as someone who wouldn't let a black man get between him and his wife and who was letting his wife go first out of a sense of how things should be done. They have spot things like that fast.

Racism is a peculiar form of not paying attention. And I've seen black guys play white sentimentality, too, which is, as my honest black neighbors pointed out to me is just another form of racism, another way not to see the particular human being that needs to be dealt with right now, one way or another.

Rebecca Brown