Flimps, dippers, fine wirers, maltooler, mobsman


The Scam
Technically, a pickpocket is not a con artist. They are stealing from a victim directly rather then tricking the victim into giving up their money freely. However, the deception, trickery and psychology of the pickpocket and their association with con artists on the street, deems them a necessary inclusion in the encyclopedia.

The definition of the pickpocket is a thief who steals possessions from their victim's person without them noticing. A bag snatcher, a mugger and a cat burglar are not pickpockets.

Sandwiching: One pickpocket stops suddenly in a narrow street causing the victim to bump into them. The second pickpocket bumps into the victim and lifts their wallet.

Bad Samaritans: One pickpocket drops their bag and papers fly out. The victim and another pickpocket stop to help at which point the victim is dipped. In casinos, a bucket of coins may be dropped, the sound drawing the victim’s attention.

Pressure Misdirection: The pickpocket puts a large amount of pressure on one part of the victim’s body to draw attention away from the smaller action of the theft. E.g. they may fall on a train and grab the victim’s shoulder to steady themselves.

Cardboard Children: In Rome, a large group of children carry cardboard signs will surround the victim, begging for money. The signs are used as cover for the pickpocket to work.

Dangles: Anything left hanging from a pocket or bag is a potential target.

Thieves At Work: The pickpocket hangs posters warning that “THIEVES OPERATE IN THIS AREA”. The victim then pats his wallet, telling the pickpocket where to look.

Strap Cutting: The con artist cuts the strap on a hand bag, bum bag/fanny pack or camera bag. This allows them to take the bag more easily.

Flat Tyre: In Spain, tourists have reported suddenly getting a flat tyre. A group of men stop to help them change the tyre, only to find out later on that the men have stolen from the boot of their car or pickpocketed them. It has been suggested that the tyres are damaged at traffic lights.

Throwing the baby out with...: The least subtle dip of all. The thief throws what appears to be a bundled baby at the victim. The baby is really just a doll but the victim drops their bag and a accomplice gets away with it.

Son Of A Beach: One pickpocket pretends to drown on the beach. When the victim rushes in to save them, another pickpocket comes and steals their wallet/clothes.

Sexy Distraction: A beautiful girl causes heads to turn by bending down in a short skirt or similar ruse. He accomplice uses the destraction to pick pockets. She might even spill something in the victim's lap and whilst dabbing his groin, steal his wallet!

Oh Shit: A blob of what looks l like bird poo lands on your shoulder. The con artist has actually dropped it there and, in helping you clean up, steals your wallet. It is unlikely for the pickpocket to carry bird poo around and so relies on ice cream, yogurt or something similar to make the mark. This can also be done with spilt food or drink.

Three Card Monte: Spectators and players of this street card game have been known to lose more then their bets whilst keeping an eye on the card.

The Roper: A pickpocket is often used at the start of a long con such as The Big Store. In "The Big Con" by David W. Maurer, the author describes a complicated long con that begins with a pickpocket stealing the victim's wallet and ticket while he is travelling on a cruise ship. The con artist offers a sympathetic ear and even lends him money by way of a means of beginning a larger scam.

Case Study
A professional pickpocket has been working in the Sydney suburb of Burwood. The pickpocket was able to steal over $2000 from two women, including one lift which involved taking a purse from a zipped up handbag.

Restricted to items which people carry with them, takes are usually limited to under $1000.

Pickpocket, thieves

Created by Nicholas J. Johnson
Australia's Honest Con Man