Pickpocketing
Overview
 
Pickpocketing is a form of larceny
Larceny
Larceny is a crime involving the wrongful acquisition of the personal property of another person. It was an offence under the common law of England and became an offence in jurisdictions which incorporated the common law of England into their own law. It has been abolished in England and Wales,...

 that involves the stealing of money
Money
Money is any object or record that is generally accepted as payment for goods and services and repayment of debts in a given country or socio-economic context. The main functions of money are distinguished as: a medium of exchange; a unit of account; a store of value; and, occasionally in the past,...

 or other valuables from the person of a victim without their noticing the theft at the time. It requires considerable dexterity and a knack for misdirection. A thief who works in this manner is known as a pickpocket.

Pickpockets and other thieves, especially those working in teams, sometimes apply distraction
Distraction
Distraction is the divided attention of an individual or group from the chosen object of attention onto the source of distraction. Distraction is caused by: the lack of ability to pay attention; lack of interest in the object of attention; or the great intensity, novelty or attractiveness of...

, such as asking a question or bumping into the victim.
Encyclopedia
Pickpocketing is a form of larceny
Larceny
Larceny is a crime involving the wrongful acquisition of the personal property of another person. It was an offence under the common law of England and became an offence in jurisdictions which incorporated the common law of England into their own law. It has been abolished in England and Wales,...

 that involves the stealing of money
Money
Money is any object or record that is generally accepted as payment for goods and services and repayment of debts in a given country or socio-economic context. The main functions of money are distinguished as: a medium of exchange; a unit of account; a store of value; and, occasionally in the past,...

 or other valuables from the person of a victim without their noticing the theft at the time. It requires considerable dexterity and a knack for misdirection. A thief who works in this manner is known as a pickpocket.

Pickpockets and other thieves, especially those working in teams, sometimes apply distraction
Distraction
Distraction is the divided attention of an individual or group from the chosen object of attention onto the source of distraction. Distraction is caused by: the lack of ability to pay attention; lack of interest in the object of attention; or the great intensity, novelty or attractiveness of...

, such as asking a question or bumping into the victim. These distractions sometimes require sleight of hand, speed, misdirection and other types of skills.

Famous fictional pickpockets include The Artful Dodger
The Artful Dodger
Jack Dawkins, better known as the Artful Dodger, is a character in the Charles Dickens novel Oliver Twist. Dodger is a pickpocket, so called for his skill and cunning in that respect. As a result he has become the leader of the gang of child criminals, trained by the elderly Fagin...

 and Fagin
Fagin
Fagin is a fictional character who appears as an antagonist of the Charles Dickens novel Oliver Twist, referred to in the preface of the novel as a "receiver of stolen goods", but referred to more frequently within the actual story as the "merry old gentleman" or simply the "Jew".-Character:Born...

, characters from the Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens
Charles John Huffam Dickens was an English novelist, generally considered the greatest of the Victorian period. Dickens enjoyed a wider popularity and fame than had any previous author during his lifetime, and he remains popular, having been responsible for some of English literature's most iconic...

 novel
Novel
A novel is a book of long narrative in literary prose. The genre has historical roots both in the fields of the medieval and early modern romance and in the tradition of the novella. The latter supplied the present generic term in the late 18th century....

 Oliver Twist
Oliver Twist
Oliver Twist; or, The Parish Boy's Progress is the second novel by English author Charles Dickens, published by Richard Bentley in 1838. The story is about an orphan Oliver Twist, who endures a miserable existence in a workhouse and then is placed with an undertaker. He escapes and travels to...

. Famous true-life pickpockets include the Irish-American
Irish American
Irish Americans are citizens of the United States who can trace their ancestry to Ireland. A total of 36,278,332 Americans—estimated at 11.9% of the total population—reported Irish ancestry in the 2008 American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau...

 prostitute Chicago May
Chicago May
Chicago May , was a notorious female international criminal. She died in 1929 at age 59.-Further reading:...

, who was profiled in the books Chicago May, Queen of the Blackmailers
Chicago May, Queen of the Blackmailers
Chicago May, Queen of the Blackmailers is an historical biography of May Duigan,written by Frank Columb.May Duignan, a native of Co. Longford, Ireland, dabbled in not only prostitution and blackmailing, her two mainstays, but also in swindling, betrayal, conspiracy, revenge, assault, barbarity,...

and Hell Hath No Fury: Famous Women in Crime.

Pickpocket skills are also used by magicians
Magic (illusion)
Magic is a performing art that entertains audiences by staging tricks or creating illusions of seemingly impossible or supernatural feats using natural means...

, either to take an item from a spectator or to return it without their knowledge. James Freedman
James Freedman (magician)
James Freedman is a British pickpocket entertainer and magician. He is most well known for his skill as a pickpocket and his ability to secretly pick the pockets of volunteers. For this reason, he is also known as 'The Man of Steal'....

, a.k.a 'The Man of Steal', created the pickpocket sequences for the 2005 film Oliver Twist
Oliver Twist (2005 film)
Oliver Twist is a 2005 British drama film directed by Roman Polanski. The screenplay by Ronald Harwood is based on the 1838 novel of the same title by Charles Dickens....

directed by Roman Polanski
Roman Polanski
Roman Polanski is a French-Polish film director, producer, writer and actor. Having made films in Poland, Britain, France and the USA, he is considered one of the few "truly international filmmakers."...

. Time Out magazine wrote that James Freedman
James Freedman (magician)
James Freedman is a British pickpocket entertainer and magician. He is most well known for his skill as a pickpocket and his ability to secretly pick the pockets of volunteers. For this reason, he is also known as 'The Man of Steal'....

 is "possibly the world's best pickpocket". Professional illusionist David Avadon featured pickpocketing as his trademark act for more than 30 years and promoted himself as "a daring pickpocket with dashing finesse" and "the country's premier exhibition pickpocket, one of the few masters in the world of this underground art."

Pickpocketing can be a dangerous trade, since persons aware of the presence of pickpockets in an area may conceal such items as specially designed mousetraps, rat trap
Rat trap
A rat trap is a trap designed to catch rats.Rats are suspicious of new objects and traps with only one entrance. If they see other rats have been trapped they may avoid the trap. Traps which do not address these issues are likely to catch only young, inexperienced rats, not the older ones.Spring...

s or empty decoy wallets on their person. Since pickpockets usually have no way to gauge the contents of a wallet, save by the style of dress of the victim, they must take what they find.

Supposedly, a school exists to train pickpockets, known as the School of the Seven Bells. It is thought to be located near Bogotá
Bogotá
Bogotá, Distrito Capital , from 1991 to 2000 called Santa Fé de Bogotá, is the capital, and largest city, of Colombia. It is also designated by the national constitution as the capital of the department of Cundinamarca, even though the city of Bogotá now comprises an independent Capital district...

, Colombia
Colombia
Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia , is a unitary constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. The country is located in northwestern South America, bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; to the north by the Caribbean Sea; to the...

, in the Andes Mountains.

Further reading

  • Avadon, David. Cutting Up Touches: A Brief History of Pockets and the People Who Pick Them. Chicago: Squash Publishing, 2007. ISBN 0974468169. About the history of theatrical pickpocketing.
  • Columb, Frank. Chicago May, Queen of the Blackmailers
    Chicago May, Queen of the Blackmailers
    Chicago May, Queen of the Blackmailers is an historical biography of May Duigan,written by Frank Columb.May Duignan, a native of Co. Longford, Ireland, dabbled in not only prostitution and blackmailing, her two mainstays, but also in swindling, betrayal, conspiracy, revenge, assault, barbarity,...

    . Cambridge: Evod Academic Publishing Co., 1999.
  • King, Betty Nygaard. Hell Hath No Fury: Famous Women in Crime. Ottawa: Borealis Press, 2001. ISBN 0888872623, ISBN 088887264X.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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