Naples: capital city of pickpockets

Bob Arno boards a crowded tram in Naples, ItalyCity of Hugs and Thugs. Naples, ItalyFriday morning we had a friend take pictures of Bob and me getting onto crowded trams. A thief we’ve seen in years past appeared across the street. As a tram arrived, he crossed over and merged into the crowd, then positioned himself behind Bob. When we started to board, he took the prop wallet from Bob’s back pocket. We grabbed him and convinced him to talk with us for a few minutes.

Bob Arno & Bambi meet pickpocket AngeloHe said his name was Angelo B. (sorry, can’t use real names). We had interviewed a Luciano B. in 1998, and have seen him many times since then. Angelo was Luciano’s brother. We had no common language, but enough to agree to meet back at that corner at 2:00, when Angelo could take a break from work. I didn’t believe Angelo would show up, but he did. We had an excellent interpreter with us.

Naples pickpocket Mario Francini Luciano Barattolo, 1998Meanwhile, Angelo had met up with Mario, a thief we interviewed with his partner, Tony, in 2001. Mario told Angelo that we were okay to talk to.

There are four B. brothers, all are pickpockets. Angelo has four children, none are thieves; he won’t allow it. Luciano said the same about his in 1998. We had a lively conversation with Angelo for 20 minutes or so, and he told us we can find him working this area every day between 9 and 2. Then he goes home for lunch and a nap. He’s back working from 6 to 8. Later I realized why he and his colleagues come back in the evening. Just across the street is the ferry terminal, where daytrippers return from Capri, Ischia, and Sorrento. Many of these tourists take the tram from the ferry to the train station.

Bob Arno and Bambi speak with pickpocket Angelo BarattoloBob stole a few things from Angelo while our friend snapped some pictures with my camera. We noticed that Angelo’s wallet was on a chain, and when he showed us his ID, we saw there was no money in his wallet. Bob suggested that he and I should visit Angelo in his home next time we visit Naples. I don’t intend to take that chance. Our interpreter also refused.

This is part 1 of 4.  Part 2

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