Pickpocket paradise, but still requires nerve and patience
Luciano’s morning hit was tense. He had ridden the trams during what should have been rush-hour, but for the relative desertion of the business world. The city was shut, shop fronts literally shuttered and padlocked for the summer holidays. Luciano had tried and failed four times that first hour, backing off each attempt at the last second. Once the tram lurched and he bumped clumsily into his mark, and once he thought he was noticed by someone sitting nearby. The other two efforts just weren’t right—he couldn’t get the right angle.
Finally, he got close to a businessman in a sport coat. It was one of the last crowded trams of the morning. The mark was hanging onto a ceiling strap with one hand and trying to read a folded newspaper in his other. His jacket was hanging open. Luciano, hating face-to-face work, broke into a sweat. He used a floppy leather portfolio to shield his hand as he slid it against the breast pocket, where he’d seen the weight of a wallet.
His partner Stefano was so close Luciano could smell the espresso on the blocker’s breath. Yet, they never looked at one another. Luciano willed his hand to be steady and light. He willed the mark to keep reading. He hoped the leather [wallet] wouldn’t snag on a fold of fabric.
Pinching the wallet between his middle fingertip and the nail of his first finger, he slipped it out. It was a smooth move—textbook. He slid it down to thigh level along with his brown portfolio, and Stefano’s hand was ready as if by instinct. Stefano then plunged the wallet into his own deep pants pocket, and covered the bulge with a plastic grocery bag. At the next corner he stepped off the tram before it even stopped. Luciano stayed on two blocks longer, heart pounding, then got off and met Stefano midway, as usual.
Stefano had already dumped the leather. They split the proceeds equally.
“Why should the blocker get an equal share?” we had asked Luciano. “The skill is yours. The pressure is on you.”
“The risk is the same,” he answered.
Excerpt from Travel Advisory: How to Avoid Thefts, Cons, and Street Scams
Chapter Six: Public Transportation—Talk about Risky…