These are the pickpockets in your subway carBy
One of the great things about our subway is how it serves as a de facto designated driver. New Yorkers — or at least those who aren’t in charge of the NYPL — shouldn’t have to worry about drinking and driving with a 24-hour subway system. Still, drinking in excess before heading to the subway can make one an easy prey for pickpockets. I know people who haven fallen asleep in the subway only to find themselves 20 minutes past their stop, and sometimes, those folks lose their wallets.
In The Times this weekend, Michael Wilson highlights a thankfully dying art: the pickpocket who will cut out the wallet of a drunk mark. According to the NYPD, exactly 109 regular pickpockets work the trains slipping money and phones out of a neatly severed pocket. As Wilson details, the thieves are mostly male and mostly middle aged. One is 80 years old, and a few have been arrested over 30 times. Their crimes are like science. “They’ll nudge them and see how incoherent they really are,” one police officer said. Then out comes the tool of the trade. “It’s unbelievable they don’t cut the person’s leg wide open. They’re like surgeons with a razor blade, for God’s sake.”
The article is almost tinged with nostalgia. With electronics on full display, pickpockets don’t need to work nearly as hard to score some loot, and one police officer says the cutters going the way of TV repairmen. “It’s like a lost art,” Lieutenant Kevin Callaghan said. “It’s all old-school guys who cut the pocket. They die off.” I doubt they will be missed by straphangers when they all retire.