What’s In Your Wallet? Wait, Where Is Your Wallet?

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


The late, great James Coburn appeared in 173 movies and television shows, with a particularly strong run in the 1960’s and 70’s.  My favorite of his is The Last of Sheila (1973), a terrific, campy murder mystery set in the South of France.  Our Man Flint (1966), The President’s Analyst (1967 — if you like the film, be sure to read this story), and The Internecine Project (1974) all are worth at least one viewing. 

Today’s Risk Tip involves pickpocket awareness, drawing from another Coburn flick, Harry in Your Pocket (1973).  While pickpockets feature in many movies — Oliver Twist, The Sting, Casablanca (“This place is full of vultures.”) — few are wholly devoted to how they go about their work.  The only other one I can think of is Robert Bresson’s Pickpocket (a rather tedious French film I care not to see again).  While enjoying a great original score, Harry shows us a lot about pickpocket tradecraft, such as — in 70’s lingo —  how “wire mobs” use a “steer” to select a “mark,” a “stall” to distract the victim, and a “cannon” to take the “poke.” 

Additional tips on pickpocket avoidance can be found in a couple of recent articles.  Among other tidbits therein, we learn that “[p]ickpockets tend to hang out near ‘beware of pickpockets’ signs, because the first thing people do when they read it is check they still have their valuables, helpfully giving away where they are.”  Further, the articles also advise that, despite Hollywood’s take, many pickpockets aren’t particularly skilled; they’re just opportunistic.  Some other common sense tips can be found here and here.