6 Aug

Here’s some advice from December 1960 (Popular Science magazine). The pictures are dated and so is some of the jargon, but the tricks are still in use.

How Pickpockets Pick Pockets

Here’s a “jug troupe” in action

Shown is a tricky example of criminal teamwork in action. The victim is A. Everyone else in the picture (except the cab driver) is a crook. When A was in the bank, B spotted him withdrawing a tidy sum. He followed him out, then used a handkerchief to key his teammates to the pocket where the wallet would be found.

As A hailed a cab and started to get in, D came up and claimed it was his cab. E agreed. A, diverted and confused by the arguments, was an easy mark for C who stepped in, picked A‘s pocket as he passed, and is about to make his getaway – adding insult to injury – in the very cab that A hailed.

  • Getting out of an elevator: That’s right, look behind you because someone carelessly bumped you. That’s all the time the pickpocket needs to lift your wallet and tuck it quickly into a fold of his trench coat.

  • In the movies: Gentleman that you are, of course you rise to let the lady pass. But her boy friend in the row behind you is passing too – your wallet into his pocket. Then he’s out and away.

  • On a bus or a subway: “What’s the idea?” you ask the passenger who shoved you. But that was the accomplice’s cover for the pickpocket – behind you. Your wallet is now secure in the folds of his newspaper.

  • Pickpocket’s Jargon

Cannon: Any member of a pickpocket team.
Fan: Light fingering to locate wallet.
Grift sense: A knowledge of human reaction.
Hanger binger: A specialist in emptying women’s shoulder purses.
Hustle: Method of operation.
Impression: Wallet located.
Jug troupe: Team specializing on marks leaving banks.
Leather: A wallet.
Mark: Victim.
Mol busser: A thief who preys on women.
Pit worker: A wire who can lift leather from an inside pocket.
Score: A successful pocket-picking.
Stall: A wire’s partner.
Stiff: A hand-concealing item; a newspaper.
Wire: The specialist who lifts your wallet.


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