Why do pickpockets go scot-free?

Published: May 25, 2013
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They go scot-free and continue their ugly profession in connivance with the police because the stolen booty is shared. PHOTO: REUTERS

Embarking on an assignment to investigate a crime, I became the victim of a pickpocket. These days, the twin cities are in the grip of this age-old social evil plaguing our society, especially the poor vulnerable class using public transport. Though I have had the experience of falling victim to pickpockets many a times, this time it was coupled with embarrassment.

More often than not, it is old men, women, pensioners, careless youth and the salaried passengers who become the target of the expert pickpockets.

The last time, they had taken away all the cash I had on me, my cell phone and other valuables. This time, I was deprived of cash only as they spared my wallet containing my CNIC and ATM cards that gave me some relief.

The job of a pickpocket is done in a whiff and so dexterously, too, that the victim never feels the touch of the trained fingers.

Sometimes, the more alert people realise that their pockets have been touched by suspect hands but the strategy may not always work and losing to a pickpocket is a common experience.

They go scot-free and continue their ugly profession in connivance with the police because the stolen booty is shared. Being a crime reporter, I have never seen the police arrest a pickpocket.

The police is well aware of the dens where pickpockets are trained; beggars most often turn into pickpockets and specify their areas at various points in the city.

Even when pickpockets are caught and handed over to police, the latter release them after taking their shares. However, those who have access to the ‘upper ranks’ of the police can get their valuables after lodging a complaint at the concerned police station as they know each and every pickpocket by name, face and even the areas assigned to them (culprits).

In either case, it is a lucrative job.

For pickpockets and beggars, special days, places and points are very important. For instance, Friday and other propitious days — Eid or festivals and the first date of the month, public parks, shrines, picnic spots and outskirts of banks are frequented by people. Victims of pickpockets hush up the incident even if they lose a thing of value. This, too, encourages the culprits.

However, pickpockets must be sent packing and the authorities need to play their part in doing so — instead of sharing the booty.

Fawad Shah

Fawad Shah

Peshawar based reporter for Mashaal Service of Radio Free Europe.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.