Friday, June 29, 2007


People do interesting things for a living. Jesse Daniel Rae picks pockets in Grand Rapids, Michigan. On Monday he watched 72 year old Bill Barnes get $300 from an ATM machine and went to work. Only thing is, Bill Barnes is a former Marine and Golden Gloves runner-up. There was lots of blood – and it didn’t belong to Barnes.

What with celebrity DUI, identify theft, terrorism, and murder-suicides grabbing the headlines these days, pickpockets seem like a quaint throwback to the good ol’ days of crime.

Is Bill Barnes living in a crime-ridden area with criminals so desperate they risk preying on ex-Marines? Just where can we go, aside from hiring Mr. Barnes to watch our pockets, to have the least chance of being a crime victim? It turns out that Grand Rapids is the 25th safest metropolitan area in the US. The lowest crime rates in the country are in Nassau and Suffolk counties on Long Island, New York, with a burglary rate of 48.6 per 100,000, just one seventh the rate in Memphis. Grand Rapids may be pretty safe but its crime rate is actually 26% higher than New York City’s, which came in at #14. We’ll see one possible reason for that in a moment.

Willoughby Ohio made the news last week when a female pickpocket lifted the wallet from a 90 year old woman and used the victim’s bank cards to make cash advances totaling $3,600.

FBI research reveals that most pickpockets are male, most victims are female. The railroad is the most common venue for a pickpocket, on station escalators and platforms, and on the trains near the doors. And more pickpockets occur in winter. Evidently more clothing means more pockets to pick.

Jesse Daniel Rae may have gotten off easy. In 1990 a Manhattan pickpocket victim chased the thief and shot him twice. Both men were arrested. I guess the moral of the story is, if you’re going to be a pickpocket, it’s a lot safer if you’re really good at it.

No comments: