Deception

Why yes, that is me!

Why yes, that is me!

Pickpocketing:  a form of larceny that involves the stealing of money or other valuables from the person of a victim without their noticing the theft at the time. It requires considerable dexterity and a knack for misdirection.

I’m not sure that my experience technically qualifies as “pickpocketing” since I wasn’t wearing my purse at the time but the misdirection part was definitely there.

The Setup

So, funny story. I’m at the Y, waiting for my grandkids to finish their swimming lessons. I’m sitting in one of the observation areas (because the swimming pool area is way too humid) reading the first book in my ‘getting ready for Ireland’ series, and this young man sits in front of me and starts chatting me up. Seemed odd, but I figured he was waiting for a parent and was just being friendly.

After a moment or two, as quickly as he had started talking to me he jumped up, said “See ya,” and was off.

It took about a split second for me to think of my purse which I had tucked next to the chair I was sitting in. I reached down and grabbed it; it was further toward the back of the chair than I had placed it. As I lifted it I could see that my wallet was missing.

The Confrontation

Outraged, I went after the little con artist. I saw the kid who had chatted me up through a narrow window in a door to an upper recreation area. As I headed up the short flight of stairs, I made eye contact with a tall skinny kid (TSK) who appeared to be a friend of the decoy kid (DK). He was smiling and had his hand inside a backpack. As soon as he saw me, the smile left his face, he took the backpack and bolted toward a door on the opposite side of the room.

As I burst through the door, DK simply stood there with a stunned look on his face; probably in shock that I had figured out his ruse so quickly. “Give me back my wallet!”, I demanded.

“I don’t have your wallet,” said DK. “I was just talking with you.”

“And now my wallet is gone,” I said. “Get it back from your friend.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about lady,” said DK.

“Let’s go,” I said. “We’re going to the front desk.”

“What did I do?” he stammered as we headed down to the next landing.

TSK appeared again and I called to him to come with.

“I ain’t going nowhere with you. I didn’t do nothing,” said TSK as he headed toward an emergency exit door.

Attempted Resolution

No YMCA employees were around at the moment, and I didn’t want to leave DK and TSK because I knew they would disappear. I called to a lady sitting on the stairs, quickly explained the situation, and asked if she could go get someone who works for the Y.

Helpful lady (HL) came up the stairs and tried to ascertain the truth. She attempted to reason with DK and TSK that even if they truly were innocent, their actions (distracting me and running when confronted) made them appear guilty. Turns out she is a teacher and has experience dealing with young people.

I told the young men that if they returned my wallet I would not press charges. Although TSK was half-way through the emergency exit vestibule, he maintained his innocence. I then demanded that they show me their backpacks. TSK refused and exited the building. Although he offered, I knew that DK did not have my wallet so there was no sense in inspecting his backpack.

A Pinch of Conscience

DK finally asked if I wanted to know where my wallet was. “Yes!” I said emphatically.

“I know where it is but I didn’t take it,” said DK.

He led me and HL back into the recreation room where I had originally confronted them, and pointed to a long table on the opposite side of the room. There sat my wallet. I grabbed it and opened it; no cash, which I expected (there wasn’t more than about $20 in there anyway, thank goodness), but my drivers license and debit cards were intact. Relief flooded over me.

DK didn’t have to tell me where my wallet had been dumped, so I felt that he was basically a good kid just doing some stupid stuff. I wanted to appeal to that sense of conscience, so I looked him in the eye and said , “Thank you for showing me where my wallet was, but it is really unfortunate that you decided to be involved in this at all.”

I must have touched a nerve because he got very defensive, “What? I didn’t do nothing lady! That’s the thanks I get for helping out,” as he headed out the same door where TSK was waiting outside.

Lessons Learned

  • I have learned to keep my purse closer to my body.
  • I will, unfortunately, be forever suspicious of strangers who try to converse with me.
  • I am grateful that my cellphone was in my lap and that I didn’t have too much cash in my wallet.
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