Pickpocketing Fades In Credit Card Era; “We’re Disappearing,” Says One


The New York Times tells the story of Wilfred Rose, 58, who spent a career studying the pants pockets of New Yorkers, always on the lookout for “a nice stiff wallet” full of cash, or better yet, the fainter outline of a dozen folded bills. “When they are wearing a suit, or nice pants, you can visualize it,” said Rose, whom detectives describe as one of the city's craftiest pickpockets. “You know when it's there.” Rose had his run of New York, largely evading detection and arrest.

These are lean years for pickpockets. People carry more credit cards and less cash. Men wear suits less, and tightfitting pants more. The young thieves of today have turned to high-tech methods, like skimming ATMs. Pickpockets like Rose have been left behind. He was arrested and is on his way to prison for the first time. “We're disappearing,” he said. “In a few years, there won't be any of us left.”

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