How Purse Thieves Work

BY Beth Williams

Purse thieves and pickpockets have been around for as long as anyone remembers – or at least as long as purses have been around. To many, being pickpocked is just part of life, but knowing how purse thieves work is vital in reducing your chances of having your purse picked.  Take it from the women who it has happened to  – having your purse stolen or picked, especially overseas, can be very devastating.

The following information is bound to help you better protect you purse from being stolen, snatched, or your wallet lifted out of it. First,  you need to know that most pickpockets and purse thieves don’t feel guilty or sorry about stealing,  it’s their philosophy that their victims were careless. It’s just business to them, it’s not personal. So where to begin – let’s start with the identification process of the victim.

What Purse Thieves Look For

  • A woman who drapes her purse on the back of a chair or on the floor beside of her.
  • A woman who’s wallet is sticking out of her purse.
  • A woman who leaves her purse or wallet in a shopping cart.
  • A purse or bag left in an unlocked car.
  • A woman who has set their purse or wallet down on a table or counter.
  • Purses left in unattended offices or dressing rooms.
  • Purses and coats dangling on coat racks.

The best target is a woman alone with a dangling purse or one she is not paying much attention to. A simple snatch isn’t difficult to set up; the hard part is the waiting involved. There are three different kinds of purse theft:

Snatch and Run Purse Thefts:

Boiled down to basics you can just grab the purse from your mark and run off with it. Simple, effective, and not very creative. This is the most recognizable version of snatch theft; known at large as purse snatching. This is for more daring thieves.

Dip and Lift:

This is very simple pickpocketing, done largely when the marks pocket or purse is open wide to the world and anyone could steal the wallet.

Sneak and Stash Purse Theft:

This is also a form of pickpocketing; more commonly know to the world and sneak thieving or opportunistic pickpocketing.

What Purse Thieves Look For.

pickpocket and purse thievesWe’ve all seen the woman who leaves her purse in her car, or unattended in the grocery store, and the men who puts his wallet in his jacket pocket or in a baggy back pocket so wide you could stick your whole hand in. But going back to the woman in the grocery store, well there are several ways to help her redistribute the wealth.

The most common scenario involving a grocery store, or any store for that matter, is as followings; the thief sees a woman checking out something in the isle, completely turning her back on her purse that is temptingly sitting there in her shopping cart. While she is distracted gives the perfect time for the purse thief to strike, either taking just the wallet or by taking the whole bag. Just taking the wallet gives the thief more time to get away, compared to taking your whole purse which someone may notice right away.

Methods and Techniques Used By Purse Thieves and Purse Pickpockets

Purse theives pickpockets

Kick the Purse

When a woman sits down at a table or bar she’ll either set the bag on a nearby chair or on the floor beside of her. If it’s the latter then the thief will have an easy time taking the purse.  The thief will wait until the victim is engrossed in either talking or eating, etc.   The thief will then walk past her table and gently push the purse away from the table with your foot until its far enough away from its owner, then pick it up and either tuck it away or if you’re a girl sling it over your shoulder. This usually works best with small bags.

What time is it?

This common distraction involves two or three thieves.  One member of the theft team enters the restaurant while the other stands outside by the windows. Once the thief located the mark, the other thief at the window get’s the woman’s attention by tapping on the window and then tapping their wrist like they want to know the time. While this is going on, the thief in the restaurant strolls by the women and grabs the purse while she is distracted. If there are two women you might make off with two bags instead of one

“Call back”

The thief finds a woman and steals her bag. After this, they go through it and find her keys in the bag.  They call the woman’s house, odds are her number will be in the bag, and tell her you are calling from the store that she lost her purse in. Tell her that it is waiting for her in the manager’s office and she needs to come pick it up. Be sure to use *67 so that if she has caller ID nothing comes up, and then go to her house after you hang up. Make sure no one is there, should someone answer ask for some name and then act like you have the wrong house, but if no one is there then use her keys and go inside. Loot her house for what you can get then beat feet. You just robbed her twice!

Table Method

This is one where a minor distraction is called for.  The thief selects their mark, approaches her table and asks her something. The critical thing is that the thief, or his partner, if the victim is distracted by the first thief, long enough for a foot to find the strap. Once a foot is on the foot, it is gently eased away from its owner.

Chair Method

This one is simpler than the table method because the mark has done half the work for you.  The thief finds a mark who has set her purse on the outside of the chair.  The thief simply scoots or drags the purse a safe distance away from victim. There is no need for distraction in this method, which makes it perfect for a one man job.

Standing Method

We have all seen woman simply set down their bags when the go to look at something at a store or to answer their phone, well that’s a great time for the thief to strike.

Right Under Her Nose

Sometimes the easiest way to rob someone is right under their very nose. There are about three ways to prove this exactly and here they are Rush Hour The thief looks for a woman sitting in her car with the windows down.  Another thief approaches the driver side window and asks the victim the time or directions. While the victim is distracted the other thief reaches into the passenger’s side window, grabs the purse or wallet, and flees.

Stop thieves and pickpockets with a security purse or travel bag.