I was pickpocketed the other day. When I hit the rewind button, I know exactly who did it and when she did it, and I feel so dumb. I was in Bloomingdale's in New York City, shopping for an Easter outfit for my baby. I had just finished talking to my husband on my cell phone and slipped it into the outer pocket of my huge shoulder bag. I was pushing my baby in her stroller when she started gesturing toward some really cute, girlie pink ballet slippers, so we went over to look at them.
A woman came up beside me with a lot of clothes over one arm-she leaned over my stroller to try to look at clothing on a rack next to us, so I said, "Oh, I'm sorry, excuse me," and moved the stroller over so she would have room to shop. "Oh, no problem," she said. A few seconds later she was gone. Mmm hmm, that's right, Nancy Drew.
I walked over to the register because of course I had to buy the adorable ballet slippers for my daughter. Then I reached into my bag to get my phone. It was gone. I thought I had misplaced it because I'm always so sleep-deprived and scatter-brained these days so I went through my bag a dozen times expecting it to turn up. No such luck.
I realized I had been the perfect target. I was trying to juggle a lot of things-bags, baby, stroller. I was distracted, not just by the ballet slippers but by my baby and the 20,000 things on my mind. I put my cell phone in a stupid place. And I fell for a very common pickpocket technique: "compassion and distraction." Pickpockets often pretend to drop a bag or change and rely on the kindness of others to help them pick it up, while their partner steals something while the victim is preoccupied. In my case, the woman got very close to me and made it seem like I was in her way.
Sure, it's frustrating that I lost my phone and all the numbers that were programmed into it. It also cost me a pretty penny to replace it. But I, who have never been pickpocketed once in all the 15 years I've lived in New York, learned a valuable lesson. I've got to be more on my toes. When thieves look at me, they see a frazzled, busy mom with her hands full.
At least we have the pink ballet slippers. Even though they will always remind me of that day, my baby giggles with delight every time she looks at her feet. And that makes it all worthwhile.
Have you ever been the victim of a pickpocket? Are you a pickpocket? Do you think moms make good targets? Got any suggestions for how we can prevent that from being the case?
Written by Suzanne Murray on CafeMom.com
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