Thanks to many who wrote in after my recent brush with a pickpocket gang in the Beijing Metro. Main themes that emerge:
- There's a lot of this going on in China, as in fact was predicted in the wake of recent large-scale factory and construction layoffs.
- There's always been a lot of this going on all around the world. From reader Pietro, who has lived in Europe, Africa, and North America:
There's more artistry in Africa. Once I stopped to take a look at a group of people surrounding a poor old man lying senseless on the pavement. My sadness was compounded by the feeling, seconds later, that his friends had consoled themselves with my wallet. Artsy setting, soft touch. Times have changed.
- The particular tactic I mentioned is time honored: confederates who create extra jamming and confusion in already-jammed circumstances, while the legerdemain artists do the snatching.
- Below and after the jump, an account from Charles Dukes, a Texan now of Beijing, about similar encounters.
- Legal sequelae: Within the few hours after we canceled our credit cards, someone tried to use them (and was turned down, with different cards) at what seems to be a fine-art dealership, for big ticket purchases. Nobody on that subway car particularly looked like an art hound, but who knows.