Once upon a time, pickpockets were somewhat revered for their craft. Or, at least according to former pickpockets. There were even schools where they could sharpen their skills. But surveillance technology and the widespread use of credit cards caught up with them, and pickpocketing has been on a steady decline for the last 20 or so years.
Looking back, pickpockets were the good guys (sort of)! Former pickpocket Sherman "O.T." Powell spoke to NPR about the difference between pickpockets and other criminals:
"Pickpockets have no respect for thugs or robbers," he says. "We consider them ancient. Prehistoric. We feel that anybody can stick a gun in a person's face — that's not hard to do. But to take a person's money and them not knowing it's gone — that's the art of it. That's the cleverness of it."
So true. We need to show a little respect for this dying art. But there is still hope for the aspiring pickpocket! Europe — where the craft's decline has been far slower — is still fairly wide open. From Slate:
This is not the case in Europe, where pickpocketing has been less of a priority for law enforcement and where professionals from countries like Bulgaria and Romania, each with storied traditions of pickpocketing, are able to travel more freely since their acceptance into the European Union in 2007, developing their organizations and plying their trade in tourist hot spots like Barcelona, Rome, and Prague.
Problem solved. If you're a pickpocket who's down on his or her luck, just head overseas where the hunting is still good. Who wants dollars these days anyway?