Police in Everett say pickpocketing has become a new crime trend. They want to warn shoppers ahead of the weekend, despite the crime being difficult to trace, according to Officer Aaron Snell with the Everett Police Department.
"This is one of those tricky crimes that's difficult to pinpoint," Officer Snell says, "narrowing down the time and location, any possible suspects is going to be difficult."
Police believe either a group of people or an individual has started pickpocketing in south Everett, targeting shoppers in strip malls. At least two people reported that their wallets were stolen recently. Detectives believe the suspects are using stolen credit cards to purchase items.
"When they check their financial statements they find out they've actually lost a substantial amount of money," Officer Snell said.
The victims did have one thing in common, according to detectives.
"They said they have been bumped into or else they were distracted in some sort of way," Officer Snell explained. Pickpockets are rare in Everett.
Experts believe that may be the reason thieves are getting away with it.
"You know you would think maybe downtown Seattle, Europe, New York, those types of places. So it's a little bit weird for us," Snell said.
Nate Jester is a magician in Seattle who legally picks pockets for entertainment on stage. he says people committing these crimes on the street have a simple objective.
"They're going for easy targets. Generally, a purse. They're not necessarily interested in the money unless there's a big wad of it. They're going to go for a credit card and use it immediately after they steal it," he said.
Pickpockets usually begin by distracting the victim and often work in a group, according to Jester. The person who bumps into you is sometimes referred to as the "blocker." Jester says that's used as a distraction while the "cannon" comes from the other side and steals.
"Generally where you feel the bump, it’s not going to be from the person who's actually taking it," he says, "they're going to use a "dip" technique."
Investigators in Everett are now going around to nearby businesses to check surveillance video, in hopes of spotting the pickpockets. Detectives believe there are more victims out there who probably think their wallets were lost, not stolen.
"This is definitely unusual for Everett and we really want our citizens to be aware that this could be happening," Officer Snell said.
Law enforcement officials along with pickpocket experts recommend people keep valuables stored in front pockets instead of back pockets. They recommend carrying purses diagonally across the front of your body.
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