I’ve had two separate and unique run-ins with pickpockets. The first was at the Edgefest concert in Vancouver back in "99. I think we were listening to Sloan at the time, and some idiot came up behind me, dragging his finger up the back pocket in a vain attempt to pop whatever was in there (which was nothing) out. I should have reacted at the time, but never having been picked before, I wasn’t sure what to do.
Today was the second time. We’d been warned that the Nevsky Prospekt Metro station was a prime spot for pickpockets, and to ensure that our goods were safely locked away in wallets under the clothes (among other places). I’ve been travelling light, with only photocopies of my passport and a few hundred rubles (about $30) at any given time.
That didn’t stop the guy as we boarded the train from Technologichesky Institut to Pushkinskaya. Whether or not he had an accomplice at the door to force us together, I don’t know, but it seemed a little contrived. Warning bell was already ringing.
Amy and I were pastered to each other, hanging on so the train wouldn’t knock us over. The would-be-pickpocket stood to my left, and attempted to shield his actions with a "well-placed" newspaper. I could see quite well, thank you very much.
I decided it wasn’t a big deal until I felt something probing, trying to find my front left pocket. Emphasis on "trying". What the heck was this, Amateur Night? This guy couldn’t find a mountain if he were sitting on it! It was embarrassing. I looked down, sure enough, there was his hand, trying not to feel me up like a $2 hooker. (Fortunately, I remain unviolated.) He must have glanced up and seen me looking down, as his hand darted back where I couldn’t see it.
Entertaining as it was, the whole experience was still unsettling. There’s just something fundamentally wrong with having someone try to steal something from your person, and you catch them in the act. It’s actually nauseating.
Though I wonder what would be worse — catching them, or not catching them.