what would you do?

22Mar09

I’m pretty sure I just saw a pickpocket for the first time in my life. I was sitting in a chain cafe on a busy street in my London neighborhood. A young man came in and just seemed off from the start: he was slowly moving around the seating area with no real purpose. Seats were plentiful so it wasn’t as though he was trying to find a seat. Even though the counter/register area weren’t in my view, I knew he hadn’t ordered any drinks because only seconds previously, I’d seen him outside walking towards the cafe. He sat down in one seat. I’m not sure why it didn’t sit well with me but it didn’t. Then he moved to a seat in a far corner, sat there for a few minutes, and got up yet again. As it happened, I was about to leave anyway and so I saw him sit down at a table next to a couple with a stroller. That stroller had a jacket draped over it and the stroller was between the couple and this guy. Now I did not actually see the guy’s hand in the pocket of the jacket; my view was obscured (as I’m sure he intended) but I got several good looks and I would just about swear to the fact that he was rummaging through that jacket. It was like one of those “What would you do?” segments, just without cameras, and I failed. I mean I stared at him a few times and he met my gaze and just as I passed by him on my way out, his hand magically appeared, resting on his leg. But I didn’t actually confront him, for the obvious reasons. I’m not sure confronting someone in the middle of committing a crime is a smart move in a country where more than one well-meaning citizen has been beaten to death for doing exactly that or in a city that has a fair amount of knife crime. Plus, I could have been wrong or maybe too jumpy and that’s a similarly ugly situation.

Anyway, just a reminder to me to be vigilant!

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