pickpockets in Naples are a major presence, particularly on the
crowded trams and buses, and in and around the main railway station. Bus
Line R2 is notorious - there are 2-3 pickpockets on every bus. Line
R4 is not much better. Some trams
have as many as six pickpockets on them at any given time.
These can be an old man with a crutch that keeps his hand at the level of
your pocket or bag, someone working beneath a small backpack hanging at
his front (looking like a tourist protecting his gear), someone very short
and so on and on. Crowded buses are worked by gangs of thieves, some of
them well past 60 years of age, as follows. Two or three of the fatter
ones block the exit at your stop. One or more of their confederates behind
you make a fuss about not being able to get off. These are known as
"squeeze traps". As you attempt to push past those blocking your
way, the individuals behind you go through your pockets. Don't be
hurried on crowded buses and trams - miss your stop, if needs be.
Turn-style pickpocket in action using a bag as cover
especially at the entries of underground train systems, are a favourite
location for pickpockets in any large city, including Naples, but also Rome,
Milan, Barcelona, Paris and Madrid. Sometimes a single pickpocket simply
crowds the victim and steals from a bag or back pocket, as in the picture
above. More often, a pair work as follows. One suddenly jumps in ahead of
the victim and blocks the turn-style by using an invalid ticket. The
accomplice pushes and bumps from behind while robbing the victim.
More about pickpockets in Italy.
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