AUSTIN, Texas — A monthly Austin Police Department report shows a rise in pickpocketing citywide, with the downtown area seeing a particular uptick in the crime.
The 175% leap in pickpocketing is attributed to the now 44 reported downtown incidents, when just last year it was 16.
With more live events happening, due to less restrictive COVID-19 protocols, the downtown area has seen bigger crowds. And with bigger crowds, usually there’s more activity.
When comparing the citywide police report data from February 2021 to February 2022, a 269% increase was indicated.
While there’s a major rise in pickpocketing citywide, with certain sectors seeing a larger increase than others, some areas have experienced decreases or no changes at all.
Here are other year-over-year pickpocketing statistics by sector from APD’s February 2022 police report:
Adam: Down 20%
Baker: Up 100%
Charlie: No change
David: No change
Edward: Down 29%
Frank: No change
George: Up 175%
Henry: Up 200%
Ida: Down 29%
The Metropolitan Police Department in Washington offered the following tips for preventing the crime:
- Do not carry your wallet in your purse. Conceal it in a buttoned or zippered pocket where it doesn’t show a bulge.
- Use a purse that is difficult to open. A purse with a zipper or snaps is best.
- If you are carrying a shoulder bag, place the strap(s) diagonally across your body, as opposed to carrying it on one shoulder. This keeps the purse in front of you, instead of at your side or behind you, which sometimes happens with purses with long straps. If you are carrying a hand bag, then make sure to hold it close to the front of your body, instead of holding it on your wrist or loosely in your hand.
- Never leave your purse unattended on a store counter or in a grocery shopping cart.
- The target areas are back trouser pockets, and suitcoat and sports jacket pockets, located both inside and out. A pickpocket generally avoids front trouser pockets, and especially buttoned or zippered pockets.
- If you have to carry your wallet in an unbuttoned jacket, coat or pants pocket, be sure it holds only what you can afford to lose. Keep large sums of money, credit cards, IDs, in your front pocket or any buttoned or zippered pocket. Some people even place a rubber band around their wallet, because the rubber band creates friction and rubs against the fabric of your pocket if someone is attempting to remove it without your knowledge. The best place for keys is on a chain attached to your clothing.
- Never pat your pocket to see if your wallet is there; this lets a criminal know the exact location of your valuables.
- Larger-size “pocket secretaries” are particularly inviting to pickpockets, and relatively easy to steal.