The Inky’s Mike Newall reports that pickpocketing seems to be up a bit this year in Center City coffee shops and restaurants—162 reported offenses this year, up from 133 in 2012. This wave, such as it is, is “centered in the busy coffeehouses and restaurants between 11th and 16th Streets.”
Once the pickpocket has the wallet, there’s a mad dash to run up the credit cards, McAlorum said.
The crooks favor big-box retail stores, often taking a cab to the ones along Delaware Avenue for hurried spending sprees. They buy gift cards, McAlorum said, which are hard for police to trace and which can be profitably sold at a discount.
The average loss per person is about $1,300, he said, but sometimes it's as much as $10,000.
On the bright side: Apparently Philly pickpockets these days aren't nearly as effective or clever as they used to be. Read Newall's story for some good "in my days the pickpockets could steal your lunch after you ate it!" anecdotes.