Risky, being a pickpocket? Hardly. Remember, when I wrote that only 25% of all pickpockets are ever apprehended (see post Need motivation?)? And I think I'm being generous. The truth is, even if a pickpocket is arrested, he's probably not going to prison. He's likely to be released the next day. Even if caught in action.
François Abjean, a French police officer, spent 30 years catching pickpockets, and has arrested many great thieves and gangs (over 8000 pickpockets throughout his career!). However, since each theft is usually a petty amount, pickpockets are lightly judged. The biggest fall François Abjean has seen is a 4 months sentence in jail. Ouh, that'll teach them. It's not very deterrent, and thieves are soon back in the streets. (read more on Le Parisien - french article)
In Brussels, a pickpocket was caught in action on a Friday night, and released on Saturday. Oh, yeah, he learned his lesson... Less than an hour later, he was caught again trying to steal a purse! (read more on RTL info - french article)
All I'm saying is that it is ridiculous to hope for their redemption with such "deterrent" measures. The only thing these thieves learn is that they don't risk much and they can continue their larceny. As said in the movie Batman Begins : "Criminals thrive on the indulgence of society's understanding". Law needs to be more strict about such crimes.
It's no use trying to teach them ; no matter how many times he gets beaten, that little pickpocket will go on and on.