I discovered by chance two really good books at the Grande Bibliothèque (BAnQ) about pickpockets: Pickpockets! Vingt ans de flagrants délits: un flic parle (Acropole edition) and Metro Connection (éditions france-empire).
The first one was written by François Abjean, police officer and expert pickpocket hunter whom I talked about in one of my previous posts. The other one is also written by a gendarme, who probably worked with François Abjean in the French police. These cops are part of a special unit made especially to fight the problem of pickpockets in the metro, in Paris.
Both books (in french) tell the stories of how pickpockets are apprehended. The police officers, wearing civil clothes, spending their time in the metro, detect awkward behaviors and spot pickpockets. Once a thief has his hand on a wallet, they immediatly take him into custody. This is a very important point: they have to wait until the crime is committed, if they want the thief to be sentenced.
It is also interesting to discover the cop's point of view. It seems to be a never ending war for them, as pickpockets are often back in the streets two or three days after they arrested them.
Although written almost 30 years ago, it still is filled with relevant information about pickpockets. Both agree that the golden age of pickpockets was in the 70's, when tourists used to carry a lot of money on them. Nowadays, tourists prefer credit cards, which are more troublesome for pickpockets (carrying someone else's credit card is more incriminating than unmarked bills!). Nevertheless, it doesn't mean that there are no thieves in the metro: they simply adapted to today's society. The content of the books may seem a bit outdated, but it helps to comprehend the evolution of pickpockets and gives us a better understanding of the ways to fight them.
My good deed of the day: I noticed a woman with a huge packsack in the metro. One of the pockets of her packsack was wide open, and I could distinctly see the 10$ bills within easy reach. I kindly told her to be careful and to zip the pocket. (Truth : I didn't have any Beware of pickpockets cards left.) All this while reading François Abjean's book! If you come across something similar, you can prevent crime by doing the same...