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The Art Of Picking Pockets

As summer approaches, some vacationers are looking forward to visiting unfamiliar places with big crowds.

Unfortunately, that's also the favorite setting for many professional thieves. The Early Show National Correspondent Hattie Kauffman reports.

There are two sides to pickpocket expert Bob Arno. Both were on display at a "Tourism Safety" conference in Anaheim, Calif. First, the serious side as Arno lectured to security officials about pickpockets.

Arno says, "They have no respect, because they feel they recognize you before you recognize them."

Then there's the other side: "Bob Arno the Entertainer." He brings the "art" of pick-pocketing to the stage, and literally steals the show.

As he begins to steal a tie from around a man's neck, Arno says, "Sir, if you feel anything happening, let them know. Are you okay so far?"

The man replies, "I'm fine."

Arno continues, "Are you right-handed or left-handed? With the right hand, hold on to the tie." As he was speaking, Arno had removed the tie from the man's neck without his noticing.

Fun and games aside, Arno says tourists should beware.

Crowded tourist areas are prime targets for thieves. In his book, "Travel Advisory," Arno shows exactly how pickpockets work, based on undercover videotapes he and his wife shot while traveling the globe.

When you are in a crowd, you are most at danger of getting pick-pocketed, he says, "If you are out there, as a single person walking around, you are not going to become a target. That's very unlikely - unless the thief is targeting you."

Showing Kauffman how it is done, Arno says an important item to cover up their deeds is a sport coat. Just slung over his shoulder, he can push the victim a little and ,without anybody noticing, steal something and conceal it under the coat.

Arno has some practical advice for tourists:

  • Use a wallet that can actually attach to your belt.
  • Dress down so you don't flash your wealth.
  • If a woman, never hang your purse on the back of your chair.
  • Never carry your Social Security number with you.
Arno says, "You just have to say to yourself, 'Things like mugging and pick-pocketing and all the other things that come into play, identity theft -- everything comes down to: Start to be aware.'"
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