Warmer weather is here and the pandemic restrictions are lifting which means the return of crowds everywhere finally! But beware! According to Patch.com, pickpocket incidents are on the rise. As you are walking down Broadway in Saratoga, in the audience of a concert at SPAC, or attending this summer’s New York State Fair you are fair game for the skilled thieves who makeup the international pickpocket rings invading cities and towns throughout the U.S.

They with partners or in teams and they are cashing in on what is called, “distraction theft” which is simply the fact that people are so absorbed in their smartphones and devices that they aren’t fully aware of their surroundings.

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The suspects will ask questions as a distraction to turn your attention away from your purse. Once distracted, your wallet is stolen. The suspects will be gone by the time you realize your wallet is missing. - police spokesperson

In another incident, an officer watched as the woman dipped her hand into a commuter’s purse while her partner stood in front of her, shielding her from view, according to the officer’s affidavit. The woman lifted out a wallet, and the officer and his partners closed in.

Although it’s often known as wallet theft, the players in these new international crime rings are “lifting” smartphones, tablets, and laptops too. Not only can they sell the devices for cash, yes even if they’re disabled, but more important to the criminals is the information within your wallet or stored on your electronic device. This is where they gain access to your credit cards, PayPal, your bank account information and other account information you’ve saved on your phone.

Some tips from cnet.com to help minimize your chances for falling victim to pickpockets:

  • Keep your phone in the same place so you're more likely to feel the difference if someone takes it from you.
  • Move your phone and wallet from your pants pocket to an inside jacket pocket, purse or bag -the harder it is to get to, the harder it is to steal.
  • Beware and aware in crowded spaces
  • Don't have a note in your wallet with your ATM code.
  • Leave social security cards at home not inside your wallet.
  • Use a PopSocket, a wrist strap like Phone Loops or a case with a lanyard or anything else that physically attaches your phone while you carry or use it.
  • When listening to walking directions, put the phone away and listen over headphones so you look confident instead of out of place.
  • If you have an Apple Watch ($70 at Amazon) or Android-based smartwatch, you can monitor notifications and send quick replies while keeping your phone in your pocket.

Watch this video to see how quickly you can become a victim:

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