While doing show prep for my radio talk show I was looking into the topic of crime statistics, to learn a thing or two about what lawbreakers are up-to these days. According to the figures I found, our criminals have been busy as beavers.
In the report I read, under the heading “larceny,” for example, were listed all the different ways a theft can be committed – ways you and I wouldn’t necessarily think of, unless we’re in the habit of thinking lawbreaking thoughts. There was shoplifting, theft of bicycles, theft of motor vehicles, theft of items from motor vehicles, theft of motor vehicle parts and accessories and theft from buildings. There was even a separate category for thefts from vending machines.
The figures – if they are to be believed - have good news for vending machine owners. In the last few years, thefts from Maine vending machines plummeted by almost 5 percent. We can only conclude that either vending machines are getting smarter or vending machine crooks are getting dumber. There was no mention of thefts committed by vending machines themselves, a crime which I have been the victim of recently.
To me the most surprising statistic in the whole pile was the one showing that pick-pocketing in Maine increased by over 26 percent in recent years. As far as I know, the pickpocket figures do not refer to those individuals operating in tollbooths in York and Hampton, N.H.’ Those are perfectly legal pickpocket operations and are fully authorized to pick any pockets that happen by. The statistic refers to those engaged in the unauthorized picking of pockets; those individuals who bump into you in a crowd at the Blue Hill, Cumberland, Fryeburg or Oxford fairs and lift the wallet right out of your pocket without you being the wiser. I don’t mean to single out those fine fairs. Fact is, the picking of pockets can take place at almost any other fair in Maine even the Washington County Fair – if it were still in existence.
After reading the pickpocket statistics I checked for my wallet and was glad to learn that it was still where it was supposed to be.
I don’t know about you, but I always thought pickpockets worked in big cities that were teeming with gullible easy marks who were just waiting to have their pocket picked by some well-trained artful dodger.
While pondering all that I wondered where a person might go to learn how to pick pockets. I know where you go to learn how to lobster or how to drag for fish and scallops or how to harvest wood and build boats, but where does someone go in Maine to learn the ancient art of pocket picking?
My first impulse is to blame the whole pickpocket business on people from away. Why not? We blame them for just about everything else. Hard as it is to believe we may have within our borders a homegrown pick pocket class with its own homegrown pickpocket culture.
But don’t look at me; I’m just writing about them. And if you think this column was just a distraction so I could move in and pick your pocket, you’re wrong. Go ahead; check for your wallet. If it’s missing – like I said – don’t look at me.
John McDonald is a humorist and storyteller who performs regularly throughout
New England. Contact John at firstname.lastname@example.org or 899-1868.