Local

River West Bar Warns Patrons About Pickpockets

Surveillance video from Emmit's Irish Pub shows a pickpocket stealing a wallet from a woman's purse on Jan. 4, 2012. (Supplied to CBS)

Surveillance video from Emmit’s Irish Pub shows a pickpocket stealing a wallet from a woman’s purse on Jan. 4, 2012. (Supplied to CBS)

Pamela Jones Pamela Jones
Pamela Jones serves as a general assignment reporter for CBS 2...
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CHICAGO (CBS) – More and more people visiting busy restaurants and bars have become the victims of pickpockets.

CBS 2’s Pamela Jones reports it’s where people put their purses and bags that has thieves waiting to pounce.

A lot of us have done it; you sit down at a bar or restaurant, and hang your purse or backpack on the back of your chair.

But one River West bar was warning people that doing so could make them an easy target.

A man caught on surveillance video might look like any other bar patron, but workers at Emmit’s Irish Pub said customers should look closer as one of his hands disappears beneath the bar. On the video, a purse strap appears to sway.

Emmit’s general manager Chris Clyde said the surveillance video caught a pickpocket in action.

“You can see how he positions himself right on that chair, so he can kind of swing his coat, almost covering the purse from anybody’s view behind it,” Clyde said. “So it’s kind of where it’s only him being able to access it, and nobody from behind him’s going to see his hand digging in.”

Clyde said, on Friday, surveillance cameras recorded a man and two women walking in through the front door. It took just 16 steps for the group to walk around the bar, make friends with one of the owners, and then plant themselves next to the victim.

The cameras show they walked in around 5:30 p.m. The man shakes hands with one of the bar owners, and by 5:35 p.m., the trio was making tracks as the alleged victim was still sitting inside the pub, missing her wallet.

“They were in and out within 6 minutes, essentially,” Clyde said. “They had a plan, they executed it, and they were successful.”

Police confirmed the victim has filed a police report, and they are investigating.

The staff at Emmit’s made the video available for detectives to review. The bar said it’s the second time a customer has been hit, but they want their patrons to know they will help them fight back.