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Police Warn Of Pickpockets Targeting Holiday Shoppers

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CHICAGO (CBS) – With the holiday season just around the corner, downtown and the Near North Side soon will be crawling with shoppers and tourists, and people who don’t normally come into the city. They’ll also be crawling with something else: pickpockets.

WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports pickpockets have their scams down pat, and they’re waiting for you with sticky fingers.

Chicago Police Lt. Thomas Clark pointed out the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival is on Saturday, and “we want shoppers to go home with everything they came here with.”

“Criminals love the crowds,” Clark added.

Tourists and people who aren’t used to being in the city are more often victims of pickpockets.

“They work in teams, and hand off stuff frequently. Once they have something of yours, they’re going to turn around and hand it to a friend of theirs that’s off and down the street before you even realize it,” Clark said.

He said pickpockets prey on people who aren’t paying attention, who have open purses, or who keep their wallets in their back pockets.

Clark suggested you not make it easy on pickpockets by keeping your wallet in your front pocket, or your purse closed and not thrown over your back. He also said not to leave electronics on a table, or on the ground.

Making eye contact with people is also a good way not to become a pickpocket victim. Clark said a thief is less likely to target you if you’re eye-to-eye with him or her.

If you are pickpocketed, Clark said you should call police; don’t confront anyone and get yourself hurt.

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