A Tale as Old as Time - Pickpockets

So as a jewelry blogger there are some topics that you just assume you will never cover such as politics, religion, greatest food inventions of all time, crime-watch, etc.  Well, here I am covering one of those topics.  Go figure.  At least I can say it's not religion or politics, thank goodness!  But it is crime, boo.

I'm sure you remember by beloved ruby and diamond ballerina ring, Glinda.  She's been on many an adventure with me and had many of her travels documented on my Instagram page over the past several years.  She was the first ballerina ring in my collection and is the piece which inspired my love of the style and the history behind the original design. 

The original Glinda.

However, about two months ago, I had the unfortunate experience of (we think) having Glinda liberated from my very hand while out Christmas shopping at one of my favorite places in the Phoenix-metroplex.   I say "we think" because Glinda was a heavy ring and would have made quite a sound had she simply slipped off my finger and clattered to the concrete floor of the store.  Not to mention, she fits snuggly on my middle finger.  So let me regale you with the tale of Glinda's untimely departure from my life and the valuable lesson(s) I learned so you can not become the victim that I was.

As you get older, life's simple pleasures such as not peeing when you sneeze or being able to (literally) jump out of bed become harder and harder to accomplish.  This year, I turned X (let's just say older than 29) and I had not been kind to my body in my younger and more stubborn years.  So I was minding my own business when I either sneezed to hard; rolled out of bed; was playing with the dog or merely sitting quietly by myself when I tore the muscle in my rotator cuff.  And, of course, being as how I am only slightly les stubborn now and had things to do; I put off the surgery for as long as I could stand it. After all, I could not allow it to stop me from holiday shopping!

So off The Mom and I went to our favorite monthly pop-up shop to partake in the annual Christmas d├ęcor shopping extravaganza.  Feeling the Christmas spirit as I was here in balmy Arizona, I picked out a pair of jeans, and red top to match my prized Glinda because (of course) you must decide on your jewelry first and then pick the clothes to match!  

The store was crowded and as we shopped, I did my best to avoid being touched.  For those of you who know me personally, this isn't news.  For the rest of you, I apologize in advance; it's not personal.  I am not a hugger.  In fact, I do not like to be touched.  I'm very picky about who I allow into my personal space and I have a pretty big personal space bubble so crowds, strangers, etc. are all a big ol' NOPE for me.  It overloads my senses and is very draining and anxiety-inducing.  I can handle crowds in small doses and out of necessity.  This particular day, I hadn't been out for a bit and was feeling all Christmas spirit-y so I was excited.  

Glinda has been on many an adventure with me over the years.

However, in the course of looking at some adorable bottlebrush tabletop trees, an individual shoulder checked my injured appendage hard enough to push me into The Mom.  I assumed the person was female because it was a female voice which said, "Sorry," but was gone before I recovered from the pain and turned around.  Fast forward 30-45 minutes later and I go to pay for my purchases and notice as I reach into my micro-purse that my beloved Glinda is NOT on my finger.  Panic ensues.  I let the staff know; who are all gracious enough to help The Mom and I scour the store.  They notify the owner who even searched the following day when the store was closed.  No Glinda.

When we got home, I called the appropriate police department and made a report.  The officers were kind enough to take all my information and even went to the store to see if they had security cameras (they did not).  The Mr. has, and does, work in a profession where he tends to be a bit more cynical of a person's motives and immediately suggests that the woman who should checked me was a pickpocket who saw Glinda and targeted me as a mark.  The officers I spoke to suggested this as a strong possibility as well.  Honestly, for someone who has such an aversion to being touched by strangers; it was (and still is) hard for me to fathom how someone could have slipped Glinda right off my finger!  I'm both in awe and furious at the same time.

Researching the "art" of pickpocketing I have learned:

  • Pickpocketing is one of the oldest and most widespread crimes in the world. The appeal is its relative safety: A skilled pickpocket can make off with just as much money as an armed robber, without much danger of confrontation or risk of being identified in a line-up. By the time the victim realizes what's happened, the pickpocket is long gone. And since no weapons are involved, pickpockets who do get caught face minimal jail time.
  • An experienced pickpocket has spent a great deal of time studying how to blend into a crowd, therefore eliminating the possibility of detection before they can get away.
  • Pickpockets operate in crowds just as easily as "accidentally" bumping into an unsuspecting victim alone on a sidewalk. In fact, about the only "known" fact about pickpockets is that they generally focus on the public during times when they may be carrying more money than usual, such as during the holidays, at store sales, at fairs or carnivals, at casinos, or near bank entrances, etc.
  • Pickpockets will often times work in groups to get their victims. Usually, one will distract the mark, often with a fake survey or petition, or by ‘accidentally’ spilling something on them while the other member(s) will utilize the distraction to remove the person's valuables.
  • Getting a wallet out of somebody's pocket or purse is a little more difficult because the pickpocket has to touch the mark or something close to the mark's body. The basic approach is to mask the illegal contact with expected, benign contact.  For example, in a crowded subway car it's normal for strangers to press against you, so you don't notice something pressing against your pocket or purse. If the pickpocket is good, you never feel a thing. 
    • For for information on other techniques that pickpockets use, visit this link.

I even learned a few safety tips to help prevent pickpocketing in the future:
  • Don't carry your wallet in your purse. Conceal it in a buttoned or zippered pocket where it doesn’t show a bulge.
  • Use a purse that is difficult to open such as a zipper or snaps.
  • If you are carrying a shoulder bag, place the strap(s) diagonally across your body, as opposed to carrying it on one shoulder. This keeps the purse in front of you, instead of at your side or behind you. If you are carrying a hand bag, then make sure to hold it close to the front of your body, instead of holding it on your wrist or loosely in your hand.
  • Never leave your purse unattended on a store counter or in a grocery shopping cart.
I know, a lot of that information sounds pretty basic and is second nature for most of us.  But what I learned is that even the most vigilant can still become targets.  It's steps you take before you become a victim that are just as important, if not more so, and can determine the final outcome.

Miss you, Glinda.

This is why it's important to ensure that your jewelry is adequately insured and premiums paid up.  right after filing the police report, my next call was to my insurance company to let them know what had happened.  The adjuster was very professional and walked me through the steps needed to process my claim and the reimbursement process.  Every insurance carrier is different so it's important that you know your specific policy.  For additional, basic information about insurance and how it relates to jewelry, visit this blog post or to learn more about keeping a jewelry inventory, click here.  

Once a police report is filed, depending on the specific laws within your state, then pawn shops and gold buyers are alerted with a stolen items report.  Here is Arizona, pawn shops and gold buyers are required to take a copy of the seller's identification and hold any incoming items for 30 days prior to selling or melting them down.  This is done in an effort to (hopefully) return stolen goods to their rightful owner(s) and minimize the sale of stolen items in the marketplace - plus it (may) help catch the alleged thieves.  However, unlike any episode of Law & Order or Blue Bloods, this does not mean that as the victim you will be reunited with your beloved piece of jewelry.  

There are still a myriad of ways that thieves can sell stolen property such as Facebook Marketplace, Offer Up or the good ol' Craigslist that make it nearly impossible to identify a stolen item.  This also goes to illustrate the importance of making sure your get laser inscriptions on your more valuable stones in order to positively identify them as yours if they are recovered.  Keep those inscriptions listed in the appraisals and/or your jewelry inventory so that you can provide them to the police and your insurance carrier.  And remember, once your insurance company reimburses you for the missing or stolen jewel; should it be recovered - it must be returned to them as they have now become the legal owner unless you choose to pay back the insurance reimbursement.  You will need to check with your insurance carrier to know what their specific policy requirements are.

It's been a couple months now and although Glinda has yet to be recovered (and I doubt she will be), I still find myself looking at everyone's hands to see if she's being worn by another.  I like being touched even less now than I did before and I am hunting down a vintage Glinda 2.0 to take up residence in my ballerina ring collection.  My biggest takeaway in this whole mess however is that no matter what...Wear the jewels.  Just be sure they are insured!

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