Veteran Pickpocket Explains How ATM Skimmers Are Ruining His Craft

There's no better example of a petty criminal than the pickpocket, a fast-moving talent who lifts wallets as if he were picking up pennies off the sidewalk. But a profile of a veteran pickpocket in the New York Times this weekend shows that technology is destroying the art. Credit cards are just more lucrative.

It's not a surprising revelation, but it's oddly sad to hear Wilfred Rose, said veteran thief, bemoan the shift. "We're disappearing," he told the paper from prison. "In a few years, there won't be any of us left." Evidently Rose is just one of 50 pickpockets—"the Nifty Fifty"—that the NYPD still watches out for. ATM skimmers, the Times says, are taking over.

Who wouldn't blame them? Besides the fact that hackers can make off with millions in a matter of hours by taking the high tech route to stealing cash, ATM skimmers can live in machines for months without detection. And even if they do get discovered, it's almost impossible to link them back to a thief. Pickpockets were never so lucky. [NYT]