Today one of my coworkers watched a young man selling small electronics out of a shopping bag in the park near our office. He says he has seen the young man before, and he called the police – but of course, they weren’t able to respond quickly enough and the man left the area. The young man was clean-cut and wearing a business suit and tie (though the jacket was too big for him), and was carrying a white shopping bag like what you’d get from a department store. Inside, however, was an assortment of small electronics – cameras, cell phones, even a laptop. He made a circuit around the park, offering the goods for cash. My boss watched him offer three digital cameras to some ladies sitting on a bench, and a MacBook to someone else. Most likely, the items were picked up around the area from unsuspecting people – at coffee shops, or lifted right out of a purse. His outfit would allow him to blend in with the thousands of business folks working in downtown Seattle; I wouldn’t give him a second glance if he was behind me in line at Starbucks.
So here’s my McGruff advice: pay attention to your stuff when you are out in public, for there are sticky fingers around and they may not “look” suspicious. Don’t leave your laptop unattended when the barista calls your order. Zip up your backpack, purse, or bag and keep a good hold on it. Don’t leave your purse or shopping bag under your chair in restaurants, where someone could walk behind you and grab it. Don’t set your Kindle or tablet down on the chair beside you. And don’t turn away from your stroller when you have your purse in the basket (I have seen this in a store, someone left their stroller a good fifteen feet away as she browsed some clothing racks and her purse was underneath in plain sight).