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article imageReview: 'Secrets of the Pickpockets' Special

By Alexander Baron     Aug 9, 2012 in Crime
London - The 2012 Olympics has attracted spectators and tourists to the capital from all over the world. It has also attracted parasites to batten off them.
This Channel 4 programme runs to around three quarters of an hour. Currently on 4 On Demand for those who can receive it, Secrets of the Pickpockets follows the officers working on Operation Spider Web, which has been set up to target the organised gangs of pickpockets who have invaded the capital in search of easy prey prior to and during the 2012 Olympics.
As well as dawn raids - which are obviously intelligence led - the Metropolitan Police and the British Transport Police are thick on the ground working in plain clothes to catch the dippers in the act. The camera follows a young plainclothes cop called Nick who is patiently following a suspected pickpocket around the West End; his patience is rewarded when the man enters a Burger King fast food restaurant and lurks at the back of the queue; Nick calls for back up, and the dipper is caught in the act, clearly not knowing what hit him. (Nicked by Nick and carted off to the nick!)
The Channel 4 team interview a former pickpocket, who tells them his one-time profession can become addictive, and is therefore dangerous.
They also travel to Brighton to interview a totally unrepentant pickpocket who is known to the local plod as Cocoa the Clown. Pietro is a former restaurant worker who after losing his job decided that preying on people was easier than serving them food. As he gloats about his crimes he smiles and laughs to the camera, although having recently been released from prison, there is probably more than a little bravado in that laughter.
Back in the capital, undercover cop Nick is leading a team, and they catch another of these lowlifes in the act, his intended victims apparently a young couple from China. Although like Pietro the man is a foreigner, he knows sufficient English to protest "I know my rights. I know my rights".
The young lady from China says this is the first time she has experience something like this, which is hardly surprising, considering the way China deals with pickpockets!
Back to the trains, and they catch a gang of three pickpockets in the act, all of them from Romania, as if we don't have enough crooks of our own.
There is a lot more in this programme including some remarkable CCTV footage; it shows Britain's police doing what they do best, and if they acted like this all the time, no one but hardened criminals would be bothered by them. The smiling Pietro is nabbed again, and is still smiling in the cells, while the Romanian connection proves to be based on a lot more than one gang. Rather quaintly the programme plays out with You've Got To Pick A Pocket Or Two.
More about Pickpocket, Pickpockets, pickpocketing, Street Crime, Metropolitan police
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