Some months back in my church, a lady parishioner’s handbag was stolen, when she vacated her seat for the communion, leaving her handbag behind.

Many people have a wrong concept that the church is a safe place. But from the eyes of a guy who has more than eight years of theft prevention as a job, it is not.

Everybody can go to any church as he/she likes, with very few exceptions. So pick-pockets are also invited. The first time they come, they always sit at the back seat, or any seat near the exit, to watch. Then the next time they move forward, sitting among the parishioners. If asked by others, they make up a story, saying they are coming to this church for the first time. Yet during the service, these pick-pockets are looking around for their prey. When they find their target, they come close to the lady, open her handbag, take the wallet inside, or simply take away the whole handbag. The best moment is when parishioners line up for their communion or other blessings. They are happy to be present in churches when there are weddings and funeral services, which are crowded with people.

Another good place for pick-pockets are restaurants, especially those which offer food in moving carts such as serving dim-sum. I remember once we went to a not-so-busy restaurant. A food-cart holding hot dim-sum approached our table. When my friend was peeping into the content, a middle-aged lady rushed to the cart. One hand opened the covers of bamboo containers, the other hand opened the handbag of my friend. I saw it, leaned myself to my friend, and got hold of that special hand. She pulled out her hand and left. I was not sure whether that woman still had other partners nearby. So I let her go away empty-handed.

In restaurants, ladies like to put their handbags between their back and chair. Once they lean forward to eat, the pickpockets will say, “thank you.”

Remember ladies. Once you leave your home, there is no safe place to put your handbag. So please hold on to it at all times.

T. W.
Renton, WA

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