There is a breed of people in the streets that refuses to die away. These low level breed is made of simple opportunists who employ silly techniques; to seek out people who’ve left themselves vulnerable. The art employed by these street pickpockets has kept on evolving with new tricks coming out every dawn. The streets of Nairobi paint a grim picture of a city that is struggling to unchain itself from the shackles of this artistic cons. Pick-pocketing being the most common.

There are three common ways this is done;

The public benches

On Friday evening while in downtown Nairobi, I notice a young boy who looks like a student seated on the public benches with his backpacks placed by his side. A rusty looking man who is obviously a pickpocket simply sits nearby and surreptitiously reaches into the victim’s backpack and within a few seconds he walks away almost unnoticeable with his hands in his jacket pockets.

jeevanjee gardens

Such opportunists are making a killing in the streets and their itchy fingers are scaring Nairobians off the streets. Walter Omollo is a victim of this con technique. He narrates how exactly the same thing happened to him while resting on the park bench at Jivanjee during his lunch break while awaiting his afternoon class.

 “Everything happened so quickly that I cannot tell. This man comes and sits next to me looking very tired and then shortly he pretends to be receiving a call and walks away. When I check my bag, my tablet is missing.”

The large envelope

A man recently spotted as a pickpocket in Citi Hoppa buses
A man recently spotted as a pickpocket in Citi Hoppa buses

Unfortunately it is not always easy to pick out a pickpocket in the streets. In a bus,  the pickpocket comes in with an unusually large envelope. for example, 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. Usually, pickpockets carry jackets or newspapers to cover their hands. The basic approach is to mask the illegal contact with the items in their hands.


The distraction


Team work is the name of the game now with street cons now working as a team to cons unsuspecting citizens. A pickpocket team can casually sandwich an unsuspecting person between them in order to press against his body. In a standard scheme, the “pick” pretends to accidentally bump into the innocent from behind and graciously apologizes while removing his wallet. The pick seems completely innocent, and it’s not easy for the marked person to notice he’s being robbed.

The tricks are not only limited to the above mentioned. The con artists master new ways depending with the victim and circumstances. All you need to do while walking in the streets is to be extra cautious and not trust any stranger whatsoever. Have you ever been pick pocketed through these ways? Tell us your experience below.

Have you ever been pick pocketed? Tell us your experience.