Last week, the Times listened to the NYPD wax nostalgic over the dying breed of lush workers—pickpockets who specifically target blotto straphangers and remove their wallets with a nimble flick of their razorblades. Kids these days prefer to just grab cellphones or iPads, so the lush working is left to older folk who have long criminal records. Now the paper talks with 48-year-old Robert Bookard, who was arrested last month for attempting to cut out a drunk man's wallet, and asks him is he's ever heard of the term lush worker. "A what?" he says. "A lunch worker?"
According to the NYPD, Bookard, who has 37 arrests on his record and uses a cane due to a hip replacement, was nabbed at 3:40 a.m. in the Brooklyn Bridge station after an officer observed him attempting to cut out a sleeping man's wallet. But he tells a reporter that he was just trimming a piece of fabric off his cuff: it's not a crime to look fabulous!
But hypothetically, if he were to try and cut someone's wallet out, he'd first have to find a sufficiently intoxicated victim: "Whatever you're under the influence of has gotten the best of you." It's also important to make sure your mark isn't an undercover NYPD officer. "You can tell something's not right. Just because your eyes are shut doesn't mean you're sleeping. If he's slobbering on himself, he's not faking it."
A "good thief" will pat around the victim first, before zeroing in on a pocket that needs cutting. As for the actual extraction, "You cut across the wallet—like a hook. You get better over time." But again, all of this is just total speculation. “If I was skillful," Bookard says, “I would have already been gone.”