From the tempting-fate files: according to law enforcement officials, pickpocketing is an old man's game, and it's dying out. Nearly all "career pickpockets" known to prey on riders in Manhattan's subways are in their 40s and 50s, transit detectives tell the News. And it seems that the younger folk don't much care for the risks involved with the age-old profession...except maybe when it comes to cell phones.
"You don't find young picks anymore. It's going to die out," said NYPD Transit Bureau Detective Nelson Dones. Among the bald or nearly-bald master pickpockets are a 63-year-old man with a gray handlebar mustache, a 75-year-old, and presumably 78-year-old Katherine Kelly, who has been arrested at least 37 times. It was a skill which the older generation used to pass down to younger people, with a kind of apprenticeship relationship. These criminals are proud of their trade; they consider it an insult to be called a "lush worker," which is the term used for picks who prey on drunken riders who pass out on trains.
And this isn't just about not having means or opportunity; even if you offered them a job, Dones doesn't think they'd change their stripes: "I don't believe if you offered them a decent job with a 401(k) plan, any would take it. In 30 years, I've never found a person who is a pickpocket say they've changed their life around, say they've found Jesus or a better way of life." But did the News jinx it by declaring pickpocketing dead?