NY Times writer Michael Wilson is one of the best true crime reporters in the city, covering everything from psychic scammers to coffin mix-ups to sweetheart swindles. This weekend, he brought a new underground crime wave to our attention: international pickpocket crews have apparently made their way to NYC and are targeting unsuspecting commuters on the subway.

Wilson writes about how these international pickpocketing crews—including people from Colombia and Chile—are able to avoid detection by moving from city to city. While the NYPD keeps a close eye on repeat local offenders, whom they call the "Nifty Fifty," these international thieves usually have no prior criminal records in NYC and get off with slaps on the wrist on the rare occasions they are caught.

Two such pickpockets were Jenny Gomez Velandia, 27, and John Diaz-Albarracin, 31, who were arrested last fall for an attempted pickpocket, and then tied to nine other thefts on the subway that summer. "They come, they do what they can do, then they move," said Chief Edward Delatorre, who leads the Police Department’s transit bureau.

Police said that another pickpocket who was caught last summer, Victor Diaz Jimenez, 33, was part of a three man team from Chile who worked the 7 train in Queens during last summer's U.S. Open. After he and his alleged accomplices were caught, here's how he explained their methods to police:

“This is how I make my living,” he told a detective. “I open the purses, put my hands in and take the wallets out. I pick people who are distracted.” He recalled lifting a wallet from “a tourist on the green line.” He took stolen credit cards to Target to buy watches he sold on the street, he said, and if the card had already been reported stolen, he threw it away.

“I’ve only been here for two weeks,” he said.

Jimenez was sentenced to 30 days in jail, but prosecutors found that he had an open warrant from Kansas for charges of larceny and identity theft, and he "remains on Rikers Island, facing a possible extradition to Kansas."

Police blame these international thieves for an increase in subway grand larcenies in 2018: In Manhattan, transit larcenies were up 15 percent with 754 reported cases, while in Brooklyn, there was a 4 percent increase to 474 cases. The two crews mentioned above were linked to at least 18 thefts last year.