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Theft: A current trend in market places

25 July 2012, 11:26

The number of theft cases in Wuse market, which is Abuja’s main market, and the rate at which they are stealing from people in the market has become increasingly alarming. There is an increase in number everyday and also constituting a nuisance to both the commuters  and the market management. 

All effort to curb this form of larceny by the market and security management has yielded no result as they tend to use varieties of new techniques as each day passes by. There have even been cases of stolen cars, ladies stealing pants and bras, among others from shop owners. But the most common among these theft cases is pickpocketing.

According to a National Youth Service Corp member, who spoke under anonymity, said that she fell a victim recently, when N5000 was stolen from her handbag, leaving her stranded in the market place as she had no money to transport her back home. “I lost N5000, out of my monthly allowance of the National Youth Service Scheme to pickpocketing at Wuse market. It was a terrible experience I can never forget as it left me stranded at the market that particular day”, She said. Similarly, Grace Oche, a resident of Kuje also lamented her ordeal in Wuse market, saying that her purse containing money and one ATM card and other valuables was stolen from her handbag in Wuse market. “They are very fast, I think they use charms too, because the made away with my purse inside my bag which was properly zipped”.

Investigations revealed that the pickpockets are very clever. They use various antics such as asking questions or bumping into their victims. These antics sometimes requires sleight of the hand, speed and other types of skills. Most of them use charms to steal from  their victims. They don’t employ any special technique: they just seek out for people who have left themselves vulnerable. For example, a person walking in the crowded walk way outside the gate of Wuse market with his wallet  at the back pocket of his trousers, or a lady who hands her hand bag on her shoulder carelessly without zipping it properly or holding it cautiously. The pickpocket simply follows that person or stands close to that person and surreptitiously reaches into the victim’s handbag or wallet. Sometimes they pretend to accidentally bump into either from behind or from the side and apologize while removing your purse, wallet, phone, money and other valuables. They may even stop just to look completely innocent, so the victim doesn’t notice He/She has been robbed.

Pickpockets at Wuse market are always coming up with new schemes and techniques, so it is nearly impossible to make yourself completely immune to their tricks,  but you can make them work a lot harder  as well as by protecting yourself from them. Among these techniques, the most commonly used one is the “easy target  which entails targets that are away from the victim’s body where he or she will not feel  a theif’s touch example, open bags, zipped bags, outside pockets of handbags, rear or thigh pocket of trousers. Knowing this is the commonly used pick techniques, protecting yourself wont be as difficult as you would think, just a few thoughtful precautions can be enough to give you peace of mind and confidence  in going about your being in the market.

Ladies should hold their purses under their arm and hold it firmly with their hand and if you are carrying a handbag to the market, make sure it has a zipper, clasps, or locks and make sure it is properly closed and hold it with caution. Guys should also endeavour to put their wallets in their front pockets instead of the back pockets or preferably hold it when in Wuse market, as purses and wallets are extremely vulnerable and also attractive to pickpockets, particularly when the wallet is in your back pocket.

It is also important not to look like a good target. Pickpockets are drawn to people who look lost, confused or distracted. People who seem sure of themselves and aware of their surroundings are less attractive targets. Remember, most pickpockets are cautious thieves who want to avoid confrontation . Even if they think they could steal something off you, they will tend to pass you over, if you don’t look like the safest mark in a crowd.

Lastly, beware of those, those who display and sell traditional medicines to cure various ailments and over crowded newspaper vendors at Wuse market as they are often overcrowded with spectators and such scene often attracts pickpockets.

According to some commuters that the reporter spoke with, said they prefer taking the laws into their hands by beating them to death or into a state of unconsciousness when caught, rather than hand them over to the market securities or police, because they always release them without punishment, so they still continue with the act.

“We’ll rather beat them to death or unconsciousness than handing them over to the police who will definitely release them. They leave you with nothing but bad memories”. They said.

All efforts by the reporter to reach the Public Relation Officer of Wuse market management over the issue proved abortive as his number was not reachable.

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