Pickpocketing as a means of survival

By Anena Cynthia Treasure

Pickpocketing is defined as the action of stealing from one’s pockets. It is a form of deviant behavior and yet some children find themselves pickpocketing for a living. Most of these young people pickpocketing are living on the street. According to research there are 6000 young people living on the street of Nairobi and this number is growing.

Pickpocketing is as old as society, and we have been fighting this deviant behavior for ages. In Kenya, pickpockets rarely go to jail for pickpocketing but most often find themselves pleading for mercy in the hands of boda boda or an angry mob.

The public is encouraged to take preventative actions listed below to prevent being pickpocketed:

  • Make sure to keep your wallet in the front pocket to keep it close.
  • Wrap a rubber band around your wallet to feel it being pulled out of your pocket by would-be thieves.
  • Hide your wallet in a secret or hidden pocket if you have one.
  • Avoid reaching through your wallet to count money.
  • Carry a fake wallet in your back pocket to trick thieves.
  • Choose a wallet with complex pockets.
  • Shorten the straps of your bag to keep it close to you.
  • Don’t put your bag the next sit, hold it. Fanny packs are recommended.
  • Avoid using your phone openly in a busy street.
  • Only carry valuables that you need for the day.

I challenge all of us to think about the solutions to pickpocketing exhaustively. In my sociology class on deviant behavior, we study crime and why people commit crime. We do this by interrogating the theories that help explain criminal behavior.

There are some theories that picked my interest for example the “two-path theory and Neurological theory of crime.” These are biological theories of crime, and they focus on how brain development, brain injury and the process of socialization plays a role in building criminals.

If we look critically at pickpocketing by street children with the lens of the two theories mentioned above, then it is clear that these children may not be mentally sound. As a society, we need to ask ourselves critical questions on the general wellbeing and mental health of these street children in order to avert potential incidents and tackle existing societal problems like pickpocketing.

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