Bell-dummy for training pickpockets


23 Responses to “Bell-dummy for training pickpockets”

  1. Anonymous says:

    The pedant in me is always strangely pleased by the kind of watertight syntax that is now only found in antiquity, to wit: “The public *is* most in danger…”. That’s right: correct use of a collective noun. Please forward this to all major news agancies with haste.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Did they teach you how to remove the funny bone without ringing the bell?

  3. patrick_bateman says:

    How do you write this summary and not mention Dickens?

  4. Picasso says:

    I got one for you. Alexander Munday. Do anyone remembers him?

  5. Nawel says:

    To Anon #2 and Palomino: there’s yet another movie with this kind of “training dummy” for pickpockets, it’s an italian film called “Mani di Velluto” (Velvet Hands), starring the great Adriano Celentano. Apparently there are no connections with the movies you mention.

  6. knoxblox says:

    This is why I always place my hand on my wallet when someone gets a little too “chummy” in a public place.

    If I’m really worried, I just put it in the front pocket for a while. And yes, I can’t help but feel it there.

    • Anonymous says:

      Pick pockets watch for cues like this. People nervously checking their concealed wallets or money clips work perfectly to give away their location, and that they likely have an amount they’d rather not lose.

      • knoxblox says:


        You’re right, but there’s a difference between someone looking nervous because this is not normal routine, and someone NOT looking nervous because it’s habit.

        Even the most naive con men know the art of the con can be used by both white hats and black hats.

    • Anonymous says:

      You’d think the front pocket would be safe, wouldn’t you? Well, on the subway in Chicago, it’s not. Believe me.

      • knoxblox says:

        @Anon #12: It also depends upon the tightness of your pants, I believe. I tend to wear regular-fitting jeans, rather than slacks or pants that sag. If you give ‘em an inch, they’ll take your wallet. Ha!
        I rode the Red Line for two years and never had a problem, even during Cubs games.

        Another movie with pickpockets in it? The lovable Richard Widmark fighting Communists in Pickup on South Street (1953)

    • Palomino says:

      Or stuff your’s full, like George Costanza, that explodes in a flurry of insignificant business cards, receipts and scraps of paper; Busted!

      And I agree, the back pocket is terrible, a nice small wallet in my right front pocket is perfect. And I always put in it what I only need, especially in large crowds. And who carries cash these days? I love my debit card with my photo on it; Perfect.

      Even though some say it’s a bad idea, I NEVER sign my cards. I write “Check I.D.” boldly with a permanent sharpie; works for me!

      TO ALL: Even though they are wallet sized, NEVER CARRY YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY CARD!

      • penguinchris says:

        I just don’t carry a wallet. I stopped a couple years ago. All I need is one credit card and my driver’s license. I have a pouch for my phone, which goes inside a second (thin) pouch meant for a slightly larger phone, and the two cards go in the larger pouch outside the inner pouch. This goes in a front pocket, or a jacket pocket although a jacket pocket is eminently pick-pocket-able.

        I wear fitted (tight) pants these days so the phone pouch is visibly in my pocket from the outside, but somewhat difficult even for me to remove, so I feel pretty safe and don’t worry about it. I’ve spent time in large crowds all over the world like this and if I feel it’s necessary for some extra precaution, I just stick my hands in my pockets, which I often do anyway.

        I also have been carrying cash (I started when I was in Thailand for much of last year, where cash is essential, but have been using it more and more in the US since moving to a place with a lot of Asian establishments where they don’t take cards) but you don’t need to keep this in a wallet or even a money clip (which would be visible through my tight pants) – just keep loose bills in your pocket. I keep them in a back pocket. They’re flat, so invisible and don’t hinder your comfort (as wallets in the back pocket do).

        Honestly I don’t understand why people feel the need to carry all kinds of stuff in a wallet. Yeah, sometimes I forget my REI membership card or something, but anyplace with a card like that you can just use your phone number, or I can just go back out to the car (which is where I keep all that kind of stuff).

      • knoxblox says:

        Another tip…

        Especially in foreign countries, I’ve found most skatewear shorts or pants to be very helpful, because they have those nifty inside pockets that are big enough for cards and bills.
        Somebody would really have to dig to get to that, and if you don’t notice it happening, you’re probably unconscious.

  7. Aleknevicus says:

    Another movie… Harry in Your Pocket (1973) starring James Coburn and Michael Sarrazin.

  8. paulj says:

    “School of Seven Bells” would be an excellent name for a band. Oh, wait…

  9. nitpicker says:

    Actually, according to O.T. Powell, a former pickpocket, not only did these sorts of dummies exist, but he learned how to be a pickpocket at a “school” filled with these dummies:

  10. someToast says:

    Don’t touch the sides!

  11. Anonymous says:

    This reminds me of an old Ginger Rogers movie, “Heartbeat,” made in the 1940s. She plays a young pickpocket who gets recruited into a guild of pickpockets such as the one described above. It shows similar techniques in the movie.

    • Palomino says:

      @Anon: You might be right, I also remember a movie like Oliver Twist that had the same training too. There are also tales of a pick-pocketing school called “The School of Seven Bells”.

  12. Antinous / Moderator says:

    Too bad Bilbo didn’t have more training time.

    • Summer Seale says:

      ‘e was just a Burrahobbit….

      • Antinous / Moderator says:

        “Mutton yesterday, mutton today, and blimey, if it don’t look like mutton again tomorrer,” is my regular exclamation for leftovers, although I’d rather starve than eat mutton. That stuff tastes like an old shoe.

  13. joey says:

    I remember the Foot Clan using a similar technique to test new would-be members:

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