AUSTIN (KXAN) — Getting your wallet, purse or phone stolen can cause a whole lot of headaches but it’s happening more and more in Austin. Pickpocketing is up 65% across the city since last year.
“You see some lady with a Louis Vuitton purse in their shopping cart, or just barely sat down next to her feet or hanging off a chair at a restaurant, and she’s so engaged (in conversation) that (pickpocketers) know (they) get cash for that,” said Valor Defense Academy business owner Kelsey Crouch. “They’re smart. They know they’re not stealing Walmart purses.”
Crouch teaches firearm safety and is determined to show people how to defend themselves — people like Christina Yarchin who said the training has helped her feel better about her safety.
“It moves you from paranoia to confidence and awareness and that feels incredible,” Yarchin said.
The latest Austin Police data shows citywide pickpocketing has shot up 269% when comparing this February to the same time last year. With downtown seeing the highest spike year-to-year of 175%. It’s an area where we have seen more and more crowds starts to gather recently.
“You have to think criminals like pickpocketers are looking for an easy score,” said Crouch.
She added there is a specific person these criminals are looking for.
“The unsuspecting victim, the girl with the ear pods in her head buried in the phone, and she doesn’t even know she’s been pickpocketed till after she maybe gets back to her car and she’s like, ‘Oh, man, my wallet’s gone.'”
She said there are simple steps you can take to protect yourself and your property.
“You don’t have to be like a black belt ninja, or even carry a firearm, to protect yourself,” she said. “You just have to pay attention.”
The other section in Austin that has seen a spike in pickpocketing is in the southeast area part of town — up 200% from last year. There is good news, however. There are several areas across the city where pickpocketing has gone down including parts of north and northeast Austin.
“Just have your eyes and ears scanning about and of course, common sense things like you know, don’t have your purse wide open where it’s really easy to just reach inside, don’t leave wads of cash in your back pocket,” Crouch said. “Don’t make it easy for them. Don’t, because if you make it easy, they will they absolutely will take advantage.”
Citywide compared to last year the crime is up 65% and when comparing Feb. 2022 to Feb. 2021 pickpocketing is up 269%.
Here’s a breakdown by sector using February 2022 data.
- Adam — Feb. ’22 to Feb. ’21: 0%; Year-over-year: down 20%
- Baker — Feb. ’22 to Feb. ’21: No reported pickpocketing crimes in February; Year-over-year: up 100%
- Charlie — Feb. ’22 to Feb. ’21: No reported pickpocketing crimes in February; Year-over-year: 0%
- David — Feb. ’22 to Feb. ’21: No reported pickpocketing crimes in February; Year-over-year: 0%
- Edward — Feb. ’22 to Feb. ’21: down 50%; Year-over-year: down 29%
- Frank — Feb. ’22 to Feb. ’21: No reported pickpocketing crimes in February; Year-over-year: 0%
- George — Feb. ’22 to Feb. ’21: up 2800%; Year-over-year: up 175%
- Henry — Feb. ’22 to Feb. ’21: up 100%; Year-over-year: up 200%
- Ida — Feb. ’22 to Feb. ’21: 0%; Year-over-year: down 29%