MANILA, Philippines - Four self-confessed pickpockets who were arrested before dawn yesterday showed members of the Quezon City Police District (QCPD) how they choose their victims and the way they operate.
“Don’t be unaware of your surroundings,” Jerome Sazan, 25, said when he and his fellow pickpockets Joseph Matira, 39; Ronald Sazan, 39; and Joel Tanyes, 28, demonstrated their technique by taking a cell phone from the pocket of QCPD director Senior Superintendent Richard Albano.
Jerome said that when they board a public utility bus, they look for passengers who appear stupid and clueless.
One way to foil pickpockets like them, he claimed, is for passengers to rest their hands on their pockets or wherever their valuables are placed.
According to Albano, the four were arrested in front of the Farmers Plaza before dawn yesterday. He said the arrested suspects call their operation “bordo” – a Waray term for “dukot” or pickpocket.
Superintendent Ronnie Montejo, commander of the QCPD Station 7, said the four men were caught after police officers noticed a man shouting for help when he noticed that his cell phone and P1,800 were missing. The items were recovered from Jerome and his group.
Jerome bragged that they did not need any weapon to operate – only teamwork, quick hands and an eye for an unsuspecting passenger. He added that they did not need training, but just learned from each hit.
Albano was amazed at how the group worked, saying he did not notice that his phone was being picked from his pocket when he tested the pickpockets’ abilities.
WORKING UNDER A SYSTEM
QCPD deputy director for administration Senior Superintendent Joel Pagdilao said the group follows the Fairview to Cubao route, going back and forth and boarding and getting off buses for every hit.
According to Albano, two of the four men would sandwich a prospective victim.
“They would distract the victim, usually someone who is so relaxed while onboard the bus. The two would bump or shove the victim amid the jam-packed bus,” Albano said during a press conference.
Albano said a third man would steal the item from the unsuspecting victim while the fourth would act as the lookout.
Pagdilao said the suspects have a secret code to tell that the theft had been consummated.
When the suspects demonstrated their modus yesterday, it was apparent that the item could be stolen in mere seconds. And once the cell phone was already in his hands, Jerome blurted: “Pa-ge!”
“It means give way,” he said, telling the others to let the victim go.
Jerome claimed they were not always as ruthless, saying they sometimes gave back the stolen item if the victim made a scene upon discovering the theft.
Albano said the arrested men disclosed there were six other groups employing a similar method in the city.