Why don't European pickpockets mug people?

Almost everywhere you go in Europe, they warn you about the pickpockets who are everywhere, but always say something like “but there’s very little violent crime.” Why don’t the same pickpockets rob people with weapons? It seems like a natural step up, without the skill required for picking pockets.

WAG, but I imagine the cops will crack down on muggers (especially in tourist locations) but that pickpockets largely get left alone.


IANAPOAM (I am not a pickpocket or a mugger) but I would hazard a guess that a pickpocket can commit more crimes in a short period with less chance of getting your collar felt. When you get mugged you know about it. A dipper can be several streets away before you find out.

Erm, IIRC, there was a report recently about England having a worse violent crime ratio (per capita) than any other industrialized nation… too tired to look it up, though… happy googling.

It’s because Europeans are to polite for muggings.

Why in the world should they want to increase their risk with no potential increase in reward?

If I can get your wallet before you ever realize it’s gone, why should I do something which could actually cause you to attack me?

Furthermore, muggings usually require a weapon of some sort. Crimes involving weapons usually carry heavier penalties. Why should I do this when I can gather plenty of wallets without bothering with a knife or gun?

Sometimes the pickpockets are children, who obviously don’t make the best muggers.

Presumably because armed robbery requires that the perp only acquire a weapon–not any fancy pocketpicking skills. A much smaller investment of time, unlike with pickpockets–they’re like highly trained evil magicians, not simple mindless thugs.

The punishment for robbery is most likely less than that for GBH or Assult with a deadly weapon and the risk is lessened with pick pockets.

Maybe because guns are illegal and therefore much harder to get? You can get a cheap, yet deadly gun in the U.S. for $75 I think.

They just say that so as not to scare the tourists. You’re six times more likely to be mugged on the streets of London than in New York.

Simple, Muggers and Pickpockets aren’t the same thing. Muggers threaten you will a weapon for your cash, while pickpockets just slip it out of your pocket (of course, if you carry your wallet on an inside jacket pocket, pickpocketing it gonna be harder).

Different Methods, same end result (if sucessful).

Well, it’s not that they don’t mug people. I understand that some muggers in Barcelona wait in metro stations and when you get to the top of the escalator, they shove you down the stairs and collect your valuables at the bottom.

I thinkit just happens a lot less often than the other kind.

European societies in the last few decades have been much less violent than the US. Th reasons are probably to be found in a combination of many factors of which culture would be one. American culture has been much more violent. Europeans tend to have much stronger family and social ties than Americans and this prevents crime more than all the prisons and cops you could throw at criminals. Unfortunately, things are changing in Europe and violent crime has been increasing sharply. Probably part of the reason is that Societies are changing and the family and social ties are not as strong as they used to be. As has been said, London has gotten much worse than it was and Spain has also suffered a huge increase in violent crime. There are many causes but illegal immigrants are major contributors.

To pickpocket does require skill, BUT if you are good, no one knows that you did it. If you mug someone, they know you did it. Even if they get the money, a successful mugger will more likey be caught and convicted than a successful pickpocket.

I would imagine that a theif would have to resort to mugging if he thought that he would be dected when pickpocketing/the victim was planning on putting up a fight.

And weapons don’t seem all that hard to acquire. Whats so complicated about a goon hitting some schmuck with a lead pipe over the head when he wandered into an alley? Doesn’t seem to take a lot of complex logistics to arrange that.

It’s not very cost-effective though. Wasting time hanging around in an alley, waiting for someone to wander down it on their own (someone who may not have anything of value on them) all the time with the risk of being chased away.

In contrast, two or three young children, working as a team in a crowded tourist or shopping area, can score half a dozen wallets, purses, cameras etc in less than an hour, with little chance of being caught. And they can do this all day, everyday.

The overall mugging figures are skewed (according to what I’ve read) by child-on-child cellphone thefts, which are at epidemic proportions.

Mj husband was mugged at knifepoint while on temporary assignment in Rota, Spain in 1983. This group of thugs had been preying on sailors and had killed one and seriously wounded several. Kevin managed to get the knife away from one of them (cutting his hands in the process) so they knocked him to the ground and kicked the devil out of him. He was wearing a heavy, fitted leather jacket with zippered pockets (a racing-style motorcycle jacket), so they didn’t get his money (most of the per diem for his trip and what was left of his paycheck – about $400.00). After the thugs ran off, Kevin saw the blood (from his hands) and assumed that the kicks had been stabs from a second knife. About scared him to death. However, he was fine – he needed stitches on his hands and he had some extremely nasty bruises on his back and belly. The knife helped the cops track down the gang of thugs, BTW.

Anecdotal, I know. However, whenever we’ve been to Europe, we’ve been told to watch out for violent AND non-violent criminals who target American sailors in port cities. Of course, maybe this is reflective of the kinds of areas sailors hang out in rather than the European cities themselves.