Where's Your Wallet? Pickpockets Hit the Square

Jan. larcenies increase 44 percent city-wide

While a recent spree of armed robberies may have alarmed students, a more pedestrian crime is hitting Harvard Square--and police are warning students to watch their wallets.

Pickpocketing is on the rise in the Square and Cambridge police are attributing the recent run of larcenies as mainly responsible for a 44 percent increase city-wide in January, even though crime is down10 percent overall.

"This is a continuous problem we have," says Frank Pasquarello, the spokesperson for the Cambridge Police Department (CPD). "Occasionally, we'll get two or three in a week. Then we'll go weeks without one."


The Harvard University Police Department (HUPD), which is responsible for University-owned properties--including the Square's landmark Au Bon Pain, has been fighting the thefts for years.

"We do have our share of wallet larcenies," says HUPD spokesperson Peggy A. McNamara.

The thieves are not particularly crafty, Pasquarello says; they have no need to be. They will enter a restaurant, look around for someone who has their coat on the back of their chair and ask for an adjacent table. From there, they can reach back and take a purse, pocketbook, or items in the coat pockets.

"People are lax when it comes to security," Pasquarello says.

The thefts usually hit women, who carry pocketbooks. Men, who usually carry their wallets in their back pockets, are less vulnerable.

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