There was drama at a bus terminus in the city of Nairobi when a pickpocket roughed up a victim into whose pockets his hands had just dug.
This was soon after the pickpocket realised the wallet he had just picked contained counterfeit currency notes. The petty criminal was disgusted that after carefully singling out and trailing his victim for so long, it had been a complete waste of effort and time.
“You ought to be ashamed of yourself!” the pickpocket screamed, all the while roughing the victim up. “It’s people like you who are crippling and bogging down the economy!”
And as the pickpocket threatened to frog-march his prey to the nearest police station, the victim was pleading with the pickpocket to avoid causing a scene.
“Let’s go somewhere quiet and talk like men,” the victim was heard begging. However, as the crowd continued to swell the two quietly disappeared, perhaps fearing being lynched. Or arrested. Or both.
The few onlookers who witnessed the whole incident had initially thought it was a group of actors performing a skit for a prank show for TV, and that was why they did not bother to act. “I thought it was those guys of Just for Laughs show,” said one eyewitness.
They were later shocked to learn that this was no piece of entertainment. The Association of Kenyan Pickpockets (AKP) would however not let the matter go silently.
Speaking later at a press conference, while wearing dark glasses and his cap pulled closed to his eyes, the chairman of AKP, Ken M. Fuko, said they would lead a crackdown on all the fake money printing outlets since police are doing nothing about it.
Furious Fuko added that pickpockets had been suffering untold losses in the recent past due to the widespread proliferation of counterfeit currency in the country.
“Thousands of pickpockets face imminent job losses if the circulation of fake money is not checked,” Fuko warned, as he banged the table for emphasis. He further stated that they had also lost a couple of their members to suicide after a series of pickpocketing expeditions which ended up netting them only fake currency plunging them into depression.
“Unlike your neighbourhood kiosk, the nature of our job does not allow us the luxury of checking the money we get against the light,” Fuko said as he shrug up his shoulders. “Members of the public should be more sympathetic, stop this bad habit and follow the laws of the country!”
Pressed to say what they would do if members of the public don’t cooperate, Fuko added that they were considering buying anti-counterfeit gloves which when worn can detect fake currency even while picking the pockets of their prey.
“We had thought of proper counterfeit currency-detecting machines but we obviously can’t use them in real time... besides they are too bulky to carry around and in our kind of work you have to be light and swift,” revealed Fuko. “So now we have settled for the gloves but they are very expensive since they are a relatively new technology.”
The pickpockets are consequently requesting banks to offer them loans to buy the gloves.
In the meantime, they have promised to run a media campaign urging members of the public to make their work easy by ensuring they only carry real money and leaving the fakes at home especially when visiting busy and overcrowded places where pickpockets operate.