A thief who works the downtown area came into police hands for an incredible 33rd time Thursday.
The Fuerza Pública said that the woman who is well-known to officers was spotted by undercover police at Calle 6 and Avenida 8.
Officers say she was caught in the act of lifting a wallet from a women pedestrian. Police said they recovered the wallet. The woman was identified by the last names of Miranda Aguilar.
The woman was being sent to the flagrancy court.
She is but one of a handful of thieves and pickpockets that work the downtown area. The gathering of crowds is a signal for them to work. This includes soccer games and even the presidential inauguration at the Estadio Nacional. Most are loners who are not very competent in their trade, police know them and follow them around.
They prey on individuals who are not attentive to their belongings. They will try to open a backpack as the owner walks along the street. Or they will snag the purse of a woman as she shops in a supermarket. They are just one step above the crook who rips a chain off a victim.
In contrast there are several gangs of professional pickpockets who pass through the metro area several times a year. They work in a group to delay a victim, perhaps on a sidewalk that has been made narrow by a vending stand. There may be as many as six persons in the group, and they look like ordinary pedestrians who have slowed to navigate a sidewalk obstacle.
One quickly and silently lifts the wallet from the victim and passes it to a second person. As the crowd thins out and the victim realizes he has lost his wallet, other members of the group, perhaps a woman, tells him the crook has fled in the wrong direction. This is called cooling the mark, and such people might even linger until police arrive in order to confuse the situation.
In San José some store clerks will tip off pickpockets by making signs to show where someone had placed their money.
These professionals are hardly ever caught. When they are, the evidence is long gone with an accomplice.