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Anna Umemiya victim of pickpocket in New York

60 Comments

"Talent" and model Anna Umemiya, 41, who has been living in New York since last month, wrote on her blog this week that she was the victim of a pickpocket.

Umemiya wrote that last Saturday, she finished lunch and paid for it with her credit card and then was walking to Carnegie Hall when she stopped at a traffic lights. "That's where it must have happened," she wrote. "Someone reached into my handbag and took my wallet."

Umemiya said she noticed her wallet was missing about 10 minutes later and rushed back to her hotel to cancel her credit card. But within a period of 30 minutes, the pickpocket used her card to buy goods, metro cards and withdrew cash for a total take of about $1,000.

Umemiya said she was amazed at how smooth the pickpocket was. "He took my wallet out of my bag when he was standing right behind me. He must be a real pro."

She said that when she told her American friends, they weren't surprised. "Most of them said that at one time or another, they had experienced the same thing," she wrote.

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60 Comments
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How does she know that it was "a pickpocket" and not simply a case of her losing or misplacing her wallet? And I am betting if you bother asking any American if they have ever been a victim of a pickpocket, 99% percent of them will say "no". What a bunch of crap.

-16 ( +22 / -38 )

So explain the lost of $1000 in 30 minutes if a pick pocket did not do the deed.

Not a bunch of crap!

5 ( +19 / -15 )

Interesting, does this not happen that often in Japan? I know that crime is practically 0% compared to here in the States, but for her to react this way, it must really be a rarity.

And by the way, I've been a victim of pickpocketing. I live in the greater Los Angeles area, so when you live in areas like that, it's practically a given. NYC included on that list. Most of my friends, co workers, and classmates in college, have been pick pocketed before. It's insanely common, especially in large cities.

-3 ( +11 / -14 )

I didn't know you could withdraw cash with a card even if you don't know the PIN...

25 ( +26 / -1 )

I've talked to several people who were pick pocketed on the rush hour trains in Tokyo too. They had open handbags. Thieves everywhere. Just take common sense precautions

11 ( +14 / -4 )

That’s where it must have happened

So she's not completely sure.

He took my wallet out of my bag when he was standing right behind me.

Now she's completely sure.

This woman's story sounds pretty half baked.

6 ( +16 / -10 )

I don't know if she was actually a victim of a pickpocket or not but the according to both the NYPD and the FBI, she and her friends would seem to be in the unlucky minority. I've never been that unlucky in the States and indeed, through my own carelessness, have lost my wallet three times and had it returned to me each time.

In a 2001 story, the New York Times reported that there were 23,068 reported pickpocketing incidents in the city in 1990, amounting to nearly $10 million in losses. Five years later, the number of reported incidents had fallen by half, and by the turn of the millennium, there were less than 5,000. Today, the NYPD doesn't even maintain individual numbers on pickpocketing. "It's hardly a problem anymore," says a department spokesperson. The FBI's definition of the crime is more inclusive than what we would consider a classic pick - the bureau defines it as "the theft of articles from a person by stealth where the victim usually does not become immediately aware of the theft," according to a spokesman - but even broadly defined, that category of larceny-theft has been falling sharply for years.

8 ( +13 / -5 )

Crime happens anywhere at anytime. Just try to be smart and safe, and know it can still happen.

11 ( +12 / -2 )

Why does she assume it is a he?

10 ( +15 / -5 )

ViennaSausage2Dec. 20, 2013 - 07:31AM JST And I am betting if you bother asking any American if they have ever been a victim of a pickpocket, 99% percent of >them will say "no". What a bunch of crap.

You've never lived in the Big Apple have you? I am sure she was pick pocketed (I never have but me friends were). I hope she had one of those credit cards that protects you from this kind of illegal purchases.

4 ( +10 / -6 )

Thought pickpockets typically work in teams - one distracts while the other does the deed. Perhaps she just might have been an easy mark, and didn't bother close her purse exposing her wallet in full view after she ate lunch.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Many Japanese people don't take the same kinds of precautions with their wallets that Americans do because this kind of crime is much less common in Japan. She was probably a very easy target. A small child could have probably reached into her bag and taken her wallet without her noticing.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Oh, and I know in Japan it's fashionable to carry tens of thousands of yen with you, but I don't recommend it in NYC or really anywhere for that matter. I mean what are you about to do? Give a loan to a mayor?

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Of course it happens all the times, but it's a fact that Japanese tourists are targeted because they are known to be carrying large amounts of cash on them instead of traveller's cheques, etc. Just look for the signature Louis Vitton bag and you know it's a cash cow.

9 ( +12 / -4 )

Never carry a wallet/purse in an open top bag. Even with a zipper, put it somewhere snug to make it impossible to remove without you feeling it.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

To the person saying 99% of Americans have never been the victim of a pickpocket, I'd wager that number greatly increases in New York where there are 3,000 instances of pickpocketing a month.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Must be slow on the take up if she been living in NYC for a month and don't know the rules. Probably carrying the wrong kind of pocket book, holding it wrong and not being observant. The are Latin American gangs that specialize in this. They usually work in 3 or more. One does the pick and pass it the second who carries it from the scene to a third. And NYC isn't a noted for this kind of crime. Here are the top 10 cities: <http://www.tripadvisor.com/PressCenter-i260-c1-Press_Releases.html >

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

I was pick pocked many times in NYC. I was not a tourist, but ReformedBasher is right, I offen carried open top bags.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

open bags or carrying the big wallets that stick outside one's backpocket, which you can see here and there in Japan is not smart doing abroad. closed back, preferably with zippers are recommended.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I live near and am often in NYC and I have to agree that her statement : "Most of them said that at one time or another, they had experienced the same thing" is just not believable. . The odds are against this declining crime happening that frequently to a close circle of people. Maybe they were just trying to offer sympathy.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

I don't think you will become a victim if you stay aware of your possessions.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I walk around with my purse tucked into an open-top bag all the time here, leave shopping in the basket of my bike, etc., never had anything taken. But I wouldn't do that in Tokyo, or any other big city.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Immediately withdrawing cash without knowing the PIN number? Hmmm.....

3 ( +5 / -2 )

withdrawing cash without knowing the PIN number? Hmmm.....

Only been in NY less than a month, new bank account, new PIN number, hasn't memorised it yet so a memo wrapped around the card? I've seen it done.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

Readers, please keep the discussion focused on what happened to Umemiya in New York.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

That's NYC for ya. My wife got hit twice when we lived there. Once on the subway. She felt a slight tug on her bag as she was getting off the train, turned as the doors closed and the dude smiled and waved her wallet at her. The second in a Starbucks right behind my back. Dude used his two kids as a diversion. He had the little boy grab the wallet, he took it and stashed it somewhere, then came back and played dumb. Called the cops but couldn't find the stash spot so with no proof they had to let the creep go. He had already served time on Rikers twice for the same thing. NYC can be a rude awakening for someone straight out of Japan, (we had already been there for 8 years the second time and were considerbly more street smart) especially someone like Ms. Umemiya who seems to always be wearing thousands of dollars worth of clothing and jewelry. She is a walking bullseye.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

Crime in the US is particularly high, but many countries around the world have the same problem. Japan is particularly safe, so Japanese traveling overseas become complacent and often forget just how dangerous the world outside really is.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

"Most of them said that at one time or another, they had experienced the same thing"

She must not have a wide circle of friends. I know plenty of people who either live in, have lived in, or at least been to New York and not had their pockets picked. I already said before the reasons why Japanese are deliberately targeted in many cases, but there are plenty of 'spur of the moment' reasons as well, which people have touched on -- long wallets sticking 60% out of a back pocket, large handbags or back packs that people don't pay much attention to, etc. The thing is, Japan is still a relatively (and I mean relatively) trustworthy societ when it comes to petty theft, so a lot of people here, or from here, don't know better.

1 ( +4 / -4 )

"within a period of 30 minutes, the pickpocket used her card to buy goods, metro cards and withdrew cash for a total take of about $1,000."

Amazing! The pickpocket is also a mindreader and can visualize her PIN number! Unless she was dumb enough to have it written on the card or somewhere in her wallet.

"She said that when she told her American friends, they weren’t surprised. “Most of them said that at one time or another, they had experienced the same thing,” she wrote."

Wow, what a bunch of unlucky people! Neither I nor anyone I know who lives in the U.S. has been a victim of a pickpocket.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Welcome to the USA!

-9 ( +2 / -11 )

Smith, as someone who lived in the City for 12 years I think you are underestimating how frequently this stuff happens. My then 9 year old son got his "Mr. Freindly" play backpack ripped off. My buddy chained his Haro freestyle BMX bike to a tree, came back 10 minutes later to find nothing but a cut chain. Another buddy had a cellphone snagged right off his table while he gabbed with friends. I myself had a Nautica umbrella stolen in a university admin office right off the back of my chair. Larceny is just a part of living in NYC.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Wow, what a bunch of unlucky people! Neither I nor anyone I know who lives in the U.S. has been a victim of a pickpocket.

I've never been harassed by the police in Japan either but there are those who will swear black and blue it's a constant part of their lives.

It does amuse me to see some people contradict themselves,

a) Japan has lots of crime (but the police, government and press are in cahoots not to make it known domestically or overseas)

b) New York is safer than people think.

c) Japanese travellers, who are somehow unused to crime despite it's prolific nature in their own country, are getting targeted in New York where crime almost never occurs.

Astounding!

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

ReformedBasher: I've never been harassed by the police in Japan either but there are those who will swear black and blue it's a constant part of their lives.

How nice for you. Of course if something doesn't happen to you it must follow that it doesn't happen to anyone else either, right?

It does amuse me to see some people contradict themselves, a) Japan has lots of crime (but the police, government and press are in cahoots not to make it known domestically or overseas)

Interesting because it does amuse me to see the leaps of logic you're going through to defend Japan based on statements that no one in this particular post seems to have made.

b) New York is safer than people think.

Yes, that is probably true, particularly if based upon the comments I've heard from numerous Japanese friends who seem to have an image of Japan that is stuck in the heyday of crime, that being the 70s and 80s. According to FBI statistics, NYC doesn't even rank in the top 25 most dangerous cities in the US., so again, yes, it is probably much safer than many people think.

c) Japanese travellers, who are somehow unused to crime despite it's prolific nature in their own country, are getting targeted in New York where crime almost never occurs. Astounding!

Sorry, here's where your leap is lacking in logic. Just because NYC is safer than most people think does not mean crime almost never occurs there, nor does it mean that certain nationalities won't be targets of whatever criminals there are, based on whatever behavioral stereotypes of them are thought to make them good targets. And where has anyone here said that crime is prolific in Japan?

I'm not sure why you're getting your knickers in such a twist to defend Japan when it's NYC that is coming off looking bad here.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

gogogo -

Why does she assume it is a he?

I bet you that she did not say HE. I bet when she spoke in Japanese, she just said "the person" because in Japanese language, people do not specify he or she unless it's really necessary. I most conversations, I, you, she, he are even skipped. When translated in English, JT used the subject he.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I think it's true that Japanese people can be pretty careless with personal possessions in Japan, because usually this does not have any negative consequences. So when going outside the country it can be difficult to re-train oneself. With Anna Umemiya's American connections though, you would expect her to be more aware and not leave the wallet where it could be taken without her noticing.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Sad to hear this. In a sense of justice or karma, may the thief in turn be pick-pocketed for even a greater loss!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

In a sense of justice or karma, may the thief in turn be pick-pocketed for even a greater loss!

By that logic she must have done something wrong to deserve her bad karma. I don't think it works that way.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

NYC is a crime infested tip. But this story sounds a little odd.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

"Welcome to the USA"

As if pickpockets are lurking around every corner in the USA, lol.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I'm from New York. Never experienced it in my life.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I am a New Yorker! I have always been one no matter where I have lived. You can use a credit card to purchase Metro Cards, and you probably would have to be buying them all day to make any money trying to resell them. Since you have to run them over a machine to see the balance on the card, and that seems unwise! Credit card purchases during the holiday season by store clerks who cannot or do not read the name on the card is doable. Cash at an ATM impossible! No PIN, no money never! If she was foolish enough to have it with her card, then her close circle of friends in New York must have told her she dissevered it! No one does that, and if they do well the answer is clear. One respondent wrote his wife was pick pocketed on the Subway, and when she turned around as the car doors closed only to see the pickpocket smile and show her wallet and wave! I saw that exact same thing in a movie! I cannot count the times I have walked past Tiffany's and saw Japanese tourists, carrying all manner of high end shopping bags and paying not the slightest attention to their surroundings! Paris, Rome, Madrid and most large tourist cities have always had that problem, and will always have that problem

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Something always taken for granted is how safe Japan is (relative to the rest of the world). I went overseas recently, put my sunglasses on a counter where I was filling out some forms. 5 mins later, they were gone. (I know I know. My fault for putting them out in the open like that, but that's the kind of sense of security you get from living in Japan... )

2 ( +2 / -0 )

A barely newsworthy story to me. But a useful reminder to Japanese travellers abroad to be extra vigilent.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Three words - When in Rome...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

In general, many tourists make mistakes in foreign countries to maintain a law profile and become easy targets. They all want to drive sports GTO convertibles, wearing Rolex watch and dress like queens. They are asking for troubles. I have a good friend who is a son of major oil company who dress up in jeans, t shirt and sneakers. He does not have to prove anything to anyone. I like that.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

good thing this incident didn't happen in the rougher parts of nyc - south bronx, bed-stuy, east new york, etc. then again, wouldn't expect her to be in those hoods in the first place.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Thank you JT for bringing us highlights of a once semi-popular talent's blog. Riveting stuff.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Whatever happened to having only the cash you need on you for the day and burying everything else in a money belt?

I've never been pick-pocketed in the USA, but when I'm in crowds (especially subways), we play finger the thief to keep our guard up. They are really easy to spot. You know, these are the people who were waiting for a train when you arrive, get on with you, you stare them in the eye, they get off at the next station which doesn't have any connecting tracks and you see them waiting at the stop for their next victim as the train pulls away. If I see 1, there is almost always another - he got on the same train, just through a different door.

A well-traveled friend was pick-pocketed 3 times in 2 days in Barcelona for almost $2000 in losses (2 unlocked, hi-end, smartphones and cash). His credit cards were not used at all. The smartphones disappeared for a few months, then were seen on a cellular network in central Africa.

I keep everything on one side of my body, in the front pocket, the other side and back have nothing of value. Plus my $30 black plastic watch screams "POOR!" ... though I travel for fun 8 weeks annually.

Japanese travelers need to be extra careful when abroad. Folks around the world are generally nice, but there are a few bad apples everywhere.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

She met with Romanian Gang.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Obviously a lot of you folks have not really used CC ["cashless" cards or "credit cards"] to the fullest. the NYPost documents this. {using stolen card} Purchase an item at a busy store. Clerk does not check ID as card is scanned for purchase. GET CASH BACK on card when agreeing on total amount. Clerk hands you cash along with receipt. . . score! This is what happened to Anna Umemiya. WITHOUT USING A PIN!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Amazing! The pickpocket is also a mindreader and can visualize her PIN number! Unless she was dumb enough to have it written on the card or somewhere in her wallet.

Just used my credit card at Target. No signature even required. Stores can ask to see ID, but rarely do. You only ever use a credit card PIN number when withdrawing cash from an ATM.

Wow, what a bunch of unlucky people! Neither I nor anyone I know who lives in the U.S. has been a victim of a pickpocket.

When you go on the internet, you are bound to bump into plenty. Check the stats of how many people are victims.

...you remind me of a guy I met who kept boasting about how ethically moral he is-- "he never even got a parking ticket in his life". ...um, he lived in some smaller town ...let's see how you do in a city. ...late 2 seconds trying to get back to your 15 min. limit meter & you've already got a ticket ...doesn't make you ethically challenged. It's part of city life with a car.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Maybe it's just me but I've never cared much for Ms Umemiya - she comes across as privileged, arrogant and entitled - just the type that would invent something in her blog with the intent of it getting her more publicity back in Japan.....

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

......... she finished lunch and paid for it with her credit card ............. When you go to a restaurantt and pay with credit card, her credit card pin number is open now. I I recommend her to get cash out of her bank, keep in her pants pocket and/or inside pocket of her suit coat. Pay cash for kunch and tip. She is lucky it was only her ccredit card and moneyy. Purse snatchers (take out from shoulder) target your jewels, too.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Sometimes I see people walking around in Tokyo with their personal belongings completely exposed. This is dangerous in NYC because of all the people in need. There is very little need in Japan for money as around 90 percent of the population is in the middle class. But that is not to say crime doesnt happen. Japan is famous for fraud and things that are unthinkable in NY are perpetrated in Tokyo. So this is unfortunate, but it is life. When in rome do as the romans do. She should have taken better care of her stuff.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I know that this article is about crime in NY, but amongst my adult students, virtually every single one has been victim of a crime right here in Japan such as pursesnatching (big in certain parts of Osaka), bike theft (big everywhere in Japan, it's even happened to me), telephone "it's me" fraud, smash-and-grab theft from cars, charity donation scams, housebreaking, extremely high-pressure sales tactics, etc. And that's just the financial crimes. If we delved into the chikan-type stuff ... well, we'd be here all day.

Anyway, almost all of them have experienced these types of crimes. And for some peculiar reason, only about half of them reported their crimes to the police. I don't know the reason for this, but I guess that they just feel it's too much trouble, or they feel embarrassed about being taken advantage of by fellow "honest" Japanese.

And then they read some news report about pickpocketing in Paris or NY or wherever, and go about self-righteously insisting that Japan is safer than anywhere else!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Perhaps it is just me, but I have never understood the attraction to this particular model.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

She lives in NY. She is ignorant of increasing Identity Theft culture in USA/ Imagine paying lunch with her credit card. Pin number is open to mamy people.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I live in NYC and I always keep my wallet in my front pants pocket, so it would be impossible for anyone to reach it. I never leave myself in a vulnerable position. I would strongly suggest for her to do the same.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

She must have had her PIN number written on the card.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Not at all, we used a card reader/writer 20yrs ago at work for IT access control. Those are easily bought by anyone add in some cracking skills and bob is your uncle.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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