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12 August 2010

The tough life of a petty criminal

If I take a look at the risks criminals and scammers take every day, it really does seem like less trouble to do a job, any job, says Susan Erasmus.

If I take a look at the risks criminals and scammers take every day, it really does seem like less trouble to do a job, any job, says Susan Erasmus.

Bucking the system takes ingenuity, a lack of conscience and shame, good acting ability, persistence, the knack to spot a gap and preferably a pair of fast legs. And there are no guarantees. I have interviewed serious job candidates who didn't have that range of skills.

'Robbed tourist' scam
Take the 'robbed tourist'  scam, mentioned by a News24 user. In order to pull this one off, you need to master a foreign accent, wear clean clothes, practise your sob story until it's believable, and then be prepared to stand next to the N1 to take your chances with the passing traffic. Once you've climbed into a stranger's car, there's no telling where they might take you or what they might do to you. Life sure is tough. And you might not get a cent for hours of effort. And then it's back to the inhospitable highway. This sounds a bit like the grim life of a street-walker.

Pickpockets
Then there are pickpockets. It's a real skill to be able to remove someone's wallet without its being noticed. In fact, it must take days of practice. And, like many well-known restaurants, staff-in- training probably do not get paid. Then, it's no fun hanging out on the streets all day looking for a victim. Talk about the fight-or-flight syndrome. At the end of such a day, a pickpocket must be exhausted from all that running. I have seen what passersby have done to a pickpocket they caught – even if there were R10 000 in that wallet, it would so not have been worth it. And all this at no fixed salary and no benefits or paid leave. Or workmen's compensation.

 
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