Rhys Darby
Comedian Rhys Darby on life in New Zealand

Rhys Darby: Who ya gonna call if your wallet is nicked?


Ghostbusters may be needed to catch Europe's artful dodgers.

We've got to pick a pocket or two ... Photo / Dean Purcell
We've got to pick a pocket or two ... Photo / Dean Purcell

In the news, ghosts are being blamed for a spate of robberies in Sweden. According to the police, local pickpockets are dressing up in white sheets, frightening tourists on the streets and stealing their wallets.

This is scary in more ways than one but it's also hilarious so I thought I'd bring it to your attention.

The art of pickpocketing has been around for centuries of course: as long as there has been currency there have been thieves trying to pilfer it.

These days, though, that skill is waning in many parts of the world. Take New Zealand for example. It's very rare that you'd come across an "artful dodger" around here. But even in America the sleight-of-hand robbers seem to have disappeared. So why then in Europe is subtle street robbery still such a popular way of getting by? I guess like a lot of old traditions in these old lands it's passed down from generation to generation. Oh yes, my son ...

"You've got a pick a pocket or two!"

Last year I was in old London town for the Olympics. I wasn't competing although in hindsight I probably should have as I was free at the time.

I was surprised to see so many signs warning folks about pickpocketing in the general area. After seeing these signs I would look around the "general area" expecting to see dodgy tricksters dressed in vintage garb lurking in the shadows.There never were, or at least not that I could tell.

Mind you, I'm well known for having the observation skills of a wind sock. I certainly made a special effort to feel for my wallet at the time. You see, chaps like me are prime targets for this sort of crime as I keep my hefty man purse in my back bum-pocket.

Not many men do these days. I don't know why that is. Perhaps it's the ladies telling us it's not a good look. Or the recent trend of the shoulder strapped man-bag, which I must admit I too have worn on occasion. But here's my problem with the man-bag, I'm constantly paranoid I'm going to leave it somewhere.

Every time I want to sit down in a cafe I have to place it on the floor next to my chair ... with the strap wrapped around my leg like a rip cord in case a wave of forgetfulness sweeps over me as I leave.

No, it has to be said, I much prefer to have my receipt-laden wallet in the place where it belongs ... weighing down my jeans. It keeps me alert, one of the few things that does.

As adults we have to take responsibility for our possessions and that's a lesson I'm constantly re-teaching myself. Good on those Swedish ghosts, they're keeping tourists on their toes. One day they'll get caught and when that happens, the cop responsible will have the awesome opportunity to call himself a "ghostbuster".

- NZ Herald

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