NOPD sees spike in pickpocketing, other crimes during festival season

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wwltv.com

Posted on April 11, 2014 at 10:08 PM

Updated Friday, Apr 11 at 10:20 PM

Tania Dall / Eyewitness News
Email: tdall@wwltv.com | Twitter: @taniadall

NEW ORLEANS -- When big events come to town con-artists and pickpockets come out of the wood work. The New Orleans Police Department says it also sees a spike in crimes of opportunity, but you can protect yourself.

"It takes a quick bump. In New York City when I was living there for four years, there were billboards every where. There was an awareness going on about pickpocketing," said Danza Huey.

Like so many other big events during the year, French Quarter Festival attracts big crowds. It also is a magnet for criminals.

"I kind of incorporate it more of a patting system on myself. I kinda make sure my phone is there, my wallet is there," said Huey.

The patting down system is one way of protecting yourself. Police also say it's important to always be aware.

The NOPD confirms it sees a spike in pickpocketing and other crimes when events come to town. According to crimemapping.com, there were at least a half dozen pickpocketing reports during Wrestlemania weekend on Bourbon Street.

"During special events, we'll see an increase of certain activities. We know they're moving from city to city for each major event," said NOPD 8th District Commander Jeffrey Walls.

Commander Walls says plain clothes officers are keeping a watchful eye.  The department's intelligence unit working with event organizers are just some of the ways police are tackling the problem.

"French Quarter Festival works with us every year. We move certain venues to different locations to adjust for the crowds and also to disperse any problems we might expect to have," said Commander Walls.

Police say when the adult-beverages start to flow, that's when criminals also try and swoop in.

"I've had a girlfriend who has had her phone stolen before. She was kinda careless, walked away from the table, went to get a drink, came back and it was gone," said Ashley Lindsay. The Texas visitor doesn't want to be another statistic.

"It's a friendly place, really good culture, love the people here. But I always wear a crossbag and I always hold my bag," added Lindsay.

The NOPD offers up these tips to prevent you from being a victim of pickpocketing and other crimes:

  • Always store valuables in a front pocket or a secret pocket.
  • Don't rummage through our wallet or count money in public.
  • Shorten the strap on your purse and carry backpacks in front of you.
  • Don't leave belongings unattended.
  • Most importantly, always be aware of your surroundings.

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