A "PAIN in the neck" which needs eradication. In the past few weeks I received sketchy reports on the so-called "pickpocket-menace" in the locality.

Truth is, I have mentioned about a couple of these incidents in the previous. Not that the supposed victims were totally careless and unmindful. In two accounts both "pickpocket-preys" actually checked their belongings just moments before the supposed petty-crimes took place. Furthermore, both were aware of the existent threat of snatchers and pickpockets at the Central Business District. Unfortunately, their cautious efforts proved futile against the "now bolder" and "more skillful" petty criminal elements downtown.

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At this point, we can't help but ponder on the rationale behind the boldness and skills of these "pickpockets" and "snatchers." Perhaps looking back at the basics would shed a little light on the matter:

First is the painful reality on the lack of enforcers in the area. Unfortunately, this mustn't serve as an excuse for the lack of security in town. No less than ranking police officials whom I have interviewed in my weekly radio show "Bosses ng Masa" over DZWT 540-Radyo Totoo" reiterated this assertion time and again.

Second, is the "no-complainant syndrome." Quite a number of pickpocket victims would rather "suffer in silence" than take extra time, courage and effort to report incidents to the police. As a result, suspects caught are released due to the absence of official complaint. After their release where else would these "menaces" proceed to if not back to "hunting victims" on the busy sidewalks, overpasses, and walkways in town. Learning from experience, they tend to become more skillful and bolder than the last.

Third, precautionary measures undertaken by victims don't seem to be at par with the ever-improving skills of the petty thieves who abound at the CBD.

Fourth, may be traced to the actual convictions and the actual length of time detained suspects spend in jail.

Come to think of it, most of the areas where these petty crimes occur have been pin-pointed by victims and observers. These "pick-pocket hotspots" include: overpasses, crowded areas in parks, the sidewalk-stretches fronting and across the market from the Maharlikha and Marbay Buildings to the Magsaysay intersection, and all "tight" walkways in the market.

Taking this into account, who could blame observers when they anonymously voice-out sentiments on the use and effectiveness of the millions worth Close-Circuit-Television-Cameras supposedly installed at strategic locations within the business district in reference to crime prevention and control?

It has been claimed in the past that these "high-tech monitoring gadgets" are capable of "wide-angled panning," as well as high resolution "zoomed-in" images and footages. In the absence of complainants, perhaps such materials caught in cam could serve as additional evidence against culprits. Question is: "How many arrests of petty criminals resulted from maximum utilization of the CCTV monitoring system?"

The public is basically counting on these cams as supposed additional and "hidden eyes" of the authorities in the deterrence of crime.

Perhaps exact statistics on the effectiveness of these expensive gadgets since their installation be provided the public. Should real figures indicate genuine efficiency and effectiveness, then perhaps the system must also be upgraded and more gadgets added.

On the other hand, if the figures prove otherwise then perhaps something should be done as not to waste the funds used for the project.

It is rather a "pathetic reality" for a city known as a tourist destination and education center to be "infested" with petty criminals who: continue to rob others of belongings and hard earned money right "in the open", "laugh-at" authorities when released due to the "no-complaint syndrome", and get-away with their despicable acts.

No question about it, the CCTV cams are being put to good use. With the glaring concern of snatching and pickpockets at the CBD however, perhaps it would be a good idea to find more ways as to put the "expensive gadgets" into better use against these "pains in the neck" pestering the general public.