The spring rains are just around the corner. It´s time for a security refresher course.
Come mid-March all of us under the cover of snow will suddenly be awash in spring drizzles and torrential downpours. The umbrella salesmen, who only days early were hawking scarves, will be on every street corner in New York and other cities where the five-buck throw away is for the moment, man´s best friend.
The rains not only bring out the umbrellas. Purse-hookers, those pros at grabbing pocketbooks of unsuspecting diners with the handles of their umbrellas will soon be in season. They strike packed dining rooms where handbags often lay prey to the hooked handle of the bumbershoot.
Their best accomplice – a newly hired, unsuspecting host who has never been exposed to tricksters in the business. Seldom do we ever have a security meeting about such escapades.
The umbrella fraud is an old one.
It happens in the middle of the dinner rush faster than a waiter can pour a soda from the gun. A couple, soaked from the rain waits at the host stand contemplating a table. One person, usually the female, asks to use the bathroom while the other waits to be seated. While approaching the facilities the dining room is scoped for prey: A purse here, a briefcase there, a handbag bulging under the table. On the return walk from the bathroom to the host stand the customer quickly attaches the handle of her umbrella to the strap on the purse and scoops it up amidst the confusion of a packed d house. A knowledgeable scooper can swiftly make the move without anyone noticing. Now, accessorized with someone else´s handbag she explains to her partner she isn´t feeling well and would like to leave. Promising to return, the couple makes their way out the door to count their loot.
It doesn´t take long for the purse less diner to realize what has happened. Either going to the bathroom, preparing to pay the check, or just getting ready to leave, they will suddenly exhibit startled emotion. You´ll see a stir of commotion in the corner, a slight scream of exasperation, and then the demand that the restaurant report the loss to the insurance company, and the police. In some instances, the snatchers have been k known to travel the two blocks to the address of the brownstone listed on the license and clear out a substantial amount of jewelry while the happy couple were dining.
All this grief because you never had a security meeting. Schedule one tomorrow. I think I see an unopened umbrella.