Smile for the camera, pickpocket

Updated: 2012-02-22 07:58

By Shi Yingying (China Daily)

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Taking on the undercover role of a policewoman in plainclothes

SHANGHAI - Wang Liping secretly turned on her iPad's camera and brought the person standing in front of her into focus - a pregnant woman who was stretching a hand into a passenger's pocket.

"Watch out! Did you lose anything?" yelled Wang to the passenger as she grabbed the pregnant woman's arm. The 29-year-old woman didn't let the pickpocket go even when the back of her head was hit, the pickpocket pulled her hair and her iPad fell to the ground.

It all happened at Shanghai's crowded metro station on Saturday night. And Wang - who operates online by the Chinese name Moli - is not a professionally trained plainclothes policewoman.

"By day I'm a product manager for an IT company and by night I operate my little Taobao shop online, but anytime I see those pickpockets stretching their hands into other people's pockets, I do whatever I can to stop them," she said.

"And that includes screaming out 'catch the thief' on the spot, trying to capture pictures of those pickpockets and posting them online, to remind the public, as well as to hand them over to the police if I catch them," she added.

While many wonder why such a slender and smiling young woman alone would dare to stop a crime, Wang said in fact this wasn't her first time catching a pickpocket in the act.

"It's not as frightening as you think because they're nervous as well," said Wang, who started her fight against theft in 2005 when, as a fresh university graduate, she lost two wallets, two phones and an identity card.

Smile for the camera, pickpocket

Wang Liping, known online as Moli for her stories of fighting pickpockets since 2005, smiles on her way back home in Shanghai on Monday. Gao Erqiang / China Daily 

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