This might be behind a paywall but you can search for it: “Watch Your Wallet.
Why pickpockets love our digitally distracted age”, by Rene Chun, The Atlantic magazine, May 2019 issue
High points: After several years of decline, pickpocketing is a growing criminal enterprise all over the world. The new operators are cooperative teams that are creating 21st Century versions of the age-old bump-and-grab lifts. Cash is still their prime goal but digital devices like phones and tablets are easy to snatch. They may be useless because they’re locked but they are cannibalized and sold for parts. Shoulder surfing at ATMs provides PINs and a team will then target a mark, waiting for an opportunity to grab wallets, purses, phones, or more. The victims are often talking on their phones or otherwise digitally distracted when the encounters, bumps, picks, and lifts are easily executed. This is a highly skilled craft, victims don’t have a clue for several minutes while the team has moved far away and found another mark. This is an international trend and it’s growing in the USA, too.