Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Observing The Can’t of Thieves

I ran into an interesting gaming scenario and real life teaching experience with my daughter, at the laundromat of all places. Rogues, thieves and con men are pretty much all the same. They have been for centuries. Techniques never change but the goods and the goals do. The good ones are never spotted, but the bad one stand out.
In real life and in gaming, we tend to gloss over the foolish ones while imagining the dangerous ones are around every corner. The only difference between the two is a poor spot check.
Two guys came in to the laundromat and instantly set off my spidey sense. Not in a physical way, but they were clearly up to no good. I called my daughter close and asked her to observe them.
I had her text me her thoughts about them. Silent communication, whether gestures or texting works to the advantage of the user, no matter the setting or year.
  1. They were loud and swore around kids, like they wanted to be tough.
  2. The looked the same. Bald and wearing straw hats. Sneakers but no socks. Shorts and T-shirts. Sunglasses, worn on the hat by one and around the neck by the other. 
  3. They were not identically dressed, but very similar.
  4. They made eye contact while speaking everyone, except children. They ignored children.
  5. They looked in all the machines.
  6. They said not so nice things, but smiled the whole time.
  7. They went into the kids play area, the bathroom and peeked in the office.
  8. They never stopped moving or talking.
I wasn’t just me, these two stood out to my 10 year old.
They waited until the attendant hung up a sign saying “Back in 20 minutes” then loudly proclaimed that they lost $4.25 in one of the machines and wanted to speak to the owner. My daughter thought it was funny that he put 17 quarters in a machine but didn’t notice it wasn't working. It was also odd that the price was 5 bucks. I shrugged and asked her to keep watching.
When the attendant came back from break, Guy Number One asked if she was the owner and explained the problem. She offered to pull the coin box from the offending machine and refund the his money. Oddly, the coin box was empty. Guy Number Two took over and “The Owner” desperately searched for the offending machine.
What they missed was the attendant had empted the coin boxes before her break. They were not going to find any machine full of “their money”. Having failed, the men switched places and roles to create confusion.
The game continued for a while, until it was clear the tactic wasn’t working.
A loud conversation about going next door for Chinese food started. Number One suggested lunch and Number Two shouted it down since he was once refunded for receiving bad Chinese food at a restaurant.
A challenge was offered and accepted. They asked the attendant if the place next door was any good and she offered an opinion, but they hardly listened.
The two men left, but this time switching roles. Number One, the one who proposed the restaurant, loudly proclaimed he would not stand for bad food. Guess what was going to happen next door?
Pick a century, any century. Con men of every era use the same tactics. Han Solo, Sawyer from Lost and The Grey Mouser all pretty much operate the same underneath the hood.
Here are the tools of the trade:
  • Work in groups.
  • Have a cover story ready.
  • Have a backup plan, hopefully one that matches a cover story.
  • Be outwardly friendly, but forcefully offended and easily aggrieved.
  • Look tough, but back down with grace if necessary.
  • Use respect. Use more than the normal amount of respect to elevate the self-esteem of the mark.
  • Dress neatly with flash and style, but be similar to your associates so physical descriptions are easily confused.
  • Appear to trust other people, so they will extend the same level of trust.  
  • Case the joint, the whole place not just the obvious areas.
  • Look for treasure everywhere. Anything worth anything at all is treasure.
  • Never ask for the whole enchilada, ask for less. This way you can haggle with a mark to part them from their money.