SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – Three men were arrested this week who allegedly worked together to pickpocket riders on a San Francisco Municipal Railway bus, police said.

Miguel Lucana, 42, Antonio Martinez, 34, and Juan Gonzales, 38, were arrested shortly after 3 p.m. Tuesday aboard a 38-Geary bus, according to police.

Two plainclothes officers assigned to a task force to prevent pickpocket thefts were getting ready to board the bus at Geary and Powell streets when one of them recognized Lucana, who had prior police contacts.

He was standing at the bus stop with a T-shirt draped over his shoulder. Pickpockets often conceal their arm and hand during a theft attempt, according to police.

The officers then tracked Lucana on the crowded bus, where they saw him try unsuccessfully to open the purse of a woman standing next to him, police said.

Lucana then moved to another part of the bus where he talked to the two other men, who police said were working with him.

One passenger on the bus reported that his wallet was missing, and all three suspects were detained near Post and Fillmore streets, where the officers recovered the wallet, which was in Lucana’s possession, police said.

Lucana and Martinez, of San Francisco, and Gonzales, an Oakland resident, were arrested on suspicion of theft and conspiracy.

Police are reminding people to be vigilant of their belongings in crowded public spaces, particularly on public transportation.

Wallets should be kept in a front pocket and purses should be within sight at all times. Electronic devices should also be used sparingly in public because thieves often take advantage of people who are distracted, according to police.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

Comments (2)
  1. Ann Mason says:

    It’s gratifying that there are occasional arrests. The one time I stopped a pickpocket from taking my wallet, there were no witnesses. I felt helpless, as I watched her walk away and get into a taxicab. I still had my wallet, but could do nothing to prevent her from stealing from someone else that same day.

  2. tn says:

    …Add some Emperor of Japan in there and “yakuza” half of their thumbs.

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