It says ‘Plainclothes Police Officers are Operating in this Area’ in Romanian. Half of the pickpockets caught on the London underground network this year were from Romania, apparently, and they particularly like to pick pockets around Covent Garden. So, obviously, there needs to be signs advising would-be Romanian pickpockets about the presence of Plainclothes Police Officers.
So, here’s the obvious question: what is it about Romanians and pickpocketing that they, and they alone (apparently) amongst the immigrants of London need to be implicitly warned against pickpocketing? Is there a pickpocketing gene that never made it across the border into Hungary or Serbia?
It’s pretty obvious, I think, that we’re not really talking about Romanians here, like poet Marin Sorescu or mathematician Alexandru Ghika. We’re almost certainly talking about a different kind of ‘Romanian’…
With your prejudice hat on (a perfectly reasonable hat to wear) you’d probably conclude that the pickpockets are Roma gypsies since gypsies stereotypically do pickpocketing. And given that Romania has the population with the highest proportion of Roma peoples in Europe and is second only to Spain in total number of Roma (accoring to Wikipedia) it’s probably fine to confound ‘Roma’ and ‘Romanian’ for now. Though I think upstanding Romanians should be annoyed about it.
So assuming the Roma can read the Romanian sign (it’s not in their Romane language), is there any reason to think Roma gypsies are pickpockets (I mean, other than it being sort of assumed common knowledge)?
How about this: according to HBD chick Roma are very much an inbreeding sort of people:
“The hamlet Roma preferred to marry Roma of their own subgroup, generally Roma to whom they were already related. Although most Roma told us that it was bad to marry too close, first- and second-cousin marriages were common, both between cross and parallel cousins (vero/verisoara). These were regarded as true Roma (Roma cace), people one knows and can trust because they already belong to one’s kin network and speak Romanes properly.”
Perhaps the thing about inbreeding sorts of people is that they tend also to be strongly us-verses-them sorts of people. On in-groups and out-groups:
“The set of innate human behavioral traits we associate with morality did not evolve in order to eventually promote and uphold ideological utopias. However, they did evolve to promote a dual system of moral behavior, in which one set of rules applies to the ingroup and another to the outgroup. Murder, for example, which is usually severely punished if the victim belongs to the ingroup, has on occasion been treated with indifference and even encouraged if he belongs to an outgroup.
It’s the most obvious statement I could possibly make but… the Roma aren’t pickpocketing each other. Because that would be immoral. Pickpocketing out-group people on the other hand? That’s a perfectly fine and traditional bit of Roma culture.
1. There was an interesting story a couple of months ago about Roma in Italy:
“Italian politicians have expressed outrage over a mayor’s attempt to create separate transportation for Roma people, describing it as a South African apartheid-era move.
The mayor of the northern town of Borgaro Torinese, Claudio Gambino, said this week that he wanted separate buses for Roma people in order to guarantee the security of other citizens, Italian media reported on Friday.
The mayor has argued that the Roma people who live in a camp of around 600 inhabitants on the outskirts of the town pose a threat to other travelers as they engage in theft and petty violence.
A Mayor tries to solve a problem – a disproportionately criminal and violent sub-group preying on other citizens – with a perfectly logical solution – seperate buses. He’s then criticised with… what? Logical arguments? Reasoned discussion? Scientific proofs? No, of course not. His criticism comes in the form of ‘outrage’. Because, as we all know, ‘outrage’ is as good as maths when it comes to testing right from wrong.
Apartheid worked pretty well in District 9, would probably work fine on Italian buses too:
Apartheid: works until people kick up a fuss about it
2. Culturally, Roma appear to have a thievery-based founding myth. This is from Policemag.com:
Their world revolves around one thing – the family business: The “con.”
A Gypsy child is raised being told the tale of the young Gypsy boy who saved the life of Jesus. The tale (with some variation) tells of four nails made to be used in the crucifixion: one each for the hands of Jesus, one for his feet and the fourth, a nail of gold, for his heart. Late at night the Gypsy boy stole the golden nail, so when the crucifixion took place the next day, only three nails remained. God appears to the young Gypsy boy telling the child his act of thievery saved Jesus from having the nail plunged through his heart. In payment for the boy’s deed, God allowed the Gypsies the right to steal with no moral consequences … forever and ever.
Gypsies choose a lifestyle of thievery, one that is as natural to them as eating and sleeping. This organized crime family, masters of fraud and false identification, does not associate with normal society and speaks a language rarely mastered outside the culture. Seldom caught, rarely prosecuted and almost never jailed, Gypsies even have their own court, known as a “kris” where all grievances (marriage, territory, debts, etc.) are resolved. They look upon the rest of society simply as their “prey.”
Jesus must have been chuffed that he got to hang on that cross for six hours. Why the Romans would use a golden nail to execute their criminals I don’t know.