August 19, 2009 / 11:23 AM / 8 years ago

"Putpockets" give Londoners a little extra cash

LONDON (Reuters) - Visitors to London always have to be on the look out for pickpockets, but now there’s another, more positive phenomenon on the loose -- putpockets.

<p>A bookie holds a wad of cash on the third day of the Cheltenham Festival horse racing meeting in Gloucestershire March 12, 2009. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez</p>

Aware that people are suffering in the economic crisis, 20 former pickpockets have turned over a new leaf and are now trawling London’s tourist sites slipping money back into unsuspecting pockets.

Anything from 5 pounds ($8) to 20 pound notes is being surreptitiously deposited in unguarded pockets or open handbags in Trafalgar Square, Covent Garden and other busy spots.

The initiative, which runs until the end of August in London before being rolled out countrywide, is being funded by a broadband provider, which says it wants to brighten up people’s lives in unusual ways.

“It feels good to give something back for a change -- and Britons certainly need it in the current economic climate,” said Chris Fitch, a former pickpocket who now heads TalkTalk’s putpocketing initiative.

“Every time I put money back in someone’s pocket, I feel less guilty about the fact I spent many years taking it out.”

London’s police have been briefed about the plan, which will see at least 100,000 pounds given away.

Reporting by Luke Baker; Editing by Kate Kelland

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