Watch New York Pickpocket Steal Bait Wallet From Backpack as NYPD Launches Holiday Theft Task Force

Pickpockets are out in full force this holiday season, and Inside Edition has tips to avoid a major theft.

This is the moment a New York City pickpocket took the bait and swiped a wallet from the bag of an Inside Edition producer.

Holiday theft has become such a problem in the Big Apple that the New York City Police Department has launched a special task force of plainclothes police to try and catch thieves red-handed.

Along the pop-up shops and nearby the skating rink at Bryant Park, cops say a pair of professional pickpockets struck 18 times in a three-week period.

An Inside Edition producer learned just how bad the problem is by standing around the Ice Rink at Rockefeller Center with a wallet slightly protruding from his backpack.

It did not take long for an eager thief to pounce and quickly grab the wallet.

Within minutes both the wallet and pickpocket were nowhere to be found, as the thief was able to locate and discard of the tracking device we had hidden inside the wallet. But the joke was really on the pickpocket, because we didn't leave any money in the wallet.

Julie Devine says she experienced this all firsthand during an afternoon at Rockefeller Center.

"I was taking a picture of the tree and then I put my phone away into my pocket," Julie tells Inside Edition "I just moved some hair out of my face, and then I went to go grab it again, and it wasn't there. That's how quick it can happen."

Bill Stanton, a former NYPD cop and security consultant, has a few tips for keeping belongings safe this holiday season. 

"Number one rule, put your most valuable belongings in your front pocket. That's where it's going to be hardest to get," Stanton tells Inside Edition. "If you can secure it with zipper or Velcro, all the better."

Also, look out for individuals who are bumping into people.

"You never think it's going to happen to you but it takes two seconds for someone to reach into your pocket," Devine says.

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