Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Undistracted Citizens

A group of concerned Venetians have taken on the task of pickpocket patrol, walking the crowded streets of Venice in a hunt for thieves who target tourists. They call themselves Cittadini Non Distratti (Undistracted Citizens), and over 200 Venetians have registered as card-carrying members. The group enjoys immense popularity among the public and the media, and even the police have warmed up to these crime-fighting allies. Rome Police Chief Aldo Zanetti terms their actions "participative security" - indeed, some Venetians have taken to calling the Cittadini, rather than the police, when they see a petty crime in progress. City Hall is less enthused about the group, believing that its existence reflects poorly on the city's ability to take care of its citizens, and, perhaps more importantly, its lifeblood - tourists. However, the collaboration between these vigilante citizens and the police is working - pickpocketing has significantly decreased. As an unofficial security force surrounded by mystique and accolades of heroism, the Cittadini possess a status not shared by the more conventional police.


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