DES MOINES, IA — According to a recent study conducted by the Institute for the Research on Residual ’90s Influences, the annual rate of wallet theft in the United States has skyrocketed since the inception of the new millennium. Data collected over the past two and a half decades indicates that the average adult male living in 2014 is 5000 times more likely to be a victim of wallet theft than they would have been during the 1990s. Head Institute researcher, Dr. Clayton Davies, attributes this surge in larceny to the dwindling popularity of wallet chains in the 2000s.
Said Davies: “The wallet chain is no longer a regular piece of the contemporary ensemble, and without tethers to secure their wallets to their persons, people are far more susceptible to petty theft.”
Virtually phased out of modern fashion, the wallet chain was once a staple accessory for a number of ’90s subcultures. “Hip-hop. Grunge. Raver. Fred Durst. The wallet chain transcended cultural boundaries,” explained Davies. “If it’s one thing that we can all agree on, it’s that having money is good. Everyone loves dead presidents.”
The recent swell in wallet theft has ushered in a sort of renaissance for small-time pilferers. Local pickpocket Rodney “Dainty Fingers” McGee told The Enabler how his life has turned around since the wallet chain made its exit from everyday wear.
“The ’90s were a tough time for thieves. Every pocket you saw had a damn chain hanging out of it. Anytime you tried to make off with someone’s wallet, you’d be jerked back like a dog with a douchebag owner. A lot of guys ended up having to get real jobs.” McGee noted that he himself was forced to work part-time selling pagers at a mall kiosk. Such financial hardships have all but disappeared for thieves in the present day with the general public’s current disregard for wallet security. Said McGee: “Nowadays, the money comes easy.”
Another thief who has returned to the burglary lifestyle in recent years is the inventor of the wallet chain, Darius Stuckey. Stuckey came up with the idea for the wallet chain during his initial thieving stint as a way to combat being robbed himself while he was preoccupied trying to pickpocket his own targets.
Regarding the origin of the wallet chain, Stuckey stated: “The ’90s were when the idea of financial security really came to the forefront of the public consciousness. After Wu Tang released C.R.E.A.M., everyone realized that cash ruled everything around them. For the first time, people saw just how important money really was, and they said to themselves, ‘Hey, we’ve got to protect our dolla dolla bills, y’all.’”
Despite being the only truly effective device, the wallet chain was not the only fashion adopted in the ’90s to safeguard against theft. Some took to wearing baggier shirts to better cover their back pants pocket. Others wore unbuttoned flannels over their tees or tied sweaters around their waists for the same effect. This method, however, was rendered ineffective by people’s choice of legwear.
“Ripped jeans were very popular in the ’90s,” explained Stuckey. “And any benefit you would get from better covering your butt pocket would be completely nullified when you wore pants with holes all over them. I wouldn’t be surprised if the whole ripped denim fad was started by a thief; it provided us with countless points of access to one’s wallet within. It was like breaking into a safe made out of Swiss cheese.”
One group who has managed to escape the spike in wallet theft is women. The rate of wallet theft for women has remained relatively low since the 1990s despite the fact that women have had the good style sense to never incorporate the wallet chain into any of their popular fashions. Their substitute for wallet chains, closeable purses, would seem to offer an alternative for men to better protect their cash on hand. While masculinity has espoused that purses are too “girly” to be a regular accessory in men’s fashion, the severity of the wallet theft trend seems to be tilting male sentiment.
Kindergarten teacher Brent Holmes said that he would be willing to carry a purse around if it meant he would stop losing his wallet to thieves. Holmes has been pickpocketed over 50 times in the past year alone. “I don’t care anymore. I’d rather be emasculated than poor. My wife said I could use one of her old ones so that’s how I’ll be carrying my wallet from now on.”
Holmes’ case is not unique. Millions of men across America have suffered the negative effects of the post-’90s wallet chain vacuum. The issue will likely only grow worse as wallet chains have fallen so far from popularity that they have become difficult to obtain. “I tried Spencer’s Gifts, Hot Topic, even Amazon and Ebay. I couldn’t find a single wallet chain for sale anywhere,” said Holmes. Even if he were to find one available for purchase, Holmes said that he likely would not be able to afford it given that all of his money has already been stolen.