It's been sometime since I've been downtown to Canal Street.
It's known for various shops selling "I Love NY" T-shirts and Statue of Liberty statues to tourists and since the 1980's, there are shops selling counterfeit goods.
From a Village Voice article (http://www.villagevoice.com/news/knockoff-another-day-at-the-office-on-canal-street-with-counterfeit-vendors-8626379):
"In 2008, police raided 32 stores, confiscating over $1 million worth of ersatz Coach bags, Oakley sunglasses, and Rolex watches. That year, 967 people were arrested for trademark counterfeiting..."
Since 2008, the counterfeit sellers don't use shops anymore, they use spotters. A spotter would look for potential buyers and if they strike up a conversation, they would call an associate who has the counterfeit goods in a nearby vehicle or in large garbage bags around the corner. Sometimes the spotters would have a laminated sheet with pictures of watches or handbag models.
Last night, I was waiting for Mrs SG and saw a dude eyeball me. He seemed alone and not working as part of a crew of muggers ... my spider-senses tingled a little. I'm generally in Code Yellow, one level above Code White (being totally oblivious to my surroundings). I'm always scanning my environment and in Yellow, hopefully discretely to most people and also hopefully enough of a signal to predators who may have targeted me as their next meal ticket. With this dude, my spider-senses didn't tingle a lot probably because the street was filled with people. However, I didn't like him eyeing me the way he was.
I walked towards to wait at a corner for Mrs SG, but I spotted a female spotter who would periodically whisper "Watches." to tourists passing by. I then walked across the street to the other corner. Dude follows me! He's about 5 feet away from me, now I'm in Code Orange and mentally have prepared for Action should the situation go that way. I then hear him say to someone that was walking towards us, "Watches." and I laughed at myself for not realizing he's a spotter too! He was probably profiling me and deciding if i was a LEO (Law Enforcement Officer) or not.
My situational awareness clued me into what goes on on Canal Street. My environmental awareness spotted 1 spotter but missed another. LOL at me!
Be Aware my Friends!