Lightning may not strike twice, but pickpockets do. Let us all heed the warning of a reader of mine who nearly got stung twice within a few days -- and a few blocks.

Near-Sting One came in the lobby of the Interstate Federal Savings and Loan office at 1777 K St. NW. Our near-victim had just finished some business at the window. As he was walking out with a considerable chunk of cash in his jeans, a man walked in and dropped a bag on the floor of the vestibule.

As my reader stood there and watched, Mr. Dropsy scrambled around on the floor. He picked up the bag. He dropped it again. He made apologies. But the one thing he didn't do was to get out of the way and let my reader pass.

For the best of reasons. Midway through the third heartfelt apology, a second man bumped into my reader from behind. More commotion, apologies and excuse-mes.

But thank heavens my reader had been around the block once or twice. He suddenly realized what was happening and felt for his wallet. It was still there -- but it probably wouldn't have been for long if he hadn't checked. My reader left in a hurry -- and in a huff.

However, he was prepared a few days later for what happened when he was leaving the National Savings and Trust branch at Connecticut Avenue and K Street NW.

This time, the person with the dropsies was a woman. Down went her handbag, scattering tissues and lipstick and all sorts of junk around the floor of the vestibule. As the woman did her Ms. Helpless routine, begging Our Hero with her eyes to bend down and help her pick everything up, he looked around to see a man coming through the front door.

"You work with her, don't you?" inquired our man.

"I have no idea what you're talking about. I've never seen this lady before," the recent arrival replied.

But 90 seconds later, the woman had repacked her purse and left the bank. She was standing on the corner -- with the man who had never seen her before. They were discussing which bank to try next.