The Secrets of a Master Pickpocket

Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
Jan. 7 2013 2:45 PM

The Secrets of a Master Pickpocket

In the New Yorker last week, Adam Green profiled the “theatrical pickpocket” Apollo Robbins, who is considered by some the best in the world at what he does. “He takes a low crime and turns it into an art form,” in the words of his friend Teller, half of the famous duo Penn & Teller. According to Green’s profile, scientists have studied Robbins’ ways in the hopes of learning about human attention patterns. In the video below, Robbins demonstrates his incredible skills using Green as his willing dupe.

Even if you decide—wisely—that you’ll never pick up Robbins’ skills yourself, there are things to learn here. For instance, keeping your wallet or cell phone in your front pocket does not make pickpocketing more difficult. “That’s an urban myth,” Robbins says, before demonstrating how he will easily steal Green’s phone. “I really didn’t feel it,” Green says after Robbins has got the phone. And Green knows what’s coming! Imagine what he can do when his victim is unsuspecting—or, rather, read about in last week’s New Yorker.

Aisha Harris is a Slate staff writer.



The Irritating Confidante

John Dickerson on Ben Bradlee’s fascinating relationship with John F. Kennedy.

My Father Invented Social Networking at a Girls’ Reform School in the 1930s

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

The All The President’s Men Scene That Captured Ben Bradlee

Medical Examiner

Is It Better to Be a Hero Like Batman?

Or an altruist like Bruce Wayne?


Driving in Circles

The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.

The World’s Human Rights Violators Are Signatories on the World’s Human Rights Treaties

How Punctual Are Germans?

  News & Politics
Oct. 22 2014 12:44 AM We Need More Ben Bradlees His relationship with John F. Kennedy shows what’s missing from today’s Washington journalism.
Oct. 21 2014 5:57 PM Soda and Fries Have Lost Their Charm for Both Consumers and Investors
The Vault
Oct. 21 2014 2:23 PM A Data-Packed Map of American Immigration in 1903
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 21 2014 3:03 PM Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 21 2014 1:02 PM Where Are Slate Plus Members From? This Weird Cartogram Explains. A weird-looking cartogram of Slate Plus memberships by state.
Brow Beat
Oct. 21 2014 9:42 PM The All The President’s Men Scene That Perfectly Captured Ben Bradlee’s Genius
Oct. 21 2014 11:44 PM Driving in Circles The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.
  Health & Science
Climate Desk
Oct. 21 2014 11:53 AM Taking Research for Granted Texas Republican Lamar Smith continues his crusade against independence in science.
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.