The Secrets of a Master Pickpocket

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.

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