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.

TODAY IN SLATE

Culturebox

The Ebola Story

How our minds build narratives out of disaster.

The Budget Disaster That Completely Sabotaged the WHO’s Response to Ebola

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

The Shooting Tragedies That Forged Canada’s Gun Politics

A Highly Unscientific Ranking of Crazy-Old German Beers

Education

Welcome to 13th Grade!

Some high schools are offering a fifth year. That’s a great idea.

Culturebox

The Actual World

“Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.

Want Kids to Delay Sex? Let Planned Parenthood Teach Them Sex Ed.

Would You Trust Walmart to Provide Your Health Care? (You Should.)

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 22 2014 9:42 PM Landslide Landrieu Can the Louisiana Democrat use the powers of incumbency to save herself one more time?
  Business
Continuously Operating
Oct. 22 2014 2:38 PM Crack Open an Old One A highly unscientific evaluation of Germany’s oldest breweries.
  Life
Dear Prudence
Oct. 23 2014 6:00 AM Monster Kids from poorer neighborhoods keep coming to trick-or-treat in mine. Do I have to give them candy?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 23 2014 8:51 AM The Male-Dominated Culture of Business in Tech Is Not Great for Women
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 22 2014 5:27 PM The Slate Walking Dead Podcast A spoiler-filled discussion of Episodes 1 and 2.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 23 2014 9:00 AM Exclusive Premiere: Key & Peele Imagines the Dark Side of the Make-A-Wish Program
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 22 2014 5:33 PM One More Reason Not to Use PowerPoint: It’s The Gateway for a Serious Windows Vulnerability
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 23 2014 7:30 AM Our Solar System and Galaxy … Seen by an Astronaut
  Sports
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.