The Spectacular Thefts of Apollo Robbins, Pickpocket
Amazing and wonderful story in the New Yorker of a Las Vegas pickpocket act who develops his craft so well that he now advises the Department of Defense on “counterdeception” and coauthors papers in neuroscience journals. Success stories like this just warm my heart.
I love how clinical, even philosophical, he is about how his act works:
I said, “So if you were going to take the wallet that’s when you would have done it, on the turn?” Robbins brought his hand forward to show me that he was holding my wallet between his fingers. Even though he had explained each step along the way, I hadn’t felt a thing.
But physical technique, Robbins pointed out, is merely a tool. “It’s all about the choreography of people’s attention,” he said. “Attention is like water. It flows. It’s liquid. You create channels to divert it, and you hope that it flows the right way.”
Hat tip to journalist John Dickerson, who mentioned the piece on the Slate Political Gabfest.