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Here's Why Apollo Robbins Is The World's Greatest Living Pickpocket

Let's take a moment to understand the genius of distraction.

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Over seven million people have watched this routine on YouTube.

View this video on YouTube
He is probably best known for an encounter with Jimmy Carter's Secret Service detail in 2001. While Carter was at dinner, Robbins struck up a conversation with several of his Secret Service men. Within a few minutes, he had emptied the agents' pockets of pretty much everything but their guns. Robbins brandished a copy of Carter's itinerary, and when an agent snatched it back he said, "You don't have the authorization to see that!" When the agent felt for his badge, Robbins produced it and handed it back. Then he turned to the head of the detail and handed him his watch, his badge, and the keys to the Carter motorcade.

You can see how Robbins creates a point of focus for his target.

Via / New Yorker

Head on, the target will only ever be able to look at Robbins - but look how with one movement he's made their eyes drift away from him.

In this TED talk (from 5 mins in) you can see how utterly powerless people are in the face of his skills.

No matter how many times Robbins tells the participant what he's going to do, he's still far too quick for him.


Robbins grew up in Springfield, Missouri, the son of a pastor.

Frederick M. Brown / Getty

He had two conflicting influences in his early life - on the one hand, his pious father, and on the other, two larcenous half brothers, both of whom had learned pickpocketing from an Uncle. Robbins started running away from home and playing truant. He says that his father, convinced Satan was possessing him, held him down and tried to cast the Devil out.

He's now an established face on the Las Vegas magic scene.

Via / ABC

And has set up Whiz Mob, a sort of roaming consultancy full of ex-cons, magicians, ex-police and others who offer lectures on pickpocketing, con games, crooked gambling and other types of deception.

You can find out more about Apollo Robbins here.

And follow him on Twitter here.