28 Feb How to steal a watch
(For entertainment purposes only)!
It’s an interesting concept, isn’t it!? How DO you steal a watch from someone whilst avoiding detection?
The art of pickpocketing is a skill that has taken years to master and I’d like to give you a little insight into the process.
I was recently hired to entertain during a wedding drinks reception and the photographer (Clare Tam-Im) captured the stages perfectly.
Let’s take a look at how this friendly pickpocket does his thing…
Before any contact is made, I’m on the prowl for a suitable subject (The Mark). The subject requires nothing more than a timepiece. The complexity of the operation is assessed ahead of time with certain watches proving more difficult than others.
To facilitate the steal, it’s imperative that The Mark is enjoying the performance. In this picture, I’ve spotted the perfect applicant!
I need to ensure The Mark is relaxed, that I have their attention and most importantly, desensitised to subtle physical touch. During a trick, I may shake their hand, gently pat their shoulder/elbow and say “here, come a little closer so you can really see what’s going on”
If The Mark is open to this, we proceed to the next step…
The faux trick
Once I’m satisfied The Mark is a good candidate, I position them for what they believe is “another trick”. What the trick is, is not important but will give me an excuse to make further contact with The Mark.
Using cards, coins or elastic bands I have a justification to begin.
This is the perfect misdirection – hidden in plain sight!
In this photo, the mark is instructed to stretch the elastic bands (“here, stretch this”) – notice the grip. Here, I’m “helping” to demonstrate how to stretch the band (I’m a nice like that!). In reality, it’s this grip that allows the dirty work. At this point, there’s no turning back! Applying pressure around the watch will help give the impression it remains on the wrist when I remove it shortly.
Working the strap, buckle and pin with some digital manipulation, the watch is free from its clasp but still remains on The Mark’s wrist.
The Secondary Misdirection
Once the watch is ready to depart the victim’s wrist (I haven’t gone into fine detail how this is possible as I’ll spawn a nation of thieves!) I need another much needed moment of “look over there” so I can whip away that baby without detection.
For this, I need to think on my feet, improvising with my surroundings. Years of performance has installed a “live in the moment” mentality but on this occasion, it’s all too easy;
I spy our photographer (who now becomes an unknowing accomplice!). I instruct The Mark to “smile for the camera” and she can’t wait to show off her famous pout!
I use this as this timely opportunity to relinquish their seconds, minutes and hours with a quick flick of the wrist!
The Show (Off)
It’s off! All being well, The Mark hasn’t noticed (Phew!) and the fun can begin. The obligatory pose of dangling the mark’s possession behind their back for all to see comes next and serves two purposes.
- Makes for a great photo 🙂
- It allows for those watching to have a good laugh but more importantly lets them IN on the scam!
We haven’t finished though.
We need to produce the watch in a memorable way.
Handing over the watch at this point would still get a good reaction but returning the item in a bizarre fashion only adds to the experience.
From their point of view, NOTHING has happened. Perhaps they were impressed with those elastic bands but I’m about to knock them for six!
I have some fun methods for doing so, one of which includes strapping their watch onto MY wrist with an introduction of “do you believe in time travel?!”
In this instance, I use another opportunity to surreptitiously hide the watch inside MY wallet and declare “you’ve earned yourself a gift“
I zip open the wallet, reveal the goods and wait for the penny to drop. Sometimes, this moment takes a while for the mark to register that this is indeed their very watch!
Once the realisation hits, there’s nothing sweeter than the reactions from both The Mark and the watching guests.
The whole sequence takes no more than a minute (the original Gone in 60 Seconds!) but I’m sure will live with guests forever!