picking pockets

The mark strolls along a city sidewalk, fresh out of the bank, his wallet in his back pocket, blithely unaware that he's stumbled into the clutches of a practiced jug troupe. Someone shouts, "Look out for pickpockets," and when the mark hears it, he feels for his wallet. It's still there. A steer positioned across the street sees this and wipes his brow, signaling to an attractive stall walking toward the mark. She bumps into him, and while the startled mark apologizes for his clumsiness, the hook sweeps noiselessly past with a balletic grace and makes the dip, slipping out the wallet, dropping it into a newspaper and passing it to a second stall, who pulls out anything of value and drops the wallet in the trash. All four troupers promptly disappear into the crowd. It might be an hour before the mark knows what happened, and even then he may never be sure whether it was a pickpocket, or plain carelessness, that cost him his money.

via Slate Magazine.