- Odd News
By Snejana Farberov
PUBLISHED: 20:07 EST, 16 January 2013 | UPDATED: 03:58 EST, 17 January 2013
Sleight of hand master: Apollo Robbins has built a career on his incredible ability to 'lift' personal items from the pockets of unsuspecting audience members
Apollo Robbins makes a living stealing things, but instead of a lengthy prison sentence, that has earned him universal admiration and an invitation to show off his skills on national TV.
The 38-year-old theatrical pickpocket, who refers to himself as the 'gentleman thief,' appeared on the Today Show Wednesday to discuss and put to the test his almost supernatural ability to lift wallets, cash and other personal items from unsuspecting 'victims.'
During the segment, the soft-spoken performer handed his willing test subjects, co-anchors Matt Lauer, Willie Geist and Ryan Seacrest, a wallet, some cash and a pen to place in difference pockets.
Beginning with Lauer, Robbins explained that in order to get into someone's personal space, it is necessary to break eye contact so that the would-be 'victim' would be caught off guard.
The magician then moved on to Geist, and within seconds, while chatting with the distracted TV presenter, he slid his watch off, dangling it behind him in front of his astonished co-hosts.
In the next split-second, Robbins managed to sneak a pen that was hidden inside Seacrest's inside pocket out, with his test subject not even batting an eye.
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Show & tell: Robins, far right, went on the Today Show to put his impressive abilities to the test by emptying the pockets of anchors Ryan Seacrest, far left, Willie Geist, center, and Matt Lauer
Magic fingers: While distracting Willie Geist, Robbins, right, managed to unfasten his wrist watch
Showstopper: Robbins, right, dangled the pilfered watch of the unsuspecting Geist in front of his stunned co-anchors
In the reveal portion of the segment, the trio of pilfered anchors were flabbergasted to learn that in a matter of seconds, Robbins stole back all the items he handed them in the beginning, and more.
'I did not notice that, swear to god,' the astonished Willie Geist exclaimed when Robbins handed him back his wrist watch.
In a surprising twist, the virtuoso magician even managed to slip a tightly rolled-up $100 bill into a pen, and slide it into a wallet in Lauer's jacket pocket.
Lifting a veil on some of his sleight-of-hand tricks, Robbins explained that in order to steal someone's watch, for example, he would get it unfastened during a handshake and slip it off while drawing the person's attention away.
'Now I'm nervous every time you touch me,' Lauer joked.
Robbins, who plies his trade as a stage pickpocket in Las Vegas, has been the subject of a long profile in the New Yorker last month.
Distracting antics: The professional pickpocket lifted a pen he had given Ryan Seacrest, left, and slid his credit card out of his pocket, right
Big reveal: Robbins, second left, managed to slip a rolled up $100 bill, seen in Matt Lauer's hands, into a pen, which he then put into a wallet
In the article, fellow entertainer Penn Jillete, of the duo Penn & Teller, ranked the slight, unassuming 'gentleman thief' as being 'a few notches below hypnotists on the show-biz totem pole.'
Apollo Robbins first gained notoriety in 2001 as the man who pickpocketed the Secret Service while entertaining former President Jimmy Carter.
As the now-famous story goes, while Carter was having dinner, Robbins struck up a conversation with several members of his security detail.
Within a few minutes, Robbins managed to sneak everything out of their pockets except for their guns.
The theatrical thief than pulled out a copy of Carter’s itinerary, and when an agent grabbed it out of his hands, Robbins said, ‘You don’t have the authorization to see that!’
He then produced the unsuspecting agent’s badge and gave it back. At that point, Robbins turned to the head of the Secret Service detail and returned to him his pilfered watch, badge and the keys to the president’s motorcade.
Robbins, left, shocked the ABC hosts by sporting Willie Geist's watch on his own wrist
Impressive haul: In under five minutes, Robbins got his hands on his test subjects' credit cards and cash
After gaining fame for picking clean the Secret Service agents, Robbins was hired by the Phoenix Suns to steal Charles Barkley’s personal items as a joke.
His next high-profile gig was a prank set up by the producers of the show Alias as part of which the magician was hired to ‘borrow’ actress Jennifer Garner’s engagement ring given to her by Ben Affleck.
In the past, the 38-year-old has put his knowledge to good use by offering his services as a security consultant for companies like Bank of America, Citigroup and Tiffany & Co.
Recently, psychiatrists, neuroscientists, and the military have studied Robbins' methods for what they reveal about the nature of nature.
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