Gentleman thief

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A gentleman thief or lady thief, or phantom thief (怪盗 Kaitō?) in the East, is a particularly well-behaving and apparently well bred thief. A "gentleman or lady" is usually, but not always, a person with an inherited title of nobility and inherited wealth, who need not work for a living. Such a person steals not in order to gain material wealth, but for adventure; they act without malice. These thieves rarely bother with anonymity or force, preferring to rely on their charisma, physical attractiveness, and clever misdirection to steal the most unobtainable objects — sometimes for their own support, but mostly for the thrill of the act itself.

In popular culture[edit]

Raffles, the gentleman thief, as portrayed by David Niven.

The phantom thief is superb at stealing while maintaining a sophisticated front and/or a thief's code of honor: Raffles steals mostly when he is especially in need of money; Lupin steals more from the rich who don't appreciate art or their treasures and redistributes it (not unlike a modern Robin Hood); Saint Tail steals back what was stolen or taken dishonestly, or rights the wrongs done to the innocent by implicating the real criminals.

Western gentlemen/lady thieves[edit]

Notable gentlemen thieves and lady thieves in Western popular culture include the following:

Eastern gentlemen/lady thieves[edit]

Kaitō (怪盗; phantom thief) is a Japanese variant of the gentleman thief sub-genre in anime and manga, which draws inspiration from Arsène Lupin and elements in other crime fictions and detective fictions.

Notable phantom thieves in eastern popular culture include the following:

Modern day examples[edit]

  • Christophe Rocancourt is a modern-day, real-life example of the gentleman thief.
  • Charles Bolles, a.k.a. Black Bart, outlaw of the American West, was known as a gentleman thief in the 1870s and 1880s.
  • D.B. Cooper, the only unidentified hijacker in American aviation history, who, in 1971, extorted $200,000 from an airline before parachuting out of a plane during the cover of night. Said to be polite and well spoken.
  • Janoš Vujčić, a gypsy thief from Yugoslavia who stole Picasso's painting worth 80 million Swiss franc.
  • Apollo Robbins, American sleight-of-hand artist, security consultant and deception specialist. Self-proclaimed gentleman thief.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bleiler, Richard. "Raffles: The Gentleman Thief". Strand Magazine. United States. Retrieved 22 February 2014. 
  2. ^ Denby, David (2009-10-28). "An Education". The New Yorker. 
  3. ^ "Lupin the". Lupin the Retrieved 2014-02-22. 
  4. ^ "Biography - Apollo Robbins - The Gentleman Thief". Retrieved 2014-02-22. 

External links[edit]