Legal Dictionary


Definition of pickpocketing



  1. Present participle of pickpocket.

Further reading

Picking pockets without a person's knowledge and approval is a crime, a form of larceny which involves the stealing of money and valuables from the person of a victim without their noticing the theft at the time. It requires considerable dexterity and a knack for misdirection. Someone who picks pockets is known as a pickpocket.

Pickpockets and other thieves, especially those working in teams, sometimes apply distraction, such as asking a question or bumping into the victim. These distractions sometimes require sleight of hand, speed, misdirection and other types of skills.

Famous fictional pickpockets include The Artful Dodger and Fagin, characters from the Charles Dickens novel Oliver Twist. Famous true-life pickpockets include the Irish-American prostitute Chicago May, who was profiled in the books Chicago May, Queen of the Blackmailers and Hell Hath No Fury: Famous Women in Crime.

Pickpocket skills are also used by magicians, either to take an item from a spectator or to return it without their knowledge. Professional illusionist David Avadon featured pickpocketing as his trademark act for more than 30 years and promoted himself as "a daring pickpocket with dashing finesse" and "the country's premier exhibition pickpocket, one of the few masters in the world of this underground art."[1][2]


  1. Valerie J. Nelson (2009-09-04). "David Avadon dies at 60; illusionist specialized in picking pockets". Los Angeles Times.
  2. "The Fastest Pickpocket in the West". David Avadon.

Smith a novel by Leon Garfield is also a book about pickpocketing

Further reading

  • Avadon, David. Cutting Up Touches: A Brief History of Pockets and the People Who Pick Them. Chicago: Squash Publishing, 2007. ISBN 0974468169. About the history of theatrical pickpocketing.
  • Columb, Frank. Chicago May, Queen of the Blackmailers. Cambridge: Evod Academic Publishing Co., 1999.
  • King, Betty Nygaard. Hell Hath No Fury: Famous Women in Crime. Ottawa: Borealis Press, 2001. ISBN 0888872623, ISBN 088887264X.

External links


  1. Wiktionary. Published under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.


1.     warrant
2.     tampering
3.     emtio
4.     amnesty law
5.     magistrates court
6.     lex fori
7.     landed property
8.     lex situs
9.     lex causae
10.     ownership