The Official CIA Manual of Trickery and Deception - H. Keith Melton, Robert Wallace (2009)


VII. Surreptitious Removal of Objects by Women

Secretly taking small objects is easier, in many ways, for a woman than it is for a man. This is because women are less apt to obey that admonition of childhood to “look with your eyes and not with your hands.” Possibly this trait is what makes women such careful buyers—women don’t just look, they inspect. Because handling is so necessary a part of getting possession of an object, it is a great advantage to be able to handle the object openly without having to make an explanation or give any reason for the action.

On the other hand, women’s clothes restrict the number of places an object can be hidden rapidly and secretly. Depending upon the type of attire, women have no pockets at all or very few. And women’s pockets always are the wrong size and construction and in the wrong locations to hide an object easily and quickly. Further, because women’s pockets are almost invariably of small capacity, they will hold only the smallest of objects. These facts do not make the task of secreting an object about a woman’s person an impossibility by any means, but they do show that a woman must use different methods than those available for men. They also indicate that a woman rarely will find it possible to hide other than small objects.

The difficulty connected with any description of ways in which either obvious pockets in feminine attire, or hidden ones, may be used is caused by constantly changing fashions. As fashions change, so, particularly, do the pockets change in location, size, and shape. Of course there is the possibility that the style will permit no pockets whatsoever. While the following suggestions about pockets cannot all be followed, and in many instances none can be used, they are worth mentioning for those times when they will serve.

There are five pieces of women’s apparel in which sometimes pockets may be found. These five articles of clothing are skirts, blouses, jackets, coats, and belts. The pockets now referred to are those which are plainly visible to others, i.e., neither secret nor hidden pockets. These pockets, both in location and design, are made more for decorative purposes than utilitarian. For the reasons stated above, few are useful in trickery. However, some may be altered so as to be useful without changing their outward appearance.

Skirt pockets, though occasionally placed at the hips, usually are at the front. The front pockets seldom are big enough to be useful as they are but often can be made of service. It will be found possible with most of these pockets to make an opening at the bottom of the pocket right through the material of the skirt. To this opening can be sewed a silken (or other material of little friction) tube. This tube may itself give the pocket sufficient capacity to make it of use. However, this depends upon the cloth of the skirt. Tweed, or similarly heavy material which will not be pulled out of shape by weight in the pocket, will permit enlarging of the pocket. Thinner material requires other treatment. For thin material the silken tube should extend to a pocket inside the skirt. It may be that this pocket can be fastened to a slip or petticoat, but it probably will be found more practical to hang a pocket by tapes from the waistband of the skirt. The practicality of such a pocket depends upon the design of the garment and particularly its fullness. Such an inner pocket also can be used in skirts having no visible pockets but having plaits deep enough to hide a small opening. Care, of course, must be taken that the inner pocket will hang so as to make no visible bulge. These pockets can be made and have been made and used successfully. Making such a pocket can only be the result of feminine ingenuity, skill, and knowledge. It is, obviously, no project for an untutored male.

Blouse pockets, because of where they are placed, are unsuitable for trickery. Such pockets are too hard to reach undetectably and, further, their contents are obvious.

Jacket pockets, when not over the hips, sometimes can be used as they are. If this is not possible, there is seldom any way of altering them. Once in a great while it will be found practical to make them of use by cutting an opening through the material of the jacket and making a pocket between the material and the lining. It also is possible with some jackets to make pockets on the inside. These pockets should be at about the waistline and that, of course, cannot be done with a fitted garment.

That coats can be worn only in certain weather is very obvious. However, on such occasions as they can be worn, they are most useful, for their pockets are more apt to be large and heavy enough to serve without any alteration. Coats also will allow special inside pockets to be added and used. Some coats have inside pockets but usually they are not placed where they may be used easily in trickery.

Some belts are designed with pockets which can be used. Other belts can have pockets added on the inside which will be found handy. Occasionally belts can be used to cover the opening in a dress which is the mouth to a hidden pocket.

Women can use handkerchiefs in deceiving in a manner a man could never do. The handkerchiefs are used in conjunction with a handbag. The reason women can use handkerchiefs in trickery is that women so customarily carry a handkerchief in their hands that no attention is attracted to this action. The handkerchief is used as an actual physical cover for that object which is to be hidden and carried away. As is true with all tricks, there is a sequence of actions which must be memorized in order to deceive the spectator. Parenthetically, may it be noted that it always is advisable to assume that there is a spectator watching. This precaution will avoid the chance of being caught doing some action in an abrupt way in the belief that no one was looking.

The routine, making use of a handkerchief, is as follows. A handkerchief is taken from the handbag. It will facilitate matters to have had the handkerchief already unfolded when it was stuffed into the bag. When the handkerchief is in the hand, it is used immediately after the bag has been closed. In the winter an eye might be wiped with the cloth, and in the summer the forehead might be patted. It is reasonable after either of these actions to continue holding the handkerchief. Unless one obviously has a cold, it would be more natural to return the handkerchief to the bag once the nose had been wiped.

Once this preliminary maneuver has been accomplished, the handkerchief is taken with the left hand. At this time it would be well, if easy to do, to hold the center of the handkerchief in the fist and let the four corners dangle. It might even be natural to hold a corner of the cloth and let the rest of the handkerchief hang down. Incidentally these actions should be done, if possible, sometime ahead of the moment when the handkerchief is used for the trickery. This is in order that full concentration may be made on doing the trick.

At this point consideration has to be given to the style of the handbag. If it be one which can be hung from the arm, the strap of the bag should be over the left forearm—about midway between wrist and elbow. If it is not such a bag, it should be held (with the elbow bent) between the left forearm and the body. In either case it will be obvious that the left arm has to be held still or the handbag will be dropped. Holding the handbag in either way means that any picking up which is done has to be done with the right hand. It may be assumed, for example, that the object to be made away with is anything up to the size of a box of safety matches. Now please follow closely the seven following steps:

·        a. The object is picked up with the right hand and looked at.

·        b. (While actually this is a double step, it must be done in a continuous way as if it were but one.) The object is put in the left hand in order that the right hand may take the pocketbook which “seemingly” is slipping. This move is varied according to the style of handbag. If it is the kind which is gripped between forearm and body, the bag is moved up to the armpit and grasped there. If it be the type with a handle, it is taken off the left arm and held by the handle in the right hand.

·        c. As the handbag moving is taking place, the left hand crumples the handkerchief around the object.

·        d. The handkerchief is changed over to the right hand. In this move it should be possible to conclude completely covering the object with the handkerchief.

·        e. The left hand (still closed as if it were holding something) is dropped to the table from which the object was picked up.

·        f. The left hand retrieves the “loaded” handkerchief as the right hand makes some natural movement with the handbag.

·        g. After an interval of a minute or so, the handkerchief is replaced in the handbag. Because of the possibility of needing a handkerchief for any normal purpose right after the trick has been done, it is advisable to be prepared for such a situation by having another handkerchief tucked in the other end of the handbag.

Reading the above, one is apt to think but where is the trick? Why should anyone be confused by such simple actions. There are two reasons. The chief one is that every action made seems natural and logical. The other reason is that there are three objects (object, handkerchief, and handbag) and two hands to watch. Because of the naturalness of the actions, they do not call for close observation and it requires exceedingly close attention to keep track of the location of three objects in two moving hands. Again let it be pointed out that no rapidity is to be used. The hands move slowly but their movement is continuous. This routine should be carefully practiced in private until the sequence of moves is second nature.

Nothing has been said about using either of women’s traditional hiding places—stocking tip and front of dress. This is because in most instances neither can be used inconspicuously. Further, either because of costume or anatomy, in neither place can an object of any size or weight be hidden. However, by all means use either or both spots as hiding places when the article or articles to be taken are suitable and the situation makes their use feasible.

As has been noted earlier, there is no wrong or right way to do a trick. If it works and is simple to do, it is a good trick. It often is necessary to alter the performance of a trick in some slight way due to circumstances of the moment because conditions seem suspicious. This is because there is, almost invariably, some detail which has not been taken into consideration which will give the trick away. Saying it in short, and again, nothing so ensures the success of a trick as proper planning.

It is to be hoped that those women who read this section will accept, in this one instance, a man’s statements as being authoritative. Trickery is a field in which men long have been active and successful. That is, those men have been successful who have followed the tested methods. These methods have been discovered through centuries of trial and error. It always has been impossible to know if a method will be deceiving except through actual performance, and, therefore, it is imperative that a trickster adhere to tested methods. Using tested methods needs only knowledge, preparation and practice, and the patience to acquire these. Rely on these, ladies, rather than upon your brilliant minds.