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Hey Brother, Nice Shoes!

by Hugh Upsher / 21.01.2014

How to Steal Smart Phones on Long Street at Night.

1. Selecting your Victim

This is a simple case of natural selection. As a lion would go after the weak or old, so will you go after the naive and drunk. Mark out a territory with a high density of human traffic and make an effort to blend in to the loud evening streets. Remember to keep your distance from bouncers and the CCID ‘public safety’ city workers as they are likely to give you a hard time.

Pro tip: Young american students make ideal targets. They are naive, affluent and if they are on Long Street after dark they are generally very drunk.


2. The Introduction

Ideally you would want your prey to walk towards your position as chasing him from behind can instil fear. You should be able to walk in a tight parallel with him. Use this position to herd him away from any company he may be traveling with. If you don’t know where your victims phone is already, now is a good time to locate it (usually front pants pocket).

Your introduction should be in a friendly and bold tone. Say variations of “Hey brother” followed quickly by a compliment, along the lines of “I like your shoes”. This works as a distraction to prove you have positive motives as well as slows your victim down for you to admire his footwear.

Pro tip: Don’t be detered if the guy doesn’t have nice shoes, if your interest sounds genuine he will take notice. However, people with nice shoes are more likely too be susceptible to your flattery.

amazing shoe

3. The Move In

To get to this point requires some charm, but this is where it gets technical and things can start to go wrong. Proceed with flattery, by going into detail about the brand or colour of the shoe. At this point proceed to lean down to “get a closer look”. If your victim hasn’t come to a stop yet this will encourage him to stop walking. You can also try line up your shoe with his to in order draw comparisons. It is a great excuse to get unusually physically close to the victim.

Once kneeling down you make primary contact by tugging up his pants with the intention to get a better look at the whole shoe. This is a textbook diversion. Simultaneously make secondary contact by using your elbow or other hand to nudge the phone out of to front pocket and into your hand. The victim is desensitized to contact by the primary action, making it easier to empty his pockets.


Pro tip: Speed is essential. Do not give the victim time to figure out what is happening. If the guy starts making a scene by being loud or aggressive it is better to back off as he is most probably aware of your plot.

4. The Exit

This needs to be as swift as your move in. There is no need for goodbyes as your victim will most likely be glad to see the last of you. As soon as you have secured the phone casually head in the opposite direction and keep moving until you are at least two blocks away. Avoid running or any behavior that will raise suspicion.

Pro tip: It is smart to work with a partner to allow you to offload the prize. This will greatly reduce the risk of getting caught out by any post-incident interactions with victims or police.

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  1. Carola Koblitz says:

    Thanks for bring this to the public’s attention (and for giving us a bit of a plug for doing our job as the CCID.) The more people out there who know about this and other scams that are being run, the more we can take back the streets. We’d like your readers to know that they should put our 24/7 hotline number into their phones ( 082 415 7127) and if they ever feel uneasy on the streets of the Cape Town Central City (or want to report any suspicious activity) call us and we’ll send a team a.s.a.p. Love your blog by the way.
    Carola Koblitz, Communications Manager, Cape Town Central City Improvement District (CCID)

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  2. HarryCrews says:

    @Carol Koblitz

    One always feel uneasy on Cape Town’s streets.

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  3. Richard says:

    Haha, this happened to me recently, almost exactly as described in this article. The only thing missing is the pepper spray. You should mention that, it’s really effective! If the victim realises what you’re doing/done, and confronts you asking for the phone back, simply spray some nasty pepper spray in the face of the victim and run away.
    There were no police or security who came to my rescue. This was in a busy area in the city! Where’s the CCTV? A local Cape Town-ian couple came to my rescue. They wanted money to take me back to the hotel. I agreed, because I couldn’t see or move. They were sincere and helped me. BTW the thieves were not local. TIA!

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  4. Anonymous says:

    This literally happened to me exactly as describes in this article this weekend 🙁

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  6. Anonymous says:

    2 guys tried this with me this evening in Long Street, nice shoes my brother, how the hell can you see nice shoes in the dark you idiot robbers. Tried and failed, you will be back in Nigeria had anything bad happened to me this evening, this is a guarantee. I will find you my “brother.”

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