The lining of a bulky overcoat or loose raincoat can be elaborately outfitted with a variety of custom-made large pockets. The openings to these pockets are not visible since they are inside the coat. The outside pockets can be torn out leaving only the opening or slit. Thus you can reach your hand (at counter level) through the slit in your coat and drop objects into the secret pockets sewn into the lining. Pants can also be rigged with secret pockets. The idea is to let your fingers do the walking through the slit in your coat, while the rest of the body remains the casual browser. You’ll be amazed at how much you can tuck away without any noticeable bulge.

Another method is to use a hidden belt attached to the inside of your coat or pants. The belt is specially designed with hooks or clothespins to which items can be discretely attached. Ditching items into hidden pockets requires a little cunning. You should practice before a mirror until you get good at it.

A good idea is to work with a partner. Dig this neat duet. A man and woman walk into a store together looking like a respectable husband and wife. The man purchases a good belt or shirt and engages the salesman in some distracting conversation as he rings up the sale. Meanwhile, back in the aisle, “wife” is busy rolling up two or three suits. Start from the bottom while they are still on the rack and roll them up, pants and jackets together, the way you would roll a sleeping bag. The sleeves are tied around the roll making a neat little bundle. The bundle is then tucked between your thighs. The whole operation takes about a minute and with some practice you can walk for hours with a good size bundle between your legs and not appear like you just shit in your pants. Try this with a coat on in front of a mirror and see how good you get at it.

Another team method is for one or more partners to distract the sales clerks while the other stuffs. There are all sorts of theater skits possible. One person can act drunk or better still appear to be having an epileptic fit. Two people can start a fight with each other. There are loads of ways, just remember how they do it in the next spy movie you see.

One of the best gimmicks around is the packaging technique. Once you have the target item in hand, head for the fitting room or other secluded spot. Take out a large piece of gift wrapping and ribbon. Quickly wrap up the item so it will look like you brought it in with you. Many stores have their own bags and staple the cash register receipt to the top of the bag when you make a purchase. Get a number of these bags by saving them if you make a purchase or dropping around to the receiving department with a request for some bags for your Christmas play or something. Next collect some sales receipts, usually from the sidewalk or trash cans in front of the store. Buy or rip-off a small pocket stapler for less than a dollar. When you get the item you want, drop it in the bag and staple it closed, remembering to attach the receipt. This is an absolutely perfect method and takes just a few seconds. It eliminates a lot of unsightly bulges in your coat and is good for warm-weather heisting.

A dummy shopping bag can be rigged with a bit of ingenuity. The idea is to make it look like the bag is full when there’s still lots of room left. Use strips of cardboard taped to the inside of the bag to give it some body. Remember to carry it like it’s filled with items, not air. Professional heisters often use a “booster box,” usually a neatly wrapped empty package with one end that opens upon touch. This is ideal for electrical appliances, jewelry, and even heavy items such as portable television sets. The trick side can be fitted with a spring door so once the toaster is inside the door slams shut. Don’t wear a black hat and cape and go around waving a wand yelling “Abracadabra,” just be your usual shlep shopper self. If you can manage it, the trick side just can be an opening without a trick door. Just carry the booster box with the open side pressed against your body. Briefcases, suitcases and other types of carrying devices can all be made to hold items. Once you have something neatly tucked away in a bag or box, it’s pretty hard to prove you didn’t come in with it.

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