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André Brulé as Arsène Lupin, a gentleman thief and master of disguise
André Brulé as Arsène Lupin, a gentleman thief and master of disguise

A gentleman thief, gentleman burglar, lady thief, or phantom thief is a stock character in fiction. A gentleman or lady thief is characterised by impeccable manners, charm, courteousness, and the avoidance of physical force or intimidation to steal, and often has inherited wealth. They steal not only to gain material wealth but also for the thrill of the act itself, which is often combined in fiction with correcting a moral wrong, selecting wealthy targets, or stealing only particularly rare or challenging objects.

In fiction

In fiction, the gentleman thief is typically superb at stealing while maintaining a gentleman's manners and a code of honour. For example, A. J. Raffles steals only from other gentlemen (and occasionally gives the object away to a good cause); Arsène Lupin steals from the rich who do not appreciate their art or treasures and redistributes it; Saint Tail steals back what was stolen or taken dishonestly or rights the wrongs done to the innocent by implicating the real criminals; Sly Cooper and his gang steal from other thieves and criminals.

Gentlemen/lady thieves

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

Phantom thieves

Phantom thief (Japanese: 怪盗, Hepburn: kaitō) is the term for the gentleman/lady thief in Japanese media such as anime and manga. It draws inspiration from Arsène Lupin and elements in other crime fictions and detective fictions.

Notable phantom thieves in Japanese popular culture include the following:

In real life

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See also


  1. ^ Bleiler, Richard. "Raffles: The Gentleman Thief". Strand Magazine. United States. Retrieved 22 February 2014.
  2. ^ Bertetti, Paolo (Winter 2013–14), "Uomini meccanici e matrimoni interplanetari: La straordinarissima avventura del cinema muto italiano di fantascienza", Anarres, 2, retrieved 21 November 2016
  3. ^ Denby, David (28 October 2009). "An Education". The New Yorker.
  4. ^ "Lupin the". Lupin the Retrieved 22 February 2014.
  5. ^ "'Mysterious Joker' Manga Getting Anime Adaptation". The Fandom Post. Retrieved 24 April 2019.
  6. ^ a b Hoeper, George (1 June 1995). Black Bart: Boulevardier Bandit: The Saga of California's Most Mysterious Stagecoach Robber and the Men Who Sought to Capture Him. Quill Driver Books. ISBN 978-1-884995-05-7. Retrieved 25 July 2011.
  7. ^ a b Gray, Geoffrey (21 October 2007). "Unmasking D.B. Cooper". New York. ISSN 0028-7369. Retrieved 24 April 2011.
  8. ^ Himmelsbach & Worcester 1986, p. 22.
  9. ^ Halpern, Jake (14 January 2019). "The French Burglar Who Pulled Off His Generation's Biggest Art Heist". Retrieved 9 January 2019.

Further Reading