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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. Another example would be Kaito Kuroba who only steals to amuse the audience, to find the Pandora Gem and find the people who killed his father.

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, manga, and JRPGs. 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:

Perceptions of real historical figures

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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. ^ "Yesmovies". Yes Retrieved 12 April 2017.
  6. ^ "'Mysterious Joker' Manga Getting Anime Adaptation". The Fandom Post. 27 June 2014. Retrieved 24 April 2019.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ a b Gray, Geoffrey (21 October 2007). "Unmasking D.B. Cooper". New York. ISSN 0028-7369. Retrieved 24 April 2011.
  9. ^ Himmelsbach & Worcester 1986, p. 22.
  10. ^ "The strange life of 'phantom thief' Bạch Hải Đường".
  11. ^ "The battle against general of robbers Bạch Hải Đường (part 5)".
  12. ^ "Bạch Hải Đường: the "Big Brother" of robbers".
  13. ^ Ni, Zhange (2 January 2020). "Xiuzhen (Immortality Cultivation) Fantasy: Science, Religion, and the Novels of Magic/Superstition in Contemporary China". Religions. 11 (1): 25. doi:10.3390/rel11010025. hdl:10919/96386.

Works cited

Further reading