“How do you become a pickpocket?”
Bob Arno, a Swedish-born American entertainer, author, and criminologist gets asked this a lot.
And if you had the chance to ask him yourself, in person, he would have your wallet long before you had your answer (you would get it back though).
Recounting his journey from a career on stage as a comedic magician to using his expertise to help Europol crack down on crime syndicates, the “Pickpocket King” tells Rob Konrad everything he’s learned about the psychology of thieving.
In this episode, Bob shares fascinating insights into the mindsets of thieves and victims, different varieties of street crime around the world, and how to spot – and get along with – street criminals. Plus, you’ll hear about a special wallet he’s had stolen and returned over 150 times, and a house visit to a genuine Mafioso. Join the conversation, now!
“The best criminals… are fabulous social engineers” – Bob Arno
Click on the video above to listen to the episode – and join the conversation, NOW!
00:00:00 Episode Teaser
00:01:54 Introducing the «King of Pickpockets”
00:03:20 How to become a pickpocket.
00:04:07 His youth in Sweden and first steps as a stage entertainer
00:04:59 A French mentor and a future on the stage.
00:07:16 A source of inspiration and the focus on comedy
... read more....
00:10:58 His father’s disapproval and finding success in Asia
00:12:21 The difference between stage pickpocketing and real pickpocketing
00:13:30 Where to learn the art of pickpocketing
00:14:12 Why stage pickpocketing has become an impossible craft to learn today
00:16:15 Footage from his live shows
00:17:51 Footage of live thief hunting
00:19:21 How does one become a street pickpocket?
00:20:21 The differences of pickpocketing in different parts of the world
00:21:29 “Piranha kids” in South America
00:24:10 Good pickpockets start young
00:25:01 Pickpocketing is not a task you can learn on your own
00:26:03 “Pickpocketing is a team sport. It’s not something you can learn on your own.”
00:27:47 Why even little prison time can impact a pickpocket “career”
00:29:24 A good pickpocket knows how to extract a wallet in his sleep.
00:30:55 how the different treatment of cultural groups created different kinds of pickpockets
00:32:34 Italian pickpockets with a catholic conscience
00:33:50 How communism and poverty created a breeding ground for pickpockets
00:37:47 How much money do pickpockets make?
00:45:59 Safety measures while travelling
00:48:28 What to tell your kids when travelling abroad
00:51:48 Your way of traveling determines your risk
00:55:01 Why there’s so little crime in Japan and Singapore
00:57:53 What is the right way to act when you notice crime happening?
01:03:05 Bob’s “bait” wallet that was stolen over 150 times
01:04:56 The money exchange trick and the almost-stolen Rolex
01:13:02 Why Bob has such a great connection with criminals.
01:18:16 How charm plays a role in large-scale crimes
01:19:46 About micro-expressions
01:23:42 On becoming cynical about his job.
01:26:57 About migration and problems connected to it
01:30:24 Corruption, a problem on a larger scale
01:32:16 The use of public security cameras vs. privacy aspects
01:39:20 Circling back to how he built his career in the beginning.
01:41:21 The role willpower and desire played in his career.
01:43:45 Witnessing the “burning monk” as an amateur photographer/reporter
01:45:28 Philosophy of going the extra mile
01:47:22 Why he left Las Vegas.
01:52:37 Who does Bob consider an extraordinary person?
01:56:19 Bob’s closing message.
Listen as Podcast
Bob Arno is an American stage performer who is widely regarded as The World’s Greatest Pickpocket.
Always quick to return the items he steals from audience members, he is also a specialist on street crime and pickpocketing, and has served as an advisor to European law-enforcement authorities.
He began his career doing magic shows as a teenager in Sweden, and was mentored by the French stage performer “Dominique” Risbourg, eventually becoming a successful comedic stage magician in his own right.
Bob’s shows were built around pickpocketing, a skill at which he became so adept that in 2010 National Geographic produced a documentary about him titled Pickpocket King.
Together with his wife, Bambi Vincent, Bob began to use his skills to examine actual street crimes, illuminating his audiences on the techniques and mindsets of successful pickpockets. Now he is regarded as an authority on pickpocketing and travel safety and has been invited to share his knowledge about con artist with Europol in support of their efforts to curb street crime and gang activity in Europe.
He and Bambi co-authored the book, Travel Advisory: How to Avoid Thefts, Cons, and Street Scams (2003), and he is a contributor to the book Scam-Proof Your Life: 377 Smart Ways to Protect You & Your Family from Ripoffs, Bogus Deals & Other Consumer Headaches (2006) by Sid Kirchheimer.
Connect with Bob
“Travel Advisory – How to Avoid Thefts, Cons, and Street Scams”
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1:54 Rob Konrad
Hey, and Welcome! This is Rob Konrad from Switzerland. If you've ever been robbed, either at home or on the streets, you know it can be a traumatic experience. It's often not so much the loss of physical goods or the hassle of getting your IDs and everything back, but the psychological component. How did this happen? Why me? Why didn't I notice? Could I have avoided it? Will it happen again? and most importantly, Am I still safe here? Bob Arno has worked as a pickpocket for more than five decades and is considered the king of all pickpockets. The reason that he's still running around freely is that he's not robbing people on the streets but on the many stages on all continents of this planet, that he's been touring for last decades. His shows are amazingly entertaining but together with his wife, Bambi, who today's behind the camera, he has also been immersed in the world of pickpockets and other criminals, both openly and undercover. His valuable experience makes him a highly sought after experts by law enforcement agencies all around the world. He's the author of the Book “Travel Advisory”, how to avoid thefts, cons and street scams and subject of the documentary “Pickpocket King”. I'm glad that today he allowed me to steal something from him, which is little bit of his time. Welcome the amazing Bob Arno.
3:08 Bob Arno
Thank you very much for that introduction. And I wonder if the viewers could see that my ego gradually was blowing up like a balloon ! I'm very impressed with all of the words, I think I need to hire you as my media consultant. How much better than that! Pickpocket King? Yes, that's the label that they have used lately. I guess it's a media term. It makes it easier when they, you know, want to catch viewers. So if you take National Geographic and the film that we made for them called “Pickpocket King”, it sort of stuck after that and it's used very often when I do conferences, when they present me. That's how they quickly get the viewers, the attendees to say “That's worth to go and see”. It raises curiosity.
3:32 Rob Konrad
That's true. That's true. So, how does one become a pickpocket? How does one start with that career choice?
4:07 Bob Arno
Well, I wonder if you want me to tell the viewers here, how one becomes a pickpocket ?! Are we going to raise the level of young people, 16-17 year olds who go and do all of those games on the computer and suddenly they are very, shall we say, attached to my films, to my internet presence. And you have no idea how often they asked me in the comments, How do I learn that? and how do I do this? and all of that.
4:34 Bob Arno
Becoming a pickpocket, well you know you can divide it into a couple of division, different sections and what I mean with that is that you have the theatrical pick pocketing, that's my background, that's what I started off as a young man. And then, you have the older spill that's what I'm doing today, meaning I have merged the street pick pocketing or the real crime by observing them and taking snippet and segments and psychology and pieces, the technique and I'm bringing it into the show. But I have to be very honest with you and tell you that for the first 30 years of my career I simply was a theatrical pickpocket. There was no reality base, there was nothing about how it's done in the street.
5:21 Bob Arno
When I was a young man back in Sweden, if you wonder about my accent, that's another thing when they look on the internet, people wonder where is he from? here? You know South Africa, Holland, Scandinavia, so I know that it's disguised a bit but i was born in Sweden. Well, as a young man brought up in Sweden, I had a hobby amateur magic, amateur pick pocketing, little bit of amateur hypnosis – and we had a market! We had what would be called youth horse pits or shall we say Clubs, that the state the government, the socialist government sponsored. So they had clubs where maybe 50- 60-70 kids were gathering in various sections of the city, of the main cities and sometimes even in the smaller sectors. The idea was, get them off the street, get them away from doing something bad.
6:13 Bob Arno
Well they needed entertainment! And that was my stomping ground, that's where I learned, that's where i was started off as a bad entertainer, the beginning you know you're 16-17, What do you know?! But it allowed me to be bad, being paid a little bit and to grow. And, then I was lucky because I had a mentor or at least if not the mentor, I had someone I could look up to. And, that happened when I was 17-18, a French performer, his name is Dominic and he is still alive today. Couple of years older than I am. Well, he came to Sweden to perform in the theater and he was simply sensational. He is eight years older than I am, by the way.
7:01 Bob Arno
So at the time, he was in his prime, in his 20s, and by meaning prime, he had that youth energy, he looked fabulous and he was very, very funny. The pick pocketing might not have been the world's greatest, as far as stage pick pocketing is concerned. But the reason for being funny is his history, his background was in Comedy Francia, at the old French traditional comedy theater. That's where he got his teeth into it. And he had a partner who helped him a little bit with the designing and making observation of what was bad and good. Well, he came to Sweden and he needed a few assistants, and when I say assistant, I don't mean that he hired me to be on stage. He certainly didn't need an assistant on stage but because Sweden didn't have too many English speaking people in the audience in those years.
7:59 Bob Arno
They, he and his partner, they hired a few young amateur magicians, me and a couple of others to go out into the audience to observe, to see potential victims, maybe see the dress mode, a little bit of help is what he needed. And sometimes he needed to have us ask people, Do you mind if later this man brings you up on stage? Do you speak a little bit English? He sort of smoothed the road for him to make it easier.
8:49 Bob Arno
If I hadn't seen Dominic, I wouldn't be where I am today, that's for sure. So he is the reason and I say that with absolute honesty because most creative people, I think when they are in their 20s or maybe a teenager, whether it's Picasso or whether it's a famous singer or musician, we always respect someone. There is someone who we said oh my god, I Wish I could be like him! Well, that was the case for me with Dominic. Dominic didn't teach me anything about pick pocketing, nothing about how to remove a wallet and take a watch and all of that. I got the early part of that from a couple of books. Not very good but they were written for magicians. And in the beginning, when I started my career, what Dominic did more than any other entertainer, he focused my attention on comedy.
9:25 Bob Arno
And so as a Swede, I know I'm going on here but I need to make this really clear so that if anyone is listening in here, how do you become a pickpocket? You will understand my background. Well, I realized by the time I was 20 that comedy, more than pick pocketing, that was going to be my life. So I would be listening on radio, back in Scandinavia to American entertainment programs and listen to American comedians. I adore them and I would have a small pocket book, a notebook in my hand and anytime that I saw something funny, in the street, with friends, in the newspaper, a little reference or some of these comedians, I would write it down. And after a year or two, I would have 10 of those books. They're very small, I still have them to this day. That is how I focused on comedy. And I did not really, shall we say, concentrate on pick pocketing until I was about 23 years old.
10:05 Bob Arno
But I'm talking so much here that I'm going to let you come in with a question or two because I know you want to know how does one become a pickpocket, but first, I'll let you have a question here. And then I will answer that question.
10:41 Rob Konrad
Actually, I think you were on the way to explaining what I wanted to ask – But it's been a nice introduction. Yes, I wanted to first know how you became a pickpocket and you've answerd that, you didn't come from the streets and ended up in the stage but you were always a stage entertainer and focused on, let's say, the pick pocketing as a part of your entertainment show. And when we talked in the previous conversation – by the way for the viewers, this is actually our second interview because the first one we both probably had some technical hiccups – and so Bob kindly agreed to do this again… And you mentioned that your father was a judge back in Sweden, correct? So what did he say when when his son came to him saying “I'm going to be an entertainer!” plus “I'm going to be a pickpocket entertainer!”
11:32 Bob Arno
You know we had a very hot discussion, make hot, maybe I could exaturate your thought even further that that it was very drastic. By the time I was 18 and I entered the military, I should use the term “thank God” for that, I entered he military because he was on the verge of kicking me off. He actually gave me an ultimatum, is that if you continue with comedy hypnosis and pick pocketing on stage, with our family being traditional and going 500 years back. We come from a very, shall we say, an old family in Sweden. I wont even reveal my second surname here but it has nothing to do with Arno by the way.
12:12 Bob Arno
So the point here is that my father was exceptionally unhappy about the fact that I was doing entertainment but I also have to tell you that when I went out to Asia, which is where I really got successful because there were so many places to be bad and to learn your craft and yet be paid, I could survive being fairly sloppy about at all. Well, that is where I learned my pick pocketing and when I came back to Sweden, at that point I was 23 years old. I lived in Asia basically for four years. I was darn good as a performer, not necessarily the best pickpocket in the world but I certainly was the funniest pickpocket at that time. May be on par with Dominic, except that he had a French charm and I didn't.
13:00 Bob Arno
I was more crude or rude or hard nosed, similar to the Americans but he respected me suddenly, he was absolutely impressed, he took me in and from there on in, we had a fabulous relationship until the day he died at age 99 and a half, but we would be, you know, talking to each other every week regardless of where I was around the world. So it was great but I am going to to jump back to that first question because you do want to know, of course, how does one become a pickpocket?
13:35 Bob Arno
Well, if we start off with the stage pick pocketing, I'm just going to very quickly tell you why it's so different ? Stage pick pocketing from the street pickpocket. On stage or when you're out in the audience. You can bambozle people, you can distract them, you can touch your shoulder, you can talk to them quickly or loud, you can ask them a confusing question, you can ask them to hold on to the cigarettes or various interactive aggressive invading their personal space, that allows me to distract them. And you could even turn them slightly when you're doing the lift so that you have a shield.
14:18 Bob Arno
Well in the street none of that happens, there is no talking, the victim will go back to the police station a couple of hours later and the first thing that the officer will say is What did they look like? Do you remember that? “I have no idea!”- “When did it happen?” – “Well, I don't quite know, I think I was jostled on that station but I don't really quite remember….” So in other words, we have a huge difference.
14:44 Bob Arno
Now the question as a stage performer, of course is, is there sources to learn this ? And there are a few, there are a couple of videotapes that are sold online, you know pieces and there are a couple of books, there are not many, maybe a total of two or three. Some of them are just sort of simply pamphlet, they're not really that great at explaining. So if I were to be honest and tell you most of the material that exists today for a young person to become a stage and pickpocket, is basically worthless. The reason is it's based on 1950 – 1960, how we were dressed and how we performed and so on.
15:26 Bob Arno
Today people are in jeans and shorts t shirts or whatever, they behave, they move, they sit in clubs different, they don't go to a big showroom, weather a 500 people and where I as an entertainer, I could scan out the Las Vegas where I had 15 years career. I could look at you all, I could go into the showroom three minutes before my performance, glance at the room and I could see haha, there is one man, there is a couple, I could actually grasp very fast where my potential victims are ! Real pickpockets, street pickpocket, they do the same thing, they evaluate but going back to performing the club scene today, even Las Vegas doesn't have this sort of scenario.
16:22 Bob Arno
So it's basically impossible today to become a stage pickpocket. What you can do is to be, what we call, a walk around magician. You know you are hired to do 20 minutes walking here and there and you pick up a sponge ball and you tell the people hold it or a coin and it moves from one hand to the other. There are various tricks that you can do a little bit of stealing, if you're lucky, while you're doing this but it is not sort of an environment like in the past. So for me where I perform and what I work is basically corporate, and corporate means that – you know, there's 1000 people, a bankers conference in Switzerland or johannesburg or whatever and those are harder for young people to get booked for. So it's a very tough scene but… now, what you REALLY want to know, is how do you become a pickpocket in the street?
17:11 Rob Konrad
Yes, before we do that, maybe we can use this moment and cut in a little bit of your show and also cut in a little bit of the conversations that you had with real pickpockets on the street so that people can see and understand the difference and also see some real world footage, both from the show as well as from pickpockets.
17:30 Bob Arno
(Footage Begins) Right over here, Good Evening. Sir, that's right, very good, a little quick look right over here, stand here, You don't mind, right? Okay, Can we say hello for a brief second over there? Let me ask you a question, did that make sense at all? I want you to hold on to everything there, do you mind sir ? For a minute, that's it, what ? Did it make sense at all, what's happening sir ? Now you have everything over there. Right? That's good. Okay. Do you mind if we say hello here? I know that, that's right. A little fast look over her, are you alright ? You look very concerned, slight hostility over here, you paid attention very much, din't you ? ! A fast look over there, hello there sir, allow me to come right up here. You know, are you left handed or right handed? I am Right. Okay, yeah, so whatever you have, reflexes better on that side, alright? You mind if we say hello over here, thats it, ok very good. Permit me to come in between here sir, you care? Do you know what's going on right now? Could you keep your hands sir on the top, don't lose anything of value now, alright ? We keep your hand on the watch, dont you loose that now. Okay. We have enough. All right. It did take a little time there, how many people did we say here to ? We shook hands with about five, six people, am I right? Now tonight I'm looking at the brands there. By now, its clear that you have a tief and a conman among you ! Now let me start with the show, lets show them, take it off, take it off for a second, take you wallet out of your pocket and put it in your pocket. Is it in your pocket, For sure? Yes or no? If I can take it in two seconds.
19:05 Bob Arno
Rob and Bambi hop on the bus. It takes a pickpocket to know a pickpocket. When the bus stopped and some new people came on board. I immediately knew they were not regular passengers and you dont make eye contact with them, I cannot turn to let them see the wallet. And they moved closer, so I knew it was going to happen. I never felt the wallet go. In all my years of their hunting, this has never happened before, he checked my wallet, realized it was empty, dropped it on the floor. Now this was my chance to confront them. This is potentially dangerous. These are criminals, when cornered, the pickpockets, could turn violent. Now he's smiling and as i am saying you hold it and see. And as I gave it to him to hold, i took his watch. They volunteered and say, hey, let's go over and have a coffee together. Bob has his first pickpocket, he's playing a risky game with real criminals, he's not in Vegas anymore.
20:35 Rob Konrad
Okay, so we've seen some of your materials. So how does one become a pickpocket? Let's get back to that.
20:41 Bob Arno
Yes, well, you have to understand that I am not about, for the next couple of minutes, tell every 17 year old young males who suddenly runs out the money for his games on the computer, how to go out in the street and grab a wallet from a girl or a phone and sell it somewhere but I'm going to tell you how they learn. How pickpockets learn and what we maybe should know is that real thieves, the ones who do this for a living professionally and I am not talking about opportunity thieves because there are opportunity thieves, there are people who are hooked-up on drugs and they do stealing now and then, because they need a little bit of money but they don't do it every day and they don't do it in a skillful way.
21:54 Bob Arno
So we were talking about actual professional and they have to be in different categories. You have to talk about parts of the world. For example, South Africa, Russia, Romania, Bulgaria, South America, you have Chile, you have Brazil, you have Peru, these are areas where pickpockets come, North Africa, Not to forget. You don't have much of pick pocketing in Kenya for example, you would think so, high crime, not in Nigeria but you have in Morocco and so maybe the question would be why is that?
22:14 Bob Arno
Well, of course you have some pick pocketing everywhere where you got a lot of people but in many of those places places that I mentioned, it's more a mugging, it's rough, it's for example in South Africa it's more common that they shove you up against the wall while you're standing waiting on a red light. For example, rip the pocket so that it opens up, so the fabric falls off like a flat, grab the wallet and dash. And by the time you realize what the hell happened, the are already 50 yards away. The same thing in many places in South America, We call them piranhia kids. They are groups of maybe 5 to 10 kids and they have a leader, sometimes older, who assembles them. They are very simple, often are single mothers and it's a survival thing. They have no other way and so the mother can't really take care of them properly.
23:10 Bob Arno
So they are off in the street, they start smoke and use pot and so forth, and they will have one that uses a knife. They run up quickly, grab, if you follow them around the corner, the protector, the older guy with a knife will stand there and use it. Now he's not stealing, he's just using the knife to stop you. So it's not very smart to pursue in that scenario but you have very skillful pickpockets, both from Chile and from Peru. And then the question would come, well why is that?
23:43 Bob Arno
Well, because you have so many of the locals, there are some organizers, some kingpins, puppet master, who sits at the top and those guys recognize who are the good ones. He recognizes because every so often they come back with a phone and they say I stole the phone, i don't know how to use the card and the numbers and the pin and all of that. How much are you going to give me? 200 euros or whatever. So they will see you who are good and who are not good, they lump them together and send them to Europe to steal, in organized groups but that didn't explain how they get good.
24:23 Bob Arno
So we need to understand that the techniques of pick pocketing varies from continent to continent. So for example, in China, you sometimes see them using chopsticks because they shove them down into a pocket. Now you certainly don't see any pickpockets in Romania or in Rome using chopsticks, you see hair tongs in Italy. And in Naples, for example, we have seen that in all those long hair tongs that they've used those but it's an old gimmick and it's not terribly common. The minute you use a prop in Europe, whether it is a special razor blade, or whatever. If law enforcement catches you with a prop on it means that you are an habitual, you're a career criminal. And it means that in front of the judge, you can't say “Oh, I'm sorry, this is the first time I'm doing it, my wife, my child is hungry, she's sick, I need a little money” and the judge, you know, slaps them and say, “don't do this again”, thats all.
25:24 Bob Arno
The point that I'm trying to say here, these techniques, they start out when they are young. They could be anywhere from 14 to 16, they hang with groups. For example, in Romania, where one is older, could be 4-5 years older and that person, teaches the others some of the moves. So why it's important to have a group is that a good pickpocket team, which could be for example three people, will have one who slows down the victim, narrows the path, corners them as they are about to enter the subway for example, or on an escalator or entering the lift, a revolving door in a hotel lobby, anywhere where they can kind of jostle you a little bit.
26:15 Bob Arno
Maybe a bag that they carry and they brush it against your leg and said oh I'm sorry. Well, you're going to feel that bag against your leg more than you're going to feel the actual extraction of your wallet or your phone from an other pocket. So you're not gonna learn pickpocket at age 16 or 22 or 29 on your own, there's no way where you wake up one morning, even if you are poor in Rome or in Paris and you say you know what I lost my job, tomorrow I start being a pickpocket, that's not going to happen. It's always going to be somebody else, it could be in prison for example, very often the Moroccans are coming illegally into Europe and they get hired, building sites or whatever but they're not they're legally and so after six months the construction site is down, it goes down with the economy or whatever and now they are off the job.
27:17 Bob Arno
They do a little burglary, they break into a car, they get caught by the cop and now they are in jail and there in jail, others are getting them together as a group and teaching them how to do pickpockets. So now when they come out of prison, now they work on the lower end, meaning in the beginning they are doing the shabby work in the team. One team member, once the wallet is stolen, if they really good, let's say on a subway in Italy, the one that removes the wallet he never holds it. A good pickpocket who is senior, who maybe 30 or more, if the police catches him two seconds after the lift, there's no evidence! Because as soon as he has lifted it, he's passed it on to another member who may have a soft bag.
28:11 Rob Konrad
That's something we've see in the video segments that we just shown around, you see that where someone takes it out, put it in the bag and then
28:36 Bob Arno
Instantly instantly. So that's very, very important. Now what does happen is that suddenly you now have to share the money between the three members. Guess who gets the most money, the guy who is senior, who actually lifts the wallet. The guy who carries probably gets the least money and the one who creates a good diversion somehow by bodily moving the victim in position, because sometimes the wallet is in a pocket where the thief can't get to it but if the good guy can steer with just a fraction of a nudge, with the shoulder or a leg, getting them to move it or for example, move up to the bottom part of the jacket.
29:02 Bob Arno
Just move it for a fraction so that the thief can get his hand in, they become so well coordinated that they become valuable and it becomes known all across Europe. So these various groups that are formed, they know after a few years that so and so, “Gianno” or “Marcus” or whatever names they have, they get known for being on the pecking order and they form their teams according to what they need. They lose a little of their respect if they serve a lot of time in prison, because now It means that the police know the records and with the facial recognition or cameras and whatever, they can be spotted.
29:47 Bob Arno
So you don't want to serve too much time. Have you understood – or do you understand now – what I mean with all of these techniques? Like understanding the top part of the wallet, for example, you want to know the wallet… How much below the the top edge, where does it sit? If it is sitting three centimeters, it means your finger has to go down, further down. Maybe there has to be a movement from below, from the other hand to kind of kick it up a bit. Is it enough to just clip it? How thick is it? Do you hold it with your nails and drag it out or is it with your two fingers? All of these things become a good pickpocket's second nature. You know it's like bicycling, they know how to do this in their sleep.
30:38 Rob Konrad
Yeah. Okay. And so it's basically something you have to grow into, literally, you have to be taught by someone who has more experience. And what I was wondering is, what kind of characters are these pickpockets? Because when I saw your documentary, the documentary in which you work closely with a group of pickpockets, and one of them says “I'm actually ashamed of what I'm doing” I was surprised by that because I was wondering “why”? Probably I would have expected that they are kind of proud of what they're doing. Like they are skilled, they have techniques, so they might even be proud. So I was so surprised to see a pickpocket saying, “I'm ashamed of what I'm doing and would love to do something else”. So what are these characters?
31:20 Bob Arno
I really like that question. Of course, I am equally fascinated myself even although I have lived among them for 10 years. So I know basically how they wake up in the morning and what they think and how they go to bed. But yes, their deep character is something that I'm very intrigued about. Not just pickpockets by the way, all criminal minds, all career criminals, shall we say great conmen, people who are at the very top who are certainly not satisfied with making 6000 a week by stealing wallets and phones but want a lot more. I want to know what is their mindset but if we take pickpockets – the question would be, “what kind of moral fiber is inside”?
32:09 Rob Konrad
32:09 Bob Arno
How often is the shame factor? Are they aggressive? Are they psychopathic? Have they been hurt as young people and they want to take it out on society? A lot of it has to do with what part of the world they come from and how they have been treated in their home countries. So if you divide for example, gypsies from Eastern Europe versus non gypsies and we have pickpockets from both societies. Well, the gypsies is very easy to understand, because they were mistreated for about 1000 year, from the time they left India and came to Europe. And when they came 200 or 300 years ago into Central Europe they were shunted out, you know, they had to live in other areas and the rest of the society had gates around their places, they weren't allowed to go into the same schools that the rest of society.
33:07 Bob Arno
So of course, it was very easy for them to say gaijin, outsider, foreigners and us. They have a different sense of what belongs to me and what belongs to you. If they see something valuable sitting in a coffee shop and you're not looking, they feel they have as much right to that item as you have. You know, they very often tell me I understand that this is your wallet, but you have to understand I need money too, so I need that money that you have, that's their philosophy. That's very hard for us to comprehend.
33:48 Bob Arno
The ones that you saw in the movie, were not gypsies, the are regular Italians. Unique, because in Naples, where it was filmed, they don't really permit pick pocket from other parts of the world to come down and work. So you really see the core value, granted it's a poor area, unemployment is very high, certainly in the 40s – 50s – 60s it was exceptionally high, so you know it was a desperate scenario, that's why you have the Camorra crime syndicate building up within that society. So their idea of Catholic right and wrong, they do go to church they do believe in what the church is saying, they sense very much inside what they're doing, they claim that they don't steal from old or from poor people, they claim that they steal from tourist or from wealthy people who can afford it.
34:40 Bob Arno
So that particular individual, very often they understand darn well what they do and they would like to shift if they could but they don't have the education, they are in the habit of the money the are making, doesn't make sense for them to move but do not believe for a minute that what I just painted now, that information that I just gave you does not apply to other cultures.
35:04 Bob Arno
So for example, the North Africans or the ones from Eastern Europe, from Poland or wherever they happen to come from, they have different yardstick. They measure this right and wrong in a different way, so if you take a regular great pickpocket from Romania, for example, he's not Gypsy, poor country, was communist before, it just happened that they built when they were teenager, they got really darn good at this, really really good ! A hell of a lot better than a young poor kid from Finland, for example, you know, Finland has something like three and a half million people but you didn't have a culture where there's sort of built up. I think the poverty or communism fostered a society where you grab what you can and so I don't think today, this year, that we have young Romanian pickpockets starting in this trade. I think it's something that belongs to 10-15-20 years ago.
36:10 Rob Konrad
Ok. Ok. So I mean, nowadays it's a sensitive topic to kind of stereotype people by their racial identity or where they come from but what you've seen on the streets, there are those differences between you know pickpockets from say Romania, from South Africa, from South America and other countries. So they have different techniques, they have different reasons to start and well, they all have different heritage in a way.
36:45 Bob Arno
Yes, you know, it's crystal clear that if you talk with the police officer today in Europe, and they analyzed and they scrutinized, they look at the cameras and how they behave and then they do some interrogation after that. They know themselves exactly, they can sort of pinpoint nearly, they can throw a dart and say, 90% I believe from the way they behave that they're from this area or from that area? When you want to catch them, it doesn't really matter where they from, what does matter is if you bring them in front of the judge and you want to have the sentence stick. And so what goes on into their brains, in their minds, I don't think that I am the one who should be doing the analysis exactly that where their heart and their moral yardstick is.
37:39 Bob Arno
It's very, very complex and it's something that I think there are psychiatrists and there are professors all across Europe, who are discussing these things, you know, you probably have a lot more hardened criminals who steal millions and millions from financial fraud. For example, stock market, real estate deals, bad advertising where you sucker people into, selling meat that you should have thrown away from the food chain and whatever. Well I would like to ask if you take the sales manager in Stockholm or in Amsterdam who said if we call this fish or we throw it away, we're going to lose 100,000 euros here. Come on let's do it and nobody will know we sell it. Well, where do you put that individual in terms of moral values and compare them with a pickpocket from Paris who is stealing because he has no other way, 60 euros that day, so the dialogue about all of this could be endless.
38:45 Rob Konrad
Yeah I understand and talking about numbers – what kind of money can a proficient good pickpocket, senior pickpockets make in a capital like Paris, like Barcelona, like maybe Naples? What's the kind of money they can make ?
39:01 Bob Arno
It's another interesting question because it varies so much and the reason why it varies is that, a really experienced pickpocket, let's assume he is 40-45 years, let's assume that he has served time once in jail somewhere in Europe. So he's in Europol's reports, he doesn't want to be back in prison, again. He knows that if he teams up with some members, the minute they are a group, it is easier for law enforcement to see the pattern of these people moving. They have to enter into the subway car/ Metro Car, they have to kind of move in tandem, in some kind of secret. They might be apart by many yards but they still move together, that group, it's safe for them and they will be to look at the pin number when you press in and you buy your ticket, for example, on the board, when you shove in your credit card or you put in the number, they may do what we call shoulder surfing.
39:47 Bob Arno
So they stand from the side and they see the number, they follow you for 20 minutes until the moment is right and they lift the wallet. But now they have to remember which of the four or five credit cards that they saw. So they might have two people to make all of this observation and the third one, so the group is three or four. But they kind of make 6000, easy if not more, from each card. Because they can instantly go out and purchase something, whether it is a plasma screen or a computer or whatever, lots of money, it has to be divided but the threat factor for them, the risk is much higher. So a good pickpocket who wants to not serve any time, who doesn't want to be caught by the police, he's going to work alone.
40:15 Bob Arno
So police will never have the chance to catch one guy and say, if they catch him, I'm going to give you a two years in prison unless you tell me one of the members, where do you live, they want to follow him back, they want to see who else is staying there, they might not even tell him that they are tracking and following but they do. So now they see who else is in there, they have a better way of tracking. So a single guy is not going to be able to do that thing with a credit card, he's only going to live off what is in that wallet, cash for example or maybe the phone. You can steal the phone, he can go to a place and sell it and if it's an Android, there's no problem he's going to get the nice value. If it's an Apple phone, basically it has to be sent off to the Middle East where they lump them together and you know it's more organized crime scenario. Have you understood what I mean with the difference in money. So a smaller guy, he's going to maybe make 1000-900 Euro a week, sometimes he is going to be lucky and he's going to hit the tourist where there's more money. The others are going to be, every time they steal a card it's going to be 4-5000 Euro.
42:14 Rob Konrad
Ok ok. So, we are talking pretty good amounts of money. Even 1000 a week…
42:22 Bob Arno
A decent thief is going to make around a hundred thousand euros a year, one who plays it very safe is going to make 60,000 -50,000 per year.
42:35 Rob Konrad
Okay. So we talked about respectable incomes here. That's, that's very interesting. Okay, so talking about tourists. Could you characterize the typical victim? What are pickpockets looking for in the victim? Is there…. are those people who are traveling alone or traveling in groups? Is it a certain nationality they're looking for? Is it the certain behaviors? Such as shy people ? Is it people who dress extensively? Is it the typical tourist with sandals and snow shorts and white socks? What are pickpockets looking for?
43:09 Bob Arno
It's such an interesting question and I have to tell you that I get this over and over. And you know that people want to know is it just a stupid people who becomes victim ? And that's just not a true at all. Is it the ignorant people ? And that's not true either. It's basically non informed, that's number one. Kind people, people who love society and is open and friendly. Hardened, cynical, quick, jittery, nervous individuals are not so often the victims. So here is what happens.
43:54 Bob Arno
The thieves are evaluating his cloth and they can instantly, if they walk on La Rambla, for example, not that there's much pick pocketing there nowadays. It used to be many years ago, but they can, i have walked with them and they will tell me, they will whisper to me see that guy there ? See how his jacket hangs more on the right side than on the other side, and this is from just walking maybe three meters behind ! I said, Yeah, I see now, But what the hell does that mean? Well, it means that his wallet is upstairs. Upstairs mean the top pocket, not the hip pocket. Inside on one side. So here's used with that.
44:40 Bob Arno
Well, of course, this is not science, it doesn't mean that everyone who has a bad shoulder has a wallet there. But anyhow, they look at all of these things and I do the same thing today. So for the last 10 years, you know, I can't stop this. It's hundred and 80 degrees everywhere i look, i see. So I see the opening of the pocket, I see the gaping part of the latest handbag, I see where her eyes are, I see how cheerier they are together. I see how business man is harden or some lady just puts her bag under her arm and she clinches it and you see a little bit more of a stern look on her face. You don't see a smiling happy face and addressing what bag, there are certain things that go against each other in the awareness level.
45:38 Bob Arno
So on my film, the pickpocket king, that is on YouTube. It's got, as we speak, about five 6 million views, I get comments below and very often there are comments where they say “two years ago I was in Amsterdam and I had seen your film and they still stole my phone or they stole my wallet”. And then they say “and you know what? Last week I was in Paris and they stole again. How is this possible?” You know what it proves, it proves that, you the guy who wrote this thing, didn't learn your lesson on the first time and you let it happen the next time.
46:22 Bob Arno
Well, when I say “let it happen” – so if I take myself and my wife, if we are in a Starbuck coffee house in Madrid, we are not going to put our bag with the phone on the floor at our table and go up six yards to the counter and get another package of sugar. We are going to have line of sight all the time. And preferably, we're going to have physical body contact with a stuff that's important. And if we are out and about in an area where we know for example, 11 o'clock, where we know that there could be mugging in Athens or whatever, we will ask the hotel lobby, is it smart to walk on that street back? Or do we need to take a taxi.
47:12 Bob Arno
If we are in parts of Africa or South America, we won't even take a taxi without asking the hotel, there are three taxi companies here, are they all equally safe? Can I just call them up? And they will say, you know, avoid those two because you never know if the driver is working with the thief and go for the third one. In other words, depending on where you are, you have to take that extra precaution. But your question was, how do they know who is a typical victim, the person who has not understood in advance where all of these threats can happen, which is not just you should destroy your trip to the Greek isles in the summer and start thinking that around every conceivable corner, there is a Mug there or a thief or a pickpocket.
48:07 Bob Arno
Have fun. Take a little bit of risk. But why do you need cash, I mean, five euros and the rest is credit cards. So for example, three credit cards, one you leave in your hotel in a metal bag or in the safe and two cards, could be American Express and on opposing, I say opposing because I prefer American Express first because it gives me more various sorts of points. And then the second card whether it's master, visa or whatever bank it is, and there are places where they wouldn't even accepted American Express but I also like a card that can instantly be given to me again, if it's stolen. So for example, if I'm fortunate in Russia and they actually steal it with a little bit of physical harm. I mean, the club scene, 11 o'clock, I shouldn't have been there I took a drink and someone put some chemicals in it. Well, if they've for any reason steal my credit card, I want to be able to call up and within 24 hours I want a new card. That doesn't happen with every company.
49:22 Rob Konrad
Okay, So what are these lessons ? Are these precautions that people can take? I mean, don't be stupid is one thing so don't leave your bag open on the floor. I guess don't walk around with an open bag and your wallets, on top of it what a general precautions that people can take?
49:42 Bob Arno
I think you know the first thing is to change your attitude. So for example, if I have friends so I happen to live in America in Arizona and I get friends saying my kid who's 18 years, they are going together with five other kids, they're going to Amsterdam. What am I supposed to tell him? Tell him or tell her? So it's different things to tell a boy or a young girl. They are both teenagers. They both think they know everything there is to know they certainly don't think that there is any advice that they need from the older people. So you have to rock them a bit and say hey, come and look at this movie here. You really think you know everything , hey, check this out, It can happen.
50:22 Bob Arno
So the ones who go into a police station in Europe, whether it is Berlin or Barcelona or Paris, let's say 11 o'clock, domain stations where the tourists got to reports of something happened. Do you know who are standing in line ? Young people who have good faith in humanity, in others and older people, very often people who are fifty year older. Unfortunately, you asked me before about the heart or moral values. They don't have compassion for the older people and older people are easier to steal from. Not just that they move slow, but their brains aren't moving as fast when it comes to quickly being cynical. If someone is saying, is it 5:30 when discloses or open ? The person who is 60 years old and he is first time in Europe on some, you know, two week trip, he believes that person is for real when they asked that question.
51:27 Bob Arno
A 42 year old from Germany has been reading all of the articles about being travels savvy, he is going to say, I don't know who this person is, I wonder. And so they start reacting, letting their antennas go up. So the point here that are making is inexperience. So you're going to have your antennas go up the minute something doesn't sound right, the minute you get approached or somehow, you know when they make that first kind of little gimmick or stamp to you.
52:00 Bob Arno
You know, there is something that when it comes to advice that is really important, one thing is where you are, meaning public transportation, for example, anything which crowded, a sport place, club scene in Europe, a festival, music festivals in the Netherlands, in England, in France and sometimes I get you know, the police keep saying Oh, could you come and speak to our police officers because we have a big festival. Could you please come in and tell the officers. They're not used to it, so the thieves are descending on those festival. Sometimes if the festival is for example three days ,a thief will walk away with 60 phones and they have cloths where the rubber is sort of expanding, where they've just shoved them in and then sometimes the police managed to catch them and they shake them and 60 phones dropout. Its just truly unbelievable, the scene that goes on.
53:04 Bob Arno
So in these areas, where you have crowds, where your guard is down. Of course, the thieves love it. Venice, where everyone is crowded but in Venice , the pickpocket have to be very very cautious because the police are really on the ball as is local security companies, that are working in tandem together with the police because they don't want the reputation that pickpockets can have an easy time. So it's a cat and mouse game. So what I would say when it comes to good advice is where are you going and how are you going to travel? If you're on a cruise ship and you're traveling around the Mediterranean and you're only five hours in each city and maybe nothing will happen because you're not going to use too much a public transportation versus if you're six days on your own in Rome and so it depends in other words where you are.
54:01 Bob Arno
Other thing is alternation just to take a couple of different continents here. Vietnam, you have to be cautious about. The club scene in Thailand you have to be cautious, Malaysia not much, Singapore basically nothing, Philippines very little, unless you use those really really cheap local transportation vehicles, which is very unlikely that the tourists will do. Japan nothing, Korea nothing, China yes but in certain areas and we're back to public transportation, so Latin America anything below United States or a corner with borders whether you're talking about the Mexico or Panama or Brazil and so forth. Different areas more than then others and when I mentioned all of these places, well Europe of course, there are some places where it's very safe, very little also for example, Helsinki into capitals, small percentage but good pickpockets know this. So they come in in the summer for maybe 10 days a group 5-6 guys to steal into hotel lobbies in or for example you in the breakfast times a day going to breakfast restaurants, people don't expect pickpocketing there and they're in for two or three days by that time all the security have caught them on cameras now they move they're no longer there. So what I meant with all of this quickly as I go from territory to territory is its territorial and it's also a time of the year.
55:44 Rob Konrad
Okay, why is it for example, in Japan where you have these crowded trains you say there's no pickpocketing and then South Korea also not. Where are the differences coming from. Is it a cultural thing ? because pickpockets, I would expect, they are not bound to any location, they have to travel around any way, they have to move from location to location anyway. So why are they not going to Japan? Well, someone looks might be one thing. But in general, what's the reason why Japan for example, is a safe place?
56:15 Bob Arno
You know, talking about the statistics of different areas and crimes. And you know, first and maybe even more interesting is why is it nearly Zero in Singapore. In 1959 when it became independent, it was a drug infested, tremendously crime infested area. Well, the new prime minister, he had 90% of his officers going undercover, they walk in the street and the minute they saw anyone who was doing drugs or whatever, they would drag them and never put them in front of a judge. They just disappeared, off the charts and they decided, the regime, that crime they were going to stop in this track. So first of all, serving time in prison is not pleasant if you are a criminal in Singapore and secondly, it's just a society where it's not happening. This time so it's very very safe.
57:12 Bob Arno
Do they have financial fraud? Do some people rip off each other when it comes to selling you know, real estate whatever ? Well, that hasn't stopped but Japan has a similar culture and it just isn't when people are brought up, the the young people for example, i should mention that you did have pick pocketing in the 50s but once Japan took off as a financially secure socialist society, it never happened. And also there's the embarrassment, shaming your family or others close to you, that you were caught being a thief. Now you do have a criminal syndicate. That's why you have the Yakuza and the guys who cut their fingers off to show that you are members of that crime syndicate but they run the brothels and the clubs and certain scene and to what extent that's brutal crime or not. That's for others to discussion, not for me, but within the whole society, no you don't have pickpockets.
58:20 Bob Arno
Korea, you have pickpocket, very small percentage. Percentage wise in relationship to the size of the country. China is a different story, have you Do you understand what I mean with why we don't see it? There are deeper reasons. But once we go into those reason, we're starting to talk about the baggage of culture and what culture means over a four or 500 year period. And how those on the outcast, who are on the outside of society with the day, the rest of society takes them in and helps them and so forth. So then it becomes almost racist, analytical aspect. And I don't think that's the platform.
59:07 Rob Konrad
Absolutely, absolutely. In your book as well, you mentioned a lot of good tips, things to look out for. And we talked a little bit about this know if, you know, being cornered, if you're being squeezed in between two people, if you're being brushed, stuff like that. And so there are certain things that you can potentially look out for. And if I'm on the streets, in whatever country it is, and I notice that I'm being cornered and being squeezed in between two people. People are starting to act weird around and notice it, what's a good reaction to that? Should I scream? Should I grab them? Should I run away? What's a good situation ? Is it dangerous?
59:48 Bob Arno
How do we react and generally speaking, except in Central Europe, generally speaking, when you are approached by criminals in societies and territories where you're not familiar. So for example, if you are a Dutch or a Irish tourists, and you're down in Africa, and Nigeria or Johannesburg and you get cornered in something, you never fight or give up too much resistance because you don't know how large that group is and that individual, What does he live on ? On one euro $1 a day ? Slightly more or less, so he doesn't care about the value of life. So it's really not worth to tangle and that certainly applies in Latin America, everywhere, I don't care where you are in South America, you simply have to be passive.
1:00:47 Bob Arno
You could have a smaller month, if you get mugged that you simply give up. It's a little more tricky in Europe, how we behave if we do get accosted, if it's dark, if it's on the street and an alley, I have seen lots of people who've been knifed in Barcelona. So you know, it's a fantastic city. From a tourist point of view. I mean, one of the greatest places on earth in terms of having fun and tourism but there is a threat factor lurking around that. So generally, if you're on the metro, you can shout, as Hey, give me back, you took my wallet! And it's very likely that whatever you do like that is, if they still gone, which is very unlikely, more likely, is that they stole when the door opened and closed, and you realize it 10 seconds later. By that time, the doors are already closed. But if you do, they're going to throw it on the ground.
1:01:42 Bob Arno
So for example, bus 64 in Rome going from MIT from the terminal station over to the Vatican, their the thieves are going to be on board and while your squeezed there in the rush hour, they're going to still be on board. So if you do make a fuss, you will very likely get your wallet back with your IDs but not necessarily with your cash. So if its young females and you should know that in Europe, it's just as likely that your pickpockets are female as they are male. And so of course, he you can give up some fuss but if they are North Africans you should not be too violent back or too forceful because they have a different attitude to all of this. They nearly like the confrontation or take the pride in front of their friends on what to do. So you can be lucky and they smile and you get it back. And it's just as likely that it will be a worst scenario.
1:02:44 Rob Konrad
Okay. Okay. And also you mentioned in your book to carry a bit of give up money with you in those areas, it's a good idea to have little bit of cash to, or the maybe some cards that are not working to hand out to someone, especially if you get it being mugged, in that situation, so that you can well at least get away with being hopefully lucky.
1:03:06 Bob Arno
That's a very complex scenario. Because obviously, if you do get mugged and the likeliness of you taking up your wallet and opening it up and dragging out the money that you're about to give and so forth, that's complex. Maybe a better scenario is that you have two, so if you are, if it's late, and you're out in the in this in the scene, sort of say, you could have some kind of money belt or some kind of strapped from inside where you carry the important things. And then you have a crappy, cheap wallet with very little in the 20 euros, for example. And you say, hey, you know, I have this, you can have this, you can have everything in it, give it to him. And as soon as he grabs it, you move in the opposite direction. He is going to assume that's all you have.
1:03:51 Rob Konrad
Okay, In the documentary you have you talked about your special wallet that has been stolen from you 150 times by the time you made a documentary and probably a lot more times in between as then. And so you on purpose had been stolen from but hasn't ever been a situation where someone took something from you without you noticing and without you intending to be stolen from ?
1:04:19 Bob Arno
all right, that was a narrow question. Why, and then it went narrow. So yes, I've had that wallet, you know, stolen 150 times because it's a great way to start opening a dialogue. You know, if they take the wallet, I wait, maybe 10-20 seconds and I smile and look at them. So I make them think that I'm not police officer. And then I may say something, so I make them think that we might be in the same part. Now, they get really surprised and they look at my shoes. They want to know if I'm law enforcement, if I can give chase, see if I can run so and they want to examine if I'm carrying a gun in the holster by ankle or something like that. So I want to make sure that they realize that I'm not law enforcement. And then I want to have a dialogue. That's why I want them to steal the wallet.
1:05:26 Bob Arno
It may have only old Russian rubles or some other crap the currency. So there's nothing what they they realize there's money as they look but they realize fast, hey its worth nothing. So I have an opening but your question really is did it happen when I didn't expect it? One time, this is a long time ago. Actually it happened twice, I should tell you the first time was in Vietnam with a friend of mine, where it's kind of was supposed to happen. It was more shortchange that I was with an undercover cop in Saigon and we wanted to change money. And in one scenario, they kind of grabbed it but they were going to give us money. So they were counting it up and there is a short change move where they flip half of the money that they have just counted. So you never actually get all of it and then they take the money you have to give them and then they run and say, hey, there's police over there.
1:06:10 Bob Arno
So you think you got all of it. But in actual fact, you go only 50% though, the the guy that was with the since he was a CIA guy, we were just amused by the whole scene. So just as he was about to run, he grabbed his hand, I grabbed the other hand and he happened to have a watch on that and the strap broke, so I had his watch and we had all of the money and all of that and then, you know, the guy took off, so and that was for real, but Rolex, I bought the Rolex many years ago and I walked in Naples on a Saturday evening, no sorry, Saturday afternoon with my wife. And they came behind us three guys on one scooter, they turned off the motor, so we never heard it. And then one guy grabbed me from behind with his arms around me. I instantly thought someone has seen my show and is playing a stunt on me, so I didn't react that was just kind of smiling but out of the corner of my eye, I see my wife hitting the guy over the head with her umbrella, it breaks in half and he continues to move and the other guy is now grabbing the watch, the strap in order to break the pin because that was the intention in order to steal the Rolex. You steal, you break where the week link is, which is the actual pin that holds the strap together with a watch. So I still have the scar tissue from the nails that moved of his finger in . Well, at that point, I shoved my heel into his foot and I souted “policia!” and he kind of cried out, dashed back onto the scooter and they drove off and I still have my Rolex. Well, 10 years after that happened. I felt very embarrassed, very stupid. A newspaper magazine in Germany wanted to do a story on mugging, so we went in to this area to see if we could have it done again with hidden cameras and we did.
1:08:28 Rob Konrad
So someone took it from you while…
1:08:30 Bob Arno
The second time around it get really funny. So they drove around, I bought in the morning a cheap Rolex replica and wore it. And then i heard a whistle sign. So I know what that was a grandmother sitting up there in the window looking down, and she may be on the phone, told her grand kids come by and the tourists are here. And so they circled Me too, twice, and I recognize it. And then the second scooter block the oncoming traffic about 30 yards further up, so traffic couldn't come down. And the other one, they stepped off their scooter and approached into me to grab that Rolex, at that point, just as they reach into me, I run into their scooters and tipped it over and that was just amazing surprise on their face.
1:09:22 Rob Konrad
Okay. Okay. I have to mentioned you have on your website bobarno.com, have also your wife and yourself writing a lot about different scenarios and encounters and I recommend everyone to check out your website, definitely and read it. And especially, I noticed there was one, one article about how the tactics have changed, because Rolex's now have different clasps, so you need two people to actually grab it off. And so when you're driving, they're gonna like hit your mirror, and then they gotta burn you with a
1:10:13 Bob Arno
What happened with a Rolex scenario and this is when I was working with some undercover cops in in Europe and in Italy, of course, it's a very sensitive area. So those guys in Europe, when they are working undercover, whether it has to do with terrorism or military or camera or syndicates that are little tougher than just pickpocketing, they don't always cooperate with other nations. Sometimes they want to keep their informants, it's a very sensitive issue and the coordination and the help between different nations is very strange. It should be perfect coordination between each nation but but it isn't.
1:10:42 Bob Arno
Any case, I'm mentioning this simply because the Italians are a little bit to themselves. So I am with some really good guys in Naples and I'm asking them and I'm gonna say guys, I'm talking about now the undercover crops and I wondered if they could take me to some of the families that specialize in the Rolex because I was really intrigued, how it's possible that could be that many? I found out from statistics that there is something like 15 Rolex president, a week that are stolen which is kind of a high number. Well, and so they said, okay, we will try. And this is sort of run by a section, I guess you could call it, of the Camorra, so we come to a narrow street inside the “”catchy espanol””??, which is very colorful and if you want to have a meal inside there and you haven't been there before, I absolutely suggest that you should aim for that because it's really a true Italian feeling with the music and the food and the charm and the warmth, all of that.
1:11:43 Bob Arno
So we're coming to a building where there are some women sitting, all sudden they pick little white chairs and there are some guy standing outside the huge iron gate with rottweilers on short leases and in the gate is an opening about this big, but a sliding thing. So my cop friend goes up there, and he has a little conversation and he says, this is American pickpocket guy was so intrigued, you think he can talk with the boss ? He wants to have a little chat, with you enjoy that ? And sometimes, you know, there's coordination and cooperation, I should say, show meaning, sometimes the police will have a relationship because they exchange information, they look the other way for certain crime as long as the the hardest stuff, the murder and killing and all of that, they keep that under wraps. So they said, Okay, wait a minute. So it takes a few minutes. And then the guy comes down is that, you know, the boss is in jail but his but his son is out, you can talk with the son. And a 24 year old kid comes off, muscular, looks very wealthy and who knows, cloths and everything and he started showing me the moves.
1:12:57 Bob Arno
How they doing it and they're rapping and blah, blah, blah. And I show a little bit of video from my Las Vegas show and before we know it, we are really buddy buddies. So through this, I got the invitation from some of these other guys and Christmas time sometimes from these people, I get invitation to come and stay there, be with them for three, four days. And at one point when I'm over there, I'm going into the bathroom and it's all gold faucets. You know where you have the water coming, I'm seeing your thief How can you afford this and the guys that well, you don't understand Bob, the real boss who owns this building where we live here, he is in jail serving a long sentence and I'm here occupying, making sure that others aren't breaking in. So it's not really, you know from my perspective, what I wanted, of course, is to get into their mindset.
1:13:55 Rob Konrad
Okay. Okay, so how is it that you can connect so well with with these people? Why do they trust you, I mean, you get a lot of those guys to speak on camera to speak, you know, for your publications. And, you know, since you seem to have this national way of, you know, getting in touch with them and being buddies as you just said with them. How do you do it?
1:14:16 Bob Arno
Yeah, I think that has changed over the years, and so on. In the beginning, it was simply that I was outgoing and warm and easy and all of that and my work with law enforcement was not as pronounced and not as dedicated and not as precise. So in the beginning, I really didn't tip the hat or or shall we say, inform who they were, I just took the information, I took it into my lectures and I gave that information in lecture so that people weren't simply ripped off. But as my work with law enforcement got more and more dedicated, I guess you could say within segments of Europol, my relationship with law enforcement got stronger and it became much more delicate with whom I could interact and not interact. Sometimes, as it is, when you build informants, so sometimes my work is to teach others how to build informants and that's a skill factor that I'm sure you're not going to be sitting here and talking on camera. But you know, everything is about building certain trust and not burning bridges behind you and doing things that both sides can benefit from. I think great politicians, when you take a polarized scenario, when you come from two very opposing views, there has to be a bit of give and take.
1:15:44 Rob Konrad
I see. So I think it's a good point to move a little away from pick pocketing and go into more of the other crimes like con artist, for example, because you've encountered a lot of these con artists from all areas of life and all countries of this planet, basically, and what's the character of a typical con artist and how does it typically con work? What are the stages of a con?
1:16:14 Bob Arno
You know, the con and the grifters and all of that, it comes in an enormous shall we say a scale from very, very good ones. You could say that some of them are psychopathic and some of them are simply to get the rush factor, they are clever at age 14-15, just as clever as anyone else in the in the class, maybe even more, shorter attention span, little kind of jittery in some way and sometimes they fall off in terms of the the school work but they are sharp and shrewd, and to sort of survive in society they fall into the cons and the scams.
1:16:54 Bob Arno
And I'm not talking about hard and stuff now with guns and that type of crime but they get a kick of the rush factor. So very often it's the dope, I mean effect just the same way as games. Meaning if you do it every second day and you succeed, you simply can't stop, there has to be another one, maybe even bigger, maybe a more of a pay off. A characteristic that I see that it's repeated over and over is a smiling happy, outgoing kind of a persona. They're not kind of nerdy and close and tight, they are just look at yourself in the mirror. So if I didn't know that you are a good interviewer, that smile that you have, I would say is perfect for a good comment. So they build a little bit of this warm, they are analytical, they see weakness and what they do is like a fish or a bait, they hang something out? Carrot and the stick, for sure, that you swallow and you get hooked into that.
1:18:10 Bob Arno
That is an absolute characteristic, the higher up they go, the more sophisticated they are, they are the savoir faire, their whole persona is that you would say that's a man that's a woman I would love to be friends with. Sometimes reading their facial expression is what's the tricky part, what we call micro expression. So the higher up you go, and I would say that really, really good politician. And I mean all the way up at the very, very top, it's a sec now some politicians have absolutely good moral values. And I'm not in anyway claiming that they're all crooks but there is an overlap in terms of engaging society and others around you that is identical with a good politician and a good comment. Very, very similar and where they separate is when you read the micro expression, some people who are good politicians and but they do it from faith and from all the commitment to society. You do not see the micro expressions, the telltale signs as you do see in a comment.
1:19:30 Rob Konrad
Yeah, and you sent me an article before this interview that also talked a little bit about for example, Elizabeth Holmes from theranos, that's that $9 billion scam that's rising star of the venture capitalists. That's for those who don't know she was 19 she founded a company called theranos and she promised to have blood tests, that's instead of pulling or drawing huge amounts of blood, they could basically do all the tests for way cheaper price on a single drop of blood. And the company went on for like 12-13 years and people have invested hundreds of millions into the company and just recently they found out there's nothing behind it, the technology doesn't work, devaluation went from 9 billion to basically zero, she's facing 20 years of jail now but she really scammed some of the most intelligent people as high ranking politicians politicians, rupert murdoch invest a hundred millions, so on. Exactly what you say, in a sense, she has this charm, this intelligence, someone you want to be around with. And there's a documentary about her actually coming out, which i am exactly talking about, so this ability to draw people in, it seems to be one of the main characteristics of this large scale con artists. Definitely!
1:21:00 Bob Arno
It is very hard to summarize and say that in con man is identical to the next con man, and that you can always read the micro expression. There have been a few good ones in America, now serving time, financial guys, where we who are specialists in trying to read micro expressions, we could not see the signs. So for example, one of them we had on camera in Miami when he was examined for some fraud and he was he was getting away with it, he was accused. When we examined those tapes and we were looking at those expression, where their motion were going and the eyebrows and all of that thing, the very, very best Paul Ekman who is an expert for example, at reading micro expression. We could not see a sign of any sort because the guy is sort of psychopathic, he basically nearly believes his own lies, so that that is very very tough but I can tell you also that some of the ones that I have examined or for example if you take Clinton when he was lying on camera about his affair with women, there we who are reading expression, we could see what happened with the mouth down and with a few things with eyes and so and on. There are some, who are good politician, who when they line you can see that they're lying. But when I think of the ones that I have seen face to face, top guys, front men bankers for drug cartel people, they were the rush factor. It took a while, for me it took three years, four years of being with them before I could recignize these signs.
1:22:56 Rob Konrad
Okay, I was just looking at some of the I wrote down from your book, you said, it's quote from Simon Lobel, I think it's something like “Not every stranger cheats, but every cheat is a charming stranger”
1:23:13 Bob Arno
Yeah, it's interesting when you quote just that one, because that particular individual has himself had a con man background. Yeah, he she should know and I don't know exactly if we are trying to find formulas for these people, if we are trying to say that they all are conmen, the society is full of this. I mean, you cannot open up a newspaper today, New York Times or financial times, where there aren't feature stories about how the world is moving to viral content, you know how to push things in order to sell something and how they manipulate. Corporations are buying 50 influencers to go out and push something in order to have it catch on? Is that morally correct? Is that actually right? So what I'm trying to say here is 90% of everything that goes on around us today is based on a sham and a con and something dishonest. We are becoming more and more likely to accept that the moral compass has gone away from real honesty into where we're starting to accept this behavior. I find that disturbing.
1:24:44 Rob Konrad
Yeah and you mentioned that you've become somewhat cynical over the years with the downfall of moral integrity that you've seen over the past 10-20 years in this world. So ?
1:24:56 Bob Arno
Well, I am exceptionally cynical if I take 10 other people around me or 20 or 50 or hundred whatever. Because you know, I work partly in law enforcement aspect, whether it is intelligence community in Europe, you know, what we're trying to figure out who are the terrorists, who are hiding behind various front and so, whether we're looking at the pickpockets, so I can turn it off. Meaning, it's impossible for me to take the key and say, don't observe anything more today. It happens all the time. So I'm looking at small things, how people move their hand? is that sincere? Is it not? Is there a little shift in from that woman? how she tries to get affection from that man? Is that guy trying to hit on? Are they trying to? Everything, I am you know, putting in pigeon holes in terms of honesty, dishonesty. So I'm exceptionally cynical and I evaluate all the time. Cannot stop it.
1:25:56 Rob Konrad
Yeah, what would you like to see happen in society ? I mean, you said, it's going downhill anyway. So not being honest becomes the part of reality ??
1:26:08 Bob Arno
You may have asked similar question to some of your other speakers, I don't know or your other interview object, what we would like to see ere. I think anyone today who has some insight and is doing well, is very concerned about how society is becoming polarized. It is equally polarized in Europe as it is in America. Today, it's all about that the two sides are now so entrenched that there is nothing anymore said about how to find ground that we can move together as a unit one. But it's about how we can find a small attack on the other side, how we can make the other side being more shifty in the overall view of the world. I don't live in Europe at the moment. So I don't follow the world with my own eyes, day to day, but I see what's going on, I see what's happening in Germany and in Poland and in Portugal and so on, you know, the political trends And I think that we have a tremendous polarization in Europe also.
1:27:17 Bob Arno
So my feeling is that we have to come back and, this is from my heart, I hope it's not taken as a racist statement but I feel we have to accept integration and say, that's the only answer to have society move in tandem in a peaceful way. At the same time, we must start respecting the various small cultures, whether they are 300 years or 50 years. So if you take north of Finland and they have an attitude, how they want life to be, and you have a sub group in Belgium, the Flemish or whatever, we're going to have to start respecting these various culture and in the warm way, allow people to move together rather than shoving it down their throat.
1:28:11 Rob Konrad
Okay and in terms of integration, do you like to see less of trying to become closer to each other but more accepting the differences and respecting the differences without attacking each other?
1:28:30 Bob Arno
Well, you know for example, I came into United States as a foreigner, I applied to become an American. So obviously, I believe in integration and the freedom of movement. I am in my second marriage and my first marriage, I was married to someone from a culture in Asia. So I have seen things from from many, many different aspect and culture. I believe that trying to sort of just be culturally one, you know, just letting the right wing in Germany win at the expense, that's hope that's not going to happen and that's not the road forward. We're not going to have just simple winners like that but at the same token, you cannot open up the floodgates. And by that, I mean, if I live in Afghanistan, for example, and I am a weaver and I make $2 a day and I can afford the phone and I see that young people in the Netherlands are going to clubs, all I can think about is hey, I want to leave this area and I want to head into Europe but you can't suddently have 300 million people from Kenya or from Afghanistan move into Central Europe. That's not possible. So there has to be some short of common sense applied here.
1:30:06 Rob Konrad
Yeah and I think it kind of closed the circle to what you said with regards to pickpockets, at the end of day it's about opportunities. So I think what's important is to create opportunities where people are because of course, it's natural, if you if you see a difference in opportunity between where you are, and then someone else and you're drawn to the better opportunity. So I think the solution, if you want to call it like this, is to create opportunities for people in other countries so that they can they can participate in the wealth we've built as a society.
1:30:39 Bob Arno
I know where you're going with this. I think what you're trying to say is that America needs to help South America and Europe needs to help the Middle East. For example, how to help Africa, do we send in more money ? Do we send in some freedom teachers who suddenly, you know, are you going to be able to send 600 teachers from Switzerland to Kenya, to all of the schools and give them an idea. I know that I'm very quick here with this but the idea of helping other nation is really really clear but I don't know to what extent many of these cultures are prepared to accept our values.
1:31:30 Rob Konrad
That's true, that is true. But I guess that would lead us to another discussion for probably take another two or three hours at least. So
1:31:38 Bob Arno
You know, you what you need here is someone who is a philosophical teacher or someone who is from United Nation or someone from EU in Brazil, who does nothing but sit and analyze these things and have an interview because they are the guys who can sort of put the finger on it, but I'm too much of an amateur to have a really good answer on just that particular part. But I can give you a small example, this is this is a crappy thing to even reveal but EU and Brussels give money to schools in Romania in order for them to help certain sections of Romania and they get misappropriated, it never reaches where it should be. With the corruption or whatever, there's so much shiftiness going on everywhere so I wish that Europol and other agencies that are just looking for pickpocket but looking for financial crime and whatever, that we had more bite into corruption. Do you understand what I mean with that ? Stopping it.
1:32:51 Rob Konrad
Absolutely, I understand. That's something actually wanted to ask you or to ask about your perspective. In one of the video segments that you sent me, you talk about surveillance and privacy aspects of surveillance because probably a lot of issues not only with pick pocketing but with other crimes. Now the misuse of whatever resources could to a big extent be greatly reduced, at least this way, with more surveillance but then there's this whole movement for more privacy. And we, you know, need more privacy and we need to protect us. Whatever evidence doing so, where do you see the balance in that? What's your opinion of that?
1:33:30 Bob Arno
Well, you know, I think that the majority of people who have any connection with law enforcement think that cameras is a fabulous way of cutting crime down. So if you take, for example, England, if you take South Africa, when they put up all of the cameras in Johannesburg many years ago, they cut the crime down into half. Then eventually, the criminals realized where the cameras are and they kind of circumvented it and it popped up again but not as bad as it was. Cameras are fantastic and that's how we caught you know terrorist in England, in London and so and so, or for that matter in Brazil or in Britain or in Paris and Brussels.
1:34:10 Bob Arno
Cameras have a great impact, the other side of the coin, of course, is that Germany is aware of what happened with surveillance in the Second World War and what that led to. And that is a scar that is still there and they treasure their privacy. Even in Sweden, you know, if you want to put up a camera outside a hotel, you have to have all kinds of permission and go to places to get the right to mount it there and then, the video can only sit for 60 days over here in some storage and on and on and on. But my personal heart on all of this is yes, I think cameras is great and I don't think you can move against it. I think we're going into a society, just look at what happened with the social issues in China. This I don't encourage, by the way, where you know they look at how you behave ? What have you clicked on in 60 days ? What did you read? Did you look at irritating sites ? and then they do an evaluation and based on your behavior, where you were, what the internet sites you were on. So they have everything in a chapter where they have grabbed all of the information on you, now you get permission to whether or not you can leave the country as a tourist for Hong Kong or whatever. So, you know, they have stepped a really really dangerous trend. So it can be horribly abused.
1:35:52 Rob Konrad
So regarding China, you mentioned it is a balance and the social scoring that you mentioned, the question always is how how far is too far in terms of these things. And they say, in Beijing, you almost cannot cross the red light or cross the street without getting a fine automatically sent to you because they are so good at recognizing your face and every step that you're making. So it is a critical point and it's going to be an interesting development, what we are going to see in other countries as well. The next five or 10 years and how society will accept these intrusions into privacy and where we draw the line between benefits for society and our own personal space and privacy.
1:36:37 Bob Arno
You know, I mean, there is no question here that what we are seeing in China, there are going to be very few people around the world outside of its totalitarian regime, that wouldn't say that they have taken it a step too far. What we don't know is have they really taking it as far as we think we are reading and observing and seeing ? Is it really on the money or is it exaggerated news? that I wouldn't know. I think that most other nations would say, hey, this is way too much. But if you look at the crime in England and what they've done with cameras there, the majority of the public society are really behind and accept it. I think there are certain, shall we say, youngish liberal mind or maybe very old people who remember the Second World War but who will say, hey, we've gone too far. I think the general person in the United Kingdom are all for it.
1:37:46 Bob Arno
If you take law enforcement, we see with our own eyes, the benefit of cameras, so there's no question that great cameras can match up and I mean, we can even see a motion of a hand or the inside, a tattoo on the wrist here or whatever, we can match it up, we have databases and it's nearly instant. Not always flowing well from nation to nation and maybe that's an issue for you, that's not for me, as an outsider to sit here and say, how much should that information go from one country to another. What I do know is that thieves get away with lying in front of a judge in one country, if he has a sentence in another and if there was perfect coordination, the judge would instantly know that this guy is a career criminal over there. So that's just a small example. Other than that, I believe that this is a dialogue that you can have with much brainier people than I am on this subject, more experience people who can give you fabulous insight.
1:38:58 Rob Konrad
Yeah and I'll try to think of someone who i can actually talk to would be very interesting.
1:39:05 Bob Arno
Maybe a good hacker !
1:39:09 Rob Konrad
I'm already in touch with someone and it's probably coming up in the next month or two. I've reached out to someone who did some amazing stuff and I'll just try to get him in front of the camera. But we'll see
1:39:20 Bob Arno
I have some good hackers for you, maybe some of the solid best in the world but they are, what I would call, social engineer meaning they are as good with breaking down the personal barrier as they are with the technology of the computer. And the best criminals sometimes are the ones who are fabulous social engineers.
1:39:47 Rob Konrad
No, I agree absolutely and so I want to circle back to yourself and your career. You mentioned you worked with law enforcement, you also had this amazing career in entertainment in showbiz. Can you tell me a little bit about what do you think is your recipe for success? And how did you also get in touch with, for example, law enforcement? How did you get started? When we talked privately, you mentioned that in the beginning of your career you had your evening activity as a show master and the daytime job which was in another area of businesses, lets put it this way. And can you talk a little bit about that? Because I think it's very fascinating to hear from people like you how to score it up.
1:40:34 Bob Arno
Yeah, excuse me for coughing. Success, yeah, that's a question that young people, of course, are asking all the time today. How can I quickly afford to buy an Aston Martin. Well, in my case, it was nothing confusing at all. When I was young, the road for one was so clear, you know, I would be 16 years old lying in bed in Stockholm, sleeping and I had bought the first issue of the Playboy magazine and in the Playboy magazine was a story on the Rat Pack. I don't know if you remember the Rat Pack. One of them was Sammy Davis and Frank Sinatra but Sammy Davis in the photos had a red jacket and black pants. And it was a tuxedo jacket and he looked tremendously cool to this young, semi nerdy Swede back in Stockholm.
1:41:36 Bob Arno
I cut off that picture and later when I came to Hong Kong, I went to a tailor and I said, Could you make me just jacket? And he said Yes, so I made a copy but what I'm trying to tell you is, I knew when I was 16 that I was going to be standing on stage in Las Vegas when I will be 25, and i did. When I did my compulsory military in Sweden, we all had to do just like in Switzerland, I told them when I was 17-18 years old, I am going to be in Las Vegas and they laughed. If you are in Las Vegas, I will be in the front row, some of the guys were saying. Well then, one of them, by the way, got the sickness diabetes and so forth and he was the one who became a radio host and became famous. By the time I was in Las Vegas at age 25, he had just died from this diabetes, he was too young.
1:42:35 Bob Arno
But the point of it is, no one from those guys were in the front row. So if you want to know about how to be focused, as a young person, it basically comes down to nothing else matters. You have absolutely no desire of anything but cut everything else off. I would hitchhike across Europe, when I was eighteen, into London. It took me four days from Stockholm, very little money, I would go into those gas stations where you had commercial vehicles that transport food and whatever. I would ask the commercial drivers can I sit? Could you drive me from here to there ? And so I wasn't necessarily standing in the street doing this and I got to London this way, over the ferry from Holland and I knocked on the door of BBC, Can I do TV? He said, Yeah, we can do that two months from today.
1:43:45 Bob Arno
I would go back to Sweden, i would hitchhike again and i would do the same. I was so stupid and so corny and so ridiculous in the beginning to have success. So when I was 20 years old, I sent out a letter to 50 food and beverage managers of the Hilton Hotels and the Intercontinental hotels around the world. Lusaka, Nairobi, Karachi, 20 years old, what the hell did I know about getting work? So these letters, I got two replies, unbelievable! One from Karachi. So i got a booking in Karachi, borrowed some money for the ticket that was repaid later in ruppees or whatever and then I had a long career out there. Paid very little money but the reason why I'm saying this is, there was never any question in my mind. There was no doubt, I was never on thin ice, you know, i was taking chances of course but i was approaching and knocking on doors, didn't get too much paid, sometimes I lived in cheap whore houses in the Philippines because they were the cheapest places for the room in order to perform in the club.
1:44:59 Bob Arno
And in the club in those years, the Filipino men were packing guns. So when I took them up on states of steel they would take my right hand and moved it over to their jacket, in order to make me feel there's a gun in there, don't mess with that side. So you know, paid very little. In Vietnam, i worked there for the soldiers in the camps, up and dumb, again you know shitty money but I had photography as my second passion. So I was a, what we call, a photography stringer. You know that's a term that they give when you don't have a real assignment. You work on the side, whenever you come across a story, you send it on.
1:45:48 Bob Arno
So there was a sort of a small Scandinavian association of papers and I would send over my stories to Sweden and very little money. Well, I had a friend, a mentor who was a significant photographer and he was about maybe nine years older than I am, he took me on the day that the burning monk, the suicide monk, 1963 in June 21st. He knocked on my door at four o'clock in the morning, Bob, hurry up, come with me here. And we went out to this Pagoda, this compound where the monks were, and where this man who was going to kill himself while sitting, semi dragged and they poured the petrol over him and he set himself alight. I had no idea that that was going to be a significant photo, my friend's photo became Time life and New York Times' front page cover.
1:46:42 Bob Arno
My photo got very small coverage, my picture was the same. They were great but my point of it all is I was there at the right time. The success came from this going persona, never taking no I guess some of these people felt that I was an intriguing young man with a huge appetite on life. And that is what helped me, later when I was around 30 years old, I developed a business sense. So when I was working wherever I was for 10 years, when I worked in different casinos and clubs, I would go and knock on the door of the management and I would said, you know, you don't have enough people here in your showroom. I know how we can get another 200-300 people in. They'd say what are you crazy.
1:47:30 Bob Arno
I was in the Bahamas, for example, how are we going to get that. I said we design a flyer and then we pay the front desk manager of these various hotels, this is in Freeport in the Bahamas, to have a little stack sitting of our show. And there's a coupon at the bottom of this flyer for discount. Remember, this is a long time ago, nobody was doing that this and the management gave me a little cheap car with open windows or sides and I would go every day to the different hotels, put the stack in, get people in and the management said, I can't believe this. They didn't ever want to fire me, they wanted to hold on to me but years I said enough is enough for the Bahamas. But that was my philosophy and that is I think the reason for success.
1:48:25 Rob Konrad
Yeah, so Never give up, have a vision and follow despite any difficulties and any roadblocks you might encounter.
1:48:36 Bob Arno
Well, you know other people today, when I come in contact and they wonder. There's a lot of young people, entertainers saying, how do I do this? How do I get this? If I am getting a booking, for example, I will ask myself what is it that the management really want in the entertainer? Why would they select this versus that versus that ? So you have to kind of break down all of the blocks for any success, for selling anything for that matter. What is it that they want? What is it I don't have yet, that is going to clinch the deal ? And if it is knowledge, if it is that my product isn't strong enough, I have to bring it in different ways, have to cut it off in its smallest ingredient, look at that whole pattern and now say how can I fill in the gap so that that person will buy my product.
1:49:36 Bob Arno
When I was in Las Vegas for a long time and I was tired of working in Las Vegas, I wanted to finish working there because they stood in the wings with a stopwatch. And they said, if you go over a minute more than you're supposed to do, we have 450 toursists who are were hit by bus. And they're going to leave the showroom and go out to the machines and play slots. And those 250 will stand by the slots, we will make, let's say $250 from those people for 10 minutes, if they stand there. So if i went over, they could calculate if I did a great show and I didn't know and I said oh my god, look at how great I am and I will do an extra three minute thinking about the standing ovation, everyone is happy.
1:50:25 Bob Arno
And management is like, are you crazy ? Don't you remember what the contract says ? you went over ! And then they said Bob, you can continue and go over but for every minute that you go over, we're going to deduct $250 from your weekly salary. At that point i realized, I bought a stopwatch in white and i tapped it to my white shirt and regardless of where I was in my show, 10 second before I was up, I said goodbye and I was off. Do you follow me? But the point of the story is I wanted to end Vegas and do, what we call, corporate shows. I would be sending out material packages, promotional things that had all of the building blocks that i thought was important for the recipient.
1:51:16 Rob Konrad
Okay and you mentioned that for you it was most important to entertain people and to make people laugh. What are the things that make people laugh ?
1:51:35 Bob Arno
That was how I analyzed myself, I mean, when you are a little bit nerdy 15-16 years old, I was very tall, very skinny and it was my way of doing it. I had a friend of mine who became a very famous movie producer, maybe the most famous executive producer in Sweden, produced all kinds of famous film and he was exceptionally good looking and had an unbelievable charm. He would be three minutes in front of a girl and they would drool and want to be with him, he was my best friend. Well, I was skinny and tall and they did not drool but I could make them laugh and had the persona, so the two of us were very successful, but for different reasons.
1:52:17 Bob Arno
So I was not necessarily the class clown but I certainly realized the juxtaposition of comedy. So that was my inspiration, that was what was driving me but the last 15 years, it's not the comedy that drives me, it's the whole thing with law enforcement and correcting certain falseness and bits in society where I can pull my five cents. You know, we all have to do what we can to correct the society and it has been maybe more enjoyable than the 15 or 20 years before, when I would only make people laugh. Do you understand the difference between the two?
1:53:07 Rob Konrad
Yeah, I do absolutely and they're both completely valid reasons to be motivated, for sure. Bob we went on for over two hours and I want to be respectful of your time and not keep you for too long. And so there are two questions that I always ask everyone that I'm talking to. And the first question is, this is a series of interviews with extraordinary people, so people who do and achieve things no one else achieves or who inspire other people or who make other people laugh and entertain them like you do or try to make this world a better place like you do right now with your efforts in law enforcement. And who do you consider to be someone extraordinary?
1:53:51 Bob Arno
Oh, it's great question and I can tell you that as years passed, it changed every 10 years. So for example, when I was from 20 to 30, there were certain comedian, one is called fats Leonard, you wouldn't know who he is. He was very big in United States and he was what we call an insult comedian. We have other comedians in America who got their training in Catskill. Catskill is a resort area north of New York, that kids there's in those shares, in the 50s and 60s, basically 90% of the Jewish crowd. And that humor was very kind of cutting, It wasn't nasty but it was cutting acid because that's what the people wanted. I was flabbergasted. I couldn't understand how he built the material. He was my idol.
1:54:55 Bob Arno
And then from year 30 to 40, there were certain black comedians that, what were call, left loose on stage and it looked as if things were just happening. There was no rehearsal, there was nothing where they dragged off a piece that they had fine tuned and so forth. So they were my idols from 30-40s. And then when I got into my 50s, it would be a great global entrepreneurs and people who, you know, change society.
1:55:36 Bob Arno
But the last I would say, 10 years it is people who nobody, certainly not you and certainly not our listeners, would know about. It's basically very committed police officers who work undercover or intelligence officers who are exceptionally committed, who are way above the rest of society and how coomited they are. Just like yourself, I find you very committed to what you do, how you stay working harder and for more hours than the rest, you have a great positive appetite, you want more and there's that great harmony of more. There are certain young people in Europe and a few in America that I find that with and I love to hang with them, but unknown people who should have credit, they are my idols today!
1:56:37 Rob Konrad
That's great, would be very fascinating to talk to one of those people.
1:56:40 Bob Arno
Maybe I will try and put you together. Now, they may not always have a skill set to project. If you take people who work, for example, seal units that's a term we have in America for military intelligence, very small unit, each one is a specialist. The number of hours that they exercise and stayed committed, their knowledge, they shine right away ! So when you see them with a group, you say, Oh, my God, how did that happen? How did that get picked up? Do you understand me?
1:57:20 Rob Konrad
I do but my last question, and then want to close the interview with that is, what's your message to everyone? who's listening? Who's watching this? What's your message to the world?
1:57:33 Bob Arno
Well, tricky, tricky, tricky question. Because I wanted to be as fast as possible. I think the first thing is, I just just take everything with a pinch of salt. In terms of the truth, I am not going to ask you to be as cynical as I am because that means you filter your life through slightly less positiveness, lucky thing. So you still have to be happening, trust your wife and your life and your children and the forward time to come and all of that. And so being super cynical is not necessarily smart.
1:58:09 Bob Arno
But I do think that we can all start saying to ourselves, everything we see around us, especially media and blogs and Instagram and viral messages, everything. There is a reason to a commercial, to make your money go from your pocket into either their pocket or that company, whether it's a travel site, for example, if you're going to go on a safari or on a cruise, the way you see the images and the way it looks unbelievably gorgeous. How they have isolated and bombarded your brains with this stuff because they know it has an effect and it reaches in then they have researchers in advance with their special groups that they have analyzed. So I would say take things with a pinch of salt of truth.
1:59:10 Rob Konrad
Okay Bob, I thank you so much for your time, really appreciate it. It was a very fascinating conversation, there are many topics that I could go on for hours with you but let's let's close it here. To anyone who's watching or listening, make sure to check out Bob's websites bobarno.com. There's also a great blog with his wife, Bambi called thief hunters. Make sure to check it out, very fascinating stories. You see also snippets of a show and the really entertaining, really fun to watch and Bob again, thank you so much for your time. Really appreciate it !
1:59:43 Bob Arno
And enclosing from my end, you are allowed to edit whatever, wherever I've got wordy. It seems that my biggest problem is to say what I think in as few words as possible.
1:59:57 Rob Konrad
I think this makes you very sympathetic. Thank you, Bob.
2:00:01 Bob Arno
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