VIDEO: Thief uses illusion trick to steal hundreds from Walmart, police say


SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – A Walmart cashier was duped out of hundreds of dollars in a crime of illusion that was caught on camera.

Police say it happened in mid-December at a Walmart at 3500 N. Tamiami Trail.

Surveillance video shows a cashier count out change for a female customer. The customer offers to help and confuses the worker.

It is all a ruse and the woman took off with hundreds of dollars.

“You have to watch it – it’s ever so slight where she just very nonchalant just grabs the money and slips it back into her pocket or in her purse, but the first time you watch it, its hard to see,” said Sarasota Police spokeswoman Genevieve Judge.

Police hope someone can recognize this woman and her clothing.

Longtime Sarasota magician Toby Ballantine knows a thing or two about illusions.

“You can do [tricks] with your eyes shut, you’ve done it so many times,” he said.

Even with his expertise, it took him a couple of viewings to figure out what she was doing.

“She has a move and she’s doing the move over and over – I think she got away with it,” said Toby.

Ballantine said this woman used sleight of hand, a longtime trick magicians use to distract the viewer so they can get away with a trick.

“Sleight of hand is misdirection,” he described.

Ballantine says whether they use cash or cards, criminals can use sleight of hand to scam others. He urges cashiers and everyone to be careful.

“It’s terrible, disreputable, and it has nothing to do with entertainment,” said Ballantine.

If you have any information on this case, call Sarasota police.

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