Confucius recommended using chopsticks for dining utensils as a way to cut down on the potential for violence when knives were around the dinner table. But it turns out they’re also useful for grabbing iPhones from unsuspecting victims’ pockets.
Chinese pickpockets have taken to using chopsticks to extend their reach, poking into jackets and pants and gracefully lifting out a valuable item like it was no more than picking up some rice. Security camera footage reveals one thief stealing a wallet without his mark even turning around.
This isn’t a trick for amateurs. In another video, a pickpocket attempts to steal a phone while hiding his chopsticks behind a baseball cap. He works the phone out of the man’s hoodie, but quickly fumbles it and pretends he’s looking for his own dropped phone to cover up the crime.
There are entire street gangs dedicated to chopstick pickpocketing. A compilation of thefts shows the members walking behind people in a crowded street, shadowing them while they maneuver their utensils and run away with cash.
The most infamous chopstick-wielding thief, however, is a former drug addict named Wang Hongbo. Down on his luck after a store he bought was demolished, he ran after a woman while she was pedaling a bicycle on the street and grabbed her phone. He sold it for $10, but after photos of him snatching the prize went viral, Wang turned himself in to the police.
No matter how good you are with your chopsticks, it’s more important what you do after you steal something rather than how you grab it.