Gentleman thief

For the 1946 Spanish film, see Gentleman Thief (film).

A gentleman thief, lady thief, or phantom thief (Japanese: 怪盗 Hepburn: Kaitō) is a recurring stock character. A gentleman or lady thief usually has inherited wealth and is characterised by impeccable manners, charm, courteousness and the avoidance of physical force or intimidation to steal. As such, they do not steal to gain material wealth but for the thrill of the act itself, often combined in fiction with correcting a moral wrong, selecting wealthy targets, or stealing only particular rare and challenging objects.

Raffles, the gentleman thief, as portrayed by David Niven.

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

Western gentlemen/lady thieves

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

Phantom thieves

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

Notable phantom thieves in Eastern popular culture include the following:

In real life

See also


  1. Bleiler, Richard. "Raffles: The Gentleman Thief". Strand Magazine. United States. Retrieved 22 February 2014.
  2. Bertetti, Paolo (Winter 2013–14), "Uomini meccanici e matrimoni interplanetari: La straordinarissima avventura del cinema muto italiano di fantascienza", Anarres, 2, retrieved 21 November 2016
  3. Denby, David (2009-10-28). "An Education". The New Yorker.
  4. "Lupin the". Lupin the Retrieved 2014-02-22.
  6. 1 2 Hoeper, George (June 1, 1995). Black Bart: Boulevardier Bandit: The Saga of California's Most Mysterious Stagecoach Robber and the Men Who Sought to Capture Him. Quill Driver Books. ISBN 978-1-884995-05-7. Retrieved July 25, 2011.
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