The JREF twitter account @jref received some requests to look into an odd story out of the UK earlier this month. A man dubbed the “hypnotist thief” was recorded on security video putting the owner of a shop in a sort of “trance” before robbing him. Is it possible to be hypnotized like this? Many were skeptical. We contacted an expert to find out what may be behind this.
The suspect is shown in the video brushing past the store owner, Mr. (Aziz) Haider, then gently tapping him on the arm. In this casual interaction, Aziz appears mesmerized and compliant as the robber removes his wallet, squeezes Aziz’ shoulder, pats his chest, makes some hand gestures, then exits. Suddenly, Aziz seems to realize his wallet is gone and runs out after the thief. The police reported that Aziz said he did not recall what had happened to him during the robbery. Officials think it was a distractive parlor trick by a person who was obviously well-practiced. The information given in the news stories is limited and we are left without important details like what was said between the men (the video has no sound) and if he had seen the thief before.