Copperfield's magic trick befuddles armed robbers

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The Independent US

Being a magician has its advantages, such as when David Copperfield made his wallet and mobile phone vanish into thin air afterhe and two female assistants were confronted by real-life armed robbers in Florida.

Copperfield was walking with Cathy Daly and Mia Volmut to their tour bus after his show at a performing arts centre in West Palm Beach when four teenagers pulled up in a car behind them.

According to police, two of the youths jumped from the car and ordered the group at gunpoint to hand over their valuables. Ms Daly produced $400 (£220) from her pocket, while Ms Volmut gave them her handbag containing $100, €200 (£140), her passport, plane tickets and a mobile phone.

But when his turn came, the 49-year-old illusionist produced some tradecraft of his own. He turned out his pockets, apparently empty - but in fact containing his wallet, passport and mobile phone. "Call it reverse pickpocketing," he told the Palm Beach Post.

As the assailants' car drove off the victims called the police and gave them the numberplate of the vehicle. Within 10 minutes police had picked it up, arrested the assailants and recovered the missing valuables.

Copperfield, whose real name is David Kotkin, explained that earlier on the walk he had signed autographs and first assumed the robbers wanted no more than his signature. But then, he explained: "I had a gun pointing at my head from six inches away. I'm pretty good under pressure. But I had two young ladies with me."

The most dramatic segment of Copperfield's show is an act in which he makes 13 members of the audience disappear. The four young attackers must be wishing the illusionist had made them, rather than the contents of his pockets, vanish into empty space on Sunday night.

For his part, Copperfield has no hard feelings. "We look forward to coming back to Palm Beach in the future," he told the newspaper. "Obviously, we are safe here."

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