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I am preparing to pass an English test and one of the subjects in the oral exam could be describing a crime.

I was thinking about talking about a time in which I was approached by 3 underage girls begging for money, I took my wallet out and gave them a couple of coins, but before I could put my wallet back in my pocket, one of them placed a piece of cardboard over the wallet, with a sheet of paper asking me to sign something I didn't understand. In those few seconds another child reached to my open wallet that was under de piece of cardboard and stole all my money bills. I didn't notice it, I still had my wallet but later on I realised I had no bills.

Would this be a mugging? a theft without violence? I need to be very accurate when choosing the words for it because it's a difficult exam.

Thank you

closed as off-topic by tchrist Jun 6 '18 at 15:27

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  • disagree with hold: ambiguity within English definitions exists. colloquial nuances exist and fall under the broad heading of "& Usage". colloquial nuances are asked in the OP that may not be readily apparent in pedantic resources. – Kharmageddon Jun 6 '18 at 15:40
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Theft/Larceny

The act of larceny is defined as the theft of personal property. This will probably suffice, but it isn't used commonly in the United States of America. It is a formal title for the crime. As such, it sees most of its use in print, as in a newspaper heading or in Court indictment records. I cannot speak for other countries, so if the US is not your target home, then perhaps this is not the most accurate of answers.

However, there are many words that mean the same thing regardless of what English-speaking nation you move to. Theft, for example, is the crime of stealing. Stealing is taking another's property without permission and not intending to return it. In your scenario, the girls' activities could be described as "confidence art" or "a con". Confidence Artists gain your trust with normal actions that are endearing, benign, or normal. Once they have your confidence, you become complacent and less wary of their actions and intentions. At this time, it is easier for them to deceive you (fraud) and take your stuff. The action of taking your physical property/money is simply "theft".

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Pickpocket

You could describe those three thieves as con artists (or confidence tricksters), although ultimately they used sleight of hand that is more akin to that of a pickpocket. Although your wallet wasn't in your pocket, it would still be pickpocketing as the deception is the same.

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