The Disappearing Act became a popular scam around the 1880s. A team of two women and one man stole items such as lace, hats, shoes, and other high-quality goods. The women asked the merchant to have the goods sent to their parlor but would then disappear with the goods, leaving the messenger patiently waiting for his payment.
In modern times, the Disappearing Act could be considered any form of retail theft. Approximately $35 million worth of retail goods is stolen from retailers each year, according to NASP.