Thief Bag

    Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

    I used to love those old silent movies where the robbers would crack a combination lock with their ear pressed up against the safe. And the money they stole was always in a white bag with a big dollar sign on it.
    —John Locke converses this in Lost

    A Thief Bag is a bag containing loot, often seen in the presence of thieves who are thieving them. They tend to differ by region: Britain uses a large burlap bag marked "swag", America uses a white bag with a dollar sign on it, and Japan mainly uses green bags with white swirls that tie over the face (which some fans will demand be called furoshiki).

    Expect any thief carrying one to also sport a Domino Mask and striped shirt or prison garb, because otherwise how do you know they're thieves?. Less careful ones will end up leaving tracks for the coppers to find...

    Not to be confused with Bindle Stick, the makeshift fabric bag hanging from a stick usually carried by hobos and small boys who are running away from home.

    A vital accoutrement of the Blatant Burglar.

    Examples of Thief Bag include:

    Anime and Manga

    • In Paranoia Agent one of the disillusioned policemen mentions that he became a policeman to chase those kinds of crooks, not strange supernatural batsmen.
    • Happosai from Ranma ½ always uses a Japanese Thief Bag when going panty-stealing.
      • A particularly epic version occurs when Ranma faces the Rival Of The Month, Ryu Kumon. The final countermove to Ryu's devastating Yamasenken style consists of Ranma using a gigantic towel and stuffing all sorts of random debris inside it—rocks, soil, stolen goods—just like a thief would fill a sack, and hefting it on his shoulders. It was later revealed that the Umisenken really was developed as a martial art for thievery.
    • In one episode of Samurai Pizza Cats, the villain Seymour Cheese tries to reinvent himself as a hero of the people, and goes out to look for good deeds to do. He hears a lady screaming "Help! Purse snatcher!", and turns around to see a burglar with a huge Japanese thief bag, prompting the remark "That's one big purse."

    Board Games

    Film - Live Action

    Film - Western Animation

    • The opening scene of Toy Story 3 has Mr Potato Head swiping several such bags from a train car.


    • Official Thieves Guild burglars in Discworld carry bags marked SWAG as part of the uniform. Given the peculiar nature of theft in Ankh-Morpork, it's in their interest for official burglars to be identified as such, rather than random housebreakers.

    Live Action TV


    "What makes a criminal a criminal? <pause>The black mask, the stripy shirt, and the bag marked 'swag'"

    • In The Goodies episode "Alternative Roots", Tim's sheep stealing ancestor Kounty Kutie (and the other men of his village were showing in the traditional striped shirt and mask and carrying the swag bag.
    • In one Monty Python's Flying Circus skit, highwayman Dennis Moore (after a little economic education) is seen dragging a yards-long bag behind his horse marked 'SWAG'. In "Old English" lettering, so it looks like "FWAG".

    Video Games

    • The little guys in Golden Axe carry bags bigger than they are. Between levels, they attempt to steal your magic potions if you have any.
    • In the Pokémon game series this is a feature the "burglar" trainer type.
      • Team Rocket uses these occasionally in Pokémon.
    • The thieving enemy TAC from the Kirby series is shown with one of these.
    • This is where the burglars on The Sims put their loot.
    • Mask de Masque in Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney is shown with one in a photo.
      • Kay Faraday from Ace Attorney Investigations doesn't carry an actual bag, but she does wear the associated Karakusa pattern on her clothing. As does her father Byrne Faraday, in a very small clue to his identity as part of the Yatagarasu.
    • In at least some of the Fire Emblem games, the map sprites for the thief and rogue classes are shown as holding these.
    • These end up lying around in the Sly Cooper games, on some stages (especially the very last one, in the Cooper Vault). These are breakable, to release gold coins.
    • There was a game in the 80s called 'Bagman'. You were the titular thief, stealing these from a mine.
    • In The Godfather game, there are several of these bags lying around for your acquisition, usually at a Bank Robbery or Armed Blag.
    • The bandit enemies in Super Mario RPG.
    • Kingdom of Loathing has the Mer-kin takebag, carried by Mer-kin burglars and scavengers. "Incidentally, in the Mer-kin language, there's no difference between the word "collect" and the word "steal." When equipped, the bag improves item drops, especially underwater.
    • The Thief from Zork has one of these bags, sans the dollar sign. Occasionally, things will fall back out when he is forced to retreat.
    • In Secret Agent, these are one of the items that give you points if you collect them.
    • Final Fantasy VI has Harvesters and their fellow roguish recolors carrying these.

    Web Comics


    Cashier: How will you be paying for these shoes?
    Susan: Sacks of money with dollar signs on them.

    • In Bob and George, Dr.Wily will lampshade this in a parody. Instead of the common money sign, any bag he uses to steal will have "bag for stealing (item)" on it. At one point, while somebody is talking to him while he is carrying one of the named bags, Wily directly asks if they are going to even check the large bag he is holding, and is filled with trophies that were to be used in a contest, and the person replies "nope".

    Western Animation

    • Spoofed in a Yin Yang Yo episode, where the bag didn't hold money, but actual dollar bill signs. Master Yo even tries to insert his dollar bill signs into it after Yin accidentally transformed it.
    • Lampshaded in The Simpsons, where Snake refers to it as a "dollar sign bag".
      • When Bart claims a burglar stole all of the Simpsons' Christmas presents (and the tree), the description he gives includes (as well as a wooden leg and hooks for hands) a large sack with a dollar sign on it.
      • In another episode, the Mayor is receiving a kickback from Fat Tony and says that "in future I would prefer a nondescript briefcase to a sack with a dollar sign on it."
    • An episode of Danger Mouse had these as the way cash was stored in a bank vault. This variant had the pound sign, of course.
    • The Beagle Boys used these types of bags a lot on DuckTales (1987).
    • In the Futurama episode "Godfellas", Bender acquires a bag labeled "swag" while being shot through one of the space pirate's ships.
    • In the Christmas Special The Christmas Tree whenever the mayor gives the town's donations to the orphanage, he brings the money over in two large bags, for some reason.

    Real Life