How to Plan a Movie Robbery


If we’ve learned anything from watching movies, it’s that complicated robberies — of banks, casinos, millionaires’ mansions, the Library of Congress, whatever — succeed about 98 percent of the time. This is no doubt due to the meticulous planning that goes into such heists, as well as the general incompetence of all law enforcement officials (except in movies that are about law enforcement officials, in which case they tend to be exemplary). We can’t do anything about the cops in your jurisdiction, but we can help you with your part: the planning. Here’s what you need to do.

Bring back a retired thief for One Last Job.

You need the wisdom and experience of a veteran, preferably one who quit the business long ago but still occasionally pines for the old days. Flatter him by saying this is the kind of heist that only he — a legend among thieves! — could pull off. It’s just One Last Job, for old times’ sake. He won’t be able to resist.

Get a copy of the blueprints.

You can’t plan an elaborate break-in without knowing the layout of the place, including long-forgotten tunnels and secret passageways. Luckily, detailed blueprints of every structure in your city, including sewer and electrical connections, are readily available. You just have to go to … um, some office somewhere, probably … and ask for them. There might be a form to fill out. Look, I don’t know how you get the blueprints. I just know that you DO, and that it’s apparently very, very easy.

Find a computer hacker.

A good computer hacker is key to your success. At a minimum, you’ll need him to take the target’s security cameras offline and disable the alarms. You might also need more advanced services such as putting a repeating loop of fake footage on the security monitors, or sending a fake email message to employees purporting to be from the maintenance department and telling them to leave early because the building is being fumigated. Don’t worry, though. Any experienced computer hacker can accomplish these tasks simply by clickety-clacketing rapidly on his keyboard while making snarky pop-cultural references. It goes without saying that ANY system, no matter how well protected, can be hacked into, including systems that aren’t even connected to computers, like the electricity at some rich dude’s house.

Know every single detail of the target’s operations.

If it’s a bank, that means you need to know exactly how many security guards are on duty, when they take their breaks, and what their work habits are like (lazy, easily distracted, etc.). Whatever the target, you must stake it out every day for several weeks beforehand, tirelessly gathering data on the specifics of the day-to-day workings. Then you must count on those habits being repeated with exactness on the day you choose to rob it. (Relax: All employees always take their breaks at exactly the same time every single day.)

Coincidences are your friends. Rely on them.

No matter how obsessively you stalk your target in preparation for the heist, there’s bound to be a surprise or two. But thanks to extraordinarily lucky coincidences, these curveballs need not derail your nefarious plans. Generally speaking, an unanticipated security guard will need to use the bathroom at just the right moment; the employee returning to the office late at night to retrieve a forgotten item will be distracted by a call on his cell phone; and all graveyard-shift personnel will fall asleep on the job.

Have a woman on the team.

At some point, you may need to occupy a guard’s attention while your men tiptoe behind him. It is therefore expedient to have a buxom, flirtatious woman on your squad, as all men, regardless of age, marital status, or sexuality, will stare at her lasciviously for as long as she deigns to speak to them, utterly oblivious to what transpires behind them.

Do not concern yourself with moral ambiguity.

If you’re a career criminal, one assumes you are also dashing and suave, and this justifies your actions without further explanation needed. If it’s your first heist, no doubt it’s for a good reason: the bank ripped you off; your dying child needs money for an operation; good old-fashioned revenge against an enemy; etc. But newbie or veteran, one thing remains constant: You have every right to steal this money. You are the hero of your story, and the hero’s actions are always right. Don’t ever forget it!