Friday, January 27, 2017

I Googled "How To Rob A Bank"

Awhile back, I needed a good look at how a person would crack a bank vault. I carefully worded my Google search so as not to say "How to rob a bank", but Google came back with "Did you mean how to rob a bank?"

Gee, thanks Google!

Result? I this fascinating guy:

Jeff Sitar is apparently the world's fastest safe cracker. He's been featured on magazine shows on several networks, has his own wildly 90's website, and is the only guy you're going to see cracking a bank vault, unless you ride with a totally different crew than I do. I got a little obsessed with Sitar after watching this video and taking a look at his website. He's just an average joe from Jersey who can crack any safe by touch alone. He says he's never used this skill to steal because it would mean he couldn't work or compete - but isn't that exactly what someone would say if they had robbed a bank?

Not making any allegations, just wondering aloud.

There's even an article titled "How To Rob A Bank." Clay Tumey did a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" session and the result of that was published at Deadspin. There are some interesting tidbits for a writer trying to make a believable bank robbery happen in their book. He claims that dye packs tend to be in with the twenties, so he asked specifically for fifties and hundreds. He also says he did his research before hand, and noted that the people who get caught are always the people with partners. Of course, Tumey eventually got caught, too, but it may explain how he got away for so long.
Pictured: 4 guys who were too dumb to work alone.
Good thing any good story has more than one character. If a live bank robber says working in pairs is troublesome, I'm going to believe it. But I won't let my characters know. I might Google something that also means "how to rob a bank" but my characters have a little more finesse. They know better than these goons who actually did type "How to rob a bank" into a search engine and then immediately robbed a bank.

It's astounding how many major publications run articles with titles like "What You Should Know Before Robbing A Bank." Our fascination with bank robbers and intricate heists is a well documented cultural phenomenon, but we like books and movies about serial killers, too, and I don't think USA Today would publish an article title "What You Need To Know Before Going on A Killing Spree." I think there's some idea that since the banks are insured, and most robberies go off without any violence, that it just isn't as bad to rob a bank as it is to commit other crimes. Very few people are interested in how a burglar invades a home and figures out where the good jewelry is, but if you look up "heist movie" on IMDB, you'll be overwhelmed with results.

This is good news for anyone working on a heist novel, for sure. Probably bad news for the FDIC.


Art Taylor said...

Great post! I wrote a story once about cracking safes, and I learned so much about how they work, about the tools that were once used to crack them, and about the tools now (technology changes, of course). It was fun then, and this is terrific fun to read this now too!

Renee Asher Pickup said...

The research portion of this novel has been a ton of fun. The next big question I have to figure out is "do bump keys work in deadbolts?" I think the answer is no, but I'm sure finding out for sure will bring lots of new information!