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‘Charismatic anti-heroes who rob from the rich and powerful’ — our enduring fascination with the dramatic world of HEISTS

30 July 2019

What type of person comes to mind when you think of George Clooney in Ocean’s 11, or Michael Caine in The Italian Job?

Pretty cool celebrities? Perhaps even people you’d fancy working alongside? But probably not bad guys, or hardened criminals.

The series David Wilson’s Crime Files took a detailed look into that movie-friendly criminal enterprise: the heist.

“The very word heist doesn’t conjure up a picture of gangsters and hoodlums, but rather anti-heroes: Robin Hood figures; charismatic men who rob from the rich and powerful.”

There is a well-worn formula to heists: a target is selected and a team of skilled criminals is brought together – each with specific roles – in order to commit crimes like those seen in Hollywood films.

The various roles in a heist gang

David Wilson explored the various roles in a heist gang, from ring-leader to intimidating heavy, getaway driver and the ‘fence’ who turns the loot into cash.

And Declan Lawn examined one particular role, integral to the ‘success’ of the 2015 Hatton Garden diamond heist in London: the safe-breaker.

Safe Breaking

Declan Lawn tries to find out how long it would take to break into a safety deposit box.

The evolution of the heist

Ben Hammersley travels to New York and Washington DC to look at how crime has evolved. (From 2014)

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