Crimes and mustaches

I’ve been doing a lot of research on heists (for a book, it’s for a book I’m writing, this is just for a fictional book novel I’m writing), and I’ve come to the conclusion that I could totally be a master criminal. And so could you.

Check out the FBI’s page about the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum heist. This is the biggest art heist in U.S. history. The thieves stole works whose values are estimated as high as $300 million, and they pulled it off by disguising themselves as Boston police officers and convincing the museum guards to let them in. Skim down the page a bit and you’ll see some specific references to the thieves’ clever disguises. They involve “dark, shiny mustache(s), appearing to be false.”

Fake mustaches. Can you wear a fake mustache? Then you can be a master criminal.

Most museums really can’t afford all the fancy motion sensors and laser mazes from the movies. That stuff’s expensive.

Sometimes all it takes is the same equipment and planning you would put into knocking over a gas station. Several prominent robberies have been just a couple of guys walking in with guns during visiting hours, taking some paintings, and walking out with them.

Are you willing to wave a gun around? Then you can be a master criminal.

Maybe you’re the kind of thief who only wants to go after the biggest, most famous art pieces in the world. Maybe you’d like to steal the Mona Lisa? That’s right, the Mona Freakin’ Lisa, right out of the Louvre.

You could do what Vincenzo Peruggia did. Which involved hiding in a closet, noticing the gallery guard was off having a smoke or something, taking the painting off the wall, removing it from its frame and stuffing it under his smock, and slipping out unnoticed. In fact, not only did Peruggia leave the Louvre unnoticed, but the theft went unnoticed for more than a day. People did pick up on the conspicuous empty space on the wall, but everyone figured the painting was down in the basement, getting restored. Or something.

Do you have access to a smock? Then you can be a master criminal.

I am not condoning theft, mind you. I had two bicycles stolen when I was a kid. Theft is a violation. I strongly dislike thieves. The real challenge writing this book is gaming the situation such that the thief has valid reasons for pulling off his heist, to make the audience want him to get away with it. Or more crucially, to make me believe that, in a just world, he would get away with it. That’s the heist I’m trying to pull off.

But if I fail and my book sucks and nobody wants to read anything by me ever again, look carefully at the guy in the weirdly shiny mustache with a suspicious bulge under his smock. Man’s gotta earn a living.

About Greg van Eekhout

Greg van Eekhout is the author of the novels California Bones, The Boy at the End of the World, Kid vs. Squid, Norse Code, and other stuff.
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