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  • This is Larry Lawton, and he's an ex-jewel thief.

  • Not thief, I was a robber.

  • Thief sounds like you went in a person's house and robbed it. I just went with a gun right to their face.

  • Larry's a former career criminal, once considered the biggest jewel thief in the United States.

  • In seven years, I rob between 15 and 18 million USD, and then served 12 years in federal prison.

  • And today, I'm gonna break down what's right and wrong in some of Hollywood's great movie heists.

  • [Vanity Fair true crime: Ex-jewel robber reviews heist scenes.]

  • We're about to watch a lot of crimes in movies, but let me be very clear, I am in no way endorsing or encouraging crime in any way.

  • I'm an ex-criminal, and now I work with police agencies to prevent crime, so I want that to be known right off the bat.

  • Let's look at some clips.

  • The bank robbery in "Heat."

  • Keys, the keys, keys. Stay down.

  • We want to hurt no one. We are here for the bank's money, not your money.

  • Your money's insured by the federal government, you're not gonna lose a dime.

  • When Robert De Niro takes control and tries to calm everybody down, by telling 'em that their money's insured, he's right.

  • It's just like with the robberies that I committed, the people's jewelry was insured so they got their money.

  • It wasn't the people who you're robbing that were getting robbed, the real people are the insurance companies who are losing the money.

  • And again, I'm not gonna say it was right. It's wrong, but it's not their stuff they're losing.

  • Most of the people I robbed did not hate me, cause they actually sold their whole store in one shot for insurance.

  • At one time, the feds couldn't get the jewelry store people to say anything bad against me.

  • They got a couple, but the guy shot me.

  • Okay, now the things that stuck out right away on this clip is, how much do you think that money weighs?

  • Cash is king.

  • You'd like to rob cash, but cash is heavy.

  • They're flinging around that cash like it's feathers. That cash is heavy.

  • It's a gram per bill.

  • Each one of those bags is 70 pounds, and they're running through the streets like it's a 10 pound bag.

  • You know, it's totally unrealistic.

  • That's part of that struck out at me right away.

  • Cash is heavy.

  • That's why people can rob a lot more in diamonds, you can get a diamond worth 100,000 dollars that is the size of a penny.

  • You know why cash is king? Because you don't have to deal with a fence.

  • A fence is a middleman.

  • A fence is the guy you take whatever stolen object you have, you get cash from that person for that stolen item, and he then gets rid of it.

  • So you'd have a fence for diamonds, you'd have a fence for VCRs, you can have fence for clothes, whatever you steal, you need a fence.

  • Not with cash, cash is king.

  • Thomas Crown Affair.

  • What you're seeing here is a mega millionaire stealing a million dollar picture.

  • In the Thomas Crown Affair, what does he do? He robs art.

  • Why does he rob art? Because he knows art, so he knew the value of what he was stealing.

  • This painting is considered to be the first impressionist work in history.

  • It's worth 100 million bucks.

  • In my own career, I knew about diamond.

  • Why? Because I went to the GIA Institute under the table to know what I was doing.

  • The GIA Institute is the Gemological Institute of America.

  • They actually show you how to grade diamonds, rate diamonds, actually give 'em what they call a birth certificate.

  • So understanding what you rob is more important than sometimes the robbery itself.

  • Why would I rob something and not know the value of it?

  • Morning, Mr. Grant.

  • Bobby.

  • Back for your haystacks, huh?

  • In the Thomas Crown Affair, he gets very tight with everybody.

  • And that's very common, because when I did my robberies, I ended up getting tight with the owner or the sales person in that jewelry store.

  • They didn't know who I was, but they got tight with me.

  • They started talking about the place, and I would end up even sometimes asking to use the bathroom in the back, and they'd say sure.

  • I'd walk in the back and know everything about the store, where the cameras were.

  • What I don't like about what I'm seeing in this clip is he's robbing for fun, he's getting a thrill.

  • I've known people who are very wealthy who want something, but they don't do it themselves, they hire other people to do it.

  • Are you trying to imply that I had something to do with that painting?

  • Trying?

  • No way, if you were worth 10 million dollars, would you go rob something?

  • If you got 10 million in your house, what are you gonna rob another million for and go to prison?

  • That just doesn't make sense.

  • Maybe it's for the thrill?

  • Thrill, [beeps] off more.

  • Beautiful Saturday morning, John.

  • I had an opportunity to rob millions of dollars in Rembrandts and Picassos and I couldn't get two cents on the dollar.

  • That means if I robbed the $1,000,000 picture, I couldn't get $20,000.

  • People don't understand when you robbed things, rob something you get rid of.

  • If I rob right now a truckload of apple watches, I could get rid of him tomorrow.

  • If I robbed a truckload of Picasso's How am I gonna get rid of him?

  • Can I take the apple watches over the Picassos any day?

  • It's not worth it.

  • You have to be able to sell it.

  • The only way you could do something like that is fine.

  • Some of them want something specific.

  • You set a price for it and then steal it other than and stay away.

  • You're better off Robin hubcaps.

  • That's the truth.

  • The Italian job.

  • Four.

  • Oh, stealing a safe is not unrealistic.

  • In fact, I knew many people used to take chains and pulled a TM machines right out of banks.

  • Take a big heavy truck or even take a bulldozer, rob the bulldoze and literally take a safe right out.

  • Throw in the back of a four by four, and they're often gone.

  • So here's what I love about this scene.

  • Great timing, Great misdirection.

  • Mr X is when you send police or people or whoever it is toe another area, so you have time to do what you're going to do in your area.

  • In fact, I use misdirection.

  • Some of my robberies.

  • I would actually like malt off cocktails at the end of the other end of Amore town and cops, and everybody's going towards that.

  • And that's misdirection.

  • So I know I have more time in the robbery itself.

  • So that's done very well in this movie with misdirection when the safe was through the floor, Theo.

  • But guards Aaron, the idiots or they're in on it because £3000 safe going to two floors, it's not gonna end up in a 21 foot boat flying through a canal, you know, in this clip, also, its timing timing is everything.

  • And knowing when and where people are gonna be in come to the place is important.

  • All right, So how do you do that?

  • It's easy way to do that.

  • You can light their alarm.

  • Oh, if you could start a little fire or something, right next would throw a brick through a window within a warm and see if they'll how long it takes the police to come there.

  • That's called a false alarm.

  • But you still going to get a response time?

  • I used to know how many police cars that place at him, how many copter on you can call the notice eyes at a police department and just do the numbers.

  • So now if they have 21 patrol divisions, you probably have three shifts.

  • So at the most, you're gonna have a seven cop cars in any given area.

  • So how do you know a cop's not patrolling in that area right then and there And you do?

  • The company shows up in 10 seconds, 20 seconds because he's right there.

  • You better know where the cops are, is where you go to misdirection.

  • You know, in this movie, right in the beginning, right after the Italian job, get away and they're out somewhere celebrating and one character kills the rest of the people.

  • Steve, what the hell are you doing?

  • But a few plans of my own.

  • And in reality, that is Mork common Or would happen with that kind of money.

  • How many times do I have to tell you?

  • I trust everyone.

  • I just don't trust the devil inside a great movie.

  • But why don't you just go with these guys in there?

  • Knock on the door, Get in there.

  • Somehow they were in the floor below.

  • They were painting some dynamite on the on the walls.

  • You can't get into the top four.

  • Come on.

  • That Listen, I rob me.

  • I used to rob drug dealers.

  • I used to tie them all up, would walk out with a $1,000,000 in cash and the dope.

  • So I mean and I was a bad guy all around, But I don't do that anymore.

  • Let's take a look at the movie snatch.

  • Theo.

  • What we're seeing here is four men walking in dresses, Hasidic Jews to rob a hole.

  • So I knew a guy who did this.

  • He dressed up as acidic Jew here in Brooklyn and then robbed the people who take their diamonds to temple.

  • The blessing thes four guys go in through a buzz door.

  • The buzzer doors were good for me, the professional criminal not for the smash and grab when I went into a buzz door.

  • I was never surprised after that, because I would end up busting the person in and taking them down.

  • You don't want someone just walking in and then walking out in those buzzers.

  • You also have the buzz out.

  • Once you're in there, your mind.

  • You can't even run out of the store.

  • It buzzes.

  • It locks.

  • That is that stone.

  • They're looking for a specific diamond, and if you notice it's not in the safe, a lot of times of specific diamond or very high end stuff might be in a full, full board or a safe that's hidden in a drawer.

  • It does not have to be in the actual safe itself.

  • A lot of times, that's the jewelry owners trying to not put all their eggs in one basket.

  • So if that safety get robbed, maybe that higher end stuff doesn't get robbed because a lot of people don't know that.

  • But when you case a store, you'll figure that out.

  • This clip was actually very, very realistic.

  • There's not much wrong except they will all carry their own gun.

  • I didn't see why they were all four guns on one guy that made no sense.

  • They're walking in as it is.

  • So one guy goes off, hits a buzzer, they're gonna pat him down.

  • Anyway, What I don't like about what I'm seeing in this clip is how they used violence in all of my robberies.

  • I've never used violence that need to.

  • In robberies, you don't need to use violence, You need intimidation and it's wrong.

  • I want to emphasize that I didn't hurt anybody in a robbery, but I scared people, and that's wrong.

  • So I gave scarred them sometimes for life, which is wrong.

  • But I never had to physically hurt somebody ever in a robbery.

  • Ocean's 11.

  • So there's a couple of things this movie does really well.

  • Casing the joint, getting inside information, first task, reconnaissance, everything that's going on in all three casinos, from the rotation of the dealers, the path of every cash card.

  • I wanna know everything about every guard, every watcher, anyone with a security pass casing, the joint is when you take the whole entire left, you're going to do and get every detail when you know that the sun comes up and his glare on the window at a specific time.

  • When you know when the mailman comes by when the most people are going to be in the place, what time they open, where they park their cars?