Thorough as ever, Blanchard had spent many previous nights infiltrating the bank to do recon or to tamper with the locks while James acted as lookout, scanning the vicinity with binoculars and providing updates via a scrambled-band walkie-talkie. He had put a transmitter behind an electrical outlet, a pinhole video camera in a thermostat, and a cheap baby monitor behind the wall. He had even mounted handles on the drywall panels so he could remove them to enter and exit the ATM room. Blanchard had also taken detailed measurements of the room and set up a dummy version in a friend’s nearby machine shop. With practice, he had gotten his ATM-cracking routine down to where he needed only 90 seconds after the alarm tripped to finish and escape with his score. . . .
Eight minutes after Blanchard broke into the first ATM, the Winnipeg Police Service arrived in response to the alarm. However, the officers found the doors locked and assumed the alarm had been an error. As the police pronounced the bank secure, Blanchard was zipping away with more than half a million dollars.
The following morning was a puzzler for authorities. There were no indications of damage to the door, no fingerprints, and no surveillance recordings — Blanchard had stolen the hard drives that stored footage from the bank’s cameras. Moreover, Blanchard’s own surveillance equipment was still transmitting from inside the ATM room, so before he skipped town, he could listen in on investigators. He knew their names; he knew their leads. He would call both the bank manager’s cell phone and the police, posing as an anonymous informant who had been involved in the heist and was swindled out of his share. It was the contractors, he’d say. Or the Brinks guy. Or the maintenance people. His tips were especially convincing because he had a piece of inside information: One of the bank’s ATMs was left untouched. Blanchard had done that on purpose to make it easier to sow confusion.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
The Master Thief
An incredible story by Joshuah Bearman at Wired: