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A stock plot in Heist movies where some kind of store is right next to a bank or jewelery store criminals wish to rob, and will rent that property for the purposes of tunneling through to their target. Sometimes, in more humorous examples, the crooks actually become competent at their front business and will eventually pursue that legitimately in opposition to the Cut Lex Luthor a Check trope.


Examples:

Film

  • Both versions of The Lady Killers involve renting a room in a private residence, not a store, but the idea is the same.
  • The Bank Job
  • The Edward G. Robinson movie Larceny Inc. features the humorous subversion described above, with the luggage-store front turning a brisk business.
  • In the French film Rififi, criminals rent the office above a jewelery store and tunnel in through the ceiling.
  • The Woody Allen film Small Time Crooks. They used a cookie store front while they try to tunnel across the street to the bank. They fail (to say the least), but the cookies are so popular, it turns them into instant millionaires.
  • Short Circuit 2, the villains were doing this to break into the bank when the protagonists buy the warehouse. The villains first try to drive the heroes away, then trick Johnny Five into digging the tunnel for them.
  • In Stark Raving Mad (2002), with a nightclub.

Literature

  • Older Than Radio: The Sherlock Holmes story The Red-Headed League does this with a shop across the way from a bank.
  • In one Doc Savage novel, criminals strike at Doc by renting the office next to his and attacking the wall. (This causes a few continuity problems for fans as most Doc Savage stories state that he rents the entire floor of the skyscraper.)

Live Action TV

  • An episode of Car 54, Where Are You? was based around an eatery next to a bank. A single scene at the end of the episode replayed the entire plot with the buildings' next owners, who were posing as stamp dealers.
  • In an episode of Monk, it wasn't the grocery store itself, but the parking space reserved for the employee of the month that provided easy access to a bank, thanks to a well-placed manhole. The scheming cashier killed her rival to get the space, parked her van with a modified floor over the manhole, and every day during her shift her two flunkies would dig, filling the van with dirt.
  • In a Hogan's Heroes episode, Hogan had to go through The Convenient House Next Door to get to a bank. He distracts the owner of the house by sweet-talking her and playing Hitler's speeches reeeallly loud on the radio so Carter can use the jackhammer in the next room.
  • An episode of Castle plays on this, with the owner of a pet store that was broken into stating that he's behind a bank. In reality, the pet store was a front for a diamond smuggling operation, and was the thieves' target the whole time.
  • Has happened in Hustle.
  • In an episode of Burn Notice, Michael and Jesse gain access to a bank by breaking into the much less heavily protected law office upstairs and tunnel through the conference room floor into the vault.
  • A variation in White Collar has Neal engineering an escape plan with Mozzie's help, involving setting up a bakery in some office space directly below a judge's chambers. The bakery opens on the day of Neil's hearing, and he uses its "Grand Opening" awning to make his escape.

Western Animation

  • An episode of Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers did this bizarrely by combining it with a "shoemaker and the elves" plot. It involved a restaurant next to a bank, and the "temporary owners" suffering from mysteriously appearing bowls of cheese chowder that were favored by the local police.
  • An episode of Chalk Zone has the criminals attempt this kind of heist. However, the wall they're breaking through is a chalk surface, and the gang learned of the plan beforehand. Hilarity Ensues.

Real Life

  • For the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, the conspirators needed a way to get a great amount of explosives inside of the parliament. Conveniently the basements right under the kings throne were for rent, making any tunnel digging attempts unneccessary.
  • The world's second largest bank theft, in 2005, Fortaleza, Brazil, used this. The organized burglars bought a building a couple of blocks away from their target, Banco Central, set up a synthetic-grass store as a front, then started to dig up a professionally engineered tunnel to the bank, managing to steal the equivalent to 94 million dollars in the operation.
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