Backdoor Thievery: Stories of Sneaky Robberies

The modern ‘robber’ has become more daring than the traditional robber.

It’s common to view jewel thieves, bank robbers, cat burglars and art thieves in a romantic light. Films like “Ocean’s 11” make us swoon at thieves and their glamorous lives. The 2008 film “21,” which is based on a true story, begs for viewer sympathy as Kevin Spacey practically forces six MIT students to count cards in Vegas to win millions of dollars for him. Hollywood adds allure and mystery to stories of thievery, and we love every minute of it. It’s often the “based on a true story” plots that are the most elaborate, believable and educational.

Robbers have become more daring than the traditional format

Robbers have become more daring than the traditional format

How do today’s most ambitious thieves — cyber criminals — compare to the tricky thieves of yesterday and today?

Sneaky Little Buggers

Since 2006, a team of thieves in France used a drill and a vacuum cleaner to make their way into the European supermarket Monoprix’s cash storing system. Rather than getting greedy and going for the big money in the vault, they simply drilled a hole in the pneumatic tubes that carry envelopes of money into the vault. A vacuum cleaner sucks the envelope of cash out of the tubes and into criminal hands, says

There’s a clear parallel that we could draw from this backdoor thievery. Internet hackers sometimes don’t only try to break into your computer, but simply wait until you’re transferring information over an unsecured connection at a coffee shop. Be careful of what you share over the Internet, especially when using an unsecured connection.

How about all of the cyber-scams faced by many South Africans over the Internet? highlights the top scamming methods used on a regular basis, which include scammers targeting online dating sites, phishing, false payment confirmations, credit card data compromise and even “fake” Microsoft alerts. Although it’s still takes skill for these hackers to steal information, they are successfully stealing millions every year in the region.

“Bling Rings”

It sounds like the plot to an old-school gangster film. According to the FBI, gangs of thieves from Colombia, Peru, Ecuador and other countries have been operating in the U.S. for 30 years, stealing high-end jewelry by strategically placing crew members at planned stations to report the business of jewel dealers and buyers. Rather than a single gang, they form a loose network of tight-knit groups and organizations. Most of these jewel gangs come from the same hometowns and have grown up together, earning their stripes with petty crimes from pickpocketing to getaway driving.

These gangs are highly skilled. They’ve actually pulled off big scores in broad daylight, explains the FBI’s report on “Project Cut and Run.”

Cybercriminals are rarely as skilled or as sophisticated, but they are frequently just as organized. If someone steals your identity, there’s a good chance they are not going to use it themselves. Rather, they’ll sell your credit card number on the black market. It may be months before you realize you’ve been scammed.

No Sweat

Remember the story about the thief who swiped “The Scream” off the wall of the Munch Museum in Oslo, Norway by just grabbing it and running?

That’s what most identity theft looks like. Hackers staying up all night, cracking the code to get your personal information only happens in the movies. In real life, an identity thief is just as likely to peek over your shoulder at your PIN number, steal your credit card or go through your old receipts in your trash to hack into your computer. Cyber crime isn’t always high-tech or very impressive for that matter.

Protect yourself from personal crimes of identity with credit protection. Be careful about unsecured connections and watch your back when making purchases at home and abroad.


Richard Burgess

A lover of domestic cars and SUVs, Richard writes reviews for auto and tech sites.