5 Things Movies Get Wrong About Bank Heists (From a Guard)

#2. Getting in Is Basically Impossible

Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images

How do you break into a vault? You can ram it with a truck (like in Die Hard With a Vengeance), drill the locks (like in Payday 2), or blow the bastard to hell, like in basically every other game, TV show, and movie out there.

Maria Pavlova/iStock/Getty Images
Or you call in a favor from the mole people.

But these days, like phones and cars and your only friends, locks are all electronic. Good luck "busting" them. Opening them doesn't involve badass drills or sexy explosions -- it involves a phone call to an office thousands of miles away in which you and your partner exchange a bunch of codes with a third party. It sucks for you, as a bank robber -- there's nothing romantic about the process now. But it's really fun for the guards, because you get to pretend you're in an old Cold War movie, where two generals or whatever have to turn a key at the same time to launch a missile. They do tend to frown upon the fake Russian accents, though.

But let's assume you're an evil master impressionist, and have pulled off the dreaded multi-party phone call. You're in. Smooth sailing and boat drinks from now on, right? Nope, because it's not just the door that comes equipped with an alarm. There are so many alarms that we don't even know about all of them -- and we work there.

Fuse/Fuse/Getty Images
Really, your best bet is to fake an alarm and watch us panic.

At least once a month, if not more often, all the phones blow up with calls from the alarm company and a bunch of cops show up and we have no idea why. We look at the alarm panel and it'll display something like "Vltgrnd3," and we're all like, "What the fuck is 'Vltgrnd3'?" And then 10 minutes later, "Ooooh ... underground sensor." It usually ends up being a mouse or something under a corner of the building. If the mouse can't get away with just "existing near the bank," odds aren't looking great for a person "stealing all of the bank's money with a charming gang of misfits."

#1. Getting Away Is Even Harder

Colin Brown

You've made it! Against all odds, you got into the vault, got the cash, and got out of there -- either through an elaborate system of misdirection involving triple identities and clown makeup, or the mutant power of teleportation. Who cares? You're home free now.

Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Getty Images
"There has to be an easier way to get rolled up bills to do this ..."

But not really: You've probably heard of exploding dye packs (which are totally a real thing), but progress marches ever forward, and a little blue dye seems laughably harmless compared with the technology we have now. For example, some banks plant GPS devices on their bags, enabling them to monitor the cash by satellite. It makes sense: If Big Brother is switching your cellphone mic on just to listen to you fall asleep while watching New Girl, they probably had a backup plan for keeping tabs on all of their cash.

My favorite security feature, though, are the smoke bombs. Once you unlock the bag, poof! Colored smoke comes billowing out of your getaway car. Seriously, look how cool these things are:

Rob Whitfield/OC Register
This particular robbery was foiled by Inspector Clouseau.

Obviously, you're not going to see that in the movies. You wouldn't spend two hours watching Matt Damon pull off the heist of the century only to have him look in the bag at the end, get a mouthful of high-velocity dye, then stumble out of the hot pink smoke cloud to find the SWAT Team pulling up outside of his hideout.

Or ... would you?


If you follow Manna on Twitter, she might agree not to steal all of your money, now that she knows how.

Related Reading: Cracked has made a habit of bringing you real stories from real people, including this guy who went undercover to fight the drug cartels. We also talked to a bunch of drug dealers and also a beat cop. If you've got a story to share with Cracked, hit us up here.

Recommended For Your Pleasure

To turn on reply notifications, click here

859 Comments

The Cracked Podcast

Choosing to "Like" Cracked has no side effects, so what's the worst that could happen?

The Weekly Hit List

Sit back... Relax... We'll do all the work.
Get a weekly update on the best at Cracked. Subscribe now!