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Armed Blag

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A type of typically British Crime Caper revolving around the robbery of an armoured car carrying a company's payroll. For obvious reasons, it will be set in older times when workers received a pay envelope (full of cash) rather than a pay cheque, necessitating delivery via armoured car. The cast is likely to be full of London Gangsters, Violent Glaswegians and/or other British "undesirables".

When this trope gets used in works set in different time periods, it's often re-dressed, with the "armored car" turning into other vehicles, from horse-drawn carriages to spaceships. The payroll is also often changed to other types of goods, such as jewelry, contrabands, technology. Sometimes it may even be carrying the MacGuffin.

Assault on such vehicles is a common mission type in videogames, especially in a Wide-Open Sandbox, since the concept of catching or defeating a vehicle to claim its loot translates smoothly to gameplay. Escort Mission to protect these are also common.

Compare Train Job and The Caper. See Technically a Transport for a dangerously armed transport vehicle and Defenseless Transports for when the vehicle is harmless on its own. Compare and contrast Vulnerable Convoy, where the target is a live prisoner rather than cash. Not to Be Confused with an armed blog, regardless of how it's spelled.

Cases for you to 'ave a butcher's at:

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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Knocking over armoured cars transporting cash was a staple of crooks in Batman comics until at least the 1980s.
  • Criminal (2006): The the set-up of first volume, Coward, is about Leo Patterson working with an old buddy and some corrupt cops for One Last Job: hitting an armored convoy transporting blood diamonds as evidence from a police lockup to a high profile court case. Except the actual target is a trunk full of heroin being used as evidence in a different case, not diamonds. And the "old buddy" and the cops are in on it and betray most of the heist team.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The gang's opening gambit Den of Thieves is hijacking an armoured car when it stops for breakfast. The twist is that the car is empty.
  • Dead Presidents closes with one of these. Despite the heist being well-planned and the participants (mostly) being well-trained Vietnam veterans, the operation goes pear-shaped, with most of the robbers dying along with several cops and civilians and most of the money burned up when the robbers attempt to blow the door of the car.
  • Diamonds on Wheels opens with the gang pulling an armed blag on an armoured van transporting diamonds. The professionalism of this job stands in stark contrast to their transformation into Stupid Crooks later in the film.
  • At the start of Dobermann, Dobermann and Nat knock over an amoured car on a remote country road.
  • This is the entire premise of the film Grey Hound. A WWII movie following an allied supply convoy traversing the Mid Atlantic Gap, aka "The Black Pit". The convoy is escorted by the Destroyer U.S.S Keeling, call sign "Greyhound", and several other Destroyers and Corvettes from various allied nations, who work together to fend off attacks by German U-boats.
  • Heat opens with this kind of job. The robbers wear hockey masks to hide their faces.
  • The Hoodlum: Working at a gas station across the road from a bank, Vincent concocts a plan to heist the armored car that stops there every Thursday.
  • "Professor Marcus" and his associates pull this off pretty neatly in The Ladykillers (1955). Unfortunately for them, the little old Cloudcuckoolander lady they're using as a cover catches them in flagrante delicto.
  • The Lavender Hill Mob robbed an armored car of gold bullion.
  • In Layer Cake, this is referenced as being the crime of choice for London gangsters before they discovered drug dealing by the protagonist (Daniel Craig). At the end of the film, the two Scouse gangsters relish the opportunity to rip off the Magnificent Bastard via armed robbery, and they comment to the effect that it reminds them of old times.
  • Money Movers: A trio of robbers knock over an armoured car when the drivers stop for lunch in a crime that becomes known as the 'leg of lamb' robbery.
  • Money Train merges this with a Train Job, in which the main characters rob an armored subway train that collects the revenue from the stations.
  • The half of MST3K veteran The Rebel Set that wasn't beatnik-sploitation revolved around the Chief from Get Smart planning an armored car robbery in Chicago — with the twist that the robbers would do the job while travelling from New York to LA by train, during a layover; they'd be gone on the train, with the cash, before the police would know what happened.
  • The 1967 film Robbery, directed by Peter Yates, begins with a heist of a suitcase full of jewellery being transported by car.
  • The crew in Serenity pulled off the post office version, hitting a trade station and making off with, ironically enough, the pay for the security guards who were supposed to stop them. Mal mentions that the crime won't be investigated too heavily since it's out in the boondocks and the company will hush it up — if they let it get out that they couldn't protect their own wages, they sure as hell won't get any customers lining up for security contracts.
  • In Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace, Moriarty's gang steals the necklace while it is being transported in a police van from Scotland Yard to the auction rooms.
  • The Soldier (1982). Renegade Russians attack a convoy transporting nuclear material, to make an atomic bomb.
  • Transit starts with a gang knocking over an armoured car on a remote country road.
  • Wrath of Man revolves around the robbery of armored cars.

  • Biggles was involved in foiling several of these in his post-war career with the London Metropolitan Police's aviation wing, only Recycled WITH AEROPLANES!.
  • "Payroll jobs" the American equivalent are mention Donald Westlake's crime novels in his Parker and Dortmunder books (two different series), but later books mention how corporate practices change making these jobs rarer and rarer.
  • The Stainless Steel Rat is shown doing this along with his wife, as much for fun as for gaining cash. Schizo Tech is used to justify this trope, there not being much Rule of Cool in Jim and Angelina trying to rob a cashless society via computer fraud.
  • In the Wyatt novels, Villain Protagonist Wyatt used to like payroll jobs, as the risk to reward ratio was extremely good. With the demise of cash payrolls, that avenue closes off. In Paydirt, he attempts a robbery on an armoured car delivering one of the last cash payrolls going: being delivered to workers on a remote pipeline project in the outback where there is no easy access to banks or electronic funds transfer. Unfortunately for Wyatt, things do not run entirely to plan.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Ashes to Ashes (2008): The Season Two arc climaxes with a plot by a group of corrupt cops to step into an Armed Blag they've been tipped off to and take the money themselves. Quite possibly inspired by a couple of Real Life incidents in the 70s and 80s, a period when the London Metropolitan Police in general and the Flying Squad in particularly might just as well have been another gang.
  • The Coroner: In "Pieces of Eight", a gang of robbers dressed as pirates snatch an armoured van delivering cash to the bank.
  • Dempsey and Makepeace: In "The Squeeze", a heavy-duty transit van carrying half a million pounds in used notes is high jacked, drivers and all and S.I. 10 is tasked to find it.
  • Several Doctor Who stories have attacks on UNIT convoys, usually transporting dangerous technology, including "The Ambassadors of Death" (space capsule containing alien visitors), "The Mind of Evil" (decommissioned nuclear missile), and "The Time Monster" (reinforcements). In "Battlefield", for a change, the convoy (transporting another decommissioned nuclear missile) just gets bogged down due to bad weather — and then the villains discover it and attack.
  • One episode of The Last Detective deals with a retired London Gangster and centers around a past robbery similar to the actual Great Train Robbery.
  • Law & Order: Criminal Intent: "Astoria Helen" opens with a gang knocking over an armoured car that is delivering cash to ATMs. Major Case get involved months later, when one of the gang starts picking off his accomplices.
  • This, or variants, showed up a few times in the original Law & Order. One was a cold case from the 60s in which some radical college kids and a few hardened criminals stuck up a payroll shipment. Another was a modern case in which some far-right-wing extremists stuck up an armored car carrying the take from an OTB (off-track betting; licensed location for placing almost any kind of bet).
  • In the fourth episode of the second series of Misfits, the gang robs an armoured car so that they can ransom Kelly. Simon's invisibility simplifies the process considerably.
  • In one episode of Person of Interest, the Victim of the Week is part of an armoured truck's guard crew, and the heroes suspect someone will try to rob the truck while it transports platinum. Someone does, but their "victim" is the ringleader and the Inside Man.
  • The short-lived Ice-T series, Players had a "Rashomon"-Style episode dealing with an armored car theft the team was supposed to prevent.
  • The Professionals
    • In "Heroes", the robbery of an armoured car is actually the cover for a political assassination. Turns out a controversial American politician was being smuggled out of the country disguised as a security guard, but those after him got wind of it.
    • In "Where The Jungle Ends", a squad of mercenaries rob a bank, using submachine guns to drive off the police, stealing an aircraft and parachuting to safety before RAF interceptors can reach them. Their leader then turns up at the home of Britain's top organised crime boss, returning his safety deposit box which they stole as a demonstration of what they can do.
  • Shades of Blue: The big score the FBI is after in season 1 is the robbery of an armored truck hauling evidence money, which Woz's unit of Dirty Cops will be involved in.
  • Done in an early episode of The Shield, with a van transporting evidence to a case. The catch: the attackers are none other than the Strike Team, launching a last-ditch effort to get rid of evidence they planted that would've sent an innocent man to jail.
  • Practically every other episode of The Sweeney. Which is kind of Truth in Television, as the Flying Squad were actually the Metropolitan Police's specialist armed robbery taskforce.
  • Westside: In "Dire Combustion", Ted and his gang heist an armoured car. Things start going badly wrong when they attempt to bust it open.

  • "The Hardest Part" from Eat To The Beat by Blondie is an unusually American example of this trope, depicting a robbery on an armored car. The "hardest part" of the title refers to getting past the armed guards inside the truck.
  • Official music videos to Robbie Williams double single "Eternity"/"Road to Mandalay" from the Sing When You're Winning album feature the robbery of a money van in Monaco, though it's not actually armed: the robbers throw the van off the road by hitting it with a crane truck and then threaten the guards off by showing them a dog of one of them, implying that they know where the guards live.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In the Heroes Unlimited adventure "One Dam Thing", the Gold Falcon's plan is to rob an armoured car transporting millions of dollars worth of evidence (in cash and coke) from a recent drug bust while his unwilling accomplice Brainstorm distracts the cops with a flashy attack on Hoover Dam.

    Video Games 
  • In the SNES version of the Area 88 Shoot 'Em Up game (UN Squadron Stateside), enemy supply convoys are a source of easy money (and extra lives for the patient).
  • In the side-scrolling RTS Armor Alley, each side tries to sneak convoys past the other's helicopter assaults.
  • In Assassin's Creed III convoys filled with money and special items occasionally spawn in different parts of the frontier and Connor is able to steal from them after killing every guard. It´s also implied the player is on the receiving end of this as sending a land/naval convoys with products to a city or the frontier will usually present a percentage of failure.
  • One possible mission hook in BattleTech has you attack a base and steal a government payroll with your BattleMechs. One "flashpoint" mini-campaign event from the DLC of the same name, "Yang Virtannen's Big Score", is a more elaborate example in which your mercenaries hijack a bunch of pristine vintage battlemechs.
  • In Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas, the Brahmin caravan merchants are highly susceptible to attack by raiders, Super Mutants, Radscorpions, Yao Guai, Deathclaws, and in the latter game, Legionaries. An evil player can also raid and loot caravans themselves. At the beginning of the Honest Hearts DLC, the caravan the player was traveling with is slaughtered by the White Legs raider tribe.
  • In Far Cry 2, the weapons dealers ask the player to destroy convoys driven by their business rivals so that news weapons are unlocked. Strangely, the convoys never actually go anywhere, as they are always endlessly driving around in a circle. Bizarrely, they are also completely empty, which means that someone in your information chain is either screwing up big time or having one over on you.
  • In The Godfather game, you can ambush enemy mobsters' racket trucks in order to pry cash from the guards' cold dead hands. You can also interrogate the driver for the location of a racket. You then have to return the cash to your safehouse before it becomes usable currency. The main threat to you is not the cops but a Teleporting Keycard Squad or two of enemy mobsters, though.
  • Grand Theft Auto
    • An early mission in Grand Theft Auto III has you stealing an armored van for The Mafia.
    • Grand Theft Auto V:
      • Armored cars randomly spawn throughout Los Santos. If you happen to have some explosive charges and a getaway vehicle handy, you can blow the doors off of them and make off with their contents.
      • The mission "Blitz Play" is one big Homage to the opening scenes of Heat. You even get extra points if you have the protagonists wear hockey masks.
      • If you bring Gustavo Mota along for "The Paleto Score", when asked about his first heist, he replies that he robbed an armored car.
      • One version of the final heist involves hijacking two armored cars and using them for a Bavarian Fire Drill.
  • Assaulting convoys full of goodies is one of the many open-world activities in the Just Cause games.
  • The player can accept a mission to raid a convoy hauling weapons in MechWarrior 4: Mercenaries, and actually gets to keep the weapons as loot (you even get more if you keep the transports intact while destroying their escorts). You can raid the convoy a second time; this time the escorts are stiffer and include enemy Mechs, but are beatable. If you take on the mission a third time, though, it's a trap — there's no convoy at all, only several lances of very tough Mechs out for your blood.
  • Enemy supply convoys are frequent targets in the Naval Ops series, though not in the only game where the player is allowed to drive a submarine.
  • PAYDAY 2 has a rather more violent spin on this trope in its Transport Heists: you intercept GenSec armored cars in the middle of their route, break them open, and steal their contents, all the while law enforcement is trying to bring you down. Those "interceptions" consist of such tactics as ramming them with a semi, hiring a sniper to shoot the drivers, faking an emergency with an ambulance, dropping a cargo container in front of them, or dropping a skybridge with C4 to stop them.
  • PAYDAY 3 takes a more hi-tech route with Road Rage: the heist involves disabling an armored truck with an EMP before hacking into it and driving it onto a nearby ramp. Afterwards, the crew can exploit a weakness in the truck's underbelly to rewire the locking mechanism, opening the doors and letting the crew loot the rare-earth elements inside.
  • In Sleeping Dogs, the player can occasionally come across armored bank cars that they can hijack and deliver to a Triad garage for a bit of cash.
  • You regularly encounter crooks holding up armoured cars in random encounters in Spider-Man 2, to the point where you start to wonder why anyone actually uses the damn things given that half a dozen seem to get knocked over every day.
  • Can randomly happen in XCOM2 since you are commanding La Résistance fighting against the ADVENT Coalition. Sometimes you attack a convoy or train for supplies, sometimes you attack an armored truck carrying a captive Resistance VIP (An Engineer or a Scientist).

    Western Animation 
  • In the Generator Rex episode Badlands, Rex was part of a Providence convoy transporting unstable nanites and toilet paper. It isn't long before they are besieged by desert-dwelling anarchists.
  • The first episode of the G.I. Joe five-parter "Revenge of Cobra" opens with the Joes transporting a high-tech device, and a Cobra strike force attacking the convoy and making off with it (along with Duke and Snake Eyes).
  • The teen heroes of Young Justice (2010) were charged with guarding trucks containing the pieces of the disassembled Amazo android, a convoy that included decoys. Sure enough, the trucks carrying the deadly machine parts are MONQUIS!

    Real Life 
  • The most famous British Real Life example is the 1963 Great Train Robbery, which was actually woefully badly done and resulted in the arrests of nearly all involved; the robbery itself went off fairly well... until the culprits decided to play a game of Monopoly with the real money, getting their fingerprints everywhere.
  • While the van wasn't carrying cash per se, and it certainly wasn't armoured, a group of criminals managed to rob a truck carrying copies of the Limited Edition of Splatoon in the UK.
  • It's alleged that the infamous North Hollywood shoot-out was supposed to be this, hitting a truck delivering cash to a bank branch in a strip mall, but the truck was held up in traffic and the robbers got impatient.