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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 more primitive times when workers received a pay envelope (full of cash) rather than a pay cheque, necessitating the delivery of said cash by said armoured car. The cast is likely to be full of Violent Glaswegians and other British Undesirables, notably London Gangsters. When this trope gets used in works set in more recent times, it's often re-dressed, with the armored car becoming a prison transport van, and the money, a prisoner who must either be freed by his accomplices or killed before he can testify against them. That, or it's a jewelry shipment.

Compare Train Job and The Caper. 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: 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 Italian Job (1969) (and the 2003 remake)
  • The Killers (1964, Don Siegel)
  • Diamonds on Wheels opens with the gang pulling an armed blag on a armoured van transporting diamonds. The professionalism of this job stands in stark contrast to their transformation into Stupid Crooks later in the film.
  • Heat opens with this kind of job. The robbers wear hockey masks to hide their faces.
  • In Layer Cake, this is referenced as being the crime of choice for London gangsters before they discovered drug dealing. 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.
  • Circus of Fear (the 1966 film starring Christopher Lee, not the trope of the same name) opens with an armed blag on the Tower Bridge.
  • 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.
  • "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.
  • The Day They Robbed The Bank Of England, more of the same
  • 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.
  • The second robbery in Baby Driver involves heisting an armoured car that is delivering cash to a bank. It does not go as smoothly as the first robbery.
  • 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.
  • The 1967 film Robbery, directed by Peter Yates, begins with a heist of a suitcase full of jewellery being transported by car.
  • In Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace, Moriarty's gang steal the necklace while it is being transported in a police van from Scotland Yard to the auction rooms.
  • At the start of Dobermann, Dobermann and Nat knock over an amoured car on a remote country road.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.

  • 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.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Being an homage to the above two series, Life On Mars.
  • Early seasons of The Bill.
  • 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.
  • 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 Season Two arc of Ashes to Ashes (2008) 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.
  • 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 an Armed Blag on the truck while it transports platinum. Someone does, but their "victim" is the ringleader and the Inside Man.
  • Another American example: The Kraft Suspense Theatre episode "The Jack Is High".
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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 Coroner: In "Pieces of Eight", a gang of robbers dressed as pirates snatch an armoured van delivering cash to the bank.
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • "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.

    Video Games 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • One possible mission hook in BattleTech has you attack a base and steal a government payroll with your BattleMechs.

    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.
  • Experienced a very brief renaissance during the early stages of the current recession, the most successful example being a subversion; rather than ambush an armoured van in transit, a party of robbers cut out the middleman and forced their way into the security firm's depot, driving off with several million pounds.
  • 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


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