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Heist Clash

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It's like these emeralds were made for the Sol purpose of getting snatched.
"Thieving is more fun as a competitive sport."

A thief has everything set up. They've been staking out the building for weeks, have all the equipment they need, they know how to deal with the cameras, guards and other means of security.

Unfortunately, they didn't count on one obstacle: another thief breaking into the very same place.

This trope is what happens when one party breaks into a place to steal something only to run into one or more parties who are doing the same thing. They might be after the same target or are looking for something else. Either way, this is bound to cause complications.

A Heist Clash can occur either by coincidence or because one party is aware the other is planning a heist and is trying to outdo them. In the worst case scenario, all parties involved fail to achieve their goals. The best case, they decide to team up assuming they don't plan to betray each other. In rare instances, the thieves may not even be aware of each other's presence.

Sub-Trope of Colliding Criminal Conspiracies. Compare Stealing from Thieves which is about stealing an object from a thief after it was already stolen. See also Gambit Pileup.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Lupin III:
    • The Castle of Cagliostro: Lupin's attempt at breaking into the titular castle and steal the means to print the vaunted "Goat Bills" (and save Princess Clarisse) disrupts Fujiko's own plans to rob the place. Fujiko steals the Goat Bill plates in the middle of the chaos of the climax.
    • Lupin III Part 6:
      • "The Imperial City Dreams of Thieves, Part 1": Lupin, Black Lizard and Colonel Daidoji all infiltrate at the same time to steal a centuries old clock for their own respective reasons.
      • "An Invitation From The Past": Lupin infiltrates an auction to steal back a red jewel that was stolen from his grandfather's safe when Lupin was a boy. His attempt is foiled by a group of armed, identical-looking red-haired women who abscond with all the treasures in the auction, including the jewel.
    • Lupin III: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine:
      • The first episode, appropriately titled "Master Thief vs Lady Looter", has both Lupin and Fujiko infiltrating a cult to steal its sacred treasure - a powerful drug which the cult's leader uses to keep his followers obedient to him. The two thieves are caught in the act and both blame the other for their plans going awry, though they both manage to avoid execution. In the end, the drug is destroyed when it is spilled into the sea and the cult leader is arrested while both Fujiko and Lupin escape.
      • In "Blood-Soaked Triangle", both Lupin and Jigen sneak into an unearthed Egyptian pyramid to steal a jeweled peacock statue. The two not only have to contend with each other for the peacock but also have to avoid the various traps set up by looters.

    Comic Books 
  • The Batman Adventures: The Batman Adventures #10 has a variation. The Riddler and the Threatening Three don't come into direct conflict when they try to steal the same object at the same time, but the coincidence enables Batman (who had been watching the Threatening Three) to also nab the Riddler. (The Riddler doesn't mind — Batman (being preoccupied with the other villains) never solved his riddle, so as far as he's concerned he won.)
  • Bookhunter: Two different thieves, acting completely independently, plot to steal a valuable book. The first thief leaves a replica in the original's place, and the second thief steals the replica. It's only after solving the mystery of the second theft that the police realize that the first theft happened at all.
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe: One story has a falling out between the Beagle Boys after yet another failure to plunder Scrooge McDuck's Money Bin. Each Beagle, and their Grandpa, splits up, disgruntled with each other, and comes up with their own idea for breaking into the money bin. The following night has the plans individually commence, and between a silent subterranean Drill Tank, Hollywood Hacking and a little bit of deception, the money bin doesn't stand a chance, with each Beagle amazed that the other dimwits managed to get in. Unfortunately, it's all foiled when Grandpa Beagle releases a Knockout Gas through the money bin's vents but neglects to read the instructions, leading to him entering the money bin before the gas has dispersed - his last sight before being knocked out is the other three beagles inside the bin as well. When the staff arrives the following morning and discovers the beagles, they call the police - the story ends with the Beagle Boys back together, happy to go to prison, as they are now convinced that if they put their heads together and coordinate, nothing will stand in the way of their escape or their next plan.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics):
    • Issue #165 has Fiona telling the Chaotix about her history and rivalry with Rouge the Bat. This involved Fiona trying to steal some loot or treasure, only to bump into Rouge who would claim Fiona's intended gain for herself.
    • The Sonic Universe story "Treasure Team Tango" has a four-way brawl for ownership of a Sol Emerald. Blaze, Amy, and Cream are the only ones trying to obtain it for a just cause, as Blaze is the guardian of the Sol Emeralds, whereas the other three teams are trying to get their hands on it for selfish reasons. Shadow, Rouge, and E-123 Omega are attempting to get the Sol Emerald to turn over to G.U.N. for inspection, Nack, Bean, and Bark are treasure-hunting mercenaries looking to pawn off the Sol Emerald for a fortune, and Jet, Wave, and Storm are looking to nab the Sol Emerald in the name of the Battle Kukku Armada.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (IDW):
    • The 2019 Annual story "Curse of the Pyramid" has Rough and Tumble planning to loot one of Eggman's abandoned bases. They run into Rouge who is interested in the treasure hidden in the base and naturally compete with her for who gets to rob the place. Rouge uses the rumors of a curse upon the base to scare the brothers away in order to protect some animals that have taken refuge within the base and is rewarded with the treasures she was seeking.
    • Issue #25 reveals that Rouge had infiltrated Eggman's ship and discovered he was using the Chaos Emeralds to power it. Rouge planned on stealing the Emeralds herself before the Deadly Six arrived and took them after gaining control of the ship from Eggman and Starline.
    • Rough and Tumble's story in the 2022 Annual has them deciding to pursue their criminal careers independent of each other after an argument. Unfortunately, they decide to break into the Mineral Museum with their respective new partners, Tangle and Rouge (who are each only pretending to work with one of the brothers to take them down), to steal a Chaos Emerald on the exact same night.

    Fan Works 
  • Tits & Bast: The fic is an erotic story dealing with Catwoman and Black Cat running into each other when they both try to a steal an Egyptian statue from the same museum. A fight ensues followed by attempted seduction.

    Film — Animated 
  • Despicable Me: Gru attempts to steal a Shrink Ray from a research base to use in his plan to shrink and steal the moon. Unfortunately, he runs into his rival Vector who steals the ray himself.
  • Puss in Boots: While trying to steal the magic beans from the outlaws Jack and Jill, Puss is tripped up by another cat (dressed in a black mask and cape) who is also trying to steal the beans. Their scuffle over who has the "right" to steal the beans leads to them being noticed by Jack and Jill and escaping narrowly without the beans. The stranger later reveals herself as attractive cat burglar Kitty Softpaws, leading Puss to revise his negative opinion.
    • Puss in Boots: The Last Wish: After Puss's 10-Minute Retirement, he breaks into Jack Horner's factory to steal the magic map to the Wishing Star. Things get awkward when he runs into Kitty, also after the map; the two haven't spoken since their Offscreen Breakup, and the cats soon get more focused on bickering than the heist. And then Goldilocks and the Three Bears begin their attempt to steal the map, causing everything to devolve into a chaotic brawl involving all the thieves and Jack's own forces. Puss and Kitty hastily agree on a truce and escape with the map, with everyone else hot on their heels.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Catwoman (2004): On her first night out as Catwoman, Patience breaks into a jewelry store while it is being robbed by other thieves. Patience makes short work of them and takes their loot.
  • Conan the Barbarian (1982): While trying to break into the Tower of the Serpent, Conan and Subotai run into Valeria, a thief who also wants to raid the tower. After a short standoff, Valeria is the first to grasp the situation and persuades them to team up for the heist. Thanks to their combined skills, the raid is a full success.
  • Flypaper: Most of the movie's plot revolves around two teams of thieves (one a pair of Stupid Crooks, the other a more professional crew) trying to rob the same bank on the same day. After a very brief shootout, the two teams decide to stick to their respective sides of the bank without interrupting the other party's theft. Things become a lot darker when it turns out that the reason they raided the bank was because an extremely dangerous criminal mastermind bamboozled them into committing the crime so they would take the fall (in death) for the assassination of a Dirty Cop the mastermind had decided to get rid of.
  • The Mask: Dorian's crew wants to break into Edge City Savings. However, the night they decide to strike, Stanley Ipkiss as the Mask also decides to rob the bank for the money he needs to buy his way into the Coco Bongo club. Just as Dorian's crew is about to enter the bank, the Mask comes bursting out and runs off with the money. This draws the attention of the police, leading to a shoot out that costs Dorian's second-in-command his life.
  • National Treasure: Ian Howe wants to steal the Declaration of Independence which contains clues to the location of buried treasure. To protect the Declaration and find the treasure himself, Benjamin Gates decides to steal it first, though as it turns out, they both attempt the theft on the same night.
  • The Pink Panther (1963): Charles and his nephew George both attempt to steal the Pink Panther diamond for themselves during Princess Dala's costume party only to find the safe it's supposed to be in empty. Dala herself stole it to avoid turning it over to the new government of her homeland.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Angel: In "Ground State," Angel and his friends break into a heavily secured auction house to steal an artifact called the Axis of Pythia. They run into Gwen Raiden, a professional thief with an electrically charged body who beats them in stealing the item. After Gwen is betrayed by her employer (and shares a passionate kiss with Angel when her electrical powers briefly restart his dead heart), she allows them to take the Axis in exchange for returning it to her later.
  • Castle: The trope is referenced in the episode, "Home is Where the Heart Stops" which revolves around a particularly brutal group of jewelry thieves who are hunting New York's wealthy population. While conversing with an ex-thief who once served as a consultant for one of Castle's books, the former felon says he wouldn't want to meet these guys on the job. Castle asks if that ever happens, to which his source replies that it's more common than one might think, given the small pool of wealthy citizens to rob, but that in his day, a gentleman's agreement could be reached over splitting the spoils.
  • Leverage:
    • Invoked in "The Bank Shot Job" where Parker has to break into a bank where Nate and Sophie are being held hostage along with several other people.
      Nate: Parker, have you ever robbed a bank that's being robbed?
    • In "The First David Job", the team are forced to scatter after Sterling exposes their identities and foils their plan to steal a piece of artwork from the man who denied the insurance claim that could have saved the life of Nate's son. In "The Second David Job", Sophie, Hardison, Eliot and Parker each try to individually steal the artwork from the museum in which the piece was displayed. They all end up getting made but fortunately, Nate is able to come to their rescue and convince them to reunite.
    • In "The Two Live Crew Job", the Leverage team attempt to recover a painting for one of their clients only for another team of thieves to successfully steal it at the same time the Leverage team is making their own attempt. This was merely a Trial Run Crime for the other team, so the Leverage crew decides to go after the other team's true target in order to negotiate for the first painting. Naturally, the Leverage team's heist happens at the same time the other team attempts theirs.
    • "The Rashomon Job" reveals that all five members of the team were present in the same place years before they all teamed up. Nate was still an insurance investigator at the time while Parker, Eliot, Hardison and Sophie were each trying to steal a valuable dagger from a museum for their own reasons while unaware of each other's goals. Between Nate's investigation and the commotion caused by the four thieves, it is revealed that the dagger's owner had actually sold it and replaced it with a fake as part of an insurance scam.
  • Leverage: Redemption: The first episode has Eliot, Parker and Hardison try to cheer up Sophie who is feeling depressed on the anniversary of Nate's death by trying to get her to steal something from an art museum. While there, they come across Harry Wilson trying to steal a painting donated by his corrupt client. When Harry trips the alarm, the team have to decide if they should help him or not. They choose to help him and he becomes a new teammate.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Champions:
    • Supplement Enemies. Binder and Plasmoid were supercriminals who had joined together to commit crimes. They decide to steal a gold shipment at the same time as the supervillain Black Star and get into a fight with him. After watching Plasmoid and Black Star battle for a while, Binder decides that they should work together and offers Black Star a place on the team. Black Star accepts.
    • Supplement Enemies II. Ultraviolet and Dart are supervillains working together. When they try to rob a gold shipment, they encounter the supercriminal Diamond, who is also trying to rob it. Ultraviolet and Dart talk to Diamond and convince him to join their team.
  • Shadowrun 2nd Edition supplement Prime Runners. Two of the troll members of Wolfram's Gang, Wolfram and Shoot-to-Kill, first met when they both decided to rob the same bank at the same time. Wolfram suggested that they join up and split the take 50-50. She refused, shot him in the legs and left with the loot. He was so impressed by her that he tracked her down and asked again: the second time she accepted.

    Video Games 
  • Cyberpunk 2077: This is how V meets their future Best Friend Jackie Welles in the Street Kid life path: both of them are hired to jack the same luxury car. While they are arguing over it, a silent alarm goes off and the police catch both of them red-handed. They are later released by a sympathetic officer and decide not to hold a grudge against each other.
  • Henry Stickmin Series: Not shown off in-game, but it's explained through the bios that the villainous Toppat Clan were planning on stealing the Tunisian Diamond, and that they had a mole in the form of Mayor Gene Fredrickson. However, none of them anticipated Henry breaking into the museum and stealing the Tunisian Diamond for himself.
  • Mafia II: In "Murphy's Law", the jewelry store that Vito and Joe are tasked with robbing turns out to have been the target of the local O'Neill Gang, when their leader Brian O'Neill rams his van into the store windows. The Irishmen soon enter a Mexican Standoff with Vito and Joe over the stolen gems. The police promptly intervene, and the standoff soon devolves into a Mêlée à Trois between them, O'Neill and his men, and the police. Vito and Joe successfully escape, most of the Irish Gang are killed in the shootout, and O'Neill is arrested.
  • Mass Effect 2: Kasumi met her now-deceased boyfriend while they were both trying to steal the same painting which they ended up keeping as a memento.
  • Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub-Zero: Quan Chi hires Sub-Zero to steal a map leading to Shinnok's amulet from a Shaolin temple. What Sub-Zero doesn't know is that Quan Chi had hired Scorpion, another ninja from a rival clan, for the same task in case Sub-Zero failed. Neither ninja is aware they are both being employed by Quan Chi and the two have a fight which ends in Scorpion's death.
  • Shadowrun Returns Hong Kong: The run on Ares Macrotechnology has your team of runners hired to steal a prototype laser rifle from Ares's labs and plant evidence pointing to a rival gang so that reprisal will fall on them. While infiltrating the lab you run into a second group of shadowrunners after the same gun and can either team up with them or fight them. Then, while exfiltrating after getting the gun, you find a third team watching your escape route that tries to shake you down and take the prototype themselves.
  • Spider-Man (PS4): The "City That Never Sleeps" DLC has the Maggia crime family attacking an art museum to obtain a rare painting. Spider-Man shows up to confront them, only for Black Cat to break in and grab the painting while Peter fights waves of Maggia Mooks. As it turns out, Black Cat isn't interested in the painting itself but what is inside the frame: a flash drive which she plans to use to gain access to the Maggia's wealth.

    Western Animation 
  • Batman: The Animated Series: In "Harley And Ivy", Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy meet when they simultaneously rob the Gotham Museum of Natural History. Instead of fighting, they team up to escape the police (It helps that they are there to steal different things). They become partners in crime for the rest of the episode and remain good friends or possibly more for the rest of the series.
  • Be Cool, Scooby-Doo!: This trope gets Played for Laughs in the episode "Mysteries on the Disorient Express", where eight separate masked villains attempt to steal the same microchip.
  • Jackie Chan Adventures: This is how Jackie and Jade first met Viper. In "Enter The Viper", Jackie wanted to steal the snake talisman from the New York Metropolitan Museum in order to protect it from the Dark Hand. Viper broke into the same museum to steal a diamond called the Pink Puma. During their scuffle, the two accidentally swap their respective loot.
  • Ninjago:
    • When the Ninja arrive to steal the Scythe of Quakes from the Caves of Despair, they find Samukai's skeleton army has beaten them to the site. However, Samukai was holding the map upside down and had his men start digging in the wrong location, giving the ninja the opportunity to head to the Scythe's actual location before being spotted as they leave.
    • The Ninja and Serpentine clash when trying to find the first three of the Four Silver Fangblades:
      • The Serpentine dig up the Hypnobrai Fangblade at the Mega Monster Amusement Park and the Ninja arrive to keep them from leaving, only for Zane to accidentally freeze everyone when he enters NRG Mode for the second time. Samurai X arrives to steal the Fangblade from the Serpentine but is eventually disabled and the Serpentine escape with their intended haul.
      • The Constrictai Fangblade is found out to be used as part of the trophy for an annual competition Cole's dad has won multiple times. The Ninja decide they will have to steal the trophy before the Serpentine can (though the Serpentine end up entering the competition for real and blackmail the judges to give them high scores), but Cole's dad is disappointed in his son's plan so the Ninja enter and win the competition through legitimate means. In the end, Pythor attacks the ninja and steals the trophy.
      • The Ninja arrive at the Fire Temple to interrupt the Serpentine stealing the Fangpyre Fangblade, and the fight ends up making the volcano unstable and necessitating everyone to evacuate. The Fangblade is left in the volcano, but Pythor ends up finding it in the lava flow outside.
    • Unable to negotiate with Ronin to hand over the scroll of Airjitzu through accessible means, the Ninja decide to steal it from him. Morro beats them to the heist, though Kai finds out from Ronin that there is another scroll in exchange for giving him their shares from Sensei Wu's tea farm.
  • Robot Chicken: This trope is Played for Laughs in the first DC Comics Special, where a quartet of ice-themed supervillains break into a museum one by one, all seeking to steal the same jewel. Unfortunately for them, they all smashed a hole in the four walls holding up the museum when they did their respective bombastic entrances, and well…
  • Samurai Jack: "Jack and the Labyrinth" has Jack breaking into a heavily guarded labyrinth in order to steal a mystical gem that could return him to his original timeline. Unfortunately, a Gentleman Thief is after the same gem for profit. The two not only have to contend with each other being after the gem but also have to avoid the guards and booby traps in the labyrinth.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987): In "Sword of Yurikawa", Splinter sends the Turtles to guard the titular artifact, which is on display at the Japanese embassy. While the Turtles stop for pizza on the way, three mysterious ninjas sneak into the embassy, each one after the sword for themselves. The first ninja replaces the real sword with a copy, the second punches out the camera and replaces the first fake with a second, and the third steals the second fake thinking it is the real deal.
  • Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego?: Invoked in "The Tigress". The episode has Carmen running into a new thief, the eponymous Tigress who keeps making off with Carmen's intended loot. The Tigress is Ivy in disguise and the reason she keeps running into Carmen on her heists is because Ivy and Zack were able to solve Carmen's clues in advance, then placed the items Carmen was going to steal in protective custody and made sure Carmen encountered Ivy in her Tigress disguise leaving the scene every time. This was all a plan to lure Carmen to Antarctica where they had set a trap for her.


Video Example(s):


The Butler & Fiancee Did It

Someone stole Ambrose's cote de boeuf (an expensive steak) and later on they discover someone added poison to the steak with the intent to kill Ambrose. It turns out Kendra added the steak sauce to kill Ambrose so she can inherit his money, but didn't account for Anton stealing the steak to sell on the black market. They were going to use the money to start a new life together.

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Example of:

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