Blackadder: But that's impossible, your Highness. Only I have the key to your sock drawer.
An inside job is a crime, usually larceny, robbery, or embezzlement, committed by a person or persons in a position of trust who is authorized to access a location or procedure with little or no supervision, e.g., a key employee or manager. The perpetrator can also be a former employee who still has specialized knowledge necessary to facilitate the crime.
Pulling off The Caper can be quite difficult even for an expert criminal. Guards can have unpredictable schedules. There are likely to be alarms and other security systems with which they are unfamiliar, or even completely unaware of. And there's always the possibility that they stage a successful break-in, only to discover the MacGuffin has been moved elsewhere.
All of the above wrinkles are made at least a little smoother when the perpetrator has an insider's knowledge of the target, or even the authority to make changes (to guard schedules, security systems, etc.) to make the target more vulnerable. This perpetrator may be a lone operator pulling off a plan of their own design, the mastermind of a team of crooks, or an "inside man" in the employ of a third-party accomplice or accomplices. If the latter, they may be a willing participant or the victim of blackmail, Mind Control, or some other means of coercion.
Can overlap with The Mole when the inside man is part of an external criminal organization. Inside jobs are a common method of pulling off The Caper, with the inside man consequently being a member of the Caper Crew.
Note: as a trope dealing with betrayal, expect spoilers to be unmarked!
- Scorched details three different plots to rob a bank, all of which were initiated by bank tellers.
- The mastermind behind the mall robbery in Paul Blart: Mall Cop turns out to be one of Blart's trainees.
- Averted, despite the title, in Inside Man. The ending reveals none of the robbers were bank employees.
- In Office Space, the protagonist recruits two of his coworkers in a scheme to rob Initech, their employer.
- As in the novel, the plot of the film Jurassic Park is kicked off by park employee Dennis Nedry sabotaging the park's security systems in order to facilitate his theft of dinosaur embryos to sell to Biosyn, one of Ingen's competitors.
- The Town:
- Subverted. The robbery at Claire's bank did not involve an employee accomplice but the cops think that there might have been one. When Claire quits her job, it raises red flags and when her relationship with Doug is discovered, she is accused of being that accomplice even though the audience knows she is innocent.
- Played straight as well. The later robbery at Fenway Park involves an inside man, a Fenway employee who owes Fergie a lot of money and hopes to wipe out his debt by providing the robbers with access to the money room.
- In Armored six security guard working for an armored truck company decide to steal the money they are guarding and make it look like they were robbed while transporting the money to its destination. They figure that if all of them are part of the theft, then no one needs to get hurt. However, things do not go according to plan, a witness is killed and one of the guards decides to stop the others any way he can.
- In Cliffhanger the bad guys rob a US government plane transporting $100 million in uncirculated $1,000 bills while it is flying over the Rockies. This daring and extremely dangerous heist is only possible because one of the federal agents guarding the money is actually working for the bad guys and kills the other guards.
- The film Flawless (starring Michael Caine and Demi Moore) follows the plan of a diamond exchange house's elderly janitor (Caine), who after his many years attending to the place knows its every security flaw.
- In The Score Jack plans to steal a priceless scepter from the Montreal Customs House. He gets a job as a janitor in the Customs House so he has access to the building and can see the security measures first hand. He even goes as far as to pretend to be mentally disabled so he appears harmless and beneath suspicion.
- Deep Rising: Finnigan eventually figures out that Hanover was working with someone on the cruise liner for the planned heist that never materialized. That person turns out to be Canton (the ship's owner), who was responsible for sabotaging the ship's systems before the monster happened to show up. His motive was to sink the ship so he could reap the insurance money since they were actually operating at a loss. This revelation infuriates the Captain, since it's entirely Canton's fault that they couldn't get out a distress signal.
- The Lookout: The entire plot revolves around a bank robbery where the would-be robbers have to convince Chris, a young brain-damaged guy who works there as the janitor, to cooperate with them. They do this through a combination of the promise of financial reward, painting it as something daring to do to get out of his currently crappy life, and some feigned romantic interest from their pretty female accomplice.
- In Thunderball, SPECTRE co-opts a NATO officer to steal a pair of nuclear weapons. This was subverted in the film version of Thunderball, where SPECTRE replaces the officer with a double, but played straight again in the remake, Never Say Never Again, where the officer reprogams two nuclear missiles so the warheads can be recovered by SPECTRE.
- In both the novel and film Jurassic Park, the plot is kicked off by park employee Dennis Nedry sabotaging the park's security systems in order to facilitate his theft of dinosaur embryos to sell to Biosyn, one of Ingen's competitors.
- Referenced but averted in Jumper. Davy cleans out a bank vault with his teleportation power. Later, somebody theorizes in his hearing that the robbery must've been an inside job since there wasn't any sign of forced entry.
- In "Silver Blaze", two of Sherlock Holmes' hints are "the curious incident of the dog in the night-time" (it was completely silent) and the fact that powdered opium was put in a dish spicy enough to hide its taste. Both point at an inside job, because a dog would not have kept silent had it sensed an intruder, nor could an outsider have arranged for a spicy dish to be served on that particular night.
- Wet Desert: Tracking Down a Terrorist on the Colorado River: The bomber disguised himself as a member of the Bureau of Reclamation when targeting Davis Dam, making Grant suspect it may be an insider at the Bureau.
- An episode of CSI has the team investigating an officer-involved shooting during the robbery of a grocery store. When the surveillance tapes reveal that there was much more money in the registers than store policy recommended, suspicion quickly falls on the cashier on duty, who soon admits to being in league with the robbers.
- In the Flashpoint season 2 episode "The Fortress", a nanny helps her criminal boyfriend burglarize her employers' home, but has a change of heart when her employers' children become caught up in the robbery.
- Season 2 of Dollhouse reveals that before being forced to become Echo, Caroline sabotaged a Rossum Corporation laboratory with the help of her roommate Bennett Halverston, a Rossum employee.
- Breaking Bad:
- Walter steals hard-to-get equipment and chemicals from his high school to kick-start his meth-cooking operation. The fact that there's no sign of forced entry immediately tips off DEA agent Hank that it was an inside job.
- For a short time, Jesse skims some of the excess product he and Walt produce for Gus Fring to sell on his own.
- It comes out that Gus Fring's operation is supplied with methylamine by Lydia, who facilitates its theft from her employer, Madrigal.
- Later, Lydia uses her inside knowledge of Madrigal's freight shipments to tip Walt's crew off that a train hauling a tanker car full of methylamine will be vulnerable while passing through a "dead zone" with no cell coverage.
- In one episode of It Takes a Thief (2005), Jon is charged with robbing a mechanic's business (as opposed to houses like the show normally covers). Rather than risk setting off the alarm and having to pick a lock, Jon just bribes an employee to not set the alarm and unlock the back door. Naturally, with all the security features disabled, Jon effortlessly cleans the place out.
- One episode of Monk features this trope taken to its logical extreme. Monk's bank is robbed and he goes undercover as a guard to crack the case. He soon discovers that the bank manager was in on the robbery and murdered as a result. But later, he discovers the entire bank staff committed the robbery.
- In an episode of Bones the Victim of the Week had been trying to talk his girlfriend, who works at a currency exchange, to leave the back door unlocked so he and an accomplice could rob the place when nobody was there, but she refused.
- Person of Interest. Reese and Finch are trying to save a Number who is a security guard working for an armored truck company. They find out that he is about to guard a very valuable platinum shipment and they suspect that the shipment will be attacked by robbers who are likely to kill the guards. What they fail to consider is that the robbery is actually an inside job and the Number is the mastermind behind it (while many robberies are inside jobs, they seldom involve premeditated murder, the only crime the Machine detects).
- The Equalizer. Robert McCall is protecting a witness being harassed by the ex-con he testified against. McCall says the ex-con's actions seem to be Disproportionate Retribution, so the witness admits that he was in on the crime. When the robber was caught, he identified him in a line-up because he was afraid the police would discover his own complicity.
- NCIS has an attack on an internet server farm in order to bug the facility. The inside man is a security guard who allows himself to be shot to make himself look like a hero instead of The Mole.
- NCIS: New Orleans has the episode "In the Blood" where the NCIS NO office investigate the robbery of a casino many years ago in relation to Pride father, Cassius, being involved (somewhat) with the $3 million that went missing. Turns out that a high-ranking manager was involved in the robbery, who happens to be the star witness.
- Elementary has the episode "Through the Fog" where Sherlock and Joan assist the NYPD in finding out who was trying to conduct a WMD attack on the 64th Precient. Turns out that one of the culprits was a Dirty Cop trying to make an easy way to get enough money to pay off a loanshark.
- Blake's 7. In "Gold", Avon is approached by the purser of a spaceship carrying gold to Earth, who wants his help stealing it. Avon isn't above blackmailing Federation employees to provide this assistance, as we see in "Killer" and "Games".
- Crossing Lines: The two-part first season finale, "New Scars, Old Wounds," had bank secretary Anika Hauten found dead. Anika previously appeared in an earlier episode, "The Animals," where she and Carl Hickman were among many being held hostage in the bank by a gang of thugs. As the season finale revealed, however, Anika secretly robbed the bank during the hostage situation, doing so under the belief that the gang would be blamed for the theft. While Carl was accused of killing Anika, her killer was revealed to be Philip Genovese, whose account was illegally shut down by Anika, with Phillip torturing and killing Anika for robbing him.
- The Casino Heist strand of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas has Carl getting a job with Caligula's Casino to become the inside man for the upcoming heist. In an interesting note, he's the player character.
- In The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, Edwinna Elbert, Stewardess of the Ald-Ruhn Mages Guild Hall, will give you a quest to steal a rare book from a fellow member of the Guild. Edwinna believes the book will be useful to her research on the extinct Dwemer but the other mage refuses to let her read it. Being a prominent member of the Guild yourself at this point in the quest line will help you avoid any suspicion.