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Robbing the Mob Bank

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"Happy": They wired this thing up with, like, five thousand volts. What kind of bank does that?
"Grumpy": A mob bank. I guess the Joker's as crazy as they say.

Meet Alice. Alice is a crook. She's a thief whose meager salary comes from relieving money of guys with bigger salaries, and she's good at it. She's been caught a few times, sure, but most of the time, the police can't hold her long, as she's just not worth the time and paperwork to keep in jail for long.


So when she breaks into Bob's house and swipes a few expensive-looking pieces of jewelry, she thinks nothing of it... Until her friend tells her that Bob is actually the type of criminal that the police would spare no expense to keep in jail, if they could only pin something on him. And he really doesn't like being robbed, even more so if what Alice stole is of a different value than mere money.

Oh, Crap!

Now, Alice finds that her ill-gotten gains are too "hot" for her to fence, and she has an angry mobster after her. Alice might figure now that jail would be a better option, if not for Bob practically owning many of the cops. Depending on Bob's mood, he might simply warn her or tell her to make amends. If she isn't so lucky, she and her family might be subject to drive by shootings by a group dead-set on fitting her for Cement Shoes.


This is a sub-trope of Mugging the Monster. In that trope, the mugger is typically a mook and the monster is a main character, while in this trope, the robber is typically a main character and the victim is a villain.

For cases where characters are deliberately robbing criminals because they think they deserve it, see Just Like Robin Hood or Karmic Thief. See also Bank Robbery.


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    Comic Books 
  • Taken Up to Eleven in one Spider-Man anniversary story, where the elderly Gentleman Thief the Black Fox made the regrettable mistake of stealing the Dragon's Egg, an emerald that not only belonged to Doctor Doom but an heirloom of Doom's family passed down from his mother. Oh, Crap! doesn't even begin to describe the Fox's reaction to this revelation.
  • The main action of Road to Perdition consists of Michael O'Sullivan holding up mob banks, deliberately targeting the off-the-books money the banks are holding for John Looney and Al Capone, as a means to force Capone to turn over Connor Looney, the son of John Looney and the murderer of Michael's wife and youngest son. Furthermore, O'Sullivan tells the crooked bank managers that they can keep a portion of that money for themselves as a "handling charge" by claiming he took it to ensure their cooperation.
  • The French comic Inner City Blues starts when two low-rent brothers in crime steal a car that belongs to one of the mob bosses in the city. Their fence immediately recognizes it and calls the boss to explain what happened. The two thieves end up given a job as "debt collectors", as the boss was impressed by their skill.
  • A Batman: Black and White short story set during WWII has Batman briefly detain Catwoman, who claims the latest heist she's planning is against a Nazi sympathizer. Batman voices his doubts... only to be interrupted as the mark greets his guests with a hearty "Heil Hitler!"
  • A somewhat common occurrence in Diabolik, be it the title character stealing from some criminals and only realizing who he's dealing with during the heist (as he'd steal from them anyway) or someone unknowingly stealing from him. Somehow, very few are smart enough to just wait to be tracked down and beg for forgiveness by the King of Terror when they realize what they did.

    Fan Works 
  • Service with a Smile:
    • A couple of teenagers take to harassing Jaune's temporary waitresses. Unfortunately for them, Jaune's cafe's biggest group of regulars work for the local mafia (ordering fifty coffees from him twice a day) and one of their enforcers "encourages" the boys to leave.
    • Taken even further when a bunch of thugs wreck Jaune's shop, steal his money, and beat the shit out of him. Roman and Junior begin pulling strings in the underworld to find the men responsible and make them regret the day they were born.
  • One of these is part of Becky Lynch's backstory in The Horsewomen Of Las Vegas. She, her boyfriend, Wade Barrett, and Mason Ryan robbed a bank, which turned out to be a bank where "Brooklyn Brawler" Steve Lombardi (a high-ranking capo of Vince Mcmahon's crime family) keeps his money. Wade goes to Lombardi to apologize and give back some of the money (while keeping Becky and Mason's names out of it) and winds up being killed. Becky would later kill Lombardi in revenge, then vowed not to get attached to anyone else ever again.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In 2 Guns, Undercover DEA agent Bobby Trench and Undercover Navy Intelligence agent Michael Stigman rob a bank where a drug lord named Manny Graco is stashing his loot. Neither Trench or Stigman are aware of the other man's undercover status or secret motives for the robbery (Trench is doing it to get evidence against Greco for money laundering while Stigman intends to use the money to fund navy covert operations), and the plan soon falls apart as a result.
  • Charley Varrick: The protagonists rob a small town bank that happens to be a mob bank, and the spend the rest of the film trying to evade both the police and the mob.
  • The Dark Knight: Exploited by the Joker to start an underworld civil war. His gang of clown mask-wearing gunmen robs an actual mob bank. Most of the mooks are oblivious, until the manager whips out a shotgun.
  • Road to Perdition: Subverted in that Michael Sullivan, the Irish Mob hitman doing the robbery, knows whom he's robbing: Al Capone's organization. Sullivan (with the help of his eldest son) seizes Capone's dirty money in order to get Capone to turn over Connor Rooney, who murdered Sullivan's wife and youngest son. Capone's men even let him do it because Frank Nitti, Capone's right-hand man, feels that Connor cannot be trusted with running his father's organization. However, they don't call off The Determinator they've sent after Sullivan either.
  • The Sting: A team of con artists (Johnny Hooker, Luther Coleman, and Joe Erie) inadvertently swindle a numbers runner for crime boss Doyle Lonnegan. Lonnegan assigns hit men to find and kill each of them, and the hitmen appear and carry out attacks throughout the movie.
  • Beverly Hills Cop: Michael Tandino steals millions of dollars in bearer bonds from a man named Victor Maitland. Unfortunately for him, Maitland is a major drug dealer, who sends hit men to find Tandino, recover the bonds, and execute him.
  • Gone in 60 Seconds (2000): Kip steals a car. Then they find the trunk full of cocaine and realize it probably belongs to a drug kingpin.
    Memphis: Where did you get this car?
    Kip: In front of a restaurant in Chinatown!
    Memphis: Do you even know why someone would leave a car like that with its keys in it?...Maybe because no one in that neighborhood would be stupid enough to try and rip this car off!
  • In The Bank Job, members of the British secret service need to retrieve incriminating photos of the princess from a criminal who has been using them as blackmail material to stay out of jail, so they set up some criminals to rob the bank where they are being stored. The criminals have no idea of the motive behind their instigator and are unprepared when the real target, and other criminals who stored their incriminating evidence in the same bank, come after them.
  • The Usual Suspects: Each of the main characters supposedly were involved in crimes where they stole something from Keyser Soze. Since none of them knew who they were really stealing from, Soze allows them to make amends by engaging in a Suicide Mission on his behalf.
  • In Snatch., three of the characters rob an underground bookmaking establishment owned by a London Gangster.
  • In Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man, the two main characters try to rob a bank to help a friend save his bar. Unfortunately for them, the bank CEO is involved in the drug trade on the side, and the transport they swipe is carrying the newest designer drug. It goes downhill from there.
  • Drive: Standard's "simple" pawn shop heist was supposed to turn up $40,000. Instead, the crew finds half a million dollars of money stashed by an out-of-town mob. Then things get really bad.
  • In Fast Five, Dominic Toretto and Brian O'Connor assemble a team to rob drug kingpin Reyes completely blind.
  • Hostage: Three teen crooks break into a rich suburban family's house. Unknown to them, the father has ties to the mob. When it escalates into a full-blown Hostage Situation, the mob gets involved to prevent the police from stumbling upon incriminating data.
  • The Great Bank Robbery depicts a comedic western variation on this.
  • The Drop has two robbers start the plot by holding up a mob bar, and then plan to come back when it's the drop off for all the mob bars of the month.
  • In Heat, it turns out that the bearer bonds stolen during the opening heist by Neil and his crew belonged to Roger Van Zant, a banker who does business for a drug cartel. On realizing this, the crew curiously doesn't panic, but instead calmly approach Van Zant with what they feel is a reasonable deal — having not known the bonds belonged to him, they offer to sell his bonds back to him at a generous price which, on top of the insurance he'll receive for them anyway, will see him lose out less than he would have had they sold them to a third party. Unfortunately for them, Van Zant isn't in the mood to be reasonable and so orders a hit out on them. Interestingly, the hit backfires and Neil, himself now no longer in the mood to be reasonable, promises the banker he's pretty much going to die painfully. Van Zant is consequently the one who spends most of the movie fretting for his life — until he gets hooked up with Waingro, an Ax-Crazy lunatic with a grudge against Neil, at which point things go From Bad to Worse for pretty much everyone concerned, as Waingro and Van Zant indirectly tip off the police to a bank robbery Neil's crew is planning.
  • The title character in John Wick gets his vintage Ford Mustang stolen, his dog killed, and the shit kicked out of him by Iosef Tarasov, the Spoiled Brat son of a Russian gangster, all because John wouldn't sell his Mustang to the kid. When Iosef gets home, his father Viggo informs him that John used to be one of his best and most feared assassins before he retired, and that not only does Iosef deserve everything he has coming to him, he's probably doomed the rest of the organization as well with his stupidity.
    • Later in the film, John strikes back against Viggo's organization by raiding an orthodox church used as a front for a vault containing all of Viggo's illicit wealth and blackmail material. Though in this case, it isn't about taking Viggo's money - John burns all of it within the church's vault — it's to force Viggo himself to come out of hiding by doing something that he literally can't afford to ignore.
  • Two Hands: The street kids Helen and Pete steal the $10,000 Jimmy was holding for Pando (a local crime boss); although this causes trouble for Jimmy rather than for Helen and Pete. Later a car thief steals Acko's (Pando's right-hand man) beloved Ford Falcon. The mechanic to whom he delivers it to be stripped happens to be a friend of Acko's and recognises it immediately.
  • Across 110th Street (1972) is about the investigation into the robbery of a Mafia gambling bank, though in this case, the perpetrators know what they're doing.
  • The trouble in the Italian film Scialla! comes from Luca getting caught on camera stealing some drugs from the house of a big pusher... That had invited him and the gang he was part of to his home.
  • Triple Frontier has five US military veterans and friends robbing a South American drug lord's compound. Their getaway isn't as easy as initially thought since they got a little greedy and stole way more cash than they can handle.
  • In The Pope Of Greenwich Village three burglars do this to a Mob business. The one who set it up knew beforehand; the other two didn't.

  • The apparently valuable MacGuffin that drives the plot of The Burglar Who Liked to Quote Kipling turns out to be evidence that Unreliable Expositor J. Rudyard Whelkin has successfully conned a very wealthy, very powerful admirer of Adolf Hitler.
  • Robbing a mob bank is the first stage of Nicodemus's plan to break into the Underworld (the mythological kind, not the criminal kind) in the Dresden Files novel Skin Game. It's a set-up.
  • In the Parker novel The Outfit, Parker gets sick of the contract The Mafia has placed on him. He contacts all of his independent operator associates and asks them to put into effect any plans they might have had for robbing outfit operations (which is something he had threatened to do at the end of the first novel The Hunter). The third section of the novel details several of these robberies being carried out. The result is so costly to the outfit that they are willing to make peace with Parker and call off the contract.
  • The Executioner. Mack Bolan does this as a matter of routine, in order to fund his Roaring Rampage of Revenge against the Mafia.
  • Void Moon: Cassie the Classy Cat-Burglar is sent by her criminal contacts to creep into a Las Vegas high roller's hotel room and retrieve his Briefcase Full of Money containing $500,000. She succeeds but is horrified to find out that the "high roller" was actually a Mafia bag man and he was carrying not $500K, but $2.5 million.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Burn Notice episode "Bad Breaks", Michael Weston convinced some bank robbers that they were in the process of doing this.
  • The Good Girls begins with moms Beth, Annie and Ruby robbing the grocery store Annie works at, expecting about $30,000. They're rocked to find it's half a million and start using it to pay off some big debts. Enter counterfeiting/drug cartel crime boss Rico who informs them the store was a front for his operations and they need to pay him back or get killed.
  • In an episode of The '80s cop show Hunter, a not-very-smart crook steals cocaine from a courier, then asks around for someone willing to buy it. He's sent to the man whom the courier was working for, who finds it very interesting that he's being sold the exact amount of coke that's just been stolen from him...
    • In another episode, a couple steals money from a sleazy businessman who employs a Psycho for Hire to get it back. The latter kills so many people while looking for them, the terrified thieves mail the valuables back with a note attached saying We're sorry.
  • A variation occurs on Leverage when the team targets the owners of a Chinese laundry who literally pay their employees in peanuts. It's only when their scheme is underway that they discover the place is a front and the team is about to rip off a Chinese triad.
  • Monk: A US Mint employee attempts to steal coins from a gumball machine in a barbershop. One of them were some double-headed pennies he'd stolen from the Mint the day before and had hidden in the machine with the intention of recovering them later. Little did he know that that barbershop was a front for a mob family and they all start shooting at him. The man manages to get a hold of a gun, kills everybody in the shop, and attempts to make it look like a feuding mob had attacked them.
  • Ziggy's backstory in Power Rangers RPM amounts to this. A low-level member of the mob itself, Ziggy got the chance to prove himself making a multi-million dollar shipment. But when he realized the shipment was of medical equipment that an orphanage of Littlest Cancer Patients sorely needed, he sent it to them instead (letting the mob think he took it himself so they wouldn't target the kids) and escaped into the wastelands outside the city. When he returned to civilization, he quickly got in with the Power Rangers through his new friend Dillon, which meant he was mostly protected from mob reprisals. Mostly.
  • On The Shield, Vic and the gang rob the Armenian mob's money train at the end of season 2. They then spend much of the following five seasons dealing with the fallout.
  • The Sopranos.
    • In "46 Long", Christopher and Brendan Filone start hijacking trucks. The owner of the trucks pays Junior for protection and Junior orders them to stop, but their need to feed their drug addictions forces them to continue. In "Denial, Anger, Acceptance" Junior orders retaliation against them and Brendan is killed.
    • In "Amour Fou", Jackie Aprile Jr. and his idiot stoner friends rob a mob poker game, trying to replicate the legendary stunt that marked out Jackie Sr. and Tony for greatness. Unfortunately, they mess it up, wound a made man and kill a bystander, and Jackie's stepdad doesn't shield them the way Tony's father and uncle did, and they are all killed in retaliation.
  • In an episode of Starsky & Hutch, a small-time crook robs a candy store and then discovers it's a front for the mob. He immediately panics and tries to give the money back, using the show's Information Broker Huggy Bear as a go-between. Naturally, things don't go as planned.
  • An episode of White Collar had a teen conman being targeted by one of the criminals he stole from.
  • In The Wire, Proposition Joe manipulates Omar into robbing a poker game attended by Marlo Stanfield, the druglord of West Baltimore. This kickstarts a major feud between them.
  • In the TV movie Good Cops, Bad Cops (1990), corrupt police in Boston burgle the safe deposit boxes of a bank and find a much larger haul than they anticipated, causing them to worry about this trope. The local mob boss assures them it isn't the case; he just wants his cut from their crime. Unfortunately, the criminal responsible for fencing the jewels has made off with them.

    Video Games 
  • The plot of Saints Row: The Third is kicked off by a bungled bank heist; the Saints find out the hard way that the bank they're holding up is Syndicate property.
  • A variation occurs in Grand Theft Auto V. After Mike catches his wife cheating on him, his idea of getting revenge on her lover is blowing up his house, with him in it. Problem is, the house really belonged to the biggest drug czar in the state. So now Mike owes $2 million to this very pissed mobster and has to rob banks and such to pay him back.
    • Later in "The Paleto Score", Mike's crew rob a supposed "hayseed bank" that the local cops use to the store the millions they make from extorting local drug labs and brothels. In an inversion, it's the cops who are portrayed as inept crooks who are out of their depth — they might be able to shake down a weed dealer, but are completely unprepared for a group of hardcore professionals decked head to toe in body armour and packing military-grade weapons.
  • In Batman: Arkham Origins, Batman heads to the Gotham Merchants Bank, which is owned by crime boss Black Mask, and discovers that the Joker has kidnapped Black Mask and assumed his identity, taking over his operation and his men; the Joker proceeds to escape with a truck full of money stolen from the bank.
    • Two-Face's plan in Batman: Arkham Knight is to rob every bank in Gotham used as a laundering front for the mob, taking advantage of Scarecrow's mass evacuation to ensure that he'll have no opposition (save Batman, of course). Although his "Harvey" personality is aware that they're also robbing the honest civilians who just happen to use those banks and there's no real way to sort the "good" money from the "bad", they still see it as fair.
  • While not a Mob bank, In Payday 2, specifically the Firestarter Heist, the Payday gang is sent to rob a bank holding money belonging to the Mendoza Cartel for Hector. However, It's Subverted, as they don't steal the money, they burn it.
  • The "Blood Money" level of Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number sees the Son and two underlings attacking a bank belonging to the Colombians.
  • The plot of Late Shift, a full motion video game or FMV, is entirely the subject of this trope. In the interactive game, players control Matt, a student working as a late shift valet at a multi-story car park, who accidentally becomes involved in an auction house heist of a priceless, but tiny, historical Chinese pottery bowl. Originally just forced to go along with the heist by the conspirators, Matt becomes increasingly involved according to the player's choices and ends up on the run along with one of the conspirators, May-Ling, from the Tchoi family, the titular "Mob", who bought the bowl at the auction.
  • The third Arc Villain of Persona 5, Junya Kaneshiro, is a Yakuza boss whose Palace takes the form of a bank with himself as the president, the Treasure of which is gold bullion that becomes a golden briefcase filled with (fake) money in the real world.

    Western Animation 
  • Catwoman's debut episode on The Batman begins with her trying to steal a valuable jade lion statue from a Japanese businessman. This lands her in hot water because the "businessman" is really a Yakuza boss planning on expanding his clan into Gotham and the statue's real value came from the data disc hidden inside it which charted the clan's hierarchy and business contacts.
  • In the The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes! episode "To Steal An Ant-Man", Scott Lang robs a Hydra bank to get the money to ransom his daughter.
  • In the Batman Beyond episode "Once Burned", Ten of the Royal Flush Gang attempts to rob the Derby, a high-stakes poker game that was a tradition among the local crime syndicates since before Bruce's day.


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