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The Convenient Store Next Door

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A stock plot in Caper movies, where some kind of store is right next to a bank or jewellery store criminals wish to rob, so they will rent that property for the purposes of tunnelling through to their target. Sometimes, in more humorous examples, the crooks actually become competent at their front business and will eventually pursue that legitimately in opposition to the Cut Lex Luthor a Check trope.



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  • The Ladykillers (2004) has a group of criminals posing as musicians who practice in the cellar of a boarding house, while tunnelling from the cellar to a vault they intend to rob. (In the 1955 original, the robbery is a straight Armed Blag, and the boarding house is just where they meet to plot the job beforehand and regroup afterwards.)
  • The Bank Job plays with the trope a bit, as their cover for the tunnelling operation is building contractors doing some renovation work on an empty property. It also works rather well, though things go rather badly wrong after they pull off the heist.
  • The Edward G. Robinson movie Larceny Inc. features the humorous subversion described above, with the luggage-store front turning a brisk business.
  • In the French film Rififi, criminals rent the office above a jewellery store and tunnel in through the ceiling.
  • The Woody Allen film Small Time Crooks. The protagonists are two married criminals who use a cookie store front while they try to tunnel across the street to the bank. They fail (to say the least), but the cookies are so popular, it turns them into instant millionaires.
  • Short Circuit 2, the villains were doing this to break into the bank when the protagonists buy the warehouse. The villains first try to drive the heroes away, then trick Johnny Five into digging the tunnel for them.
  • In Stark Raving Mad (2002), with a nightclub.
  • Played with in Die Hard with a Vengeance. The bad guys blow up a subway station, then disguise themselves as contractors there to clear debris and conduct repairs, while actually using their equipment to dig into the vault of a nearby bank.
  • In Sherlock Holmes (1932), Moriarty buys the pet store that backs in to Faulkner's Bank and has his gang tunnel through from the basement into the vault.
  • In The Escapist, Lenny makes use of the fact the confessional wall in the chapel abuts the laundry, and that prisoners have relatively free access to the chapel, to surreptitiously weaken the wall of the confessional so they can break through the wall into the laundry on the day of the escape.


  • Older Than Television: The Sherlock Holmes story The Red-Headed League (1891) does this with a pawn shop across the way from a bank. Unlike most examples, the business used here is actually legitimate (and was to begin with); the eponymous "League" was concocted to distract the owner, while the shop's (new) assistant covered for the gang digging the tunnel to the bank.
  • In one Doc Savage novel, criminals strike at Doc by renting the office next to his and attacking the wall. (This causes a few continuity problems for fans as most Doc Savage stories state that he rents the entire floor of the skyscraper.)
  • The first published book of The Stainless Steel Rat series starts with that as the protagonist's latest job. He rents a part of a warehouse. Next room, there is a large amount of seldom checked government supplies. He makes a hole, and sells these supplies with different labels.
  • In one of the John Dortmunder short stories by Donald E. Westlake, Dortmunder and his crew tunnel into a bank from a nearby building. They emerge in the middle of another bank robbery and become part of hostage situation. They ultimately end up using their tunnel to help the hostages escape.
  • In Banco, it's the rental house across the street. Papillon is recruited to help dig a tunnel under a side street into the bank's vault while it's closed for the weekend. They work hard in the tunnel and take care to keep neighbors and passersby from seeing the additional gang members coming or going. The dirt is smuggled into planters in the backyard. The heist fails when a detour forces a heavy truck down the side street and it falls into the tunnel; the gang was celebrating elsewhere and they manage to get away.
  • The Thinking Machine: In "The Problem of the Deserted House", criminals rent an old, abandoned house and, over the course of several months, construct a tunnel from the cellar to a bank vault (crossing a subway tunnel in the process), so they will have the secret passage in place with a shipment of several million dollars in gold arrives.
  • The Three Investigators: Part of The Mystery of the Vanishing Treasure involves a variant - the culprits haven't been able to buy the house right next door to the bank they want to rob (despite their best efforts at a "Scooby-Doo" Hoax to scare the owner away). So they move their planned base of operations one building over and have to dig from the theater basement, through the house basement, and then into the bank.
  • Hand of Thrawn: Variant in the second book, in that it's not a robbery. Bothawui's capital city, Drev'starn, is home to the planet's planetary shield generators, and there's a Ho'Din tapcafe two blocks away from the shield generator building... but it's sitting right on top of one of the power cable conduits to the generator building. So a couple of the villains manage to get access to the tapcafe's basement and dig down to the conduit, then use that to send lizards with bombs attached through it and into the generator building to destroy it, bringing down the shields right as a massive space battle breaks out overhead, which could devastate the planet's surface.
  • The Sherlock Holmes Stories of Edward D. Hoch: In "The Christmas Client", Holmes thwarts a plan by Moriarty to tunnel under the street from a building opposite into the Bank of England.

     Live Action TV  

  • An episode of Car 54, Where Are You? was based around an eatery next to a bank. A single scene at the end of the episode replayed the entire plot with the buildings' next owners, who were posing as stamp dealers.
  • Monk:
    • In "Mr. Monk and the Employee of the Month", it wasn't the Mega-Mart store itself, but the parking space reserved for the employee of the month that provided easy access to a bank, thanks to a well-placed manhole. The scheming cashier killed her rival to get the space, parked her van with a modified floor over the manhole, and every day during her shift her two flunkies would dig, filling the van with dirt.
    • The Tie-In Novel Mr. Monk Is Cleaned Out has one when Monk and Natalie are temporarily working at a clothing store in a mall. Monk deduces that the security guards have been on their hands and knees because they are dirty, and when noticing a guard ask the owner of a kiosk to reposition the stand a few feet, he concludes that the guards will rob a jewellery store in the mall using a secret tunnel they have dug from a shuttered store next to it.
    • "Mr. Monk And The Actor" played with this: A man breaks into a jewellery shop by smashing through the wall of the neighboring restaurant, but the real point of this was to destroy that particular wall. The restaurant employed artists to sketch everyone who ate there and one such sketch depicted the man with the episode's murder victim shortly before he killed her.
  • In a Hogan's Heroes episode, Hogan had to go through The Convenient House Next Door to get to a bank. He distracts the owner of the house by sweet-talking her and playing Hitler's speeches reeeallly loud on the radio so Carter can use the jackhammer in the next room.
  • An episode of Castle plays on this, with the owner of a pet store that was broken into stating that he's behind a bank. In reality, the pet store was a front for a diamond smuggling operation, and was the thieves' target the whole time.
  • In an episode of Burn Notice, Michael and Jesse gain access to a bank by breaking into the much less heavily protected law office upstairs and tunnel through the conference room floor into the vault.
  • A variation in White Collar has Neal engineering an escape plan with Mozzie's help, involving setting up a bakery in some office space directly below a judge's chambers. The bakery opens on the day of Neil's hearing, and he uses its "Grand Opening" awning to make his escape.
  • In the Leonardo episode "Diabolical Acts", strolling players erect a temporary stage outside the Medicis' bank to put on a play celebrating Lorenzo de'Medici's engagement. It's actually a ruse to break into the vault from beneath the stage.
  • Salamander begins with an ordinary street scene in Brussels, of roadworkers setting up one of those stripey modesty tents over a manhole. This is their lead-in to tunnelling into the vault of the next-door bank via the sewage system.


     Western Animation  

  • An episode of Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers did this bizarrely by combining it with a "shoemaker and the elves" plot. It involved a restaurant next to a bank, and the "temporary owners" suffering from mysteriously appearing bowls of cheese chowder that were favored by the local police. The genuine owner had been sent on vacation, with the messengers offering to help out while she was gone.
  • An episode of ChalkZone has the criminals attempt this kind of heist. However, the wall they're breaking through is a chalk surface, and the gang learned of the plan beforehand. Hilarity Ensues.
  • In the Ultimate Spider-Man episode "Damage Control", the Wrecking Crew busted into a laundromat during one of their rampages, intending to come back during the reconstruction and break through the wall into the bank next door.
  • Bob's Burgers: In "Bob Fires the Kids" Bob hires Mickey, the bank robber from "Bob Day Afternoon", to work at the restaurant. Turns out he was plotting to tunnel into the bank from Bob's basement.
  • One episode of DuckTales (1987) involves the Beagle Boys setting up an ice cream stand next to Scrooge McDuck's money bin. They're pretty good at selling ice cream and consider turning legit but ultimately try to rob the place anyway.

     Real Life  

  • For the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, the conspirators needed a way to get a great amount of explosives inside of the parliament. Conveniently the basements right under the kings throne were for rent, making any tunnel digging attempts unnecessary.
  • The world's second largest bank theft, in 2005, Fortaleza, Brazil, used this. The organized burglars bought a building a couple of blocks away from their target, Banco Central, set up a synthetic-grass store as a front, then started to dig up a professionally engineered tunnel to the bank, with the store acting as a cover for all the dirt being moved, and managed to avoid tripping any alarms to the point that it was only the following Monday that anyone realized there was a break-in (the bank was closed on weekends). They managed to steal 160 million reais — the equivalent of $94 million — in the operation, and to this day most of the robbers, including the face Paulo Sergio, and the money haven't been caught thanks to said bank, at the time, having horribly outdated security due to the owners believing there was no possible way anyone could actually steal from them, and failed to catch any of them on tape.
  • In 1869, Adam Worth and Charley Bullard broke into the Boyleston National Bank in Boston by renting the shop next door as "William A. Judson & Co", purveyors of Gray's Oriental Health Tonic. This was probably the inspiration for "The Adventure of the Red-Headed League".


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