Heists have long been a source of fascination for audiences. Whether it’s the fictionalised (and very suave) wrongdoings of the Ocean’s Eleven crew, or the, frankly, horrifying realities of the heist-gone-wrong in Netflix’s Evil Genius, there is something about the audacity of people trying to steal masses of money that we seem to love. Probably because the majority of us could never conceive of attempting such an act.
In Netflix’s new documentary Heist, the streaming platform goes behind three of the biggest heists in modern American history — courtesy of the very people who committed them.
Now, don’t go mistaking this for a ‘how-to’ guide, because as much as the docu-series goes into how the culprits planned their intended crimes, it also goes into detail — often humorously — about how they also went wrong.
Created by Derek Doneen, Martin Desmond Roe and Nick Frew, who each oversee a particular heist, the series unfolds over six episodes.
“What excited me was to speak with the people involved so we could tell these stories from their perspective.”
Doneen was tasked with directing the episodes titled Sex Magick Money Murder which centre around the story of 21-year-old Heather Tallchief who fell in love with poet and paroled murderer Roberto Solis. What ensued was one of the largest armoured truck robberies in Las Vegas history, with the pair stealing over USD $3 million.
Tallchief spent 11 years evading the law until she finally turned herself into authorities in September 2005.
She was sentenced to 63 months in federal prison and ordered to pay more than USD $2.9 million in restitution to the victims of her crime. She was released on parole in June 2010.
Roe’s episode, The Money Plane, tells the story of Karls Monzon, a Cuban immigrant who, along with his wife, was determined to adopt a baby girl after suffering two devastating miscarriages.
Of course, adoption is not cheap. Monzon decided to conduct a heist on a flight carrying $100 million that landed regularly at Miami International Airport. The most intriguing part of Monzon’s story is that he learned how to commit the crime simply by watching American television.
Gilbert “Toby” Curtsinger
Finally, Frew took charge of the portion of the docuseries titled, The Bourbon King which tells the story of Gilbert “Toby” Curtsinger whose alcohol smuggling and selling operation quickly devolved into the world of organised crime.
Curtsinger was working at a distillery in Kentucky when he began stealing and then selling bottles of Pappy Van Winkle — an incredibly rare and very expensive type of bourbon.
Of course, with the bottles being worth between USD $1,000 to $4,000, and 200 of them suddenly being unaccounted for, Curtsinger’s operation soon saw him in a whole world of trouble.
In addition to detailing the various heists and their perpetrator’s demise, Heist also dives into the backstories of the people who felt that committing these crimes might be their chance for a better life.
“What interests me as a documentary filmmaker is telling nuanced stories about the human condition,” said Doneen.
“There’s a distinction between understanding why they did what they did and excusing what they did. The series doesn’t excuse their behaviour. Our intention was to understand their choices. We wanted to really explore the events they experienced before that moment.”
Heist is now streaming on Netflix.