The case of cat burglar Blane Nordahl

"He began to focus on sterling silver. 
This was perhaps Nordahl's smartest move..."

He worked hard, planned meticulously and was imaginative. That's how Blane Nordahl was able to steal millions of dollars in silver from rich people and deceive the police for so long without getting caught:
Nordahl, who is forty-three, had a standard method. He scouted his locales through Architectural Digest or the Robb Report, or by calling real-estate agents. He'd tell them that he was hoping to buy a big old home in a settled neighborhood, and ask where he should look. During a daytime drive, he took note of houses that were set back from the road. After a nap at his motel and a light dinner, he set out at about midnight.

He parked in unremarkable locations. As Nordahl once told Abruzzini during an interview, "You have to park where it fits in. If it doesn't fit in, then you can't park there." He often walked several miles through forest or back yards, and considered several dozen houses before choosing one.

Nordahl carried two nylon duffelbags: an empty one for the silver and a smaller one filled with screwdrivers, a carpet knife, wire cutters, a wood chisel, nail pullers, a flashlight, a white cotton rag, duct tape, and a Wonder Bar-a piece of thin black steel that can pry open almost anything. Nordahl was good with his tools, Abruzzini told me, and he was patient. One night in Greenwich, he said, Nordahl spent two hours creating a hole in the door. His reward: flatware for a hundred and ten people, and an exquisite tea service.

All the while, Nordahl wore nipple-tipped cotton gardening gloves to avoid leaving fingerprints. After collecting the silver, he passed the two duffelbags through the door opening, then climbed out. He examined the silver for maker's marks, discarded anything that wasn't worth carrying, and hid the bags near a road-under a bush, if possible-on his way back to his car. "One job he did here, he parked four or five miles away," Abruzzini said. "How he finds his way to and back, it's amazing. If I gave the same task to seven-eighths of the cops in town, they couldn't do it."

Within hours of a burglary, the silver was on its way to Nordahl's fence, in New York. He preferred to deliver it himself, to insure top dollar, but whenever he was beyond driving distance of New York he sent it by U.P.S.
Read the entire story: The Silver Thief, The Story of a Burglar Who Was Too Good for His Own Good, Stephen J. Dubner>>

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