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Cornelius News

Mission Possible: A fantasy heist worthy of a movie

MODERN DAD | By Jon Show

Dec. 15. Every good theft starts with a plan.

That was the text I received from my friend Anthony, known in these pages as just Anthony, when we were discussing my desire last month to steal a sign from a store that went out of business.

His advice was spot on, so I began hatching my plan.

I started fly fishing a few years ago, right around the time the old Madison River Outfitters fly shop went out of business.

It was located in the Shops on the Green across from the old Cook House. The store was an Orvis retailer so they hung a big Orvis sign on the back of the building that is still there and visible from I-77.

I wanted to steal that sign and give it to my friend to hang in his garage and I wanted to toast beers over the accomplishment. I have no idea why. I don’t even really like Orvis stuff.

But I wanted it. Badly.

Scout’s honor

I scouted the location of the crime one Friday afternoon around lunchtime, when all of the stores were busy and there wasn’t much chance of anyone asking me what I was doing.

I drove one lap around the side of the building to make sure it was easily accessible (it was) and if it retained some amount of privacy from the parking lot (it did).

I parked and confidently walked behind the building so if anyone saw me they would be absolutely certain I was on official business.

I snapped a couple pics of the sign for later reference and then assessed the situation.

First, the sign was much higher than it looked from the highway, which meant I would need a ladder and probably an accomplice.

There weren’t any mounting brackets that would have made for easy and quick removal, which presented another challenge. I was going to need time.

I continued looking around and quickly found my biggest challenge – there was a large power conduit coming out of the brick wall which meant it was hard wired.

I texted the picture to Anthony without comment to let him know that my interest in stealing the sign had progressed.

He texted back, “A Sawzall is all you need,” and I made a mental note for future capers that identifying electrical wire was clearly not his area of expertise.

Work the plan

Undeterred, I returned home to map out my scheme.

I already had all the tools I’d need so I secured the ladder and the accomplice – Anthony –  because he was already guilty aiding and abetting.

We’d need a way to access the power source so I downloaded a work order template and filled it out and added the Orvis logo. The work order stated that the sign was to be disassembled and shipped back to Orvis.

The order contained the Orvis headquarters address in Sunderland, Vermont, but the contact number – should anyone feel the need to verify the veracity of the work order – was Anthony’s cell phone.

This was as far as I got. I never stole the sign.

I definitely would have tried to steal it but my kids would have found out, lost any remaining moral compass I haven’t parented out of them, and then begun a spiral that would eventually lead to their incarceration for grand theft auto.

So laws and ethics and blah blah blah … but just know that I wanted to steal it. Badly. How bad? I continued planning the caper with no intent of executing my plan.

Plan the work

I would call the property manager to explain that Orvis wanted its sign back and then I would drop off the work order because our email servers were down (and I don’t have access to an Orvis email account).

We would schedule a time for the property manager to meet me on site so their electrician could cut the power. I would arrive in my truck with the tailgate lowered so the license plate would not be visible to any parking lot security cameras.

After cutting power I would tell them that the job would last long enough that both of them would rather come back than stick around.

I would be wearing blue coveralls because all awesome robberies have blue coveralls and I would also have a wig that would look kinda fake but might just be bad hair.

Why? If things went sideways and witnesses said, “He may have been wearing a wig but I’m not sure?” All eyewitness credibility would be questioned and the police would drop the file in the cold case cabinet.

The job – which was job number 101-9379 according to the fake work order – included one hour to disassemble the sign and 30 minutes to load the sign.

Crime pays

There’s always a wrinkle in crime movies so during our final scouting trip we would discover that Anthony recognized the property manager as someone he knew from the Irish Cue, so he would be concealed under a moving blanket in the back seat upon arrival.

The sign removal would be flawlessly executed. We would load it into the car and at the last second Anthony would jump in the back of the truck, lowering the blanket over his head while I closed the door and the property manager exited his car.

We would shake hands and I’d make a joke about Orvis wanting some dumb old sign. The property manager would turn to walk away and I’d accidentally toss my ratchet set in the back window of the truck, hitting Anthony in the stomach, causing a muffled groan.

The property manager would pause for a moment, just long enough to make our stomachs drop, but then shrug his shoulders and continue about his day.

As we drove off I would remove my wig and toss it into the air as we sped down West Catawba, like Thelma & Louise but we’re dudes and we didn’t murder anyone.

Our high jinks complete, Anthony and I would drive to his garage, close the door, hang the Orvis sign on his wall and toast our accomplishment with ice cold beers.

The next day his wife would justifiably take it down and have it hauled to the dump, where it would be noticed by an off-duty police officer and Anthony would go to prison for five years, but that is neither here nor there.

Every good theft starts with a plan.

Jon Show lives in Robbins Park with his wife, who he calls “The Mother of Dragons.” Their 15-year-old son is “Future Man” and their 11-year-old daughter is “The Blonde Bomber.” Their dog is actually named Lightning.