July 24, 2016

Smash & Grab Blog Tour: Guest Post + Giveaway

Smash & Grab
Author: Amy Christine Parker
Genre: YA Contemporary/Mystery/Thriller
Release Date: July 19, 2016
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers


Ocean’s Eleven meets the star-crossed lovers of West Side Story. Grab some popcorn and get ready for an adrenaline-filled heist!

LEXI is a rich girl who loves a good rush. Whether it’s motorcycle racing or BASE jumping off a building in downtown Los Angeles, the only times she feels alive are when she and her friends are executing one of their dares. After her father’s arrest, Lexi doesn’t think twice about going undercover at his bank to steal the evidence that might clear his name. She enlists her hacker brother and her daredevil friends to plan a clever heist.

CHRISTIAN is a boy from the wrong side of the tracks. The local gang has blackmailed him and his friends into robbing banks, and he is desperate for a way out. When the boss promises that one really big job will be the last he ever has to do, Christian jumps at the chance for freedom. In fact, he’s just met a girl at the bank who might even prove useful...

Two heists. One score. The only thing standing in their way is each other.

Told in alternating points of view, this caper is full of romance and fast-paced fun. Hand to fans of Perfect Chemistry, The Conspiracy of Us, and Heist Society.
How to Plot a Bank Heist 

Writing Smash & Grab was a challenge—mostly because I had to figure out how to plot a bank heist. I remember sitting outside my personal bank more than once staring at it wondering how in the heck I was going to pull it off. I wanted my heist to be something that could happen—even if having teenagers pull it off might seem like something of a stretch to some. I also wanted to get the technical stuff as correct as I possibly could. This required loads of online research and some time in an actual bank researching security protocol as well as a ton of real life robberies. I was lucky enough to have two inside sources I used to do this, a teller and a bank manager—both from different banks.

I have never had more fun than the afternoon I spent inside a real bank getting all the behind the scenes information! Handling a stack of cash with a dye pack in it that’s set to detonate the moment a thief leaves the bank, walking into a vault, peeking at teller drawers—all of it was such a rush! The bank’s employees even showed me the forms they fill out when a robbery occurs and told me their own first-hand accounts of the times they had been working when a robbery happened. The most surprising thing that I learned? They are told not to interfere in any way with the robbery. Any measures they take are preventative—trying to observe a possible threat before the robber announces his plans and doing some subtle things that spook the thief into aborting his/her plan. Bank employees are supposed to comply if a robbery does occur and count on the police/security footage/their own observations to catch the thief afterwards. There is insurance to cover the loss of cash if it isn’t recovered and so the most important thing is to keep the bank employees safe.

Most robberies are not as elaborate as the final one in Smash & Grab. They are more like the first one Christian goes through at the beginning of the book—quick in and out “smash & grab” type robberies where a person(s) walks up to a teller counter and demands cash. Often times they are carried out by desperate people who haven’t though things through. I read accounts of people getting caught because they didn’t use a mask and were recognized or they didn’t surveil the bank ahead of time and got trapped in the bank’s vestibule because the bank employees activated both sets of exit doors, effectively trapping them or because they took a stack of cash with a dye pack in it and it went off, marking them for police. A group of highly organized, experienced thieves carrying out a robbery is pretty rare.

So what is based on truth in Smash & Grab? 

1. The idea of teens robbing a bank. You can read about the teens that inspired S&G here. Christian’s group most closely models the initial idea as he is led by an older, more experienced criminal, Soldado, who trained them. Lexi’s side of the heist is more improbable, although banks do offer internships to students over the age of eighteen in their banks and her father’s arrest for mortgage fraud has happened to people like him in real life.

2. The first heist Christian pulls off in the book is based off of a variety of true accounts as is the plan to tunnel under the bank. A real crew tunneled under an LA bank into a vault (setting off the vault’s alarms several times). They went in over a weekend when the vault is locked and impregnable from the outside—even by the bank manager/police—and was never caught. You can read about it here. And they were not the only ones to do this. There was another, similar robbery after this one.

3. The dumbwaiter inside the bank. The bank manager I talked with gave me the idea for the dumbwaiter. She worked in a bank that had one. Historically, there were banks that used them to transport cash to and from the teller floor down to the vault. Also, in LA there have been old bank buildings used to film bank robberies in the movies. I blended these two concepts together while plotting S&G.

4. The way they dispose of the getaway car at the beginning of the book was taken from several accounts of real robberies. You can read more about real life robberies in Where the Money Is by William J. Rehder and Gordon Dillow (an FBI agent and crime reporter respectively)

5. The way Soldado coerces Christian and his crew to work for him is authentic. There is a real life gang member from a few decades ago that used to force drug addicts who owed him money to rob banks for him. He was very hard to catch because he was never present at the robberies himself. For S&G I made it so Christian’s dad was the one who owed the money, but the general storyline was inspired by this true story.

So what is far-fetched? The amount of money each heist crew stood to gain from the robberies. I inflated the numbers. Full disclosure: robbing a bank is rarely ever worth it in terms of risk and effort. The amount of money kept on hand is not as high as I lead you to believe in the book and the penalty for getting caught—especially if you have a gun is extremely steep in Los Angeles. Also, the idea that there are teens capable of pulling something like this off in real life is up for debate, BUT I’d like to point out that no one would’ve thought that a teen was capable of hacking a major chain store like Target’s computer systems and that happened, so you never know!
 photo addtogoodreadssmall_zpsa2a6cf28.png photo B6096376-6C81-4465-8935-

Follow the Smash & Grab by Amy Christine Parker Blog Tour and don't miss anything! Click on the banner to see the tour schedule.

AMY CHRISTINE PARKER writes full-time from her home near Tampa, Florida, where she lives with her husband, their two daughters, and one ridiculously fat cat. Visit her at amychristineparker.com and follow her on Twitter @amychristinepar.

Win a hardcopy of SMASH & GRAB by Amy Christine Parker & some swag (INT)


No comments:

Post a Comment