To know me is to know two things about me. One, I'm a New England Patriots fan. Two, I'm a big movie guy. And there are two things about being both of those that I hate above all others. The first being the loss to the Giants in Super Bowl XLII that ruined a 19-0 season and will stand alone in the pantheon of painful losses until the heat death of the universe. And the other, is Hollywood recycling the same Transformers/Ninja Turtles/Fast & Furious style garbage over and over again when there are so many incredible stories still left untold.
Which brings us to this article in Business Week, which combines the two. A positively incredible story that somehow nobody's done a movie version of while they're spending all their time and money trying to do 10 different versions of every character DC Comic ever created. It's about Patriots fan/professional burglar Sean Murphy from Lynn. Who sounds more like a fictional character than any real human being I've ever read about. It's about how he robbed the jewelers that made the Giants rings, how he planned to steal $93 million from the Brinks company, and how he spent some of his money on breast implants for his Hefner-like entourage of women he dated simultaneously.
It's so long and involved, it would take more effort than I'm capable of on a holiday week to do it justice. So here are some of highlights.
Sean Murphy seethed as he watched from his weed dealer’s couch. It was February 2008. Skinny, with deep-set brown eyes, Murphy was a typical Patriots fan. He pronounced “cars” as “cahs,” got his coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts, and had a mullet and a horseshoe mustache, at least when his girlfriend didn’t make him clean up. ... But there was another side to Murph, as his friends called him. On Saturday nights he put on an all-black ninja suit and went out looking for things to steal. He was a cat burglar—the best in a town where burglary was still regarded as an art form.
After dark on June 8, Murphy and a friend slinked behind [ring manufacturer E.A. Dion's headquarters in Attleboro, MA]. … They wore their usual—black jumpsuits, black gloves, black booties over their shoes, and black masks with slits cut for their eyes—and carried crowbars, power saws, drills, and a cellphone jammer, a large metal box with four antennas.
They climbed onto the roof. Murphy found an outlet, plugged in the jammer, and turned it on. His accomplice walked the perimeter, trying to make calls with a burner cellphone as he went. No signal. Perfect. …
Murphy was sweeping gold dust off the workstations when his accomplice came out of an office, his hands glittering with diamonds. There was a Super Bowl ring engraved “Strahan” and a few others that read “Manning.” By the time Murphy had finished loading up the box truck, he had more than $2 million of gold and jewelry and more than two dozen Super Bowl rings.
F--- ’em, he thought. They don’t deserve them.
Heist by heist, Murphy honed his technique. He practiced how to disable alarms, how to tie a climbing rope to rappel down from a roof, how to cut steel with a plasma torch, and how to crack a safe with an electromagnetic drill press. He was fanatical about not leaving evidence, concealing his fingerprints with gloves, his footprints with rubber booties. He once even sprinkled a crime scene with cigarette butts collected from a homeless shelter to confuse any attempt at DNA analysis.
During a prison stint, he wrote an instruction manual titled Master Thief: How to Be a Professional Burglar, which he planned to sell to wannabes. Among his rules: Break in at nightfall on a Saturday, leave as the sun rises on Sunday. Cut the phone line, smash the alarm, and take the security tapes. Take half the score and let everyone else split the rest. And no weapons, because they lead to a longer prison sentence, and most places aren’t guarded at night anyway.
The romantic subplot:
[I]n 2003, he met Rikkile (pronounced “Ricky-Lee”) Brown, then a junior at Lynn English High School. She’d come to the party with some girls from her social studies class, who’d told her about an older guy who gave them cash to buy DV8 jeans that other kids couldn’t afford. A few years later, after meeting again by chance at a courthouse, they started dating.
Brown was 19, an aspiring radio news anchor with wavy brown hair. She also was addicted to prescription painkillers. … Four or five other women Brown’s age had similar arrangements with Murphy. They settled into a bizarre imitation of domesticity: dinners out, group trips to the movies or a Kid Rock concert, vacations in the Bahamas and Hawaii. The women would alternate who spent the night with Murphy. They helped him run the moving company, and sometimes they’d sell stolen cosmetics for him at a flea market in neighboring Revere. When he was flush from a score, he bought all of them breast implants.
The fame and infamy:
Murphy was thrilled when the burglary made the news. “A GIANT HEIST” was the New York Post headline. “Giant Jewel Heist Baffles FBI,” wrote the Boston Herald. Kate Mara, the House of Cards actor whose family co-owns the Giants, told New York magazine that her ring was among those missing. Some writers joked that the Patriots’ Belichick was the prime suspect. But the notoriety also meant that Murphy couldn’t sell the rings. He stashed his share in a safe deposit box and sold, traded, or gave away most of the rest of the E.A. Dion loot within a few months.
The police manhunt:
Lieutenant Al Zani had been after Murphy since about 1990, when he was an overachieving Massachusetts State Police officer assigned to Lynn. … Zani says he knew right away that Murphy was the only burglar in the area who could pull off such a sophisticated break-in. He also knew Murphy was so cocky that he’d almost certainly hold on to the Super Bowl rings. “He’s a smart kid,” Zani says. “But he’s not smart enough.”
Zani and his partner, FBI agent Jason Costello, started driving by Murphy’s house and his moving company’s warehouse, but they didn’t see much. … Costello paid a visit to Brown’s apartment. She wasn’t home, but he noticed her doormat, which read, “Come Back With a Warrant.”
The big score:
A bank branch might hold as little as $50,000 to cover a week’s withdrawals. But a Brink’s depot is a different story, with enough cash in its vault to fill a dozen or more armored cars, each of which could supply several branches. Murphy had seen 40 trucks parked at the Columbus depot on a scouting trip, which he figured meant at least $20 million. …
He’d brought two accomplices: Rob Doucette, the weed dealer he’d watched the Super Bowl with, and Joe Morgan, a 26-year-old part-time car salesman who’d become Murphy’s right-hand man. Murphy climbed onto the roof, set up the jammer, and cut the phone lines. “The building’s been murphed,” he told Doucette … and they unloaded an oxygen tank, an oxy-acetylene torch, and a 10-foot-long steel pipe packed with smaller rods.
These were the components of a thermal lance, a heavy-duty tool normally used to demolish bridges or decommission battleships. The mechanism is simple: Pump pure oxygen to the end of the long pipe, then use the smaller welder’s torch to light it. With enough oxygen, the fire can burn as hot as 8,000F—almost the same temperature as the surface of the sun.
The plan goes horribly, horribly wrong:
Murphy looked through the smoking hole. He’d cut too deep. The money was burning. He sent Morgan for a hose.
Murphy didn’t know it, but Brink’s had stuffed its vault in anticipation of a busy week. There was $54 million waiting to be delivered to banks, $12 million on its way to the Federal Reserve and $27 million for ATM refills—a total of $93 million. …
Murphy had grabbed only one cash brick when he started to feel lightheaded from the smoke. He realized that if he passed out, he’d probably be left to die. … [Back at] Doucette’s house in Lynn, they dumped out the money and started counting. Murphy and his crew had stolen more than $1 million in cash. But the bills smelled terrible, and many were damaged.
The cops close in:
They still hadn’t dried and smoothed out all the money four days later when, just before sunrise, 19 police officers and FBI agents surrounded Murphy’s house, shined a spotlight into his bedroom, and stormed in to arrest him.
It goes on from there. But tl;dr, in the end, Murphy got sentenced to 20 years.
Just an incredible saga of a character more like someone out of an Elmore Leonard or Robert B. Parker novel than an actual guy. And I can't believe that right now Mark Wahlberg and Ben Affleck aren't wrestling each other on the floor of some studio exec's office, fighting to the death for the rights to produce, direct and star in it. If the last 25 years in show business have taught us anything, Masshole movies are pure, 100% USDA prime Oscar bait. Particularly when they are gritty crime stories, filled with guys who say "cah," love Boston teams, have sassy love interests and are pursued by hard boiled, street savvy cops. Hell, Scorcese could get four hours out of this, and I'm not talking about the Director's Cut.
My only request is that they call the film: "Fuck the Giants: They Don't Deserve Them."