Heist and High: The Craigslist Robber Who Stole $400,000

// Disclaimer: I was given a reviewer’s copy of the book, Heist and High.

At a glance, Anthony Curcio lived a charmed life. Growing up, he was a gifted athlete and excelled at football and basketball. But in college, Curcio began abusing alcohol and starting what would become a decades-long addiction to prescription painkillers.

What started as a torn ACL and a prescription for Vicodin would eventually lead him, years later, to the thing that Curcio is now best known for: stealing over $400,000 from a Brinks armored truck while using a team of unwitting decoys, dressed in identical outfits. Dubbed “The Craigslist Bandit” and “D. B. Tuber”, Curcio used Craigslist to set up the robbery, and an innertube to make his getaway. It was one of the more creative (and successful) bank robberies in recent history.

When I first heard about the book, Heist and High, I was intrigued by the details of the robbery. I was familiar with co-author Dane Batty’s book Wanted: Gentleman Bank Robber, which followed the 20-year arc of Leslie Ibsen Rogge (who robbed over 30 banks). Curcio seemed like a modern-day incarnation of D. B. Cooper, using technology to help crowd-source a robbery.

But for much of the book, Curcio does not make for a sympathetic character. Time and again, he lies his way out of trouble, burning bridge after bridge, with his family and wife Emily always there to give him a second chance.

Perhaps it’s the nature of his addiction, and the curse of prescription medication addiction in general. But for someone of Curcio’s background, watching him squander his life and hurt those closest to him (time and again) does not make for pleasant reading. A majority of the book documents the varied ways in which he betrays those closest to him, and it’s difficult to see him in a sympathetic light.

Curcio isn’t a smart criminal – rather, he’s a smart guy that turned to crime. Throughout the book, you learn of different (legal) pursuits that ended up being successful for him. Shortly after college, he got into selling poker tables during the Texas Holdem boom (and went so far as to open a business/storefront). He later got into collecting, selling, and evaluating baseball cards.

Both pursuits led to some roadblocks, and crime ended up being the default thing that Curcio consistently turned to. Despite his crimes, Curcio is really an entrepreneur at heart… but his addiction and his poor decisions always seemed to turn his legal endeavors south.

It’s pretty amazing to read about the time and energy Curcio spent towards his illicit activities. He got so good with Photoshop and faking doctor’s prescriptions that he eventually traveled to multiple pharmacies per day, just to keep up with his habit.

At the height of his addiction, Anthony was spending upwards of $15,000 a month on prescription painkillers:

In his latest relapse, his usual daily amount progressed to thirty to fifty Norco pills a day, which consisted of 10mg of hydrocodone and 325mg of Acetaminophen. Anthony was obviously addicted to the hydrocodone, but the Acetaminophen was slowly poisoning him. Large amounts of Acetaminophen cause liver damage. A regular Tylenol tablet is 200mg of Acetaminophen. Anthony’s daily intake was anywhere from 13,000mg to 25,000mg – the equivalent to taking approximately 125 Tylenol tablets a day for nearly eight years in row.

On starting the book, I expected to read about the details behind a fairly ingenious robbery: a mixture of technology and a bit of panache that seemed to make Curcio more than just some guy with a gun. But in reading about him, the real story behind the robbery is of Curcio’s addiction.

As much as I wanted to live vicariously through his illicit activities, I found Curcio to be someone I just disliked. For nearly the length of the book, he was not someone I cared for, despite his cunning and his exploits.

Reading the book, his betrayals were difficult to shake off… and I found myself more in awe of his wife, Emily. Dating since they were in high school, I was in awe that she stuck by Curcio, through every betrayal, willing to give him another chance.

Curcio’s armored-truck heist, involving Craigslist and an inner-tube might seem a fantastical story… but for me, his wife Emily’s steadfastness, despite his innumerable betrayals, is what’s most difficult to believe. For someone who was ultimately caught stealing $400,000, he’s a remarkably lucky guy.

For more information about Curcio and the heist, check out the official website. He was also featured a few months ago on ABC’s 20/20.

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