USA's 'White Collar' Lays Out The Anatomy Of A Heist

On Thursday night's episode of USA's hit show White Collar, it's resident con-man and sharp-dresser Neal Caffrey who robbed an entire chapter from a centuries-old book in a museum without getting caught. Well, he almost got caught, but in the end made it to the clear. If you still haven't started watching White Collar after our excellent list of reasons why you should, you're making a big mistake... you could've learned how to pull off a heist tonight! Seriously, Neal managed to pull this off right under the FBI's nose and not even have them sniff in his direction. In seemingly unrealistically easy steps, Neal and Mozzie managed to set up a pretty impressive scheme that, per usual, goes awry but eventually wraps up perfectly.

Here's what White Collar taught us Thursday about pulling off a heist:

SCOPE OUT THE AREA

After Neal gets enlisted to steal chapter 13 from an ancient codex, he lingers around the museum to scope out the security situation. It's there where he meets Rebecca Lowe, a rare book scholar and museum employee who informs him that the anonymous benefactor of the codex instructed everyone at the museum that the book can never be opened. Neal tries to appeal to her curiosity, because it's obvious that she wants the book open almost as badly as he needs it open, but she doesn't budge. He does realize, however, that he's charming enough to get her guard down, which comes in handy.

CHOOSE A FALL GUY

Mozzie's got a handy list of con-men in his pocket who he's willing to watch take the fall because he wants to get revenge. It seems like a malicious hit-list, but because it's Mozzie, it's not really. He decides that Sven (a guy that looks remarkably like Liam Neeson) will be the one to serve as Neal's diversion.

FORMULATE A TIME-SENSITIVE PLAN

Neal and Mozzie come up with a time-sensitive plan that will place Neal and his fall-guy in the museum at the same time for only a few seconds. Sven will try to steal a painting while Neal is tending to the codex and will get caught, allowing Neal to slip through the cracks and show up just in time for his new handler, Agent Segal, to catch the thief who's trapped by the security system. Timing is everything. Neal just has to figure out a way to get into the museum.

PLANT THE IDEA

Mozzie, in disguise, goes to a bar that's apparently a hangout for black-market dealers and white collar criminals. (It really amazes me at times that Mozzie is such a huge criminal mastermind because he really doesn't seam like one most of the time.) He sits down with a group of people and begins bragging within earshot of Sven about a painting that it'd be almost too easy to steal, knowing full well that Sven will take the bait. (He obviously can't ask him to get pinched for Neal's sake, that's not how it works.)

EXECUTION

Neal realizes that his best way in is through Rebecca (even though he'll feel bad about it later because she'll get fired) so he bumps into her when she's leaving the museum. He turns on the charm and shows her a bunch of pages that he and Mozzie put together to use as placeholders in the codex once Neal steals the original chapter 13.

Obviously, because Neal is the world's most charming criminal, she falls right into his trap and he's able to easily steal her museum ID from her jacket pocket. He ends up hitting a snag when both Segal and Peter try to keep extra close tabs on him and has to figure out a way to get them both off of his back so he can go through with the plan. Neal sends the eager Segal out on a goose chase after a faceless guy that looks up to no good (knowing that it's not Sven) and tells Peter to stop living in the past and to go spend time with his wife (Peter folds way too easily to this, but whatever).

Once the plan's back on track, Neal slips into the museum during his time frame with an impressive electric tool that slides the original pages out and the new pages into the codex. Mission: successful... until the alarms go off. He's trapped momentarily in the room with the codex before breaking out, but he's not the only one to do so.

HELP THE FBI SOLVE THE CRIME

Neal used to do this all the time with Peter because he's a criminal genius. He solves the crime by retracing his own steps as if he were the fall-guy. Clever, Neal, very clever. Neal returns to the museum with Peter to try to figure out how Sven got away on "one last case together" with his old handler. He realizes while retracing the steps that Sven probably took, that he absolutely took his gloves off to tamper with the security system box under the floor. And he knows, because he did the same thing upstairs.

The FBI dusts the floor for prints and they take down Sven with ease. In another turn of extremely lucky events, the anonymous benefactor of the codex wants his book back following the security breach. Still under instructions that under no circumstances is anyone to open the book, no one realizes that there's a fake chapter and the book gets sent away.

This robbery was a risky move for Neal, but whoever this criminal mastermind is that's holding something over his head is really ruthless. Neal's scared, even more so now after finding Agent Segal dead, with a bullet in his chest, a few feet from where he met with his blackmailer to deliver the pages.

Something's rotten in NYC and even though Neal was lucky enough this time to pull off the heist, he shouldn't feel confident that his friends, especially Peter, are safe.

Image: USA