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The Jewel Thief is the unbelievable first-hand account of Gerald Blanchard, one of the most creative, calculating and accomplished criminal masterminds in modern history. With savant-like skill and a peculiar pride, Blanchard’s decades-long crime spree ranged from shoplifting to bank robbery to the theft of a royal crown jewel. Told through the first-hand account of Blanchard himself and the unlikely Winnipeg detectives who tracked him across the globe, the film presents an offbeat, rollicking journey through a series of increasingly elaborate heists as Blanchard seeks fame and notoriety through a life of crime.
Blanchard’s penchant for crime begins at an early age in Omaha, Nebraska. As an awkward, bespectacled teen, he gains the respect of peers and the attention of police through sophisticated shoplifting schemes, gleaning hundreds of thousands of dollars in stolen merchandise. After escaping from police twice in less than 24 hours, he is arrested and deported to Canada where he will ultimately meet his match.
Within a few years Winnipeg police are investigating a major bank heist, executed with surgical precision. Dumbfounded by the intricacy of the theft, two quirky detectives obsess over the details of the investigation. Despite a seemingly perfect crime, one slip up reveals Blanchard as a suspect, and the detectives begin to unravel an intricate web of thefts, frauds, and cons that spans beyond anything they could have imagined.
Blanchard seems to revel in the attention of the detectives, toying with them as he leads the authorities through a game of cat and mouse across North America, Europe, and Africa. As Blanchard and the detectives match wits, they begin to develop a mutual sense of respect through a shared obsession for their chosen professions.
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