Real-Life Jewel Thief Breaks Down Inaccuracies of GTA 5's Jewelry Heist Mission

Real-Life Jewel Thief Breaks Down Inaccuracies of GTA 5's Jewelry Heist Mission

Larry Lawton's not too impressed with Lester Crest.

"Most robberies are not done like that" says Larry Lawton of Grand Theft Auto 5's memorable jewelry heist mission. It's a pretty simple assessment (c'mon, it's a video game) that still carries some weight thanks to the man saying it; Lawton, once a career thief, stole millions of dollars in jewels over multiple heists before eventually serving time in prison. Where others can poke holes in Rockstar's depiction of a heist, Lawton makes it look like a doomed scheme from the start.

GTA 5's jewelry heist is the subject of a new video on Lawton's YouTube channel, where he regularly discusses his time in prison and the years spent robbing jewelry stores that led up to it. While The Jewel Store Job mission provides two different plans of attack and a lot of colorful details about Michael De Santa's crew, Lawton is quick to call out each flaw in the heist plan as they come up.

For starters, Lawton thinks Michael's idea to pull off a robbery just because he's in need of some quick cash is woefully ill-advised. "You never rob just to get money quick like that," Lawton says. Seconds later, when Lester Crest picks a jewelry store seemingly at random, Lawton's compelled to pause the playback again. "That's not how you'd case a place, you'd get caught in a minute."

While some of Lawton's critiques might seem like nitpicks, his lived experiences certainly contrast with GTA's trademark bombast and, crucially, most players' disregard for following traffic laws. "The worst thing you can do is bring attention to yourself," says Lawton. "When we did a robbery[...] I might be in the city for two weeks, three weeks. We don't leave the hotel, we make sure we don't drive crazy anywhere, we go get some food and pretty much live in a hotel. You don't want to be seen in that town." Someone could probably make an interesting game out of that routine, but it might not fly with most GTA fans.

Vanity Fair produced a similar video with Lawton last year where he evaluates the heist scenes from classic films. In it, Lawton had some more approving things to say about the robberies in movies like Heat and The Italian Job, but as the founder of a non-profit that tries to steer teens away from crime, all the lessons Lawton teaches about heists boil down to don't do them.

Now that Lawton's a YouTuber, though, the constant demand for content will probably keep him in the "fictional heist analysis" field for a while. The Jewel Store Job is definitely the GTA mission that's most in Lawton's wheelhouse, but there are plenty of GTA Online heists he can tear apart if he decides to go back for more.

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Mathew Olson


Mathew Olson is a writer formerly of Digg, where he blogged and reported about all things under the umbrella of internet culture (including games, of course). He lives in New York, grew up under rain clouds and the influence of numerous games studios in the Pacific Northwest, and will talk your ear off about Half-Life mods, Talking Heads or Twin Peaks if you let him.

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