The Cat Burglar

Category: Archetype of the Week
Created on Thursday, 01 October 2009 Written by Steve

Anyone can bust out a window and steal some stuff, but if you want to rob someone blind without drawing too much unwanted attention, you need a cat burglar. Cat burglars have the experience, skills, and (most importantly) style to get the goods and get away without arousing any suspicion. The really good ones have already fenced the merchandise before the victim even realizes it’s gone.

Likely Stories

For as long as people have had stuff, there have been people who wanted to steal said stuff, so a cat burglar can appear in any genre that includes private ownership of goods. The only real variables across genres are the items being stolen, the technology used to guard them, and the technology used to get around the technology doing the guarding. Cat Burglars are most commonly found in modern crime stories, but also show up frequently in espionage, cyberpunk, and fantasy tales.

The Name Game

There are two main categories of cat burglars: the working stiffs and the artists. Working stiffs are your average petty criminals who aren’t terribly ambitious. They break into houses and businesses, steal whatever they can find, and sell it off at a pawn shop. These characters tend to have names that make them sound like someone you’d meet in a strip joint that serves breakfast. Nicknames involving bodily functions and missing body parts are also popular among this crowd. At the other end of the spectrum is the artist, who is as (or more) concerned with the challenge presented by the heist than the monetary payoff. Such characters often have very European sounding names, usually British or French, and may even be European. These burglars also use aliases, but theirs usually sound much cooler.

The Numbers

Body is the cat burglar’s most important Number, but Brain is also important for those whose targets are protected by high-tech security measures. Nerve is useful for information gathering and other pre-heist preparations, as well as for negotiating a good price for the ill-gotten goods.

Suggested Jobs: Acquisitions Specialist, Angel, Art Thief, Bank Robber, Cat Burglar, Countersecurity Expert, Housebreaker, Home Invader, Jewel Thief, Looter, Picklock, Porch Climber, Prowler, Robber, Safecracker, Second-Story Man, Secret Agent, Smash and Grabber, Sneak Thief

Suggested Gimmicks: Citizen of the World, Danger Sense, Duct Tape & Chicken Wire, Gun Fu, Hide In Plain Sight, Knows a Guy, Ninja Stealth, Photographic Memory, Quick As A Cat, Reputation, Smooth Talker, Unlock Anything, Wonderful Toys,

Suggested Weaknesses: Compulsion (Calling Card), Danger Junkie, Easy Come Easy Go, Enemies, Getting Too Old For This Shit, Master of Disguise, Phobia, Superstitious, Wanted Man, Wrong Place/Wrong Time

Suggested Skills: Acrobatics, Appraisal, Art Appreciation, Breaking & Entering, Climbing, Contacts, Demolitions, Dodge, Electronics, Escape Artist, Fencing, Firearms, Fast Talk, Forgery, Lockpicking, Negotiation, Security Systems, Self Defense, Sleight of Hand, Snappy Dresser, Stealth, Surveillance

WWPHITM? Danny Aeillo, Jessica Alba, Halle Berry, Pierce Brosnan, Jackie Chan, George Clooney, James Coburn, Matt Damon, Johnny Depp, Eliza Dushku, Shannon Elizabeth, Ali Larter, Lucy Liu, William H. Macy, Edward Norton, Robert Redford, Renee Russo, Uma Thurman, Bruce Willis, Catherine Zeta-Jones

Tag Line: “Robbin’ the freakin’ Vatican? The nuns at St. Agnes predicted this.”—Eddie “Hudson Hawk” Hawkins, Hudson Hawk

Tools of the Trade: Low-end house burglars can get buy with a crowbar, basic lockpicking kit, or, in a pinch, a heavy rock. More high tech thieves will need all sorts of electronic gadgets to foil security devices, grappling hooks, and a can of aerosol spray to reveal the intricate network of laser eye beams that protect any truly juicy bit of loot. Black clothing is traditional for all burglars. Robbing the Vatican requires a grapple, biker’s bottle, pocket fisherman, olive oil, and 100 stamps.

Where You’ll Find Him: Working stiff burglars will hang out in places where you normally find the criminal element: seedy bars, pool hauls, and strip joints. They usually live in crappy apartments. Artists tend to prefer a more high-rent crowd, frequenting gallery openings, museum exhibits, and trendy nightspots. They live in penthouse apartments, on tropical islands, or in castles in the French countryside.

Social Circle: Working stiff burglars will know other thieves as well as the usual bartenders, pawn brokers, parole officers, and so on. Artists will cultivate a worldwide network of jet-setters, fences, and criminal specialists. Most artists also have a nemesis in the law enforcement community.

Sample Character

Eddie “Hudson Hawk” HawkinsHudson Hawk (c)1991 TriStar

Body: 13

Brain: 13

Nerve: 13

Job: Singing Cat Burglar (15)

Gimmick: Aura of Cartoon Physics (13)

Weakness: Elaborate Conspiracy Magnet (13)

Skills: Music Trivia (Song Lengths) +3; Escape Artist +2; Cappuccino Appreciation +1

WWPHITM? Bruce Willis

Dumb Fact: Part-owner of the Five Tone Bar & Grill

Tag Line: “But I want to do community service; I want to teach the handicapped how to yodel.”

HP: 13

YY: 4

Inspirational Materials

Books and Comics

Catwoman

Fahrd & the Grey Mouser series

Thieves’ World series

Music

“Hudson Hawk,” Dr. John

“Pink Panther Theme,” Henry Mancini

“Mission Impossible Theme,” Megadeth (cover)

“Side By Side,” Danny Aeillo & Bruce Willis (cover)

“Swingin’ on a Star,” Danny Aeillo & Bruce Willis (cover)

TV & Movies

After the Sunset

Charlie’s Angels

Dark Angel

Entrapment

The Great Muppet Caper

Home Alone

Hudson Hawk

Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back

Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels

Ocean’s Eleven

The Score

Sneakers

The Thomas Crown Affair

Wallace & Gromit in The Wrong Trousers

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The Cat Burglar.
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