Pin It
Courtesy of Netflix

A mysterious group of thieves keeps heisting Netflix sets

A network of mastermind criminals apparently really, really love The Crown

Netflix has been hit by two heists (one daring and elaborate, the other not so much) in the space of a week: The Crown (a middling historical drama about the royal family) recently lost around $200,000 of props and antiques, followed by Lupin (ironically, a series about a master thief) getting hit by burglars the very next day.

According to Variety, the production of the third series of Lupin (currently being filmed in Nanterre, France) was interrupted when around 20 individuals lobbed fireworks onto the set, stormed in, and then made off with $333,000 worth of equipment. The Crown robbery was rather less dramatic: the perpetrators broke into three parked cars outside the set and stole a number of props, including a replica Fabergé egg, gold and silver candelabras, a grandfather clock clockface, and some crystal glassware. According to the show’s set decorator Alison Harvey, the items stolen are “not necessarily in the best condition” and have limited resale value.

For a whole host of reasons, the thieves might struggle to offload these goods. If you were enough of a The Crown aficionado to want to buy this kind of memorabilia, you’d almost certainly have heard the news of these items being stolen. It’s difficult to conceive of the genre of person who is simultaneously a period drama super-stan and comfortable handling stolen goods (or willing to hire a squad of goons to satisfy their craving for monarchist merchandise). So why do people steal items that are almost impossible to sell?

The history of art theft has some answers here. It’s a notoriously tricky endeavor to monetise (for example, the Camorra crime clan in Naples was discovered to still be in possession of two priceless Van Gogh paintings over 14 years after they were stolen) but art theft is still a perennial phenomenon. According to art writer Riah Pryor, One of the key reasons seems to be criminal prestige: stealing a famous painting can boost a thief’s reputation within a network and present other opportunities.” But it’s hard to see how this logic would apply to, say, a set of silver-plated sugar tongs from season one of The Crown. Is that the kind of thing that hardened criminals are using to appear tough these days? Well, is it? There is another common motive at play: if you steal a famous painting, it can also be used as collateral in criminal deals. But this doesn’t seem to apply to Netlflix memorabilia either. If an antique tea-cosy was the only thing standing in the way of you screwing over a business partner during a multi-million-pound cocaine deal, you’d probably just go ahead and rip them off.

So, stealing memorabilia from middle-brow Netflix shows seems like a truly pointless crime. Perhaps, these thefts were opportunistic. Or perhaps more troublingly, there exists a network of mastermind criminals who just really, really love The Crown.