What is a “Boxman?”

Boxman, Yegg, Peterman, these are all street slang terms for a safe cracker. The plucky safe cracker, sneaking into a bank and opening the vault armed with only deft fingers and a good pair of stethoscopes,  has been a staple crime fiction since O. Henry immortalized the character of Jimmy Valentine. Jimmy was a classic American anti-hero. He lived a life of crime but under his rough exterior he had a heart of gold. That characterization of the safe cracker has pervaded for over a hundred years. Literary and cinematic representations of the safe cracker have slowly evolved over the years but what remains constant is a desire to portray the clever yegg as a protagonist.

Why do we love stories about safe crackers? Perhaps because opening a safe is a crime that doesn’t physically hurt anyone, maybe it is because we all want to win the lottery, or perhaps it is that everyone wants to be a little bad some of the time. There is probably no single answer. What is true is that writers and Hollywood have historically taken great liberties with the reality of breaking into safes. While the characters are interesting, often the stories become little more than fantasy because of the far fetched methods the thieves use to sneak past security systems and open the safe. I always found that disappointing because the “How” is often just as interesting as the “Why.”

“The Boxman,” is a new novel that portrays a safecracker in a more believable light. In addition to highlighting the gripping and realistic tale of “The Boxman,” this website will also give people a chance to read about the history of safe cracking and even try your hand at planning your own heist. Enjoy your stay here. Soon we will have plenty of posts to explore for anyone interested in the history and reality of safe cracking.

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