1. agentkirb
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    agentkirb Contributing Member

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    Digging a tunnel under a building

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by agentkirb, Jun 29, 2013.

    A story I'm working on has this as one of the plot devices. I want to know what things to consider that I might be missing. For the sake of argument lets say the tunnel goes from the middle of a museum to somewhere outside of the building. I'm assuming there will be concrete and maybe some water pipes. The story is set in Houston so no basements to worry about.
     
  2. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    the tunnel might be made of concrete to house water and sewer pipes. There would also be room for workmen to maintain the pipes. What else might there be? Rats, loose water and vertical connections to manholes in the street. If it's connected to the museum it might also have security measures or at least locked gates every so many yards and maybe battery powered, or at least waterproof electric lights/alarms. Oh and spiders. Depending on your setting and the mood you want to portray, rats and spiders in a dark tunnel are usually good ingredients for something scary.
     
  3. blackstar21595
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    blackstar21595 Contributing Member

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    Look up Al Capone. The places he used had tunnels under them that led to other buildings in case the cops came.
     
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  4. agentkirb
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    agentkirb Contributing Member

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    Ah, maybe I wasn't clear. I meant that the tunnel was dug by some kind of criminal. And it probably just has to be big enough to crawl through. My current plan is to have some kind of rope in the tunnel with some kind of pulley system on the other side to quickly zip the guy out of the museum.

    I would think you couldn't just dig a tunnel under a bank vault or something like that because there would be security measures in place to prevent that, but like... the first floor of a museum? They would probably have much less in the way.
     
  5. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    so you've a solid concrete ground and your criminal gang has dug a tunnel, installed a trolley on a pulley system. What's the problem? There are obviously no alarms or security measures under a solid road/sidewalk. If the vibrations of digging the tunnel didn't set off the alarms then maybe he's ok.

    Is it a case now of he has to drill upwards into the museum floor? I'd imagine the museum to be full of sensors, sound, light, movement, maybe lasers zig sagging across the room not to mention actual security guards patrolling.
     
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  6. agentkirb
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    agentkirb Contributing Member

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    Hmm... I guess there isn't a problem. That's what I was asking. I don't think there are vibration sensors to protect from someone digging into the middle of the museum... or at least that's not a common thing. Guards I'll have to consider. Maybe the noise from drilling the concrete would be loud enough to attract attention. Or maybe getting through the concrete without anyone noticing is an issue as well. I'm sure there is some way to do it quietly but it might just take longer.
     
  7. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    Cause a primary explosion out front, one that blows the front doors off the museum. All security measures are forced into action, the whole place on lock down. While guards run around in blind panic, your criminal gang blow up through the floor, grab the loot and get away on their pulley system. The getaway van has a hole in its floor and is parked over the manhole two blocks away!
     
  8. agentkirb
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    agentkirb Contributing Member

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    Yeah the distraction idea answers the noise/guards issue.

    You know... on a related note, I wonder how much a robber could do before it started sounding unbelievable. Cause I had a couple of ideas floating around such as taking out the security system via hacking, maybe causing a power outage so that the lights would go off, some kind of pyrotechnics or smoke to use as a distraction (they'd have to be installed in advance and go unnoticed), or the classic move where you make the camera go on a loop to bypass them.

    And in some cases, the robbery doesn't even have to take place at night... it could take place during the day with the idea being that because there are people around it would be easier to slip into the crowd or maybe have an accomplice in disguise do something.

    But like... hacking seems like a cheap answer. I could in theory go "well, they hacked the security system so that the doors wouldn't automatically lock" but that doesn't really sound all that believable.
     
  9. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    well there's a lot of factors to consider,

    Is the method of robbery vital to your story? The DaVinci Code had a break-in/robbery/murder at the Louvre and that wasn't explained at all.

    What kind of museum is it? What's the loot?

    Remember too that modern museums with xpensive exhibits will have security companies wh have also seen Ocean's 9, 10,11,12 and probably a few Bond movies to learn about intrinsic break-ins, CCTV on loops, remote hacking, also they may have battery or secondary power sources in case of power cuts.

    A really simple way may be to get the curator to swap the piece for a replica and all of your creativity goes into this...
     
  10. raven6625
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    raven6625 Member

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    Going up "through the floor" you loose the subtlety of a well planned robbery. Maybe the museum could have a basement, some sort of services tunnel you could dig into and then head up? Most national museums have big vaults full of non-display stuff and often these are underground.

    Security wise, I know the Smithsonian museums in Washington D.C use ground sensors as they contain some seriously expensive stuff!
     
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  11. B93
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    B93 Active Member

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    If your characters are digging a tunnel, you should probably calculate how many cubic yards (or cubic meters) of material they have to get rid of, and how many shovel loads that is, how many hours it would take, and how many truck loads they have to haul off. It's not a trivial problem to dispose of a hundred cubic yards/meters of dirt.

    I'll throw your book away if you just pretend they dug a hundred yards a day by hand and the dirt disappeared behind them.

    A building may have concrete footings that go down a considerable distance, forming an underground wall that they have to go through even if there is no basement.
     
  12. agentkirb
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    agentkirb Contributing Member

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    Well, the actual plot I'm thinking of doing is in the evening (I dont' really know when museams normally close, so maybe this has to happen in the afternoon). So it doesn't have to be a subtle entry and exit. Point is, there would be a crowd, perhaps they cut the lights off/cameras off (haven't fully thought this part out in case they have some kind of back up power) maybe a cop or two already there. The robber shows up, makes a big show that he's going to steal w/e (at this point I'm thinking some kind of jewel necklace but it really doesn't matter). And his presentation is almost magician-like, has a mask on... maybe a cape (cape might be too much). The police/security that are there surround him trying to get him to surrender and aren't shooting him or anything because he doesn't have a gun. Then a plume of smoke appears around him for like 5 seconds, and when it dissipates he's gone. Then they look at the case for the necklace and it turns out the necklace has been stolen somehow (blah blah blah accomplice, disguise, some kind of convoluted way of getting it out of the museum)... seemingly without this robber coming into contact with it. And they later find the tunnel (there is some kind of removable floor hiding the exit) and figure out how he escaped.

    So the pieces of the puzzle that are potentially unbelievable:
    -tunnel method of entry and escape
    -disabling the lights and cameras
    -getting the loot out of the building another way (seems like there are many options to choose from with this issue though)

    I really appreciate you guys helping me brainstorm this by challenging me with potential issues I haven't thought of.
     
  13. agentkirb
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    agentkirb Contributing Member

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    Well, I'd think you just need to zip across the street or to the next building, or maybe to some kind of sewer line. And then it'd just be an issue of disguising themselves. But yeah... I'm thinking the concrete issue might make it hard.

    Also, I could probably scale back the size of the museum they are robbing. So that the place doesn't have insanely redundant security.
     
  14. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    Large buildings aren't built like houses where it is just a foundation on the ground. There would be a sub floor for waterlines, sewage, gas, electric, etc. You wouldn't be able to just dig from underneath and enter the main lobby. Also, being in Houston, don't forget about the already existing tunnel system underneath downtown.
     
  15. agentkirb
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    agentkirb Contributing Member

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    Hmmm I wish I could find floor plans to see what normally is below buildings. If digging from underground is impossible, I need to find some other way to get in and out of a crowded museum. I suppose another idea would be to do the same puff of smoke sort of thing, and he puts on a disguise to look like part of the security team and that's how he gets out of the museum. I imagine the natural police response to a robber suddenly disappearing would be to try and close off all entrances/exits and interview everyone to confirm their identity and search them for the loot. Or perhaps invent some kind of tracker that was put on the loot and they try and chase it around the museum... then it turns out they found it and switched the tracker onto something moving and while they are going after the fake tracker signal the bad guy escapes.
     

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