Book Reviews for Heist and High
“The best books teach us something new about something we thought we knew, and do it in a way that captivates us so thoroughly we don’t even realize we’re learning something. These books change our worldview, usually in subtle ways, short-circuiting our preconceptions and forcing us to think rather than simply react. So it is with Heist and High.”–author Lee Gruenfeld, from the foreword.
Fascinating story of crime and multiple drug addiction, August 7, 2013
I was very pleasantly surprised at just how good this tale of addiction, crime, punishment, and (possible) rehabilitation turned out to be. I had read co-author Dane Batty’s previous venture into the true crime genre (“Wanted: Gentleman Bank Robber” 2010) and it was good. This one is even better.
Author Anthony Curcio himself is the subject so this is as much a memoir as it is a true crime saga. Curcio is that kind of attractive and athletic golden boy who is good at just about everything he puts his mind to, the kind of guy who from childhood gets away with way too much just because people tend to like him and forgive his transgressions. Unfortunately he has one fatal flaw, addiction. He managed to addict himself to pain pills, alcohol, cocaine, and adrenaline rushes while ingesting a wide variety of other pharmaceuticals. At one point he was spending $350 a day on drugs or over $127,000 a year.
His personality is manic-depressive. When he’s flying he can do anything; when he’s down he is suicidal. And of course the drugs only made things massively worse.
The central event in the book is the Brinks armored car robbery that took place in Monroe, Washington in 2008. Curcio got away with something like $400,000. It was a painstaking-planned heist with several original touches that caught the media’s attention.
Curcio put an ad in Craig’s list and got over a dozen guys to dress as he would be dressed in blue landscaper’s outfits. They were instructed to show up in the parking lot near the bank just before the Brinks truck would arrive thereby providing cover for Curcio’s get away–which, by the way was via a nearby stream on an inner tube. You may have seen a reenactment of this crime in a recently broadcasted segment on TV’s 20/20. The segment is probably archived at their web site. I saw it. It’s worth viewing.
But what this book is really about is Curcio’s spiral from high school heart throb and star athlete (and class clown) to the very depths of depravity as he desperately scrounges, lies, cheats, schemes and steals to support a massive drug habit, the likes of which I have never read about before. Batty interviewed Curcio in prison. He also interviewed his wife Emily. Every page screams authenticity. The prose just runs under your eyes as you quickly turn the pages. I read the book in a single day.
Some observations: At one point Curcio totally identified himself as a criminal citing the criminality of bankers and others in power. Part of this was just a rationalization that allowed him to commit crimes without guilt. But part of it is what millions of people genuinely feel: they have been cheated, lied to and stolen from. For some there’s the sense that it’s all a jungle and the tiger does not feel it is wrong to eat the lamb.
The material on being in prison was strikingly vivid as Curcio depicted the mentality of the prisoners and their guards and the various hells he went through. The authenticity reminded me of Jimmy A. Lerner’s excellent “You Got Nothing Coming: Notes from a Prison Fish” (2002). In some ways Curcio’s account is even better. You won’t want to miss knowing what it’s like to spend weeks in a tiny cell with a crazed white supremacist as hundreds of cockroaches crawl all over your body.
As in many true crime tales we have the ever-suffering, ever-naïve, ever in denial wife. Her name is Emily and she and Curcio were sweethearts from the eighth grade. He had shown such promise and she loved him so much… Yet she is heroic in the way she works to hold her family together at all costs. Near the end she learns of Curcio’s many infidelities and demands that he come clean and tell her the truth. It is a bit strange that these infidelities (which, incidentally, are NOT written about in the book) was what hurt her the most. Not the stealing, the neglect, the shame, the fear–no it was his unfaithfulness. In her demand that he confess all we see a power struggle between husband and wife. In the final analysis he apparently does confess all and I would say she won.
And maybe her amazing ability to stay with Curcio and her ability to forgive him will in the long run be rewarded. Curcio got out of prison in 2013 and there is the hope that he can conquer the bipolar demons that haunt him without spiraling back into drug addiction. He is a talented man and although a criminal, he is not the kind of criminal that wants to hurt people. He is a flawed human being who may yet use his talent in socially responsible ways.
–Dennis Littrell, author of “Dennis Littrell’s True Crime Companion”
Heist and High by Anthony Curcio and Dane Batty (2013)
Three quarters of the way through this book I was thinking, “This man’s gonna die soon”. He doesn’t of course and that’s the miracle of Anthony Curcio.
Heist and High is the true story of an amazing and successful athlete, with a promising professional career ahead of him, who through the misfortune of a couple of accidents quit the game. Fuelled by a growing addiction to prescription painkillers, prescribed following those accidents, Anthony turned his amazing mind and obsessive personality to crime. Meticulous research and planning meant he managed to stay one step ahead of the law – most of the time. Lies and deceit became second nature. Rehab and relapse became the norm. His family were powerless to help him.
Descending further into a living hell Anthony’s body suffered – anybody else, pumping such a massive cocktail of prescription drugs and alcohol around their body, would have died of an overdose. Had he not begun to falter in his meticulous planning, had he not been caught for what was his most audacious crime, robbing a Brinks Matt truck as it stopped for a regular cash delivery, it is doubtful if Anthony’s body could have held out much longer.
Anthony’s story is a lesson to us all. It shows how easy it is for someone to fall into the vice like grip of addiction, how the addiction takes over and supersedes all other values, how easy it is for family and friends to be fooled by the lies and deceit. Reading a little between the lines the psychologist will recognise the early evidence of the obsessive (and addictive) personality that led Anthony to excel in sport and which he then turned to funding his addiction through crime.
Even if you don’t understand all the soccer terminology there’s no missing the underlying message of success and failure, hope and despair, trial and overcoming. Today Anthony has served his prison sentence. Released in April 2013 he is dedicated to trying to reach other young people with his story in the hope of preventing them and their families from going through the hell he and his family went through.
Heist and High – A true tale of prescription drug addiction, crime, prison, and a second chance at life – #bookreview
This is both an engrossing true story and an important cautionary tale about what can happen when someone becomes addicted to prescription painkillers.
Anthony Curcio was an outstanding high-school athlete and promising college football player who quickly became addicted to Vicodin after suffering a relatively minor sports injury.
Heist and High clearly and graphically recounts his painful descent, starting with lying about his need for refills and then stealing prescription painkiller medications from family and friends. Soon, he was both working and stealing to support a $15,000-a-month drug habit. But even that wasn’t enough. He meticulously planned and then carried out the robbery of a Brink’s armored car, taking about $400,000 in a heist that made national headlines.
The well-written book also explores how Curcio almost completely destroyed his family while he abused other drugs as well as painkillers and then ended up in federal prison, enduring hell-on-earth confinements for five years. Finally, it shows how Curcio began to turn his life around and strive to reconnect with the people on the outside who still loved him despite his crimes.
Published near the time of his release in 2013, Heist and High ends up as a story of hope, but one that no doubt also will be tested, likely for many years to come, by Curcio’s actions and his continued commitments to family, friends and others around him.
“My addiction was so ruthless,” he writes. “It robbed me of all my morals, all my integrity and really everything that made me human. It nearly robbed me of my entire life.”
– Si Dunn
Review of Heist and High by Anthony Curcio and Dane Batty
August 10, 2013
Dane Batty explores a niche of the true crime genre that most don’t go to – non-murder crimes. His first book dealt with an unsavory, almost sociopathic bank robber. This book – Heist and High is a twisting and winding trip in the world of prescription drug abuse.
Batty has a knack for writing about characters we love to despise – thus is the case of Anthony Curcio, co-author of the book. Here was as guy that had everything going for him. Class clown, star athlete, married to the prettiest girl in school. Curcio got hooked on prescription medication and, despite every opportunity life presented him, he flushed them down the toilet. This culminates with the opening of the book, where strung out Curcio is brazenly robbing a Brinks armored car.
At first I wanted to toss this book because it was hard to be sympathetic to Curcio. But I couldn’t put it down. Why? Well, this is a story about addiction and what dependency on drugs can do to a person.
Curcio’s character evolves in the story. Despite demonstrating great intelligence and drive, he turns his powers to the dark side – running scheme-after-scheme to get to his next high. He goes to rehab (often) and each time you wonder, “is he clean?” Then comes the slide back to his inner-demons.
By the end of the book you end up feeling somewhat sympathetic towards Curcio, but only that he missed every opportunity to turn his life around.
What was odd was what I learned. I profess little knowledge about the drug culture. This book takes you into the rackets involved with prescription drugs. The sheer creativity, determination and outright guts a user will go through to get the next high is disturbing – yet sickly entertaining. Like I said, I couldn’t put the book down. Any book that teaches you something is a good book, and this one falls into that category.
I found myself liking the book. It is the kind of book young people should read if only to give them role models to not follow. Dane Batty has done it again – sucking me in with a despicable character and unsavory story. If you are looking for a break with the traditional fare of true crime – this one is a good read.
Book Review: ‘Heist and High’ by Anthony Curcio and Dane Batty
By pfaulhaber, BLOGCRITICS.ORG, Published 10:00 pm, Thursday, October 3, 2013
New book tells of addiction, crime and recovery
Anthony Curcio had a monster in his head that roared and constantly demanded to be fed. He felt had no choice but to feed the beast that controlled his life. That’s how he describes his prescription drug addiction in a new book, Heist and High written with co-author, Dane Batty.
The book describes Curcio’s descent into a life of crime, “He sat staring at the useless prescription still lying on the coffee table. He had about two hours before Emily came home. What can I do? How do I get some pills? Then it hit him. And that’s the moment Anthony’s criminal career started.”
Curcio’s life started out with a great family, he was a well-liked athlete, was full of ambition and had many possibilities waiting for him in his adult world. Instead, he wasted every opportunity by listening to his addiction versus his supporting family, including a wife and two daughters who hung onto hope and Curcio through everything.
The book starts with the armored truck robbery that lands Curcio in a Federal Prison. Chapter two begins the story of Curcio’s charmed life living with his parents and siblings and how privileged his life was from the start.
“From day one I was dressed up in different outfits they would put me in, carried around and mothered by Mom and my two sisters. I’m told I hardly talked, just grunted and pointed at what I wanted. My mom tells me that everyone knew when I was up from a nap because they heard the thud of me hitting the floor after climbing out of my crib. I didn’t like being caged then either,” Curcio writes.
He marries his high school sweetheart and they have two daughters together. His entire family supports him and tries to help him throughout his addictions, which began early in his life. He had already accumulated seven charges for underage drinking before turning 21.
He went from alcohol to prescription drugs to an intense cocaine addition. His first foray into the criminal world came when he forged prescriptions using his computer. Various criminal activities just escalated from there until he was arrested and found guilty of holding up an armored truck.
He tries several different careers throughout his life to earn a living. He sold sports cards on eBay until that turned into forgery. He tried selling real estate and flipping houses before that turned into stealing appliances. From there, he got into mortgage fraud.
After writing over 700 fake prescriptions, he found cocaine. To keep his dealer close, he rents an apartment for him. At one time in his addiction he was spending $10,000 a month on cocaine. Curcio did go in and out of rehab and detoxed on his own a number of times.
He continued to try to hide his addiction and illegal activities from his wife and family. It’s hard to imagine that his wife wasn’t more aware of his activities. She does admit in some of her comments that she was in a state of denial at times.
This book grips the reader from the first page. It is a true story of how any life can be influenced without intent by the harrowing effects of drugs and alcohol. Curcio was fortunate to have a support system that seemingly never gave up on him. The text includes comments from his wife and others.
The story is revealing, sad, uplifting and shows the monstrous side of living with addiction. Curcio writes a message to readers, “My story is not sad. I was given a second chance at life. What is sad is that my story is not uncommon or unique. Millions like me are trapped in their own prisons. If this is you, I pray you find the courage and steal your life back. I’ll be cheering for you.”
The authors: Curcio has served his Federal Prison sentence and was released in April, 2013. Batty is a technical writer, biographer and a designer. This is his second book. His first book was Wanted: Gentleman Bank Robber. He holds an MBA from George Fox University and lives in Oregon.
A Tale of Crime And Addiction
Bruce Von Stiers 2014
Some time ago I reviewed a book about a gentleman bank robber. It was written by the guy’s nephew, Dane Batty. It was a well written chronicle of his uncle’s life of crime.
Dane has a knack for writing about crime and the human elements surrounding the criminals. He has co-written a new book about high crime and a unique criminal. The title of the book is Heist And High. Dane’s co-author is Anthony Curcio. Actually Anthony is listed as the book’s primary author and Dane as secondary. The book was published by Nish Publishing.
The book opens in the town of Monroe, Washington on a late September day in 2008. The reader gets treated to a Brinks truck robbery and the crook’s ensuing escape. Although the robbery went pretty much as planned, the getaway was anything but smooth. The robber was called “D.W. Tuber” for his use of an inflatable inner tube as part of his escape plan. The robbery was planned by Anthony Curcio and executed by him and a handful of other people. But that’s only the preface for the story behind Anthony’s life and what led up to the robbery.
The reader learns about Anthony’s early life and how he became the local jock hero at his school as he grew older. The book details the on and off again romance that Anthony had with Emily Chester, who he eventually married.
As the book progresses, the life of Anthony becomes anything but serene. He puts together heists for alcohol and set up parties for underage drinking. While he was in the spotlight for his athletic abilities, his budding career as a criminal was forming. Soon Anthony hit upon gambling and gaming tables as a money maker. This development makes Anthony seem like he’s on the way to become a major crime figure. But not exactly.
Along the way, Anthony suffered a major sports injury. This led to an addiction to high end pain pills. The addiction plays a major role in what happens later in Anthony’s life. Prescription drug thefts and scams are just a few of the things that are detailed in the book. Later things include real estate scams that dealt with the flipping of houses.
As you read this book, you might think how could this guy get so screwed up? He has a loving family, a terrific woman by his side and the potential to be someone great. But as I read through the life and times of Anthony Curcio, my thoughts were that this could have happened to any one of us. Poor life choices only make us more human. Although sometimes those choices provide detrimental results.
Interspersed with the narrative are quotes from both Anthony and Emily. Each of these quotes emphasize a particular piece of Anthony’s story. There are also pictures scattered throughout the book of Anthony and Emily and a few associated with the armored car robbery.
I found Heist and High to be more of a life lesson and less of a tome on crime. Anthony’s drug addiction provided the catalyst for his ultimate downfall. And while learning about the scams and Anthony’s various criminal activities were entertaining, the cause and effect of his addiction was what I considered the focal point for the book.
Heist And High is available at most online book retailers. For more information, visit Nish Publishing at www.NishPublishing.com
An unbiased but well-documented look at Curcio’s life, February 21, 2014
This review is from: Heist and High (Paperback)
Dane Batty is a writer who likes to document those instances of crime where there’s a gray area between good and evil. It’s easy to read about a drug arrest or a robbery in the paper and think that the person probably deserved what was coming to them; but Batty recognizes that the person in that blotter, undergoing criminal investigation, wasn’t simply born into a life of crime. The motivation to possess and sell drugs, or to commit violent crime, stems not from innate characteristics, but because of some inescapable force; in his books, Batty sees both sides of the story, from the inciting moment to the addicted actions of the individual. Thus he provides a complete backstory of the person who commits an interesting crime such as Anthony Curcio’s, allowing both for environmental contribution and the criminal’s own failures.
Heist and High comes after Batty’s terrific book Wanted: Gentleman Bank Robber, a tale that told the story of a spree of crimes and the life of the person that committed them. Batty picks out a similarly interesting and original criminal for his next book, the high-school star football player and family man Anthony Curcio. Told from the beginning of his jaunt into drugs and scams to the end when he was arrested, Heist and High takes a look at a person who would never be considered a stereotypical drug user or criminal.
Where else should Batty begin but the beginning of Curcio’s life? The book runs through Curcio’s early years as a football star, documenting the reasons for the start of his prescription drug use to show that nearly anyone can get hooked on painkillers and opiates if given the chance and the script. But the most important aspect of Batty’s narrative is that he is an unbiased documentarian; he doesn’t place blame on Curcio, the only time being when Curcio explicitly records it himself within the various interviews throughout.
Instead, the events of Curcio’s life – from his casual drug use, to the addiction, and finally to his arrest after a spectacularly planned robbery went awry – are simply stated, with asides from his friends and family. It is left to the reader to speculate and judge, but Batty is skilled at selecting the poignant moments in Curcio’s life that show it’s not always a terrible person that falls into a life of thievery. Heist and High teaches the reader that it’s all too easy to fall into a pattern that is nearly impossible to break, even with the best support system.