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Patrick P Stafford

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SCHOOL OF THIEVES (FILM TREATMENT/PILOT EPISODE)
By Patrick P Stafford
Thursday, May 08, 2008

Rated "PG13" by the Author.

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SCHOOL OF THIEVES: Action/Romantic Crime Drama - Completed Treatment.
The greatest thief and second-story man in the business escapes from prison and returns to Los Angeles to commit the crime of the century. With his former associates dead or retired and unable to find anyone who shares his special skills, he opens up a ďSchool of ThievesĒ and immediately begins training a slew of new young, would-be burglars. From
among his students he selects the five best who later join him in his daring plan. In the meantime, he strives to win back the heart of an old flame who has married his police lieutenant half-brother, and strives to avoid recapture from his half-brother and others who are hot on his trail. He is a busy man. But so is his half-brother, who has his own hands full working on keeping his wife, as well as his job--by preventing the crime of the century from being committed.



ď S C H O O L O F T H I E V E S ď


by

Patrick P. Stafford


Synopsis and Treatment
Action Suspense/Crime Drama
For Motion Pictures or Television
(Approximately 90 - 120 Minutes in Length)








Patrick P. Stafford
9250 Reseda Blvd. #169
Northridge, CA 91324
(818) 357-7132
email: marcelproust37.hotmail.com



COPYRIGHTED (C) BY PATRICK P. STAFFORD

CAST OF CHARACTERS

John Sinclair
Alan Strong
Monica Strong
Justine
Sylvia
Andrew Sinclair (in flashbacks)
Mrs. Sinclair (in flashbacks)
Inspector Rene
Sgt. Whitehart
Captain Becker
Lt. Rhodes
Sgt. Sandoval
Michael


SUPPORTING CAST

Francois
Susan Pinkington
Museum Curator
Extras At Funeral
Airport Personnel
News Reporters
Prison Guards
Cocktail Party Guests (flashback)
Joel Miser
Police Personnel
Extras In School
Museum Extras
T.V. Commentators


SETTING AND TIME OF STORY

In Santa Monica, Century City and Beverly Hills, California. Flashbacks occur in London, England, 20 to 25 years in the past. Other scenes in the present.


LOG LINE

SCHOOL OF THIEVES: Action/Romantic Crime Drama - Completed Treatment.
The greatest thief and second-story man in the business escapes from prison and returns to Los Angeles to commit the crime of the century. With his former associates dead or retired and unable to find anyone who shares his special skills, he opens up a ďSchool of ThievesĒ and immediately begins training a slew of new young, would-be burglars. From
among his students he selects the five best who later join him in his daring plan. In the meantime, he strives to win back the heart of an old flame who has married his police lieutenant half-brother, and strives to avoid recapture from his half-brother and others who are hot on his trail. He is a busy man. But so is his half-brother, who has his own hands full working on keeping his wife, as well as his job--by preventing the crime of the century from being committed.


SYNOPSIS OF STORY


John Sinclair, the worldís most skilled cat burglar and founder of the School of Thieves (secretly headquartered in Santa Monica, California), has just escaped from police custody after visiting the city to attend his motherís funeral. His half-brother, LAPD Lieutenant Alan Strong, and Inspector Rene from Interpol--the two men responsible for Johnís capture and imprisonment six years prior--are also present at the funeral.

It is the first time he has laid eyes upon his half-brother and Alanís wife, Monica, who John still loves and was engaged to marry before his untimely capture. They exchange restrained glances at the funeral, but the feelings they still have for each other are still evident. Later, after the somber ceremony is concluded and John, handcuffed and shackled, is being driven back to prison in a police van, he disables the accompanying guard, easily releases himself from his restraints and escapes the vehicle while it is stopped at a busy street intersection.

That same night Monica learns of Johnís escape while at home, from her placid husband Alan, who is a little more than shocked and upset from the event. Her respectful but dispassionate marriage to Alan is one she entered into because she believed it would one day provide her a means to help John escape or at least secure an early release, through Alanís connections with prison authorities and in law enforcement. To herself, she declared her undying love and devotion to John, and intention to ďwatch overĒ his little half-brother, and always be there for both of them should the occasion ever warrant.

It is a sacrifice made to John unbeknownst to either of them. Alan, who has slowly risen in police rank through politics and administrative skills, is neither a weak nor a bad man; just one who has always relied upon someone like John (and now Monica) to help him find his muddled way through life. And, though often at odds with his half-brother in years past but still enamored of John, Alan is aware of the disparate path each of them has chosen. And believes, albeit unhappily, that John deserves the punishment Fate and the Law have dealt him. His marriage to Monica was an easy alliance to enter into: his love for her is as deep as Johnís, though he is blind to her real motives for the union. Nevertheless, he knows it is an union bereft of mutual affections and marital bliss.

Alan and Inspector Rene are assigned the task of recapturing John. Monica hopes to be reunited with her true love, and that this time around he will give up his thieving ways. Meanwhile, John is just content to have his freedom restored and given an opportunity to reclaim his position as king of thieves and resume command of his infamous but little known School of Thieves. This time around, he plans the heist of the century and one that will go down in larcenist history! It will be his crowning achievement and one whose immense profit will allow him to finally retire and settle down...perhaps with Monica by his side.

As for Alan, if he can apprehend his half-brother, end both crime sprees and capture all involved, he may earn the captainís badge he has long sought, or at the very lease finish his career on a high note and perhaps even afford to enjoy the extravagant world cruise he has always envisioned.

Soon after Johnís escape a series of high-profile burglaries grips Los Angelesí west side. One is of a singular and violent manner: home invasion and murdering of rich society women. The other: intricate, well-thought-out heists of prominent jewelry stores and art galleries. Though disparate in nature, the police higher-brass believes John is master- minding both series of crimes. But Alan, despite a less than glowing opinion of his half-brother, knows the crime sprees are distinct and, if John is involved, it is the non-violent and less salient of the two events.

Justine and Sylvia, two former students and now Johnís seconds-in-command, ably and slyly assist him. And, along with other dodger students, complete their nocturnal robberies with skillful ease. They anticipate the premier heist their illustrious leader has in store, which John tells them will be his ďgrand finaleĒ and swan song. Afterwards, he will hand over leadership of the school to the thief who proves to be the best among them. Of his twenty-some students, none is more motivated than Justine and Sylvia in receiving this leadership and title. Or so, it would seem.

John is aware of the brutal home-invasion robberies occurring simultaneously with the capers he and his students are executing. There is some skill involved in the violent crimes, and he suspects that one of his students or former acquaintances may be the ringleader.

Upon rejoining the school (The Fontaine School of Fencing), John takes in a new student named Michael, who is recommended by Francois, the schoolís Master-At-Arms. During Johnís third jewelry heist Michael is slain--his demise caused by Justine, who leaves Michael locked inside a jewelry store wherein he is shot and killed by a security guard. Jealous of Michael who has earned Johnís unique favor, Justineís cruel deed does not go unnoticed. Sylvia, a confidant and Justineís one-time lover, suspects from Justineís demeanor and dubious character that he is involved in Michaelís death.

These and other intriguing subplots are interwoven into School of Thieves: a private investigator hired by Monica to follow her husband to help her find John and thwart Alanís potential intervention; Alanís police partner, Sgt. Whitehart, and his revengeful efforts to destroy Alanís career and get credit and advancement for capturing John; Alanís increasingly despondency over his job, marriage and the thankless task of having to apprehend his brother, while in the process losing everything he holds dear; and Johnís ongoing efforts to weed out the snitch or traitor in his school who is causing other students to be captured or killed (as with Michael) and is also somehow behind the home invasion crimes.


Johnís most famous heist to be is to steal the Pearl of Mandeville. The gem as well as a
great sum of cash are being kept under the most sophisticated security system in the world, at the huge, renowned estate of the Earl of Mandeville located in Beverly Hills.

Much will happen to interfere with Johnís well laid-out plans, not the least of which is Sgt. Whitehartís intervention; Sylviaís timely confrontation with Justine and his evil cohorts; Alan encounter with Justine, officious reporters and meddling Monica; and her timely intrusion and arrival in the neck of time to secure John from destruction and help him to save Alan from death and disgrace!

Johnís grand heist will meet with grand success, and in the process will create a lasting reconciliation with Alan who he literally saves from certain death. Alan is denied the fame and promotion he covets, but his reward will be bountiful: John and Monica--now united both amorously and professionally--give Alan the loot from the Mandeville estate! The disdain and dressing downs he has endured from his superiors are motivation enough for him to keep the cash, retire from the force, and take that vacation heís been dreaming of his whole life: an interminable cruise around the world.

His only loss is Monica. But her happiness is secured, not obscured. She is reunited with John, has a job now (keeping John honest and out of trouble) and made a slew of new friends: the remaining members of the School of Thieves. Alan is happy for her happiness as well as resigned to his fate--a fate not so honest but also not so poor! At least he regains some of his former dignity when he is able to return the stolen Pearl of Mandeville, although he learns later it is a fake and John has kept the original. But since he couldnít beat his half-brother, so why not join him? Well, at least once! Though but an one-time event and against his placid law-enforcement morals, it is a choice that is as much a surprise and happy conclusion to him as to the story.



TREATMENT OF STORY


John Sinclair is the king of thieves. He is the most famous jewel thief in the world and the most successful second-story man ever to prowl the balconies of the Italian Riviera and elsewhere. He is also the half-brother of Alan Strong, police lieutenant and commander of a special crime task force in the Santa Monica Police Department. Alan is the main man who captured John six years earlier and the main reason John Sinclair is serving a ten-year sentence at the federal penitentiary in nearby Ventura, California.

The two men confront each other after the passage of six years when John is allowed to attend the funeral of his and Alanís mother. It is a somber, rainy day and their motherís casket is lowered in the grave amidst a gathering of friends and relatives. John and Alan stand on either side of the casket and exchange stoic glances; but mostly Johnís attention is directed at another person at the funeral: she to whom he was betrothed before his untimely capture: Monica Strong.

Johnís father Andrew was a famous jewel thief in his own right; but now dead for some twenty years. Alanís father died before his birth. So the only ties both men ever had was their mother. Now with her gone, Alan feels certain that he and John are destined to remain professional enemies. He is a lawman. John is a criminal. Both men are not only opposed ideologically and professionally, but are in love with the same woman: Monica Strong, who is presently married to Alan. Alan suspects if it were not for Johnís capture and subsequent incarceration, in all probability it would be John and not he who would have claimed the hand of Monica.

Alan in many ways envies his half-brother. John is carefree, fearless and possesses a devil-may-care attitude. He is not obsessed with any glorious crusades or notions of making the world safe from criminals (like himself). But still John is a man of honor and polite dignity. John is everything Alan always wanted to be: educated, debonair, good-looking, and a man of action who takes what he wants from life.

Johnís only ill perception of Alan is of a man who never made the grade: a man always second-best at lifeís most important attainments: love, success and honor. Still, he loves and respects his half-brother although he is less than happy at the choice of careers Alan has chosen. But Alanís life history is not one of a successful law enforcement officer, but one chosen as the path of least resistance, of easy opportunity (especially in light of Alanís skills more as an administrator and political doer than as a man of action) and a path John sometimes believes Alan chose because it diametrically opposed his own. That he possesses the object of his love and life--Monica--changes nothing. He has little understood Alanís aspirations, but clearly understands his own, as well as his abilities to win back the heart of his love. Alan, he has decided, is more to be ignored and pitied than censored and chastised.


On opposing sides of the law, John and Alanís professional differences have rendered them lifelong adversaries. But Alan is no less an honorable man and he does respect his half-brother. This and Monica, and the common bond of family and mutual respect, also render them inseparable and destined to reunite as brothers-in-arms--above and beyond the reach of the Law.

The funeral reaches its conclusion and John is escorted back to a police van. He is handcuffed, shackled and been accompanied by three uniformed guards from the Penitentiary. Pausing before entering the vehicle, John, Alan and Monica exchange a final look. Then he is placed in the rear of the van which is partitioned from the driver and passenger area, and is seen secured therein and accompanied by a single guard.

Alan and Monica return to his unmarked squad car where his police partner Sgt. Whitehart is waiting. The large gathering is seen dispersing, and both vehicles leave the rainy, somber scene, heading off in different directions.

A Flashback ensues, depicting John and Alan 25 years earlier. They are present with their mother, attending a formal cocktail party held upon a large, opulent estate in England. The party occurs outdoors as a large assembly of distinguished guests dressed in formal attire and drinking Champaign and eating caviar, are seen engaged in pleasant conversations.

Mrs. Sinclair stands on a porch near the back entrance to the castle-like estate as John and Alan play innocently nearby, running between and around party guests. She turns to enter the home while engaged in conversation with a well-dressed, elderly man, and the two children pause to gaze at her. The elderly man reaches in his back pocket to withdraw a handkerchief and, while continuing to accompany Mrs. Sinclair into the house, his wallet slips out and onto the porch pavement.

John and Alan immediately hurry over to retrieve the lost wallet, both bending and seizing a hold of it at the same instant. Suddenly, both boys, their hands firmly held tight to each end of the wallet, are seen engaged in a tug-of-war as each wrestles to secure possession of the wallet.

Alan screams they must return the wallet to its owner. John smiles mischievously and remarks ďPossession belongs to the one whose hands are upon the goods!Ē Their mother and her companion overhear the ruckus and turn to confront the two quarreling children. At that very moment John notices their presence and lets go of the wallet. Before Alan can respond John declares that he found the wallet and was about to return it to its owner. But Alan prevented him from doing so in an effort to keep it for himself.

Mrs. Sinclair immediately takes the wallet from the stammering Alan and hands it to the elderly man. Then, believing Johnís impassioned story, she seizes Alan by the ear and leads him from the party and into the house to punish him. As John restrains a proud grin, Alan glances over his shoulder back at him--an expression of dejection and mild anger upon his features. He says, ďIíll get you someday for this!Ē And Johnís response is a carefree shrug.

Dissolve to: Back inside the police van John requests a cigarette from the prison guard seated across from him. His hands, handcuffed in front of him, he is able to place the cigarette in his mouth. The guard then lights the cigarette and John smiles, as an idea suddenly occurs to him.

The vehicle drives through a busy area of the city and is about to make a turn onto a freeway. At that moment John tosses the burning cigarette at the driver through an open slit in the metal partition separating each section of the van, and it strikes the right side of the driverís face.

The driver recoils and loses control of the car, and it plunges off an embankment. In that ensuing moment John is seen skillfully unlocking his handcuffs, while the guard across from him is thrown to the floor. In the next instant John places the handcuffs on the guard and secures him to a restraining bar, and then unlocks the shackles around his ankles. The vehicle is seen sliding down the embankment on its side as the guards in front are knocked unconscious.

The Vehicle slides to the embankment bottom and comes to a sudden halt. The front seat guards are unconscious, but Johnís companion struggles violently to prevent John from escaping. John chokes him into unconsciousness then removes his ring of keys, revolver and wallet, and unlocks the rear door and nonchalantly exits the vehicle. But before leaving the scene, he enters the driverís section and calls for an ambulance on the car radio. The driver regains consciousness and John jokingly remarks to him that although he is indeed a thief, he is not a callous or unsympathetic man. He wishes them no harm but continued good health, then quickly rips the transmitter out and bids the guard a fond farewell.

At this moment, a motorist pulls his car alongside the scene of the accident and exits and runs over to render aid. John skulks behind the approaching motorist and immediately jumps in the vehicle and speeds away. A moment later he is seen entering the freeway and merging into traffic--having made his escape a task of quick and easy work.

That evening in Alanís home, Monica answers the telephone. She summons Alan to the phone, and Alan he learns of Johnís escape that afternoon. Monica overhears the conversation and is seen smiling at the news. It is a smile unseen by Alan.

She is tall, elegant and strikingly beautiful. In marked contrast to most woman her age (30), hers is a sophisticated beauty and one that conceals refined intelligence and a sense of pride, as if she takes prides in being proud. But her relationship to Alan is more as friend than wife. And her affection for Alan is most often demonstrated as a balm to his stressful work and evenings of weary distress over a job that is fast becoming a source of frustration and moral outrage to him.

He has been a cop for over fifteen years and all ďthe ones that got away,Ē office politics and the systemís inability to keep harden criminals off the street, have eroded his sense of moral turpitude, and made him cynical over the years. The recent loss of his partner of ten years has only accentuated his resentment and the futility he feels for his work. He has only a few years until retirement and knows once this is behind him that there is little other interest life holds for him...except perhaps the dispassionate affections he receives from his wife.

This evening Alan learns of Johnís escape is spent as so many others: reading travel brochures advertising luxury cruises and faraway exotic destinations rife with adventure. His dream though is fast becoming another intangible: unless he is soon promoted to captain, is able to earn a decent retirement benefit or very soon wins a state lottery or the Irish Sweepstakes, his chances of fulfilling his dream of traveling the world on a steamship is slim and none. His future includes Monica, but he knows she does not share his dreams and his hold upon her is a tenuous one at best.

His meager salary as a cop has saved up little for him, although heís been able to lavish a few gifts upon Monica and accorded her the lifestyle which she is accustomed. But this and other expenses, plus poor investments, have taken their toll upon his expensive dream. And he sometimes thinks that John should have gotten away with his thieving exploits, kept his pilfered loot, and it should have been he who won Monicaís hand.

It has never occurred to Alan that Monica remained loyal and devoted regardless of his gifts and modest financial status. The degree of quality of his giving would have made little difference to her. The man she truly loved was behind bars. But Alan is the man she married and swore ďtill death do us part.Ē Still, he has always suspected it is a vow she made for reasons other than sincerely love and devotion to him. Being second best is always the worst thing that can happen to a man who strives to be worthy of the best. And Alan knows he lives in the shadow of one who is worthy of that title.

Strangely enough, Alan cannot dwell on the incredible news he has just received. He returns to reading travel brochures, taking long sips from a glass of hard liquor and occasionally glancing at a nearby photo of his recently deceased police partner.

Monica enters to speak with him and the conversation immediately turns to the subject of John. He informs her that he and his squad, along with Inspector Rene, have been given the task of finding John and placing him back behind bars. This should be simple of course: they only have to wait until John returns to the Fontaine School of Fencing. Alan suspects the school was a sometimes residence for John and from where he and his various associates in crime had organized and conducted jewel heists.

Her manner suggests a thought of contacting John and warning him of impending danger. And perhaps now she may have a way to do this if what Alan says about the fencing school is true . She was able, as she had always been, to disguise her feelings for John. Or so, she believes. But as before, Alan has long had his doubts. A love in doubt is never long kept hidden from the one who has reason for such doubt. Her dissembling behavior to Alan is not as successful as she would believe. But it is an issue that Alan has ignored because of pride.

But Monica never knew about school until now. When John was arrested and imprisoned six years earlier she could not, no matter how subtle and amorous her efforts, learn anything about it or Johnís activities, although she had suspected was a jewel thief.
At the time, Monica had just returned from Spain where she had met John. She had just earned a degree in psychology and intended to open a practice in Los Angeles and settle down with John with whom she had fallen madly in love.

Then she met Alan, who was immediately smitten with her. And the two saw much of each other in the intervening months while John was away either in Spain and Europe; or unbeknownst to her, engaged in his illegal profession--sometimes in the States or in Santa Monica at the fencing school.

And then, only a few days after she announced her undying love to John, he was arrested, and by none other than his half-brother Alan. Perhaps Alan was the better man six years prior, although John holds the notion it was his error in getting caught and not Alanís skill in catching him that led to his arrest and incarceration. At least, during his doing time the two people he cares most for would together and safe, although at the time John believed Monica marry his half-brother in anger at him. He never came out and really told her his true profession, and his carefree attitude at life was more than enough to make any devoted lover feel disappointed and betrayed.

Alanís placid nature and resignation to the less-than personally and professionally successful life he now endures only add to the guilt he feels over having been the primary instrument in his half-brotherís ill fate. He cannot undo it, but perhaps he can assuage some of his guilt by nurturing and caring for what his half-brother loved most: Monica. Deep inside though, he knows it is his selfishness at rule: his jealousy for years against John and his own desire to possess Monica, are his true motives. It is, apparently, a dilemma to which there is no solution. But now, a dilemma whose fire is enraged because John--the object of his jealousy and guilt--has escaped, and is a threat to the little pyre of happiness he has managed to keep.

He can remember many annoying incidents between him and John, like the one at the cocktail party with the wallet, but his resentment of John is equally amended by his deep respect and admiration for his gypsy-like half-brother. Johnís daring and devil-may-care attitude--while in years past was often annoying--are traits the bravest among us envy.

In another Flashback, Alan recalls being admonished by Johnís father--Alanís stepfather, Andrew Sinclair--for his failing to save the necessary allowance, as John had, to pay for his own passage to America. Evidently, being thrifty as a lesson only John had learned.

But Alan knew the source of Johnís thrifty acquisition of ready cash: he had stolen it, which at first is but a prelude to the occupation that will become his life. Alan could not reveal this to his step-father, of course. It would be ill-received and disbelieved: John could do no wrong in his fatherís eyes, while Alan erred in every step he made. And Alan who excelled only at sports in school, was even surpassed in this by his seemingly perfect half-brother. Their rivalry was extensive, but Alan never imagined it would one day place them on opposing sides of the law.

The family lost their English estate and subsequently traveled to and settled in America, in Santa Monica. Andrew paid for his teenage step-sonís expenses--much to Alanís embarrassment. And John secured his position as favored child. While Alan could never match Johnís ingenuity and ability to please his father, it was years later that Alan learned why they had a special bond: Andrew too had been a professional cat burglar and thief. And the reason the old man vanished one long ago summer is because he was slain by police while escaping from a heist he had committed in Beverly Hills.

Now John Sinclair has escaped! The master of thieves is free....and loose in Lieutenant Alan Strongís beautiful Santa Monica...and in the heart of southern Californiaís richest neighborhoods...predator to the most opulent museums, art galleries, jewelry shops and affluent residences in the world: Brentwood, Beverly Hills, Malibu and incomparable Bel Air!

John drives his stolen vehicle to downtown Santa Monica and is seen driving slowly past the Fontaine fencing school, casing the area for police and any other unwelcome surprises. He drives on and pulls in front of a jewelry store/pawn shop a short block away. He does not see the black sedan parked at the far end of the street which follows him past the fencing school. After parking, he enters the store. The sedan parks nearby, and an attractive man and woman exit the vehicle and soon enter the store after John.

Inside the store Alan greets his longtime friend Francois who, when not giving fencing lessons at Fontaine (he is the schoolís master-at-arms), operates the store as a pawn shop and front for those wishing to sell or purchase high-priced stolen goods.

The older man is overjoyed to see John again. And John quickly whispers to him about his escape. The man and woman from the sedan stroll up behind John and stand on either side of him. The slender, casually-dressed man suddenly and in a talented sleight of hand, reaches inside Johnís back pocket to remove his wallet. But John instantly seizes his wrist before the wallet can be withdrawn. Turning and smiling, John quickly recognizes his former apprentices and most accomplished students from Fontaine, Justine and Sylvia.

They embrace and exchange greetings. Then they all retire to a quiet back room where John is brought up to date on the school and other matters near and dear to him. He is told that many of his former students-in-crime have left the school and gone freelance. The school is still headquartered at the fencing center though some students only now visit to fence and socialize.

The school now has a secret safe house which is an hidden estate in Beverly Hills. And Francois still works for John and his colleagues, exchanging their expensive heists for cash from underground bidders.

Elsewhere, Inspector Rene from Interpol joins Alan at his office in the Santa Monica Police Department, that same day. Alanís boss, Captain Becker, awaits him, along with Lt. Rhodes, Sgt. Sandoval and Alanís new partner (for over a year) Sgt. Whitehart. Alanís task force is assigned the mission of tracking John down and recapturing him.

John returns to training students in the fine art of thievery, and is seen planning a series of new heists. A singularly violent crime spree unfolds as young, rich women are systematically robbed and murdered (four in all) within four days. Alanís task force is assigned this case too, which is separate from the heists John and his school are conducting. Somehow though, Alan feels both cases are somehow connected and John is involved with each.

Meanwhile, Monica initiates efforts to find John by hiring a private detective to follow her husband each day and to obtain information via any methods that might lead to Johnís whereabouts. To afford the cost of the detectiveís services, she is seen selling her personal jewelry, and coincidentally at Franciosí pawn shop. Francios recognizes her and soon thereafter informs John of this event.

The series of violent robberies includes home invasion and murder. A Susan Pinkington is the first victim, robbed of her $100,000 jewels and murdered savagely with her throat cut. Though Alanís colleagues believe John behind these violent crimes, Alan knows his half-brother is incapable of such acts. Still, evidence gathered or found at each murder scene would seem to indicate Johnís complicity.

New students have joined Johnís school of thieves. Great detail is taken to show some of the instructions he teaches them at the school. The various methods of successfully executing small acts of stealing such as pick pocketing, purse-snatching, car-jacking and even shoplifting are detailed. Then more difficult tasks are shown: scaling rooftops and the sides of buildings, picking locks, repelling on a rope, leaping from ledges, cracking safes and electronic security devises, and disabling electronic surveillance equipment.

All this is shown to enhance the storyís unique topic and embellish the interesting and incredible diorama of the professional cat thiefís life. John teaches his methods of escaping from handcuffs and various knots; of cutting glass and walking high wire; of practical martial art defenses against various physical attacks; and of mastering disguises of the body, voice and features.

Johnís newest and most promising apprentice is Michael, a young, eager recruit who has joined the school at the recommendation of his uncle, who is Francois. John immediately takes a liking and active interest in the young man and is impressed with Michaelís quick reflexes and ability to learn.

John engineers a major heist--the first since his escape. He, Justine, Sylvia, Michael and two other students conduct a raid against a local jewelry store in Beverly Hills. They are almost caught when Michael accidentally sounds an electronic alarm, but all escape before police arrive.

Alan and his men arrive at the scene soon after the completion of the heist. Fifty thousand dollars worth of merchandise is stolen and Alan knows without a doubt that this heist was engineered by John. Later, that same day another rich, society woman is robbed and murdered. And Alan and his force are called upon the scene.

His unfriendly partner, Sgt. Whitehart, who is already suggesting John is the culprit (and is aware of Alan and Johnís relationship) has little love for Alan and enjoys reminding his superior that John is not only a thief, but also now a murderer. And one Alan should not be pursuing lightly nor treat with kid gloves. In times past Alan has received the credit and glory for cases they together solved. But the truth is, Alan was instrumental in solving these cases while Whitehart most often was only in the way.

Once, Alan even caught Whitehart taking a bribe. But he let the police sergeant off, with a warning and a severe ďdressing down.Ē Whitehart, a jealous, inept and petty man, has little gratitude for his partner, but in fact is planting evidence at each violent crime scene, hoping to implicate Alanís half-brother, resolve the case and get all the glory himself, and bring Alan down in the process.

Each morning Joel Miser, the private investigator hired by Monica, follows Alan to work. And from there he follows Alan and Whitehart to locations in the city that bring them to scenes of the two crimes sprees occurring there and elsewhere on L.A.ís west side. On one occasion, Miser even sneaks into their patrol car and peruses the file on John that the detectives have compiled.

Without Whitehart in toll, Alan visits the fencing school which he has always suspected is Johnís hideout and more than just a mere fencing school. Miser follows Alan inside the school, unseen. Alan, once inside, immediately confronts Francios and questions him about Johnís whereabouts. In subtle tones he disclaims knowledge of John or his whereabouts, at the same time declaring if a man such a John was a personal friend, then loyalty and honor for such an one would be no different than the honor that does exist between thieves!

Alan dismisses him and his cryptic intonations, and wanders about the school--watching
some of the fencing bouts taking place and attempting to recognize any of the students there. Miser espies him from a distance, and then follows Francios who leaves and is seen exiting the facility and walking to his nearby pawn shop.

Meanwhile, Alan is mildly challenged to fence by a young, attractive woman, which he reluctantly agrees to do. He has fenced years earlier, having been taught by Johnís father who was an expert with foil and epee. Alan donís fencing mask and uniform and engages the female upon an empty mat situated amidst other mats and fencers in the large athletic auditorium.

John is fencing an opponent on a nearby mat. But he is unseen and unrecognized by Alan. While fencing the young woman with foil, Alan notices two men fencing expertly with epees on the adjacent mat. He then quickly defeats the woman (much to her surprise) and walks over to closely watch John and his opponent. Alan is told that John (not called by name) is a very formidable fencer and perhaps equal to master-at-arms Francios. Presently they are fencing a round robin: the winner of each bout taking on the next challenger, but Alan can next fence the winner if he so wishes.

John dispatches his younger opponent, but does not remove his mask nor speak. Alan immediately dons his mask, exchanges his foil for an epee, and enters the mat to cross swords with him. Though he slightly recognizes Johnís unique style of fencing, he has not yet imagined that his opponent is his half-brother. From a far-off doorway, Miser is seen watching the two men begin their bout. Alan pauses after being touched (hit) by Johnís sword, to remark upon his adversaryís unique and able use of the epee. His demeanor fails to belie his suspicion that he has indeed recognized John for whom he is.

This does not go unnoticed by Miser, who quickly enters an alcove, locates a public telephone can Monica on her cell phone. He learns she is out driving nearby, and informs her that he may have located John and for her to get to the fencing school as fast as possible.

After the first few minutes of swordplay, both Alan and John have three touches on each other. As they take a breather, Monica arrives outside the auditorium and is met by Miser who immediately points her to the two fencers. The many students and guests gathered in the auditorium (including Francios) have all stopped in their activities to watch the bout between Alan and John. Never before has any one of them seen such swordplay, except between John and Francios.

She briefly looks at Alan but then immediately recognizes John. John sees her and lets down his guard which elicits a quick touch from Alan. Alan is surprised by the ease of his touch on Johnís chest and follows Johnís gaze to Monica. He looks from one to the other in hurried glances and it suddenly dawns upon him that his opponent is none other than his half-brother John.

Francios and a number of students notice the entire event, and Francios motions them to intervene (he has met Alan previously in life and knows him to be a cop, but allowed the match to ensue as no protect came from John). The students step between the two fencers and John removes his mask. While stepping back he says to Alan: ďWell, thatís one match I could concede to you, dear brother. Donít expect further concessions!Ē

The students move aside and allow a clearing between the two men. Alan responds, ďNo need to concede, John. The outcome for this will be no different than your freedom will soon face: defeat and capture. En garde!Ē

Alan has discerned the situation: the students will not allow him to leave nor confront John in any other manner than with sword. With no other recourse but to quit or continue the match, Alan suddenly leaps forward and again crossing swords with his half-brother. The students look on with awe as John easily reposes Alanís ferocious attack. Monica and Miser, now only standing a few feet from the area of combat, look on with equal awe and interest, one fully enjoying the spectacle, the other ambivalent about the whole proceeding.

Then suddenly, with lightning speed and a skill not seen seconds prior, John defeats Alan with two consecutive touches upon his chest, all in the exact same location. Alan, angered and nonplused by Johnís seemingly effortless victory, lunges towards him, but is held back and restrained by Francios and his students. John engages Alanís epee and sends it flying out of his half-brotherís grasp, then roughly removes Alanís mask.

He slowly removes his helmet and glares at his half-brother, stating for all to hear: ďYou got the girl, I got an education. A freedomless one at that. But the odds were unequal, as I was captured and forced to suffer so you could to be a champion of law and order! I pity you, half-brother, for your empty victory and unhappy lot in life. But I love you nonetheless. You could never best me with swords. Nor will you in the game of life. Your prior luck will not guarantee a repeat performance!Ē

John tosses his mask and epee at Alanís feet, waves to Monica and then quickly hurries from assembled onlookers and auditorium while the others block Alan from pursuit. They slowly disperse and Alan is left watching them turn their backs to him; and left to gaze at Monica at the far end of the room. He sees the expression condemnation and remorse upon her face. But he pretends not to know for whom these emotions are directed.

The auditorium becomes empty and Alan is seen poised there, looking down at Johnís discarded mask and sword. He tosses his own gear aside, picks up Johnís epee and slowly exits the scene. In the alcove ahead of him he sees Monica conversing with Miser, then the P.I. leaving the premises out the front. She sees her husband, but turns from him and exits the building too.

Alan, not confronting his wife, enters his own vehicle outside. Before entering her own which is parked across from his, she levels her glance upon Alan once again, but this time her eyes are filled with resignation and regret.

That evening, John along with his gang of student thieves conducts another raid. This time upon a local art gallery. In this scene, Michael--who clearly John has grown fond of and whom Justine has tenured a growing jealous for--is killed after the theft is completed. Michael is shot dead by a night watchman after being left locked inside the gallery by Justine. Justineís jealousy is but another flaw in his character which soon will reveal him as the storyís main antagonist and both John and Alanís nemesis.

Justine escapes and makes it to the awaiting vehicle and joins John, Sylvia and the others inside. He quickly tells John that Michael was shot and killed before he could follow him out the window onto the roof with Justine. Sylvia casts Justine a dubious look, for she has long suspected her former lover of misconduct and selfish motives in the past. For she has caught him repeatedly cheating on her (which destroyed their amorous relationship) and on two occasions his secretly pocketing loot from heists executed under the schoolís auspices.

John begins preparations for the final and most elaborate heist of his career--one he plans to make his last and secure him the wealth upon which to retire from his thieving ways. The crime entails stealing the Pearl of Mandeville (a gem worth over $1,000,000) and over $100,000 in cash, both held in sophisticated safe at the private estate of the Earl of Mandeville in Beverly Hills. The plan will require the participation of many of Johnís twenty students and is to be executed on an evening when the Mandeville estate will be vacated and without physical security personnel.

After completing their last heist before the grand finale, Sylvia overhears Justine in whispered conversation with two other student thieves. They intend to go along with Johnís plans until the heist is completed and then keep the stolen goods for themselves. Justine informs the two that he will take personal care of John. He plans to plant a bomb in Johnís car. This will be set to explode after all of them have returned from the heist, divide up the loot between themselves and depart the school in separate vehicles.

Justine is assigned the task of stealing the gem and replacing it with a fake. The other students will be involved disabling security, keeping watch and securing the other loot they may obtain throughout the premises. Afterwards, Justine is to give the gem to John; the rest of the bounty to be evenly divided up among the rest of them.

These and other plans he explains to his two co-conspirators. He has contacted Sgt. Whitehart and informed him of the date, time and location of the heist. But his greed knows no bounds, for although he has also told Whitehart of Johnís intention to return to Fontaine to divide up the loot--he intends to keep all of it for himself.

Whitehart believes he will obtain both the gem and stolen money as well as capture John and his accomplices. And, with Alan out the way (whom he will send on a foolís errand), he will receive all the credit and kudos for foiling the heist and ending the crime spree. But Justine plans to give John the fake gem and keep the real one for himself, and to exchange counterfeit cash for the loot taken from the Mandeville estate. When the fake jewel is found among the charred remains that will be John and his car, Justine will be long gone and out of the country...and out of reach of stupid, opportunistic cops like Whitehart!

Whitehart, on the other hand, intends to keep the Pearl of Mandeville for himself...the spoils of war he tells himself and a nice bonus to the commendation and promotion he is sure to earn (not to mention the pleasure of seeing Alan demoted and maybe even given an early retirement for his negligence in handling both series of robberies).

Sylvia does not find an opportunity to speak with John until all of them are on their way to the estate after completing the last heist before the final one planned at the Mandeville estate. But she manages to slip away from Justine and the other students and confront and inform John of all sheís learned, and do so unbeknownst to anyone else.

Meanwhile, Monica learns of the planned heist from Miser who inadvertently learns of it after following Sgt. Whitehart to a secret meeting he has with Justine. Miser even tapes the meeting and this he plays for Monica to hear. In the recording they learn that Whitehart has been Justineís confident all along and has even aided him in the home invasions which Justine committed and led. Whitehart has aided Justine by keeping him informed of police movements and causing authorities to arrive late at the crime scenes. And as well by misleading Alan and investigators that John committed each crime.

Whitehartís motives extend beyond his own revenge against Alan and his seeking acclaim and advancement. He has received a percentage of the profit Justine and his gang has obtained from each home invasion heist. As for Justine, it is clear he is far more than just a thief and illustrious member of Johnís organization. He is also a psychopathic murderer and jealous, manipulative rival to John and his ďhonor among thievesĒ code of conduct.

Sgt. Whitehart spots Miser after the P.I. leaves a phone booth near Whitehartís meeting with Justine (from where he has telephoned Monica and played the recording for her). He recognizes Miser from having spotted him earlier following Alan. Now he leads the P.I. into a back alley and forces Miser to tell him everything. Which Miser does after Whitehart beats it out of him. But Miser doesnít tell him he has informed Monica about his plans with Justine. He only says he left a message for Monica to contact him. Before Whitehart strangles Miser to death, he manages to convince the cop this is the truth.
Whitehart takes the recorded tape from Miserís dead body and, thinking his and Justineís plans are safe, leaves the scene to prepare for that eveningís momentous event.

After work Alan returns home and is confronted by Monica, who informs him of what she has learned from Miser. With regards to Whitehart, Alan is at first in disbelief. But with a little angry urging from Monica, is able to take in the whole situation and tell her that he plans to intervene--not on Johnís behalf--but to thwart Whitehart and Justine.

Monica is a little more than disappointed and upset with her indecisive husband and his holier-than-thou attitude about the law and disdain for Johnís safety. It is enough for her to mock and belittle him, and finally declare her intentions of leaving him and filing for divorce. Then and there Alan realizes his worst suspicions are true : Monica is still in love with John. And her love for John surpasses any affections she may have once felt towards him. At least heís been a devoted husband and an honorable man. Her response to this, though, is a grievous wound to him. ďHonor can be damned,Ē she screams. ďIt is love...and love above all else which makes John a better man than you! That, and all heís given up so we both could live a honorable life!Ē She hastily turns from him and exits the house, leaving him stunned and distraught.

Outside she is seen entering her car and hurriedly driving off, as Alan exits their home and watches and wonders what hasty errand she is headed to. At that moment, Whitehart drives up, exits his car and confronts Alan. He holds a gun on Alan and motions his superior to leave with him in his vehicle.

Monica stops at a public telephone and calls the Fontaine school. Night has fallen, and John and his gang of thieves have already departed the school and are en route to the Mandeville estate. An expression of comprehension and resolve line her features, and she returns to her car and speeds off.

En route to the Fontaine school Whitehart reveals his true nature to Alan, detailing his previous involvement with Justine, of their masterminding the home invasion heists and his previous plans to ruin Alanís career and elevate his own. Plans change sometimes, though. And the plan now is to meet up with Justine at the school after he and the others return from their heist. Then he will secure the loot for himself and see to Johnís and his demise. Things would have been different if not for Alanís meddling wife whom he believes told Alan about his relationship with Justine.

They arrive in front of the school and park across the street. The street is dark and unoccupied, and a large strobe light illuminates the parking and entrance area in front. During the ride and presently, Whitehart is in the passenger seat and holding the gun on Alan. He gloatingly informs Alan about the Mandeville heist currently in progress and mentions how much he has always appreciated Alan for being a patient man. And directs Alan to be patient and very quiet while they wait for what will soon become the coup de gras of both their mundane careers.

Meanwhile, John and his fellow thieves arrive outside the estate in four vehicles, Sylvia and the others in two vehicles, and John and Justine in solo cars. Immediately, they commence their synchronized activities to enter and rob the estate. A high, double entrance gate fronts the sprawling estate, and a ten-foot stone wall encircles it. They enter via a grated side door after incapacitating a security guard who mans a small guard shack. One of Johnís gang, wearing a similar uniform, takes up the unconscious guardís station in the shack, while the rest of them quickly and carefully enter.

John, Sylvia, Justine and the seven other thieves spread out and hurry across the fifty yards of grassy lawn that separate the three-building estate from the front gate and encircling stone wall.

They are seen going proficiently about their business: avoiding security cameras and other devices, then disabling them, and entering the main building via the front door and entrances on the second and third-floor balconies which they climb to reach.

Inside the estate John and his gang employ numerous electronic devices and tools of their trade to bypass and disable the various security apparatus situated therein. The building is huge and consists of three floors and long connecting corridors which encircle and look down upon a large marbled-floor room. Seven security guards patrol the premises and two of these are knocked unconscious by three of Johnís students. Another is non-lethally dispatched by John who confronts the man in a sprawling library on the third floor where one of the estateís two main safes is located.

Elsewhere, Justine, Sylvia and two students encounter two night guards. The guards shoot and kill the two students, then Justine shoots kills both guards with a silencer he has brought with him. It is against Johnís teachings to carry guns and all his students were taught never to use lethal force in their profession. Sylvia threatens Justine, telling him he has gone against the code of the school by killing the guards.

Then, unable to control her pent-up emotions further, she informs Justine she knows of his plans to murder John and appropriate the heist for himself. He savagely beats her with his pistol until she is dead then locates the safe in an adjacent study. He deftly cracks the safe and removes the Pearl of Mandeville, leaving in its place a calling card with Johnís name and picture upon it. He leaves the room, pocketing the gem and, stepping over Sylviaís bludgeoned body, smiles and leaves the gun at her side.

Outside the estate and across from the guard shack and grated entrance, Monica pulls up and parks near Justineís car. She is unaware it is Justineís automobile but notices it and three other cars are the only ones parked there. She is unseen by the gang member in the guard shack and waits hidden near Justineís automobile.

Justine exits the building and darts across the dark lawn towards the entrance gate. He climbs over the bush-lined stone wall and, unseen, hurries over to his parked car and where Monica is hidden.

Inside the estate we see John--with a large bag filled with cash and other loot--entering the room where Justine and the others had entered moments earlier.

Back outside Justine confronts Monica near his vehicle. He quickly subdues and renders her unconscious and places her in the back seat of the car.

John is knelling beside Sylviaís body, his face limned in rage and emotion. He picks up the gun and puts it in his belt, then heads into the study.

Justine speeds from the scene, with Monica lying unconscious in the back seat of his car. He holds in his hand an electronic remote with which to activate the security alarms at the estate.

John exits the study and returns to Sylviaís body. She suddenly moves and issues a groan--she is not dead! Gasping for breath and barely able to speak, he presses his ear near her mouth and hears her whisper to him. A moment later alarms inside the building and elsewhere begin blaring and, as she finishes speaking and dies, he kisses her upon the forehead and hurries from the room.

From a third-floor balcony John rappels down a rope to the ground below. Ahead of him are three of his students running at full steam across the wide lawn and to escape outside the estate.

Back at the school we see Alan and Whitehart in his vehicle and still waiting in front. Justine arrives at the school and immediately carries Monica from his car and into the building. Alan watches and cannot believe his eyes when he recognizes Monica.

He pleads for Whitehart to give him a cigarette, which his former partner reluctantly does. Whitehartís attention is upon Alan, but for an instant is diverted when two other vehicles arrive: those transporting John and his other surviving. In that instant Alan tosses the cigarette in Whitehartís face. It hits him in the eye and the gun is knocked up by Alanís quick movement. A short struggle ensues, but Alan is finally able to render Whitehart unconscious when he karate chops him in the throat. Whitehart slumps forward, unconscious and almost dead.

Alan exits the car and hurries across the street. All the thieves have entered the building, with John in the lead, and he is seen cautiously moving through the building and searching for Justine, unaware that he has Monica with him.

Alan is seen searching under Johnís vehicle for the bomb. He finally finds and defuses it, then pockets the small device inside his coat pocket.

Inside the school other students and Francois join John and his companions. Justine then enters the gym where they are gathered and tosses the fake gem to John. As they divide up the spoils of the heist John removes from his pocket a similar looking gem, which he displays for all of them to see. He states that he stole it the prior evening, having considered that he might be betrayed by Justine. Francios steps in and tells Justine that he has been following him for quite some time and kept John informed of his clandestine meetings with Whitehart and his last home invasion heist. John adds to this revelation--as he tosses the fake gem back to Justine--that he knows he caused Michaelís death and murdered Sylvia.

The assembled onlookers close in ranks around Justine, but before they can seize him he grabs the large bag of cash and escapes from their grasp and from the gym, and hurries out the front exit. John, Francios and their comrades immediately give pursuit, with John in the lead.

Outside as John and the others emerge on the front steps to the school Alan is seen in violent confrontation with Justine. The bag of money is at their feet and a revolver lays a few feet nearby. Johnís restrains the others and allows Alan to continue his battle with Justine.

Justine suddenly knocks Alan to the ground and leaps and rolls to retrieve the gun. He rolls to a kneeling position and takes quick aim at the policeman. Just as he is about to shoot him John pulls out a knife and throws it across the twenty-yard distance to where it strikes and pierces Justineís right arm. Justine drops the gun, tears the knife out and flees to his car, pausing for a second to cast John a sinister smile.

John, about to leap from the steps to pursue Justine, is suddenly restrained by Monica who has joined them from inside. Alan, retrieving the bag of money and gun, holds up a hand to signal John and the others not to give pursuit. At the same moment, we see Whitehart stumble over to Justineís car and enter the passenger side just as Justine guns the motor.

Instantly the automobile explodes! John grabs Monica and they and the others all hit the ground to protect themselves from the explosion and flying debris. Alan is the first to regain his feet and immediately sees Monica lying in Johnís arms. In the distance, police sirens are heard.

Regaining their composure, John informs Francios and his students to hightail it away; he will contact them later and when again it is safe to do so. While speaking, he notices Alan and the gun he is holding and pointing at him. He orders, ďThe rest of you can go. Iím only interested in my dear half-brother. Heís the big fish in this tiny pond.Ē The group of them departs via the other vehicles parked nearby while Alan motions with the gun for them to do so.

A second after they are gone, another explosion erupts from Justineís automobile. The three protagonists are distracted from their positions, and John immediately leaps from the steps upon Alan and seizes the gun from his hand.

The two men stand facing each other, their situations now reversed. Flames soar from the burning car and fallen debris, and the faces of all three are illuminated in wild expressions. Alan finds himself still holding the bag of cash. But more noticeable is the gun John has pointed at him now.

ďWell, I guess this is one big fish whoís got the drop on a small-town cop!Ē jokes John. Shall we call it even? And part our separate ways on good terms?Ē

Alan glances at Monica and sees the supplicating expression and sympathetic smile on her face, then glances again at the bag of money in his hand.

ďI guess itís about time for a guy who canít beat Ďem, to join Ďem,Ē he responds. Saying this, he slings the bag over his shoulder and turns to go.

Then Monica, smiling warming now, asks Alan how Justineís vehicle blew up. She thought the bomb had been placed in Johnís car. Alan just smiles and shrugs, and remarks ďAllís fair in love and war, my dear. And things have been getting mixed up and misplaced for some time now. If thereís not honor among thieves, at least thereís justice. And [smiling at John] both our associates got their comeuppance!Ē

The police sirens draw close. John pockets the gun and retrieves his thrown knife, then motions for Monica to join him. They move to enter his automobile, then John pauses to shake Alanís outstretched hand. Letting go, Alan finds he is holding the Pearl of Mandeville. And John says to him: ďDidnít really need it or the money anyway. Just wanted to see if I still had what it takes to carry it off. So now hereís your opportunity to make good with your bosses and get that promotion youíve been slaving for all these years.Ē

Alan immediately responds that he could care less about his bosses or any damn promotion. Besides: ďPossession belongs to the one whose hands are upon the goods! You got the girl, and now Iíve got the money!Ē

John and Monica cannot believe their ears, and laugh. But John quickly understands the allusion and smiles back at his brother. Alan turns and begins walking away as John and Monica enter their car and then drive off. The first police squad car arrives at the scene, and quickly Alan hides the bag of money under his coat and pockets the gem.

Alan watches John and Monica drive away, unmolested by the arriving police. Arriving at his parked vehicle, he carefully and unseen stashes the bag of cash in the trunk. Shutting the trunk door a squad car pulls up alongside with Captain Becker, Lieutenant Rhodes and Inspector Rene inside. Becker yells at him, wanting to know what has transpired and where Whitehart is.

Alan points to the burning vehicle, then flippantly remarks, ďAs for what transpired... well, thatís for someone else who knows and for you to find out, I guess!Ē Saying this, he removes his police badge and tosses it in Rhodesí lap. ďHey, youíve been wanting me to retire. Well, youíve just got your wish! My final report will be on your desk in the morning. Oh, by the way, I found this on the steps of the school. [He tosses the gem also to Rhodes] Guess you must know there was a robbery at the Mandeville Estate tonight. Consider this my last service to God and city.Ē

Becker demands where he is off to, and Alan nonchalantly alludes that a long awaited vacation and extended ocean voyage await him! He disdainfully turns from them, enters his car and drives slowly off, the three officers watching him leave with questioning and bewildered expressions.

Epilogue: Some weeks later Alan is seen on the deck of a luxury liner as it leaves San Pedro Port. He is shown walking to his cabin, entering and immediately finding two gift-wrapped packages on his bunk. One is long, and the other small about the size of a ring box. Before he can deal with the two packages an orderly enters his open cabin and gives him a communiquť.

It is from Captain Becker, and reads: ďBe informed that the gem you placed in our possession from the Mandeville heist is a clever imitation. And the authentic Pearl has not been found. You may be retired and off the force, but we expect an explanation and assistance from you ASAP!Ē

Alan falls upon his ship bunk and begins to laugh out loud and hysterically, shaking his head and considering the ruse that John has played them all. He then remembers the two packages and sits up to unwrap them.

He first opens the larger box and finds inside a shining new epee, with the hilt personally engraved with the words: ďTo My Brother... .May His Triumphs Be Many.Ē

He smiles, knowing who the gift is from, and then opens the smaller package. Inside is an old, worn wallet, with a note. The first message on the note reads: ďI did give this back years ago...but it fell into my hands again. Itís now yours...With warmest regards, John.Ē

The second written message is from Monica, and reads: ďTo my former husband and loyal friend: we achieve our true st dreams when we pursue them with all our heart and soul. May you find all your dreams fulfilled...as mine now are. We have both found what we wanted out of life. We both know our dreams were worth waiting for.Ē

Alan smiles again and placeís the wallet inside a suitcase containing neatly bound stacks of cash, left over from the Mandeville heist. There is a knock upon his open door, and he ushers in a beautiful woman he had already met on board. As he closes the door and escorts the lovely female into his cabin, he remarks to himself: ďCaptain Becker, youíre just going to have to wait. This is one dream thatís got a long ways to go!Ē


T H E E N D

















ď S C H O O L O F T H I E V E S ď

PILOT SCRIPT Ė EPISODE 1

ďTHOU SHALT NOT STEALĒ

10-Minute Episode

by

Patrick P. Stafford


Action Suspense/Crime Drama
For Motion Pictures or Television
(Approximately 110 Minutes in Length)






Patrick P. Stafford
9250 Reseda Blvd. #169
Northridge, CA 91324
(818) 357-7132
email: marcelproust37.hotmail.com


COPYRIGHTED (C) BY PATRICK P. STAFFORD

CAST OF CHARACTERS

John Sinclair
Alan Strong
Monica Strong
Justine
Sylvia
Inspector Rene
Sgt. Whitehart
Michael


SUPPORTING CAST

Captain Becker
Lt. Rhodes
Sgt. Sandoval
Francois
Denkins
Andrew Sinclair (in flashbacks)
Mrs. Sinclair (in flashbacks)
Susan Pinkington
Museum Curator
Joel Miser


SETTING AND TIME OF STORY

In Santa Monica, Century City and Beverly Hills, California. Flashbacks occur in London, England, 20 to 25 years in the past. Other scenes occur in the present.


LOG LINE

SCHOOL OF THIEVES: Action/Romantic Crime Drama - Completed Treatment.
The greatest thief and second-story man in the business escapes from prison and returns to Los Angeles to commit the crime of the century. With his former associates dead or retired and unable to find anyone who shares his special skills, he opens up a ďSchool of ThievesĒ and immediately begins training a slew of new young, would-be burglars. From
among his students he selects the five best who later join him in his daring plan. In the meantime, he strives to win back the heart of an old flame who has married his police lieutenant half-brother, and strives to avoid recapture from his half-brother and others who are hot on his trail. He is a busy man. But so is his half-brother, who has his own hands full working on keeping his wife, as well as his job--by preventing the crime of the century from being committed.


SYNOPSIS OF STORY


John Sinclair, the worldís most skilled cat burglar and founder of the School of Thieves (secretly headquartered in Santa Monica, California), has just escaped from police custody after visiting the city to attend his motherís funeral. His half-brother, LAPD Lieutenant Alan Strong, and Inspector Rene from Interpol--the two men responsible for Johnís capture and imprisonment six years prior--are also present at the funeral.

It is the first time he has laid eyes upon his half-brother and Alanís wife, Monica, who John still loves and was engaged to marry before his untimely capture. They exchange restrained glances at the funeral, but the feelings they still have for each other are still evident. Later, after the somber ceremony is concluded and John, handcuffed and shackled, is being driven back to prison in a police van, he disables the accompanying guard, easily releases himself from his restraints and escapes the vehicle while it is stopped at a busy street intersection.

That same night Monica learns of Johnís escape while at home, from her placid husband Alan, who is a little more than shocked and upset from the event. Her respectful but dispassionate marriage to Alan is one she entered into because she believed it would one day provide her a means to help John escape or at least secure an early release, through Alanís connections with prison authorities and in law enforcement. To herself, she declared her undying love and devotion to John, and intention to ďwatch overĒ his little half-brother, and always be there for both of them should the occasion ever warrant.

It is a sacrifice made to John unbeknownst to either of them. Alan, who has slowly risen in police rank through politics and administrative skills, is neither a weak nor a bad man; just one who has always relied upon someone like John (and now Monica) to help him find his muddled way through life. And, though often at odds with his half-brother in years past but still enamored of John, Alan is aware of the disparate path each of them has chosen. And believes, albeit unhappily, that John deserves the punishment that Fate and the Law have dealt him. His marriage to Monica was an easy alliance to enter into: his love for her is as deep as Johnís, though he is blind to her real motives for the union. Nevertheless, he knows it is an union bereft of mutual affections and marital bliss.

Alan and Inspector Rene are assigned the task of recapturing John. Monica hopes to be reunited with her true love, and that this time around he will give up his thieving ways. Meanwhile, John is just content to have his freedom restored and given an opportunity to reclaim his position as king of thieves and resume command of his infamous but little known School of Thieves. This time around, he plans the heist of the century and one that will go down in larcenist history! It will be his crowning achievement and one whose immense profit will allow him to finally retire and settle down...perhaps with Monica by his side.

As for Alan, if he can apprehend his half-brother, end both crime sprees and capture all involved, he may earn the captainís badge he has long sought, or at the very lease finish his career on a high note and perhaps even afford to enjoy the extravagant world cruise he has always envisioned.

Soon after Johnís escape a series of high-profile burglaries grips Los Angelesí west side. One is of a singular and violent manner: home invasion and murdering of rich society women. The other: intricate, well-thought-out heists of prominent jewelry stores and art galleries. Though disparate in nature, the police higher-brass believes John is master- minding both series of crimes. But Alan, despite a less than glowing opinion of his half-brother, knows the crime sprees are distinct and, if John is involved, it is the non-violent and less salient of the two events.

Justine and Sylvia, two former students and now Johnís seconds-in-command, ably and slyly assist him. And, along with other dodger students, complete their nocturnal robberies with skillful ease. They anticipate the premier heist their illustrious leader has in store, which John tells them will be his ďgrand finaleĒ and swan song. Afterwards, he will hand over leadership of the school to the thief who proves to be the best among them. Of his twenty-some students, none is more motivated than Justine and Sylvia in receiving this leadership and title. Or so, it would seem.

John is aware of the brutal home-invasion robberies occurring simultaneously with the capers he and his students are executing. There is some skill involved in the violent crimes, and he suspects that one of his students or former acquaintances may be the ringleader.

Upon rejoining the school (The Fontaine School of Fencing), John takes in a new student named Michael, who is recommended by Francois, the schoolís Master-At-Arms. During Johnís third jewelry heist Michael is slain--his demise caused by Justine, who leaves Michael locked inside a jewelry store wherein he is shot and killed by a security guard. Jealous of Michael who has earned Johnís unique favor, Justineís cruel deed does not go unnoticed. Sylvia, a confidant and Justineís one-time lover, suspects from Justineís demeanor and dubious character that he is involved in Michaelís death.

These and other intriguing subplots are interwoven into School of Thieves: a private investigator hired by Monica to follow her husband to help her find John and thwart Alanís potential intervention; Alanís police partner, Sgt. Whitehart, and his revengeful efforts to destroy Alanís career and get credit and advancement for capturing John; Alanís increasingly despondency over his job, marriage and the thankless task of having to apprehend his brother, while in the process losing everything he holds dear; and
Johnís ongoing efforts to weed out the snitch or traitor in his school who is causing other students to be captured or killed (as with Michael) and is also somehow behind the home invasion crimes.


Johnís most famous heist to be is to steal the Pearl of Mandeville. The gem as well as a
great sum of cash are being kept under the most sophisticated security system in the world, at the huge, renowned estate of the Earl of Mandeville located in Beverly Hills.

Much will happen to interfere with Johnís well laid-out plans, not the least of which is Sgt. Whitehartís intervention; Sylviaís timely confrontation with Justine and his evil cohorts; Alan encounter with Justine, officious reporters and meddling Monica; and her timely intrusion and arrival in the neck of time to secure John from destruction and help him to save Alan from death and disgrace!

Johnís grand heist will meet with grand success, and in the process will create a lasting reconciliation with Alan who he literally saves from certain death. Alan is denied the fame and promotion he covets, but his reward will be bountiful: John and Monica--now united both amorously and professionally--give Alan the loot from the Mandeville estate! The disdain and dressing downs he has endured from his superiors are motivation enough for him to keep the cash, retire from the force, and take that vacation heís been dreaming of his whole life: an interminable cruise around the world.

His only loss is Monica. But her happiness is secured, not obscured. She is reunited with John, has now an important job (keeping John honest and out of trouble!) and has made a slew of new friends: the remaining members of the School of Thieves, who also must take the road less traveled by thieves! Alan is glad for her happiness, as well as resigned to his fate. A fate not so honest, but also not so poor! At least he regains some of his former dignity when he is able to return the stolen Pearl of Mandeville, although he learns later it is a fake and John has kept the original. But since he couldnít beat his half-brother, why not join him? Well, at least once! Though but a one-time event and against his placid law-enforcement morals, it is a choice that is as much a surprise to him as it is a happy conclusion to the story.


DESCRIPTION OF MAIN CHARACTERS

JOHN SINCLAIR -- Main Protagonist: 42 years of age, dark-haired with whitening sideburns, extremely attractive and athletic in built. He is basically laconic, educated and dapper in manner, but with a keen sense of humor and sporting a very outgoing but amicable and devil-may-care attitude; is also sensitive and thoughtful, but hard as nails when called upon to be so. He is the archetype hero who stands alone, fears no other man, is resourceful and initiative-taking, and a man of honor

MONICA STRONG -- Main Female Protagonist: about thirty-six years of age, dark-haired, slender built and tall, the kind of beauty that stands out and makes every head turn. She is of quiet but strong-will demeanor, feminine but assertive when necessary, and educated and articulate in discourse and personality.

ALAN STRONG -- Second Protagonist: stocky built and slightly overweight man about forty years old with a frail ego, placid and self-conscious kind of personality, but sporting a good heart and keen sense of compassion for others. He a dedicated cop but not a hard-nosed one. He is an honorable person, but a person walking the edge of cynicism and professional apathy.

JUSTINE -- Supporting Role: medium height, stocky built, blond haired antagonist, with an east coast accent and superior attitude, who says little but talks fast, looking like someone always with something to hide or a secret to share. His demeanor is one of treachery and pretense.

SYLVIA -- Supporting Role: of French descent, she is short in height and of slender but muscular frame, blonde hair and blue eyes, middle thirties in age, always quick to smile and eager to please, she is devoutly loyal to John and the School Of Thieves.

INSPECTOR RENE -- Supporting Role: French police inspector from Interpol, distinguished looking with white hair and moustache, of slender built and a nervous personality, he is around 60 years of age and with a very talkative nature.

SERGEANT WHITEHART -- Supporting Role: short, brawny, bald police office with a pugnacious appearance and arrogant, contemptuous attitude. A friend to none, he embodies the crooked cop, cop-on-the-take persona.

MICHAEL -- Supporting Role: African-American younger man with an eager-beaver kind of personality and desire to always please and be accepted. He is sensitive in nature and almost fragile in appearance, but of slender, athletic built.





FADE IN: PAGE 1

BEFORE CREDITS ARE RUN, THE FOLLOWING QUOTATION IS SHOWN ON SCREEN:

There is honor even among thieves. --English Proverb

EXT. - EARLY MORNING Ė BURIAL SCENE AT A LOS ANGELES CEMETERY

At a burial plot and those gathering about it, a police prison van is seen pulling up and parking along a cemetery road where other vehicles are parked. Two prison guards exit the vehicle and escort their prisoner from out the back of the van. He is JOHN SINCLAIR, our storyís main protagonist, and is dressed in an off-colored black suit. We see his hands are handcuffed, as he steps down from the van and stands before the two prison guards

DENKINS (head guard)
Any funny stuff and Iíll have to hurt you.
And you know how Iíd like that.

JOHN SINCLAIR
Never knew a brute who didnít. Nor one
proficient at any other behavior, remotely
civilized.

DENKINS
That smug British humor donít win you
points either. I had my way, itíll be you and
not mommy being deep-sixed here.

JOHN
Iíll remember that when it is a salient and
memorable moment to do so. Of that you can
be certain.

DENKINS
Shut the hell up, and letís get this over with.
Iíve got a retirement party to attend. And
youíre the last prison trash I have to see
after this uhÖsalient day!

Denkins gives John a quick shove towards where the funeral is located and about to commence. As they approach, John locks eyes with his half-brother INSPECTOR ALAN STRONG who stands on the farther side of the casket that is elevated over the empty grave.

John gazes at MONICA STRONG, and they exchange subdued half smiles.

Sinclair stands on one side of the casket, Denkins and his partner behind him, while Alan stands on the other side across from Sinclair, with Monica at his arm. A priest begins to sermonize and we see Johnís face as he is emotionally remembering a scene with Alan and his mother from the past:

CUT TO:

FLASHBACK

EXT. Ė DAY SCENE AT THE ENGLISH ESTATE OF ALAN AND SINCLAIRíS
MOTHER Ė 30 YEARS IN THE PAST

A large assembly of well-dressed guests is seen gathered about the outdoor estate, chatting and drinking. Alan and John run into view. John is age 11, Alan is 10.

One of the male guests drops his wallet upon the lawn while entering the estate with Mr. Sinclair. Both boys rush over to retrieve it as the man walks off. The boys seize the wallet simultaneously and engage in a tug of war to possess it. Their mother suddenly appears between them and takes the wallet from their grasp.

MRS. SINCLAIR
Who found this?

ALAN
I did!

JOHN
Hardly. It was I, mother.

MRS. SINCLAIR
And what were we going to do with it?

ALAN
Return it, of course.

MRS. SINCLAIR
John?

JOHN
Losers, weepers. Finders, keepers. Isnít
that the American way?

MRS. SINCLAIR
Oh, John, donít break my heart!



JOHN
At least I am honest, mother. That I will
always remain. To such as you.

ALAN
Heís a thief! Thatís what he is!

JOHN
Yes, but I have honor!

Saying that, John grabs the wallet from his mother and rushes over with it to the man to whom it belongs, and hands it to him.

ALAN
(in a whining tone)
Mother, he always gets the glory and
credit!

MRS. SINCLAIR
Yes, Alan dear. But remember, he is your
brother. Always love him and protect him
and accept him despite his faults. Love is
all, and what we must preserve forever
between us.

DISSOLVE TO:

EXT. Ė BACK AT THE GRAVESITE, THE CAMERA ON ALANíS FACE AS HE REMEMBERS THIS FLASHBACK SCENE JUST PLAYED OUT

The priest finishes delivering the Lordís Prayer, then hits a switch that begins to lower the casket into the grave.

ALAN
Goodbye, my sweet mother.

JOHN
(looking at Alan)
Yes, farewell, beautiful princess.

The casket completes its descent, and the grievers begin strolling away from the gravesite. Alan and Monica approach John, and she suddenly rushes into his arms and kisses him!

ALAN
Monica!
Denkins and his assistant pull her away from John. But not before she has placed into his mouth from hers a small hair pin!

DENKINS
Check his pockets. Make sure she didnít put
something in them.

The other guard checks Johnís pockets, and finds nothing.

JOHN
I grow tired of you two laying hands upon me!

DENKINS
Really? WellÖ

ALAN
Thatís enough. Donít you have a job to do
returning Mr. Sinclair to lock-up?

DENKINS
And who are you, buddy?

ALAN
You know damn well who I am. And better
not forget again!

DENKINS
Ah yes, the inspector half-brother. Well, you
have no jurisdiction over us.

ALAN
Thatís what you think.
(to John)
John, how have you been? Are they
treating you well?

JOHN
Why, dear half-brother, I never knew you
cared so assiduously!

ALAN
Well, at least you havenít lost your puffy
vocabulary!



MONICA
(approaching John)
JohnÖ

ALAN
Jesus, Monica! Youíre married to me!

JOHN
Mon Cherie.

DENKINS
We need to be out of here. Any final respects,
say Ďem now.

JOHN
(gazing at Alan and Monica)
Until later, dear ones.

Denkins grabs Johnís arm and directs him towards the police van before either Alan or Monica can respond. Before entering the back of the van John looks back and gives Monica a winsome smile, much to Alanís consternation. John is then seated on a bench inside the van, and Denkins sits down across from him. The other guard, in the driverís seat, starts the engine and starts driving the van from the scene. There is a slide window in the center of the partition between the driverís seat and the area where John and Denkins are seated.

INT. Ė BACK AT THE CEMETERY Ė SAME TIME

Alan escorts his wife towards his police sedan where his partner SGT. WHITEHART is leaning against the vehicle and waiting for them. We see other funeral attendees mewing about and leaving the area. Alan and Monica exchange words just before reaching the police car.

ALAN
(shaking his head)
I thought you were over him. I thought it
was me and only me all these past years.

MONICA
Alan!

ALAN
My God, you kissed him! And in front of
tons of people.



MONICA
Hardly tons, my dear. You know where my
heart is. I made no secret of it. And you agreed
to how our lives would be.

ALAN
Yeah, right. And you donít even kiss me in
front of your botanical jungle you call the
backyard! Still he gets all the glory and credit.
Heís probably got girlfriends and having
cocktails parties in his cell. I canít understand
why I donít hate him. He had mother twisted
around his finger.

MONICA
He had your mother in his heart, where he has
all of us, Alan.

ALAN
Yeah, right. Heís a regular saint and paragon
and serving time for saving old ladies from
retirement homes.

They arrive at the police car.

SGT. WHITEHART
I hate this place.

ALAN
You hate everything.

WHITEHART
I love your wife.

ALAN
(looking at her disagreeably)
Everyone loves her. But youíre being too
smartass again. How Ďbout gettingí the door
and just doing the driving in silence.

WHITEHART
Of course, boss.

They enter the vehicle and just as they begin to drive off, we:

CUT TO:

EXT. Ė SAME TIME Ė THE PRISON VAN DRIVES ALONG A DESERTED, RURAL HIGHWAY

INT. Ė INSIDE THE BACK OF THE VAN:

JOHN
How about a cigarette. Not too much to ask,
is it?

DENKINS
Depends how nice you ask it. Begginí works,
real good.

JOHN
Please?

DENKINS
Thatís more like it. The big-time cat thief
finally groveling before his betters!

JOHN
(ignoring this, in a fawning tone)
A light, please?

DENKINS
Jesus! Want me to smoke it for you? Oh,
okay!

He lights Johnís cigarette and John takes a quick, long inhale on it. A strange smile fills his face, as he begins looking sideways at the driver then back at Denkins repeatedly.

JOHN
How magnanimous of you. And let me say
at this time just how much Iíve enjoyed your
company these last four years, and all your
conscientious, congenial attention to me.

DENKINS
Always with the fancy educated words, arenít
you.

JOHN
On the fields of Eton was I educated and made
a man of elegant discourse and honest means.
DENKINS
Ha! You? Honest!

JOHN
Always to my word!

Saying that, John takes a long puff on the cigarette and then suddenly, with his handcuffed hands, removes it from his mouth and chucks it through the open slide-window at the driver! It hits him on the side of his cheek, and this causes him to hit the brakes then lose control of the vehicle. The van swerves into the next lane, then off the highway and into a ravine. After turning over twice, it comes to a stop on its side.

INT. Ė FROM INSIDE THE VAN

We see the driver unconscious, Denkins injured but semi-conscious, and John miraculously unharmed and completely conscious. He removes from inside his mouth the hair pin given him by Monica, and quickly frees himself from the handcuffs.

JOHN
(looking hard at Denkins)
I guess you might say that this here is one
of those salient and memorable moments!

Denkins looks up at John and is about to lean towards him, but John slugs him a hard punch, which knocks Denkins out. He then removes Denkins wallet, then the cash inside it, and quickly kicks open the back van door and hurries out of the vehicle and from the scene.

DISSOLVE TO:

EXT. Ė SAME DAY Ė A SHORT TIME LATER

John stands alongside the highway, brushing himself off and making sure his attire is neat and tidy. He starts thumbing for a ride, and after two vehicles go by without stopping, the third stops and picks him up.

OLD LADY DRIVER
Where to, doll?

JOHN
Ah, youíre such a sweet, charming damsel.
Can you drop me off in Beverly Hills?

OLD LADY DRIVER
Ooh! A gentleman! With a British accent. Iím
in heaven! Beverly Hills or London, letís go!

John casts her a wry look as she hits the accelerator and speeds off.

CUT TO:

INT. - INSIDE ALAN AND MONICAíS HOME AS THEY ENTER

MONICA
(entering the house before Alan)
I am so sorry for your loss, dear. I know you
loved your mother dearly. But if you love me
as much, you will understand my heart and
say no more harsh words.

ALAN
Sometimes you sound just like him. The same
exact voice.

MONICA
Who?

ALAN
You ďvocabularicallyĒ know who!

His cell phone attached to his belt suddenly rings, and he removes it and answers.

ALAN
Yeah, what?!!

Monica eyes him in a concerned manner.

ALAN (continuing)
Call dispatch and all available units. And I want
three units sent over to that fencing school
(a pause)
You know the one. The place he used to work
out of. And call my partner up and tell him to
get his butt back here!

Alan ends the cell phone conversation.

ALAN (continuing)
Son of a bitch!

MONICA
What?

ALAN
Mr. Debonair Cat Burglar has escaped!

Saying that, Alan rushes from the room before he can see his wifeís reaction, and the expressive smile forming over her face.

EXT. Ė ON A BUSY BEVERLY HILLS STREET JOHN EXITS THE OLD LADYíS CAR Ė TWO HOURS LATER

He waves goodbye to her and then immediately walks into a jewelry store at that location. Inside, we see him motion for a jeweler, a woman who immediately takes out a tray of diamond rings for John to examine.

CUT TO:

EXT. - POLICE CARS WITH SIRENS WAILING ARE SEEN BEING DISPATCHED TO FIND JOHN

CUT TO:

EXT. Ė POLICE CARS ARRIVE AT THE FONTAINE SCHOOL OF FENCING IN SANTA MONICA Ė LATE AFTERNOON

CUT TO:

INT. Ė JOHN EXITS THE JEWELRY STORE

The female jeweler smilingly watches him leave. Then begins returning the rings to the tray. She suddenly notices one is missing, and gazes at the storeís exit to where John had gone through only moments prior.

CUT TO:

EXT. Ė COPS ARE SEEN HIDING AND WAITING IN KEY LOCATIONS AROUND THE FENCING SCHOOL, HOPING TO CAPTURE JOHN

It is almost completely dark outside. A taxi unseen, by those situated at the fencing school, pulls to a corner a block away. John exits the vehicle, pays the driver, then moves to stand unseen off from the street intersection. He spots the various cops hidden along the street. Then darts down a nearby alley out of sight.

CUT TO:

EXT. Ė JOHN STANDS IN ANOTHER ALLEY BEHIND A BUILDING ADJACENT TO THE FENCING SCHOOL BUILDING

He looks up and spots a long taunt cable stretching from one building to an electrical pole located at the center on the fencing school roof. He smiles, and turns and darts away.

CUT TO:

EXT. Ė FROM OVERHEAD WE SEE JOHN REACH UP AND PULL HIMSELF UP ONTO THE CABLE STRETCHING BETWEEN BOTH BUILDINGS

With physical ease he pulls himself up and onto the thick wire cable, and begins to move himself hand over hand along the stretch of it towards the building housing the fencing school and SCHOOL OF THIEVES. The cable is not straight across or level between both buildings, but ascends higher and higher as it reaches to the electrical pole atop the Fontaine building.

Suddenly, two uniformed police offices emerge into the alleyway almost directly below where John is suspended on the cable above them. He instantly stops moving and holds his position on the cable while the two cops below him engage in muffled conversation. He looks down at them, but fortunately they do not look up and do not see him. Finally, they finish talking and disappear, and John immediately continues his journey across the suspended cable.

At last he comes to a point along the cable a few feet from the top ledge of the building. To proceed further the cable will be too high let go of to land on the roof. So he has decided another approach. At that moment, he looks across the roof and notices a largely glass penthouse situated there. Through one brightly-lit window he sees a very attractive dark-haired woman shadow fencing, with an epee in hand and clad only in her underwear.

Suddenly, she stops and turns and looks up! And her mouth falls agape as she spots John suspended on the cable only a few feet from her building and penthouse. John smiles at her and then motions with his a hand for her to remain silent. An incredulous expression on her face, she makes no effort to move or disobey his instruction.

Then grasping the cable more firmly he removes his legs from the wire and lets himself completely dangle from it. And then begins a swinging motion that is directed towards the ledge of the Fontaine building. A few seconds elapse. He gathers speed and momentum in his swing. Then suddenly he pushes off and lets go of the cableóheaded in free flight towards the Fontaine building! And we instantly CUT AWAY.

SCENE TO BE RESUMED AT BEGINNING OF EPISODE 2

END OF PILOT EPISODE.



       Web Site: SCHOOL OF THIEVES

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