If you’ve ever heard of Gerald Blanchard, the man police refer to as a “criminal mastermind” whose James Bond-esque lifestyle is immortalized in Hulu’s new documentary The Jewel Thief, you might be wondering what happened to him and where he is now.
A meticulous and highly intelligent person, Blanchard documented much of his antics on video, which, along with recordings of police wire-tapped phone conversations, make for an excellent documentary that’s currently streaming on Hulu.
The famous thief got his start in the life of crime when he was in high school, when stealing cigarettes from the local convenience stores in Omaha, Nebraska turned to stealing electronics from Radio Shack. With a gift for forging receipts, he made a small fortune returning stolen merchandise to the very stores he swiped it from in exchange for cash.
At age 15, he ended up in juvenile detention. By 16, he was free again and pulling even bigger schemes. That year, to his sweet, adoptive mother’s surprise, he bought himself a house.
Still, even the smartest thief slips up sometimes. Blanchard ended up behind bars again, but this time in prison. Still a young man, after serving three years, he was deported back to his birth country of Canada and began his schemes anew.
But stealing from Radio Shack had gotten old, so Blanchard turned to robbing banks — and he proved to be one of the smartest, slickest, and toughest to catch criminals in Canadian history.
For the next two decades, Blanchard robbed countless banks, married and divorced a German woman, and pulled off his most famous heist of all — the theft of the famous diamond-encrusted Sisi Star that Empress Elisabeth of Austria once wore in her hair from a museum in Vienna. That Prize, Blanchard said in the Hulu doc, was the get-out-of-jail-free card he saved for the day his house of cards finally came crashing down.
And he was right.
What Became of Gerald Blanchard?
In 2007, after many years of robbing banks, stealing from ATMs, and committing various crimes everywhere from Canada to Cairo, the police task force in Winnipeg, Canada that had been wiretapping his phone for years finally had the evidence they needed to arrest him.
Facing a maximum sentence of 164 years in prison, Blanchard brokered a deal. In exchange for paying restitution to CIBC Bank, returning the Sisi Star to the museum he stole it from, and explaining how he did his crimes, he was sentenced to only 8 years in prison — of which he only ended up serving a small fraction.
He was released on April 23, 2012.
So what is he doing now?
Well, he got arrested again in 2017, but he’s currently a free man, talking to the press and speaking publically about his criminal past.
“On March 22, 2017, Gerald Blanchard and an accomplice were arrested for stealing PlayStations from a Best Buy in Burlington, Ontario,” a statement at the end of the documentary reads.
“Investigators identified Mr. Blanchard as a suspect because a car at the scene was rented in his name.”
But is Gerald Blanchard’s life of crime behind him? Even he doesn’t know.
“It’s tempting, but my feeling is the police know my MO, so if I were to do anything, I would have to change it up,” he told Rolling Stone. “I still have five or six different MOs I could easily do to off throw the banks. But I live this comfortable life now, and don’t need to worry about committing crimes.”
“You can never say never,” he added. “It’s a spur of the moment decision, [and] things are always there.”
Main Image: Gerald Blanchard pictured in The Jewel Thief courtesy of Hulu
The Jewel Thief is now streaming on Hulu.