Reading Matters

Jeff Diamant to talk on ‘the hillbilly heist’

The word “heist” will bring up different things for different people.

But if you were in Charlotte in the 1990s, what likely comes to mind is the $1.7 million Loomis Fargo theft on Oct. 4, 1997. The crime resulted in 21 convictions.

Jeff Diamant, a former Observer reporter, was the lead writer on the crime, and he amassed details that make for both juicy and thoughtful reading.

Friday at 7 p.m., Diamant will be at Park Road Books to talk about “Heist: The Oddball Crew Behind the $17 Million Loomis Fargo Theft,” which he has revised since the 2002 edition.

Because of the items the stolen money bought (a faux leopard-skin stair runner, a statue of a corpulent chef, a clown-faced lava lamp), the episode became known as “the hill billy heist.”

But Diamant was not out to make fun. As he says, as a crime reporter, you’re talking with people at the worst time of their lives. And these people, or most of them, trusted Diamant to “tell their stories in a fair way.” Cheap shots? He tried to avoid them.

Diamant is a Yale graduate working on his PhD at the Graduate Center of the City Univesity of New York.

The event is free, and you’re invited.

Park Road Books: 4139 Park Road, Charlotte, N.C., 28209.