Playing Cat And Mouse
Here - let me pour you another cup.
Now, where were we? Oh yes - you asked if I ever had to be especially devious in some of my visits. Well, a few do come to mind where, as well as having to be a skilled cat burglar; I also had to play a few little tricks with the people I came across.
Back in the early eighties, I was up in the North West, visiting a few places and houses that I felt would prove lucrative if I was to visit them. One of these was a house in the Chester area, a lovely old Georgian house set back from the road and surrounded by a wall.
Well, walls were no problem to me, even then, so I hopped over the back, saw an open window on the first floor and climbed up the drainpipe to get in. Yes, people still did that then - and still do now, truth be told.
To my eternal gratitude, the window actually opened onto the master bedroom, and although I could hear a couple of kids running round downstairs I knew if I was careful I would not disturb them. Instead, I contented myself with rummaging through the drawers and cupboards, locating with relative ease the not so well hidden jewellery.
As I closed one particular drawer, I heard feet running up the stairs, so I quietly closed it and flattened myself against the wall. The last thing I wanted to do was deal with kids, and as I silently prayed that would not happen I heard three sets of feet going past the room, two with high pitched voices laughing and giggling, the third strangely mute.
I slowly opened the door and watched through the crack as two teenage girls, dressed in white layered skirts and t-shirts, came out of a side room and walked back down the corridor, talking to each other. As they passed the door, not noticing it was not open, I waited until they started to walk down the stairs, but one thing was bothering me.
Where was the third person?
As they reached the bottom of the stairs, I slipped out of the room and went to the door the other two had come out of. Opening it, I walked in and was greeted with the sound of “Hthllru?”
There was an older woman sitting on a bare mattress on a bed, staring back at me through thick black rimmed glasses. She was wearing a sleeveless white frilled blouse, with a black bra underneath, a short tight black skirt, stockings and patent heels.
How did I know she had a black top on underneath? Because the two girls had tied her arms so tightly to her side with ropes, and the ropes went around and between her breasts so well, that the blouse had been stretched so tightly it was plainly visible underneath. Her legs were bound above her knees, and her ankles secured together as well.
“Au Pair?” I said to her, and she nodded, her eyes wide as she grunted into whatever was under the wide black scarf that was covering her mouth.
“Well, I’m your burglar for today,” I said as I reached over and removed the pearl necklace that was around her neck, “and I don’t want to interrupt any games you may be playing. I’ll be on my way - have a good day.”
Kissing her on the forehead, I stopped at the door and turned, looking at her looking at me with an expression in her eyes that said “What the hell just happened?”
No, I didn’t wait for the girls - I wanted to get out of there with a minimum of fuss, and besides - they had already secured the most likely person to raise the alarm.
Sometimes the reason you have to be sneaky is because you don’t want to give away everything you have yet. Let me tell you a story that illustrates that.
This would be about 1986, and I was ‘visiting’ a house in Falkirk, looking through the cupboards in the living room when in walks this middle aged woman, putting her keys back into her handbag and then looking at me as so many of them do. She had long mousey blonde hair and wore glasses, and was dressed casually in a v-neck purple top, a denim jacket, black pants and sandals on her feet.
“Can I help you,” she said as she looked at me. “Well, yes you can,” I said as I put my hand in my pocket and pointed something at her, “you can out your bag down and your hands up.”
No, it wasn’t a gun, but she wasn’t to know that, was she? Anyway, she put her handbag on a chair and raised her hands, saying “What are you going to do with me,” as she did so.
“I guess I’m going to have to stop your raising the alarm,” I said as I put my other hand in my other pocket and took out a length of white cord. “Slowly, turn round and put your hands behind your back.”
“You’ll never get out of here,” she said as she turned and looked over her shoulder, “My daughter will be home any minute, and if she walks in on you doing this she’ll raise the alarm, and you’ll be caught.”
“We’ll see,” I said as I crossed her wrists and quickly tied them together, making sure it was tight but not uncomfortable as I cinched the ropes between her arms. There was a large couch in the room, with a red throw over it, so I guided her to one side and sat her down, before taking a second length of cord and tightly binding her ankles together over the cuffs of her pants. It was a simple matter then to use a third length to fix her wrist to her ankles in a loose hogtie as she fell slightly to the side.
“You’d better go now before my daughter gets back,” she said as she tried to twist her arms round, looking at me the whole time.
“Oh, I think I may have a few minutes yet,” I said with a smile as I reached into my bag and pulled out a long white scarf. “Now, why don’t you open your mouth - I’d hate to have to force you to do that.”
She glared at me, before opening her mouth and allowing me to pull the scarf in, closing her lisp round the cloth as I pulled the ends around her head and knotted them over her hair. As she leaned back, she almost seemed to be mewling as I walked to the door in a leisurely manner, and left her alone for a few minutes.
So when I walked back in, she screamed when she saw who I had with me. She was eighteen, and dressed in a pair of faded jeans, a white blouse and ropes around her wrists and ankles, not to mention the scarf between her own lips.
“Your daughter came home half an hour ago,” I said as I sat her on the opposite end of the couch and attached her wrists to her ankles, “and she interrupted me as well. I think you need to have a talk with each other about security - no matter how muted it may be.”
As you know, these days as well as antiques I have a little side lien in security consulting, which has shown up some very interesting possibilities. One particular woman asked me to do a survey of her offices, to check for areas where security could be tightened, and I did my usual efficient and professional job. I handed in the report, and my fee - and then nothing. She had disappeared without paying.
Three months later, I was at an antiques fair in Coventry when I saw her again, walking through the aisles with a friend of hers. She was unmistakable - greying blonde hair, a haughty air about her, wearing a pinstripe jacket and skirt as she walked up and down the aisles, the over large collar of her blouse over her jacket. Her friend wasn’t much better - her hair was red, and she was wearing a green checked jacket with brass buttons and matching knee length skirt - but they both looked as if they were the king of the walk.
Making sure they did not see me, I followed them out of the fair and to their car, then to a flat that was part of a terrace of older houses on the outskirts of town. I watched them walk into the flat, got out of my car and took a few things out, before walking into the flats and ringing the front door bell.
It was her friend who answered, and it was her I gently pushed back in as I held a fake pistol in front of her. I had a scarf pulled up over my lower face, and a trilby pulled down on my head so that only my eyes were showing.
Pushing her into the front room, it gave me great satisfaction to see my former client stand slowly up, a shocked expression on her face. “You,” I said as I pushed her friend towards her, “take one of these and tie her hands behind her back.”
I handed her a plastic zip tie - I had some in the car from some work I had been doing clearing out rubbish, and had grabbed some just in case. She took it, trembling as she looked at me through her glasses, and secured her friend’s wrists together. I’[m not sure if it was the thin plastic or the rasping sound that made her jump, but either way I was quietly enjoying what was happening.
Wrong of me, probably, but she owed me money.
“Sit her down and secure her ankles together,” I said trying not to laugh, but as she pulled the zip tie tight I almost felt sorry for her friend. Having a look round, I guessed she was the one who lived here, and the woman binding her was visiting. Bad luck, but we can always pick our friends.
Anyway, she looked at me through her own glasses as I bound the first woman’s wrists, turned her round and pushed her down onto the small seat, and then secured her ankles together. “Don’t move a muscle,” I said as I left them for a few minutes, having a quick look round the flat and - well, not taking anything belonging to the friend.
I did find my former client’s suitcase, however, and in there was a rather nice selection of jewellery, carefully hidden amongst her underwear. This I pocketed - it was enough to cover my fee and then some - before going back into the room.
“Found what you were looking for,” my client said to me in a sarcastic tone, her eyes full of anger as she spoke.
“Yes thanks,” I said as I looked at her, her panties showing from between her legs, “and I found something else as well.” In the room the friend slept in had been a box, and in the box - well, I showed her the red and black ball, the straps running through, and said 2Which would you like.”
The look on her face was priceless as her jaw dropped open, and then she looked to her friend. She shrugged her shoulders and said “give her the red one - she need sot shut up for a while anyway.”
I don’t usually like ball gags, but needs must, so I pushed the red ball between my former client’s teeth, secured it round her neck, and then used the other one on her friend. Waving to them, I left them to their own devices - I had what I needed anyway.
Sometimes it was less a case of tricking someone, and more a case of making it a game for the person I was unfortunate enough to meet. This happened to me one day in the wilds of Devon in about 1985, when I was visiting an antique fair at a local village and was driving back through the countryside when I felt the urge to visit a house, unexpectedly.
There was a large manor house set back from the road, and as I parked in the street and looked round the walls I had to admit it called to me. I hadn’t quite retired yet, so I walked round the wall, found a wooden gate at the other side and used a pocket knife to let myself in.
There was a vast area of green, and I could see a horse walking round in a paddock some way off, but it proved to be easy enough to make my way to the rear of the large house and force open a ground floor window. Lifting the sash frame up, I slipped in and found myself in a study.
Well, these can be almost as fruitful as bedrooms, so I started to look round when I heard footsteps coming. Ducking behind the large desk, I waited to see what would happen.
The door opened and this brunette came in - six foot tall and slim build, with long hair that fell down her back and shoulders. She was dressed in the “Princess Di” style of the time - a long sleeved black cardigan buttoned up the front, a flowing knee length skirt which was black with a coloured print on it, pearls round her neck and black heels. I watched from my hiding place as she closed the door and walked over to the safe, turning the locks until with a click she was able to pull the handle down and open the door.
I could see several boxes inside, but what she took out was a small canvas bag. She walked towards the desk I was at and laid it on the table, taking something out and looking at it.
Well, I had no choice really - I stood up and said “Good Afternoon - please don’t scream.”
She didn’t - she looked at me, her eyes wide, and said “Are you a robber?”
“I am - but so long as you do as you’re told, I’ll leave you alone.”
Now, as you know there’s been more than one occasion when I have disturbed someone enjoying themselves, but it still surprises me when someone like this looks at you and says ”Goodie - I want to be a hostage.”
I looked at what she had taken out of the bag - several ten to twelve foot lengths of cord, a roll of clear tape and a blue rubber ball that had a strap passed through it.
“So you like to play games?”
She looked at me as I said this and nodded, before turning round and crossing her wrists behind her back.
Well, how could I refuse? As I tied her wrists together, she told me she was the wife of the owner, who seemed to spend all his time in London or abroad without her, and she craved excitement.
Nothing wrong in that, I suppose, but she actually giggled as I cinched the coils around her wrists. At any rate, I pushed the ball into her mouth as she opened it, then when she bit down I fastened the straps around her cheek. She had already told me what she wanted, so I took the roll of tape and wrapped it round her head, sealing the ball in as I held her hair up to ensure it was not caught underneath.
“My payment,” I said as I unhooked the pearls and put them in my pocket, then as she watched me I emptied her safe as well. Satisfied, I helped her to sit on the floor and secured her ankles together, before getting out of the house the way I came in - through the window.
You know I never liked having to deal with kids when I paid a visit in the old days - it always seemed to cause more problems than it solved.
This would have been about 1988 - I was still paying early morning visits to houses at that point, and had not abandoned the night work all together. I was in South London, and looking at the home of a jewellery shop owner in the Wimbledon town centre. He had a family and kids, but was away on business, so I was sure I could slip in, get what I wanted and slip out unnoticed.
You know what they say about good plans? I slipped into the kitchen of the house, in my usual jumper, pants, shoes and gloves, and for some reason I decided I would have a stocking mask on. I wasn’t looking to wake anyone up, but some sort of instinct told me it would be a good idea.
Always trust your instincts - I had no sooner closed the kitchen door behind me when the woman of the house walked in. She was in her early fifties, with short cut mousey blonde hair, and was wearing long sleeved white pyjama top and blue bottoms with a pattern on them.
She was barefoot, which was I had not heard her, but as she turned to start to run I grabbed her and held her to me, my gloved hand over her mouth. I genuinely do not like manhandling women, but this time I had to do something quick.
“Stop struggling,” I whispered into her ear, “or you’ll wake the kids. Do you want me to have to deal with them as well?”
That made her stop short, as I felt her say “Mgd” under my hand and she stopped struggling. I needed something to keep her quiet a while longer, however, so I picked up a white linen napkin that was on the kitchen table, folded it into a roll and took my hand away. Before she could say anything, I stuffed the roll into her mouth, put my hand back over her mouth and said “Don’t you dare spit that out, or I’ll fix it in there and you’ll choke. Come on - we’re going up to your bedroom.”
I frog marched her in front of me, my arm holding hers together behind her back, as we quietly walked up the stairs. “Keep thinking of the kids,” I whispered as we got to the top of the stairs, and walked to the bedroom, me closing the door behind us as we went in.
I had some lengths of cord in my pocket, so I said “Just lie down and put your hands behind your back. I won’t hurt you or the kids if you do as I say.” She nodded as I let her go, watching as she walked over to the bed and lay face down on top of the pink throw.
I moved her hands behind her back, placing them so the backs of the hands were next to each other, and tightly bound them together, listening to her start to quietly sob as I did so. I hated to do this, but it was the only way I was going to get out quickly.
Taking a second length, I lifted her legs up and bound her ankles together, the legs of her pants trapped underneath as I cinched the coils between her legs. I figured she wasn’t going to be any more trouble, but I had to be certain she would not try and get away for a little while, so I used a third might to fix her ankles to her wrists, her legs perpendicular to the knees when I had finished.
“Now just lie nice and quietly,” I said as I patted her on the bottom, “and I’m sure the kids won’t wake up.” She watched me as I searched the room, finding quite a few choice pieces, and placing them in a pillow case.
She still had the cloth stuffed in her mouth, obviously too scared to do anything as she closed her eyes when I walked over. “Enjoy your day,” I said as I left her there, walked down the stairs and left as I heard an alarm clock starting to sound. I figured I had enough time to get back to my car before either of her kids raised the alarm...
I take security very seriously - you won’t see them, but there are hidden cameras everywhere in the shop. I also like to be sure my staff can cope in the case of a robbery, so when I take on a new staff member I like to - test them.
Recently, I’ve taken on a new Saturday assistant by the name of Monica, who is studying art at the local college. One Friday, I asked her to drop by the store after five, where I was waiting with Alex, my assistant. Monica came in, and took off her denim jacket. She was wearing a grey-blue t-shirt, black jeans and trainers with white sport socks.
“You wanted to see me, Mister Jacobs?”
“Yes, Monica - you may have heard there have been a number of raids at antique shops in the area, and we want to be sure you know what to do it we are hit, especially if I am not here?”
“Of course - I presume we press the hidden alarm?”
“If you can yes, but criminals today tend to be the ‘get your hands in the air’ type, and if a gun is pointing at you you may not have the chance. You need to know how to behave if your options are - limited.”
“Limited - in what way?”
“What the boss is trying to say,” Alex said as she stood up, “is sometimes you may be tied up, and you need to know how to behave, and what to do and not do in those circumstances.”
Monica turned and looked at Alex. “Has it ever happened to you?”
“Once or twice,” she said as she ran her fingers through her hair. Alex knew what the plan was, so she was wearing long sleeved pink top and jogging pants, her lower legs encased in a pair of mid-length grey suede boots.
“Monica, what we’re going to do is Mister Jacobs is going to pretend to be a robber, and he will secure both of us. Watch what I do, and do the same, all right? I promise you he won’t hurt us.”
“Has he done this before?”
“Once or twice,” I said with a smile as I put some ropes on the desk. “Monica, please put the ‘closed’ sign up and close the blinds.”
As she walked over to the front of the shop, Alex crossed her wrists behind her back and allowed me to start with her. By the time Monica returned, I had secured her wrist tightly behind her back, and run some rope around her chest. Above and below her breasts, securing her arms to her side and cinching the lower band between her body and forearms.
“See,” Alex said as she turned round, “It’s perfectly safe and does not hurt. You turn now - stand with your back to Mister Jacobs and put your hands behind your back.”
As I tied her wrists together, Monica looked over her shoulder and said “that is firm - but not tight. Howe did you learn to do that?”
“Boy scouts,” I said as I wound some rope around her chest, her breasts falling over the lower band as I tied her the same way I had tied Alex. Monica’s brown hair fell over her shoulders as she tried twisting round, before I helped both her and Alex to sit on the floor, facing each other.
I wound some rope around Alex’s ankles, the cord sinking into the grey suede as I pulled her ankles together, and then her legs above her knees. Kneeling next to Monica, I did the same, so that when I stood up both of my assistants were immobilised on the floor. Alex had her legs stretched out, while Monica had her knees slightly bent, the heels of her trainers on the floor.
“Comfortable,” I asked as I watched Monica move about.
“Surprisingly, yes,” she said with a smile, “but I suspect a real burglar may be even stricter.
I said nothing, but turned to Alex. “Shall we complete the exercise?”
She nodded, and Monica watched as I opened a drawer, took to u a roll of white medical tape, tore off a strip and stuck it over Alex’s mouth, the tape forming to the shape of her jaw lien and lips. Turning to Monica, I said “This is a part of a drill, but if you don’t want this over your mouth say so now.”
“Will it hurt?”
“No - they use this for bandages, so it won’t hurt, but it will stick.”
Monica nodded and closed her mouth, looking up at me as I smoothed it over her own lips. She tried moving them, but could only say “trlllwrks” through the tape.
“You have thirty minutes to get free,” I said as I walked to the office, “and then I will free you.”
Yes, she enjoyed herself, and yes it has a purpose - when Alex first started, there was one morning...
But that’s a tale for another day. Refill?