The Cat Improvises







How’s the tea – it’s a new blend I’ve been trying, and I’m getting to like it.  Anyway – in this long career I have had, there have been numerous occasions when I have had to think on my feet, and get out of the situations I would, from time to time, find myself in. 


When I was more active in my previous field, I usually staked out the places I would visit, but that wasn’t always the case.  There is no doubt the lure of an open door can be too great at times, and this particular time the open door was in a block of flats I had visited – for a purpose I may tell you about another day.


Anyway, I walked in, quietly closing the door behind me, and looked in the first door – finding the main bedroom, and searching quickly for anything of interest.  I was quick as well – but not quick enough, as I came out and saw a sixteen year old girl standing there, holding a bag I could see held books.


She was wearing a black jumper and jeans, with black plimsolls, and her strawberry blonde hair was pulled back from her face, but she could see why I was there – and what I was probably going to do.  SO I said “listen – I’ll be out in a minute, but I need to make sure you cannot raise the alarm.  Do you have anything I could use to tie you up?”


She nodded as she took from her bag a ball of blue wool, and taking her arm we walked into the dining room.  There was a table there with wooden chairs and raffia seats, so I sat her down on one, took her arms over the chair back and used the blue wool to tie her wrists together.  I then tied her ankles together as well, before taking the things I had collected as she watched him leave the flat…





You see, it’s often better to be direct and polite rather than direct and threatening.  I found that out a couple of years later, when I was in the kitchen of a home out near Rugby, having helped myself to some of the home owner’s valuables – and then to be startled by the home owner as she came in.


She asked what I was doing there, and I was as always firm and honest – and also said I had to make sure she could not raise the alarm.  I recall she had long blonde hair, and was wearing a dark jacket, dark grey skirt with a black petticoat underneath, a long brown scarf wrapped loosely round her neck and tortoiseshell glasses – and she was barefooted.  I did not grasp the significance of that at first, as I took a chair from the kitchen table and invited her to sit down.


From my rucksack, I took a length of pink rope, and she watched with what looked like mild interest as I used the cords o secure her wrists together in front of her.  I was in the habit at the time of carrying odd lengths of suitable rope with me, so I then took a length of purple cord and secured her ankles together, before tying the ends to the chair spar under the seat to stop her getting up.


I then found some green rope and tied it round her lap, securing that to the seat and her arms down to her lap.  As I tied it off, she looked at it, and said she wasn’t going anywhere – but what was I going to do about her son?


That’s when I turned round and saw the ten year old boy standing there, with short dark hair, wearing a red striped t-shirt over a long sleeved black top, grey striped underpants – and a pair of his mother’s black leather boots which on him went up to his thigh.


I looked at him, and then said I had tied his mummy up because I was robbing them – and I was afraid I would have to do the same to him.  As a rule, I don’t like having to tie up children, but I had no choice here.  His mother looked at him, and told him to do as I said, and that it didn’t hurt.


So I got him to sit on a smaller seat, and tied some rope round his waist to hold him into the chair, before I tied his wrists together in front of him in the same way as I had tied those of his mother.  I then tied his ankles to the front legs of the chair, before I considered the problem of keeping them quiet.  A problem the mother solved by suggesting I use her scarf on her, and a tea towel for her son – so I did that, and left them to try and talk as I made my getaway…




It was funny though – how he was wearing his mum’s boots.  Anyway, there have been other occasions when I have had to make do with what I had, and even on occasion with the full knowledge and cooperation of the person I was robbing.


This would have been in the mid-eighties, and it was a cottage near Corbridge where I was commissioned to obtain a collection of coins – and allowed to take anything I found of interest to me.  I did not know who wanted the coins – the commission was through a third party – but I was known as a knowledgeable person in this area.


Getting into the cottage?  Not a problem.  Opening the safe and extracting the coins?  Not a problem.  Finding some extra money and jewels?  Not a problem.  Searching the rest of the house before I left?  Well…


I saw her when I want into the main bedroom – an older woman, maybe in her early fifties, with blonde hair, wearing a red short nightie with a black lace trim and thin spaghetti straps.  She was sat in a computer chair, which obviously went with the workstation, and was leaning forward, looking down as she tied her ankles together with a folded gold and brown scarf.


She looked up as she wriggled her toes, and saw me in my black jumper, pants, shoes and gloves, before she whispered one word.




Not, as you can imagine, a response I was expecting, so I asked her what she was doing.  She blushed, and said she liked to pretend she was tied up, but could only manage her legs.  I saw the pile of scarves on the table, and selected a large black and white printed one, before I said I would be happy to oblige, and tied her legs together above her knees.


She sighed as she watched me, and then nodded as I took a brown tiger print chiffon square with a solid brown border, folded it and used it to secure her left wrist to the arm of the chair.  For her right wrist, I used a black, white and green printed headscarf, making sure she was secure and comfortable.


Finally, I said she would have to be quiet, so I folded a small blue silk square and put it into her mouth, before I folded a large green square with a red border and tied it round her head, covering her mouth and keeping her hair against her neck as I secured the ends and let the red and green drop down her back.  I asked her if she would be all right, and she nodded as she closed her eyes, clearly enjoying herself as I departed…





And then, there are time when my work gets done for me.  In the late Eighties, I visited a house for a security consultation, but could not get an answer – so I decided to test their security for myself, and managed to get in the side door.


I could hear the television was on, and as I looked round the door three young boys were watching cartoons.  Well, I figured I could be out without them hearing me, so I went round the rooms, wondering who was in charge.


Well, I found her in the spare room – the babysitter, wearing a red sweatshirt and jeans, and looking angrily at me through her glasses.  Her wrists were tied together in front of herm and then to the band of rope holding her legs together.  Her ankles were very well secured, and (I guessed the boys) had crossed her feet, tied them together, and even tied her big toes with string.  A rolled up white scarf was tied round her head and between her lips, the dark stain visible as she tried to speak.


“Let me guess – they were the robbers?”


As she nodded I said “well, so am I, but I will call the cops and then they can explain what they did.  Sound good?”


She nodded as I left the room, the house, and the town, before calling the police.  I wonder how they explained it to their officers – and their parents?



And then, sadly, there are those thankfully rare occasions when you have to be more persuasive.  The earliest I remember was when I had just started on my own, and I was in a flat down Pimlico way when the lady of the house unexpectedly returned,


He was, shall we say, a stout woman, with short brown hair, and was wearing a blue satin slip dress with a very short skirt, and a bluebell print, and white shoes.  I was actually glad I was wearing a balaclava that day, because I recognised her from a school function I had been forced to attend.


Well, she started to scream, and I could not have that, so I had to run across the room and grab her, putting my gloved hand over her mouth as I calmly in a deep voice told her I wasn’t going to hurt her unless she decided to keep screaming and trying to raise the alarm.


This she did not seem to be prepared to do, as she stamped on my foot (thank you Dr Marten) and struggled, so I had to resort to a different measure, as I pinched her nose and told her to calm down, or she would not be able to breath.  Eventually, she got the message, and I took my hand away as she gasped for air.


And then decided to scream again – so I had to take a hankie from my pocket, push it into her mouth, and cover it again as I took out a pre-cut length of brown sticking plaster.  Peeling the backing paper off with my teeth, I pressed it firmly over her mouth, and told her to stop struggling before I hurt her.


Well, unable to speak, she made her feelings very clear with her eyes as I walked her over to a long leather couch, made her lie face down and crossed her wrists behind her back before I secured them together with a long length of curtain cord.  I used a second length to tie her ankles together, before giving her a gentle smack on the bottom and telling her to behave.


I know, I know – not very PC these days, but that was then, this is now.  Anyway, I left her there struggling, pocketed what I could find it in the room, and beat a dignified retreat…




Of course, the greatest tool for improvisation a burglar is the old standby – duct tape.  Last week, a student from the local Art College came to see me, and said she had been set something called the Duct Tape Challenge – she knew me through her father, and wondered if I would help her?


Well, a gentlemen never refuses a request, so I called at her home the next afternoon.  She was wearing a pink vest top and blue denim shorts, and smiled as she handed me a very large roll of silver tape, and said I had to secure her wrists and legs, and cover her mouth, then film her as she tried to escape.


She had no idea of my past, obviously, or the fact if I did this, she was not getting out, but a promise is a promise.  So, I told her to cross her wrists behind her back, and used the tape to secure them after I had crossed them – taking the tape around and between her arms, and also taping her fingers together.


That she probably was not expecting – or when I got hr to lie on the floor, and bend her legs, before I taped her ankles together, and then her legs above her knees.  Even she had to admit she was going to have a problem when I had finished – and I asked her if she wanted her arms taped to her sides as well.


She thought for a moment, and then nodded, so I taped her arms to her sides and then pressed several layers of duct tape over her mouth, before I started to film her with her mobile phone.  She had set a target of five minutes – let me assure you, half an hour later she had barely started.


Of course I freed her – and anyway, I like her father.  I have done ever since I robbed his house twenty years ago when she was a little girl.  More tea?







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