The Cat’s Connections
Tell me; are you familiar with the concept of Six Degrees of Separation? The idea that everyone in the world can be connected to anyone else by at most six contacts? It’s a fascinating idea, but the other day I was reviewing some of my past exploits and memories – and believe it or not, I realised it may just be true. Allow me to explain by starting with a woman called Patty.
It was 1973, and I was paying a visit to a flat in Chelsea, off the King’s Road. Usually a good place for rich pickings, I was carefully searching through the contents of a chest of drawers in the bedroom of the basement flat when I heard the front door open and close. Now, it was only about eight in the morning, and I naturally presumed that the flat was empty – in fact I had seen the young woman I knew owned the flat leaving, so I was fairly certain I was going to be undisturbed.
Opening the door a crack, however, I could see a flight bag on the floor, and then I saw who had come in. She was a tall blonde haired woman, with a red cap perched on her head, but it was her outfit that identified her as an air stewardess. She had on a red jacket with a dusky pink bottom and a design at the front, which obviously hid the zip fastener. The coat itself barely covered the mini dress she was wearing of the same design, while her outfit was completed by a pair of knee length tight red leather boots.
Obviously an air stewardess – well, it was the wrong time of year for the motor show, plus the flight bag and the early hour? Anyway, any chance of slipping out was ruined when she looked in my direction, and said “Who’s there?”
I had only one thing to do – step out, smile and say “good morning – I trust you had a good flight? I’m you cat burglar for the day, so please, remain calm and quiet.”
She looked at me, and said “I don’t believe you?”
“Ah, but I tell the truth,” I said as I walked out, and she saw my gloved hands. “May I know your name?”
“Patty – and you are telling the truth, aren’t you?”
“I am, I regret to say – so please, take off your jacket, sit down, make yourself comfortable. I also regret to say I need to make sure you cannot raise the alarm for a while.”
“Well, I like your manners,” she said in her soft American accent as she removed her hat and jacket, revealing the cap sleeved dress, and then sat down. “So what do you intend to do to me?”
I looked round, and picked up a ball of wool from the knitting basket by the fireplace. “Kindly put your hands out in front of you,” I said with a smile, “and allow me to secure your wrists together.”
“I bet you say that to all the women you visit,” she purred as I wrapped the rope around her wrists to hold them together.”
“No – sometimes I ask them to put their hands behind their back – but I sense you have had a long night, and you will be more comfortable in this way,” I said as I took the wool between her arms, and helped her to lie on the couch, a pillow under her head before I wrapped the wool around her ankles to secure them, and then tied it off, cutting it with the shears in the basket.
“Could be worse,” she said as she looked at me, “and you used red wool. Very coordinated.”
“Indeed – kindly wait there for a moment,” I said as I went to the medicine cabinet, and picked up a roll of brown sticking plaster that was there. Coming back in, I looked at a picture on the fireplace of the blonde with a red haired woman.
“My cousin – she lives in Glasgow.”
“Very well then – put your lips together please.”
As she did this, I pressed a length of the plaster down over her mouth, and then continued my search of the flat, before I checked her and left her sleeping on the couch.
So, that was Patty – and her cousin in Glasgow?
A year later, I was in Glasgow delivering some favours on behalf of a friend, and I had a few hours to spend before I had to get on the train back, so I caught a train out to a place called Falkirk. A bit run down, but it had some new housing estates around it, and one of those houses had the front door open.
Well, those were the days when I was still a little bit opportunistic, so I walked into the house, putting on some gloves of course, and closed the door behind me. As I went into the front room, I could see a young woman standing there, wearing a grey jacket and miniskirt with a white check, and black heels. She also had this enormous rust red hair, done in a real beehive and probably held in place b a whole can of hairspray.
SO I walked up behind her, clamped my right hand over her mouth and my left arm round her waist, and said “not a word, please – do as I say, and you won’t be harmed. Nod if you understand.”
I waited as she slowly nodded her head up and down, and I said “Good. Now, do you see that chair over there?”
There was a wooden armchair to one side, upholstered in brown (It was the seventies) and with the wooden arms at each side. She nodded again as I said “Go and sit in it, hands on the armrests, and do not move.”
I let her go as she slowly walked over, sitting down with her arms on the rests as she looked at me.
“Remain calm – I only want your valuables,” I said quietly as I looked at her. “I do need you to stay here, however – do you have any tape in the house?”
She looked over on the table, where there was a roll of brown packing tape next to a wrapped parcel. “That will have to do,” I said as I picked it up, and taped her wrist down tightly to the armrests of the chair. I also taped her arms down, all the time her looking at me without saying a word.
“I recognise you from somewhere – do you have a relative who is a stewardess?”
She blinked again as she said “Yes – my cousin Patty... Oh my god, are you the man who robbed her and her flatmate?”
“That would indeed be me – so as I said to her, remain calm and you will be perfectly safe.”
Kneeling in front of her, I crossed her ankles and taped them together, and then her legs below her knees.
“There – now, tell me where you keep your jewels, and I won’t make a mess.”
“My jewellery boxes are in the bedroom,” she said as she tried to move her arms, “please, just take them and go.”
“In a moment,” I said as I went into the hallway, returning with a large head square with a horse motif printed on it. “I need to ensure you keep quiet first, and this tape makes a lousy silencer. Please, open your mouth.”
I rolled the scarf into a band and cleave gagged her, then helped myself to some of her jewels, before checking she was all right and making my way out of the house. As I was going to leave, I saw a picture of her in that outfit, sitting with a young girl next to her in some form of poncho, her hair cut short.
“Yssts,” she said as she nodded.
“Well, I hope you are free before she returns home,” I said as I left her sitting in the chair.
I have no real idea if she ever got free, but the daughter...
Go forward to the mid-nineties, and I had spent some time looking into a semi-detached house in the Epping area of London. The owner was a well known television celebrity – but that was by the by. What interested me was the rare coin collection he had in his safe.
It was later on in a Spring evening when I called round, using my set of lockpicks to get in the back of what looked like a deserted house. I walked in, dressed smartly of course, adjusted my tie and made my way down the darkened corridor, then up the stairs and into the bedroom.
The safe itself was relatively easy to find, and even easier to open – I had checked the birthdates of all the family, and got it right on the second attempt – and had taken out the coins, looking at them before I placed them in my bag.
Which, of course, was the cue for the light to come on and a female voice to say “who’s there?”
I turned and looked at the dark haired woman. She was in her early thirties, and was wearing a ruffled brown blouse, with the top button undone, as well as a long brown suede skirt that came down over her knees. A pair of chocolate brown suede boots covered her lower legs.
“Ah – this is unfortunate,” I said as I looked at her. “I’m afraid I am stealing your valuables, and the fact I did not know you were at home is entirely my fault. I must ask you not to raise the alarm – it is only these I am after, nothing else.”
“I see,” she said as she brushed away her hair from her eyes. “Well, I am alone in the house, so I suppose I was unable to stop you. Reminds me of when this happened to my mother – I found her one day when I came home with dad, taped to the chair and a scarf in her mouth...”
I looked to the chest of drawers – and there was the photo of the mother and child from twenty years ago. She saw me looking at it, and said “that was you as well, wasn’t it?”
“A coincidence – but I must secure you for the same reason I secured your mother. Please,” I said as I took some lengths of cord from the bag, “come over to me, turn round, and put your hands behind your back.”
Smiling, she walked over and said “she said you were a charmer as well,” before she turned round and allowed me to cross and bind her wrists together. I then invited her to sit on the bed, and then lie down as I bound her ankles together, making sure I cinched the band between her legs, and making equally sure her skirt covered her legs.
“I must also keep you quiet,” I said as I saw another picture – one of her as a teenager, standing next to another red haired woman in a very distinctive style.
“Is she another relative,” I said as I looked at her.
“Miss Thompson? No, she was my art teacher at school – lovely woman. Why do you ask?”
“No particular reason,” I said as I rolled a black scarf up, and tied a knot in it. “Open your mouth please.”
I eased the knot into her mouth, and tied the silk band around her head, before I picked up my bag and made my way out.
The reason I had asked about this Miss Thompson was I remembered her from the about fifteen years beforehand. I was on a visit to Birmingham, visiting a number of properties in the area, including a studio flat near the canals.
That was a really run down area in those days – anyone who’s seen Take Me High with Cliff Richards will recognise the scene. Anyway, getting into the studio meant going up an old fire escape, which is not easy at the best of times, and on a cold winter’s night? I managed to get in, however, and started to use my torch to illuminate my way around the place.
About half an hour later, I was giving it up as a bad job when the light went on, and the occupant of the studio looked at me. She was in her mid-twenties, and wore a peach coloured smock over a white roll neck sweater. A belt of the same colour and material as the smock was tied loosely around her waist, and she also had on a long tiered grey skirt. A pair of stack heeled tan leather boots could be seen on her feet.
“I can assure you,” she said as she looked at me, her light brown hair falling over her shoulders, “I have nothing of value to steal.”
“I agree,” I said as I looked at her, “but you have talent. These are exceptionally good paintings.” I stopped and looked at a portrait of a young coloured woman, wearing denim jeans and a blue blouse.
“That’s Naomi, a classmate of mine – and for a thief, you have a good eye.”
“I am a good thief because I have a good eye, and I know when I would be best leaving.”
“Listen,” she said as she looked at me, “I need some help with a project. If you help me, I’ll not say I saw who you were.”
“And that project would be?”
“Right up your professional alley,” she said as she walked forward, “wait there a moment.”
Well, she had me intrigued, so I watched as she set an old wooden chair in the middle of the floor, and then set up a camera to face the chair.
“I want you to bind me to the chair and gag me,” she said as she looked at me, “and then start the camera filming before you go. Do you think you can do that?”
Smiling, I said “got any rope?”
So she showed me several coils of rope and sat down, allowing me to guide her arms through the gaps in the chair rest and bind her wrists tightly together, before tying them to the chair back. I then took a longer length of rope and used that to secure her back to the chair, making sure she was still comfortable while I also made sure she could not move.
“And how will you get free when I go,” I said as I knelt in front of her and bound her ankles together, the rope rubbing on her boots.
“I have a friend calling round at ten,” she said as she looked at the clock, “and the film will finish before then. Don’t worry – I will be fine.”
As she said this, I tied her legs together below her knees, trapping her skirt around them as I did so, and taking the rope around where the front legs met the seat to keep them in place.
“All right then – what can I use as a gag?”
“Put one of those cloths in my mouth – they’re clean – and there’s masking tape on the table. I’m not going to try and push the cloth out – but it will look realistic.”
“And then I start the camera filming?”
She nodded and opened her mouth, allowing me to put the clean cotton rag in before I used a number of strips of masking tape to cover her lips. She nodded as I started the camera, and then made my way out of the apartment.
Now I know what you’re thinking – it’s just a bunch of coincidences, and it probably is. In which case, the visit to a Soho flat in 1987 is just another coincidence...
I got in through the kitchen window on that occasion, and dropped lightly onto the wooden floor before I made my way into the flat. I soon had anything worth finding in the bedrooms, and was looking through the shelve sin the main room when I heard a door open and close.
I stood by the door to the hallway and waited until this think dark skinned woman walked in, wearing a white cap sleeved top which was tucked into a knee length black leather skirt, and high heels which had black soles and white uppers. She also had short cut black hair, and wore square white earrings.
She gasped as I hand gagged her, and told her to stay calm and quiet as I walked her over to a long leather couch, telling her to lie face down on it and put her hands behind her back.
I had a roll of black electrician’s tape in my jacket pocket, so I took that out and held her wrists with one hand while I peeled the end loose with my teeth, and then taped them together.
I then crossed and taped her ankles together, as well as securing her legs together below her knees, before inviting her to roll over. As she did so, she looked at me, and I then saw the picture hanging on the wall behind the couch.
A picture I had seen some years before in Birmingham...
Anyway, I was not in a position to chat, so I used several strips of the black tape to keep her lips closed and quieten her a little, before I collected my bag and made my way out of the front door. As I did, I passed a picture of the young woman, as a little girl, standing next to a woman who was obviously her mother and a dark haired woman standing with them. A woman I recognised...
A week after the visit where I met the stewardess, I was in Chelsea again, a little later at night this time, and once again I was breaking into a flat where I knew two women lived.
So you can imagine how I felt when, for a flat that was supposedly empty, I found the two women in the front room. They were both wearing a mini dress – one was sleeveless and white, with a ruffed front, and the other a blue and green paisley pattern. The woman in white was wearing a pair of wedge Mary Janes, and the other knee length black patent leather boots.
“Oh my goodness,” she said as I walked in, “a real life cat burglar!”
“That’s right,” I said with a smile, “and I apologise for the inconvenience, but I’m afraid I need to prevent either of you from raising the alarm.”
“That’s exciting,” the one in white said, her black hair up in a beehive, “so you’re going to tie us up?”
“I may have to at that – do you girls have any washing line?”
“Under the sink,” the one in the boots said, “why?”
“Good,” I said as I walked over and put my hand on the other one’s shoulder, “go and fetch it, and a pair of scissors.”
As she went off, I pulled the phone from the wall, and said “as for you, young lady – do you have a first aid kit in the house?”
“In the bathroom – why?”
“All in good time,” I said as her flatmate came back. “Put the rope and scissors on the chair, and then both of you sit on the floor, back to back, with your arms raised.”
“Trust you to find a twist to the evening,” the girl in the boots said as they sat down, and I cut half the rope off, using it to secure them both together around their waists. I then cut the remaining length in half, and used one length for each of them, crossing their wrists in front of them and tying them together before bending their knees and taking the rope down between their legs to secure their ankles together.
As they chatted quietly, and looked at their bonds, I went to the bathroom and found the first aid kit, taking from it two rolls of elastic bandage. I then used them to gag both of the girls, taking it between their lips and then over their mouths before securing it with sticking plaster at the back of their heads. Crude, but surprisingly effective as I raided their bedrooms, and then left them with the scissors to hand so that they could free themselves – eventually.
And the girl in the boots? She was the one in the photo with the coloured girl and her mother...