The Cat Sits Back
Tea hot enough for you? Good – I do miss these little chats, you know – these opportunities to think about what I have done in my life, and some of the situations that have arisen. A few friends have actually suggested I write some sort of memoir, but I think that’s not a great idea. Just imagine – hello, you may not remember me, but some forty years ago I broke into your house, tied you up, kept you quiet, and then stole your valuables? Would you mind if I mentioned you in my memoirs?
No, I don’t think that would fly – but it doesn’t mean I can’t share some of the more unusual stories, such as the time when, as a young man, I had to keep a certain aspiring actress from raising the alarm and at the same time find where she kept her valuables.
Her name was Annette Tyler, and she looked a bit like a slimmer Susan George – especially when she came back into her flat, and I was in her bedroom, helping myself to some fine examples of jewellery! She was wearing a cream coloured sleeveless dress, with buttons down the front from the v-shaped neckline to where it split to allow her to walk, and white high heels. Obviously, the last thing she expected to see when she went into her room was a tall, dark haired man looking through her jewellery boxes – and she was probably the last person I wanted to see as well.
But I am a professional – so I showed her a starting pistol I used to carry round for show, and that got her attention. From the holdall I had I took a length of washing line and walked behind her, doubling it over and then passing it several times around her upper arms behind her back. This was about halfway from her shoulder to her elbow, and I didn’t try to draw them together – merely secure them and then draw the band together in the centre of her back. I then folded her arms so the backs of her hands were against her opposite arm, and wound the rest if the rope around her forearms and wrists. I also added a couple of turns over the palms of her hands and her arms, before knotting the ends together.
Well, she had been quiet while I was doing this, but when I directed her to sit on a stool in front of an ornate dressing table, I could see the way she was scowling as she looked at me in the mirror. So I knelt to her side, took some more rope and tied her legs together below her knees, then spiralled the two lengths down her legs before I used them to secure her ankles together.
I then assured her if she remained quiet, all would be well, as I helped myself to her jewellery. She asked why I was doing this, and I was candid and honest in my reply – I could, and her insurance would recompense her.
Well, she at least had the grace to admit that was true, as I also opened her purse and put a bundle of notes into my bag. That only left one question – how to keep her quiet? That was solved by use of a white scarf, rolled up and tied between her rouged lips, as I left her looking at her reflection while I beat a retreat.
A nice simple evening that one – but sometimes a visit could lead to something a little unexpected for someone else. A few months later, I was entering on a quiet afternoon a terraced house in the Chilterns – I had gone up on business, and decided to carry out a visit while I was there. This was a commuter town for London – still is really – and in the mid-seventies that meant nobody was really around. Or at least, that was normally the case.
I climbed in through a rear window, and looked round what appeared to be a study before I noticed a locked cabinet. It didn’t take my long to open it, and find a number of trays with gems in them. Well, this was proving to be an opportunity for a very profitable business – which was when the mistress of the house walked in, looking at a design pad.
She had shoulder length dark hair, and was wearing a short floral print dress. It had a v-shaped neckline, and as a detail a fake bolero jacket with lace trim. Dark hose and a pair of kitten heels completed her outfit. She saw me, and moved quickie for the phone on the desk – but I was quicker, gently grabbing and hand gagging her as I told her to relax, she would not be hurt if she did as I said.
She stopped struggling and nodded, so I told her to stand still, keep quiet, and put her hands behind her back. I had got to the stage where I came prepared, but her eyes widened as big as saucers when she saw me take some white rope from the bag, and then cross her wrists behind her back before I secured them firmly together.
As I did, I asked why she was home – and then I discovered she was a designer of jewellery by order, and ran her business from there while her husband worked in the city. The locked cabinet? His idea of security.
So she asked if I would help teach him a lesson, and I was more than happy to oblige – by taking all the jewels and some valuables, but leaving her where she could be found. And unable to raise the alarm.
I tied off the ropes around her wrists, and then two longer lengths from my bag, using one to tie her arms to her sides below her chest and above her elbows, and one above her chest as well as round her upper arms. I then used two smaller lengths to tighten the bands under her arms, before escorting her to her main room.
She took a seat as I went to the windows and drew the drapes over them. I should say I was wearing a jacket over a black jumper, dark pants and shoes, and dark glasses as well as leather gloves – she actually complemented me on my dress sense as I knelt down, removed her shoes, crossed her ankles and tied them firmly together, before securing her legs above her knees with another length of rope. It’s not the most secure place to do so, but this bit was for show more than anything.
She looked over her shoulder as I left the room for a moment, and asked if I would turn the radio on. That was simple, as she listened to Radio 2 while I took care of emptying said jewel store, then took a few snuff boxes and smaller items as well.
When I came back in, I had a large headscarf, which I had rolled into a band and tied a knot in the middle of. She nodded and opened her mouth to allow me to push the knot between her teeth, and then tied the band around her head, before she settled herself while I left.
I remember reading later how the robbery had been discovered, and I am sure he improved security after that…
That also brings to mind a pleasant hour I spent one evening in the later seventies. I had been in Scotland visiting some friends, and I had the evening free, so I decided Edinburgh Old Town would be a good place to look round.
I hadn’t exactly come prepared, but one of the joys of Scotland at the time was that there a multitude of small shops where you could pick up anything – so in one I picked up some washing line and a roll of white tape, and in another a pair of stockings. I don’t particularly like wearing a stocking mask, but must needs to times.
So it was I walked down the back of a row of Georgian houses, which had been converted even then into flats, and saw a rear window partially open. I managed to open it wide and went in, pulling the stocking down over my head before I did so, and then closing the window behind myself. The room was in darkness, but I had a handy dandy Ever Ready pocket torch which allowed me to look round.
IT was, fortunately for me, a bedroom, and a woman’s at that, so I soon had in my pockets some nice things from there. Opening the door slowly, I walked out into the hallway, and opened the door to the front room – only to see the resident sitting watching a film in a darkened room.
Like the other times, she was also wearing a sleeveless dress – in her case, a blue mini dress with a leopard print wing collar, and a zip fastening at the front. She was also wearing black stiletto heels, and a shocked expression as she saw me. One glance at the screen told me why – she was watching Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, and it was the part in the film where Clint Eastwood and George Kennedy broke into the suburban house.
So I took advantage, told her in my best Eastwood voice to lie face down on the floor, and put her hands behind her back. She did so rather too quickly, as I took the washing line from my back pocket, made a loop in one end, and started to bind her wrists tightly together. I was a little worried at the way she was balling her fists, so I kept taking to her as I wrapped the rope around and between her wrists, keeping her calm, keeping her quiet.
That used about half the rope, so I pulled her ankles back and used the rope to secure them together as well – a simple hogtie, but given how she was too scared to do much, that seemed to hold her. She rolled onto her side and watched as I walked to the side of the room, and pulled her telephone from the wall, before I took the roll of white tape from my bag and tore strips off, pressing them over her lips and mouth as a simple tape gag. She then watched as I searched the rest of the room, before telling her I’d inform the police of her predicament.
As I left, the car with Eastwood and the team were driving to the drive-in theatre…
As you know, I usually avoid situations where kids may be home when I visit, but at times it has happened. Thinking about my earlier days, and some of the situations where I had to help everyone relax, it does remind me of the time I had to keep a mother calm with her daughter.
I know the date of this with some certainty – it was the Silver Jubilee, so 1977. The house as in the Aston area of Birmingham, and was the home to your typical suburban Bank Manager with your typical suburban Bank Manager’s family. I was going to visit on the last Friday of the month, a traditional payday, and it was the summer, so the streets were quiet as I walked up, wearing an army style knapsack thrown over one shoulder.
The house was a Barrett Box semi – so easy to walk up the side of, and effect an entry through the side door into the kitchen. The house seemed to be empty, but as a precaution I pulled the rim of my hat down, covering my head and only allowing my eyes and mouth to be seen. A bit more than I usually use, but the occasion seemed to demand it.
Which was just as well as I walked quietly down the corridor, and heard to my surprise the sound of music playing. Opening the door to the front room very slightly, I could see a teenager, maybe about fifteen, sitting reading a book as the radio played. She had short blonde hair, and wore a tan corduroy bomber jacket over a tan roll neck sweater, corduroy pants, and over the knee tan suede boots. She was oblivious to the fact I was even watching her – but I knew that, for once, I would have to make sure a minor could not raise the alarm.
I had in my pocket a wide roll of Elastoplast – the brown fabric sticking plaster – so I backed out of the room for a second, and tore a long strip off, before holding it fabric side down in the palm of my gloved hand. Walking back into the room, I took her totally by surprise as I pressed the strip firmly over her mouth, and whispered to her to remain calm, not to struggle, and do as I say. I kept talking to her as she tried to pull my hand away, and then slowly nodded.
Walking in front of her, I told her to cross her wrists, and as she watched me I took some cotton washing line from my bag, and used it to secure her wrists together, before playing it out and securing her legs above her knees, then down and around her ankles. She was breathing through her nostrils, watching as I nodded, smiled and said so long as she remained still, and did not struggle, she would be all right.
So, I was managing to keep her calm – at which point we both heard the front door open and close, and her mother call out to ask if she was there. Putting my finger to my lips, I stood and watched as she came in. She was in her early forties, with long brown hair, and no – she was not wearing a sleeveless dress. She had on a short sleeved white top and a pinstripe short skirt, white stockings and black wedge sandals. She took one look at her daughter, one look at me, dropped her handbag and raised her hands, pleading with me not to hurt her or her daughter.
Well, I assured her if she did as I asked, that would not happen, so she nodded and asked what I was going to do. I started to asking her to put her hands out in front of herself, palm to palm – and then used a length of pre-cut rope to secure them tightly together, taking the rope around and between her arms. I then told her to turn round, as I used another longer length of rope to secure her arms to her sides under her chest, pulling them against her body as I tied it off to the side.
As I did this, I asked where she kept her jewellery, and she mentioned the usual places. Thanking her, I asked her to walk over and sit at one end of the couch opposite the chair her daughter was in, and then knelt down and secured her ankle together. I left two lengths of rope from the binding, before I moved her so that she had her feet by the arm rest on the cushion. The lengths were then tied round the leg of the couch to keep her there.
She nodded and asked the girl if she was all right, her daughter nodding and mumbling in reply as I took the roll of Elastoplast out, and tore another long strip off. Asking her to purse her lips, I pressed the cloth plaster firmly over them, keeping her quiet as well while I went in search of their valuables – having first pulled the curtains over the windows, turned the radio up, and disconnected their telephone.
An hour later, I let myself out of the front door, having checked they were all right. Apparently, the daughter managed to get over to the couch, her mother managed to remove the tape gag, and then she used her teeth to free her mother’s hands – just as her father arrived home…
It’s not that in those days I did not prepare for more than one person at home when arriving – more a case of I usually found it easier to deal with only one person if I had to prevent them raising the alarm. I suspect most people would – but when it does happen, I always make it fun.
The early eighties, and I had slipped into a flat in the Bayswater area for a specific purpose – to find a collection of coins I knew the house owner had. Now, finding the safe was easy, opening it was easy, putting the coins into my bag was easy – turning when I heard the door open to see his twin daughters standing there, a little trickier.
They were both tall, slim, with curly black hair. One of them was wearing a pale blue dress with buttons down the front, and white heels – the other a black bolero jacket over a red satin knee length dress, and red heels. They both stared at me as I stood up, apologised for the intrusion, but also told them I was here to rob them, and I needed to tie them both up and gag them so that I could make my getaway.
There were two ways this could have gone – but luckily for me, they chose the quiet option, asking if I was going to hurt them. I assured them if they cooperated, that would not be the case, instead asking them to come into the main room with me. Once there, I told them to kneel in front of a grey couch, which had a tartan rug thrown over the seat, and to put their hands behind their backs.
As I crossed and secured their wrists, they offered to tell me where their own jewellery was, if that meant I would leave them untouched. I, of course, had no intention of doing more than securing them, so I agreed to that as I secured the second girl’s wrists, and then passed longer lengths of rope around their bodies under their chests to secure their arms to their bodies.
Once that was done, I helped them to sit back to back, using more rope to secure their ankles tightly together. For the girl in the blue dress, I secured her legs around her calves, below her knees, but for the other girl I wrapped the rope around her legs above and below her knees.
Why? Because when I was securing her ankles, she whispered she wanted me to do that. I always like to make those I visit happy if I can. I also debated tying them both together, but decided I had done enough in terms of binding.
Keeping them quiet, however, was a different matter, as I took two small cloths from a pocket, folded them and told them both to open their mouths. Once I had placed the cloths inside, they closed their lips as I used white medical tape to cover them.
Telling them not to move, I went to their bedrooms and collected their valuables, looking in before I left and wishing them good luck. As I walked off, I could hear them trying to talk to each other, and guessed they were trying to free each other…
Of course, the ones you really remember are the famous stars – in the late eighties, I read that a famous cabaret singer was in town, and saw the jewels she had been photographed wearing. It had been some time since I did a hotel bedroom robbery, but I thought the challenge might be worth it.
In those days, it was still keys rather than access cards, so a little work with a set of lock picks and I was in. A nice room too, with blue silk bedding. But I had a job to do, and I soon selected the strongbox and opened it. As I did so, however, I could hear the key in the lock, so I took the case to the en suite bedroom and looked through the door.
She was in her early fifties, with short brown hair, and was wearing a black leather jacket over a white jersey dress with a short skirt. She was also wearing a pair of high heeled gold sandals with straps tied Grecian style up to her knees. She went to her bed, saw the strongbox was open – and then felt my hand over her mouth as I told her to remain calm, and do exactly what I said.
She nodded to show she understood, and I told her to lie face down on the bed, her hands behind her back. From my jacket pocket, I took out some cord and crossed her ankles, before I tied them tightly together. As I did, I said I was a true fan, and asked her how it felt to be singing in the UK again.
She was surprised I wanted to talk about it, but as I secured her wrists, and then her ankles, we talked about her music and her tastes. I then let her roll onto her side, pulled her ankles back and secured them to her wrists in a loose hogtie. Having made sure she was going nowhere, I retrieved her jewellery case, and apologised as I started to empty it into my bag.
She then said it was not the first time she had been robbed, or tied up – but she had never felt so safe about it, or so relaxed. A fact I took as a compliment, as I pulled the cords to close the bag – and then said I needed to ensure she was kept quiet.
Going to the bathroom, I soaked a small washcloth, wrung it out, folded it into a pad and brought it through. She allowed me to push that into her mouth, only the edges showing, before I took some duct tape I had and tore several strips off, making sure I covered her mouth and chin. She watched as I went to the door, mumbling her appreciation as I slipped out.
I always liked to leave them relaxed – more tea?