The Cat’s Teacher









I see you’ve found that box of Polaroids – a true memento of the past, but not my past as such.  No, they actually represent times which my mentor shared with me when I was in training in my profession - examples which taught me what the right thing was to do when visiting a lady to take their valuables.


I always tried to follow such examples – take this first one.  This was a young woman he visited one evening in the early seventies – her husband had slipped out to the club for the evening, leaving her with their young baby girl. 


As you can see, she was wearing a light purple pants suit with buttons and the white collar, and black shoes – and when me mentor walked into the room, she had just finished changing her baby girl and was singing softly to her to get her back to sleep.  He was wearing a black jumper, pants and domino mask – so he was quite the sight for her, but she was otherwise occupied, as he told her to remain calm, he wasn’t going to hurt her, just make sure she could not raise the alarm before he left.


He was an inspiration to me in the way I communicate to this day – so she nodded as she sang softly to her baby, while he took a ball of twine from his bag and used it to secure her ankles tightly together, as well as her legs below her knees.


She was a beautiful baby by all accounts, dressed in pink – but when she was asleep, my mentor took her from her mother and placed her carefully in the basket that was on the couch – before he made the mother put her hands together in prayer, tied them together with the twine, and then tied them down to her legs with the thin cord going between her legs again.


He then rolled up a white cloth and pushed it gently into her mouth, so that the edges stuck out from between her lips,.  She just had to sit there quietly while he emptied her purse, and then searched upstairs for her jewellery.  As he left, the baby was still asleep, as her mother watched him quietly leave the room.




My mentor tended to favour the evenings for his visits, whether or not the woman he was visiting lived alone, was married or with a flatmate.  But sometimes, like myself, an opportunity arose.  The one this photo represents was just such an occasion – like me, he  was walking down the street when a house door was open, and he let himself in – first putting on his gloves of course.


The woman he found there was a tall, thin lady, wearing a sleeveless black dress with a white daisy print, her black hair up in a beehive.  She was barefoot, and wide eyed when he grabbed her from behind and put a gloved hand over her mouth to stop her calling for help.


Apparently, she kept struggling for a while, but eventually she calmed down as he kept talking to her, and accepted that she had to do what he asked her to do – and she was safe with him.  They then walked together up to the bedroom, and she opened her wardrobe up to show him her collection of scarves.


Scarves he said he would be able to find a use for, as he told her to lie on her back, with her head on the pillows, and her hands by her side.  He selected from the wardrobe a four long, thin chiffon scarves, and then tied the ends of two of them to her wrists – before he took her wrists above her head and tied the other ends of the scarves to the headboard so that her arms were spread out.


He then used the other two scarves to secure her ankles to the foot of the bed, and asked her very politely where she kept her valuables.  When she asked why he asked, he merely pointed out he did not wish to cause her any more distress by making a mess of her room – a fact she had to admit was worth consideration.


So she told him where to look, and he did take quite a few nice things – before he used a fifth scarf as a cleave gag to make it difficult for her to call the alarm.  He even knotted it to the side of her head in a neat bow -which I always felt after he told me about it was a nice touch.




It’s a scene of the Grand Canyon you can see in this Polaroid – but it’s not the scene he pointed out to me, it was the holiday attire, In my mentor’s case, it was the late sixties in Brilliant Bridlington by the Sea – a typical British holiday resort.  Small town, sunshine some of the time – and this particular day, the sun was indeed shining on the garden the householder was sitting in, her eyes closed behind the sunglasses she was wearing as my mentor slipped into the garden.


She was wearing a sleeveless blouse made of white material with a yellow floral print, and powder blue shorts, as well as a pair of sandals – and the straw bonnet on her head, the band going down under her chin.


He was casually dressed as well – a short sleeved shirt, grey slacks, and white gloves over his hands.  Hands which covered her mouth as he told her not to move until he said she could.  She was naturally a little taken back by this approach, but she looked into his eyes, and she could see he  was telling the truth. 


The question he asked was what she was going to do, and as he  removed his hand she answered – whatever he told her to.  A good response, as he told her to get up and walk into the house in front of her, while he carried a medical bag in his hand.  They both went in, as he pulled the telephone wire out of the wall, and then made her lie face down on a long leather couch. 


He then produced a roll of brown sticking plaster from the bag, and crossed her wrists behind her back before he used the plaster to secure them together.  She asked him if he did this to all the women he robbed – and, ever the gentlemen, he answered he did, for their own safety and protection.  He then crossed her ankles and secured them together with the tape as well, before he rolled her onto her side and removed her hat and sunglasses.


Walking over and drawing the curtains, he  then asked her where her money and valuables were – and when she told him, he thanked her, and covered her mouth with a strip of the sticking plaster before he left her listening to the radio.


She told him the truth – and so when he came back into the room and saw her lying there, he  thanked her before the door opened – and a fifteen year old girl came in, dressed the same way as the captive and her eyes wide open.


Turned out it was her daughter – and a few minutes later, she was sitting on an armchair, her wrists secured together behind her back, her ankles taped together, and plaster over her mouth as well.





Of course my mentor did sometimes visit homes with other family members in – and he often went fully prepared to those homes as well.  Have a look at this picture – it’s a fair resemblance to the mother and daughter he once told me about.


It would have been between three and four on an autumn ~Saturday afternoon – because the husband was out to the game, leaving his wife with her mother in law.  Well, it was such a pity to leave them without some excitement – at least, that was his view.


So he let himself into the kitchen, to find his wife was making tea.  She was about five foot six tall, with red-brown hair, and was wearing a lime green and black striped sleeveless top, black pants and heels.  She was also wearing glasses – but the sight of him, especially with the stocking pulled down over his face, meant she was wide eyed and listening to everything he said.


Well, he was a firm believer in a nice cup of tea – so he told her to finish making the tea and then take it through so that she and her mother in law could have a drink – and also tell him where she kept her jewellery before he made sure they could not stop him.


Her mother in law was just as surprised when she saw him.  She had tightly permed grey hair, and was wearing a red and white sleeveless striped dress with white shoes.  But as the younger woman sat down, and told her he was there to rob her, the older woman said something like “serves him right – are you going to hurt us?”


He assured her he was not going to hurt either of them, and they should enjoy their tea while I asked about where things were kept in the house.  There was one moment that apparently worried him when the doorbell rang, but he told the wife to answer without giving away what was happening while he sat with the older woman.


That turned out to be a salesman – and she came back in and sat down as he told them both to put their hands behind their backs, while he took from his bag several lengths of brown rope.  He made sure their wrists were crossed behind their backs and then tightly but comfortably secured together, and then he knelt in front of them to secure their ankles together.


He then helped them to sit back to back on the floor, and bent their knees before he used a longer length of rope to secure the wife’s arms to her sides, and then played it out to secure her legs together above her knees.  Her mother in law was soon secured in the same way, as he  removed the glasses from both ladies and placed them to the side – and then used rolled up black scarves to cleave gag both of them.  It did not take him too long to search the house - and then to clear the tea things away so that they were not having to worry about that aspect of things.


Very considerate of him again, I am sure you will agree.




He was surprised at times, of course, just as I was – take the night he called the “Come Dancing repeat”.  It was a Friday night, in I think he said 1966, and he had broken into a flat in Malden to see what he could find.


He told me he was in the classic black jumper and pants, with black gloves and the black cap over his head, and he had already found a fairly large amount of valuables – in fact, he  was about to leave when his departure was rather spoilt by the arrival of the young lady who lived in the flat.  She had strawberry blonde hair, and was wearing a lilac coloured dress – the top was silk, and had capped sleeves, and the skirt taffeta coming down to her knees.  She was also wearing a lilac coloured pair of stilettos, as well as a string of pearls round her neck, a gold watch – and eyes that were full of tears.


She saw him, but just sat on the bed and started to cry – a sight he was not totally unfamiliar with, but something told him he should sit, talk to her, let her get off her chest what she was thinking – so she told him she had been dumped, and dumped without warning, by her boyfriend.  He asked if he was the one who bought the jewellery and she nodded – and then realized she was being robbed.


My mentor used a handkerchief to dry her eyes, and said he was taking her valuables 0 but at least she would get the insurance money for them.  That seemed to mollify her slightly – because she removed her pearls, her watch and her other jewellery and handed it over as well, before he asked her to lie face down and used some silver tape to secure her wrists together, as well as her ankles and her legs above and below her knees.


Sitting her up, he taped her arms to her sides as well, and then covered her mouth with strips of tape before leaving her lying on her side, listening to the sounds of the Light Programme as he made his way out of the house..



There is one photograph here where I was present and remember the evening well.  He had been training me for about a year, and we were going to visit a detached house on a new estate on the outskirts of Gillingham.  We were both wearing shirts, jackets and pants, as well as leather gloves, and the house appeared to eb in darkness as I let us in through the front door.


That, of course, was when we heard the talking from the rear of the house – and when we looked in a doorway, we saw a woman in her early thirties standing there, taking on the telephone and telling someone she would see them later that night.  She was wearing a purple sleeveless dress – and as she turned I saw the deep neckline – as well as lighter purple heels, the pearls round her neck and the gold bracelets on her wrists.


I looked at him, he looked at me – and then he opened the door, and she looked at both of us.  For a moment, I thought she was about to scream, but my mentor stepped in, and told her she would not be harmed so long as she behaved and did what we asked her to do.


She looked at me, and I smiled and nodded – so she stopped trying to get free and call for help, as my mentor walked her into the front room, waiting until I pulled the blinds down over the windows.  There was a wooden armchair there, and the lady was – invited – to take a seat and put her hands palm down on the armrests.


He then took some thin cords from his pocket, and handed one to me, telling me to tie the woman’s ankles together while he secured her wrists.  I nodded and gently – and nervously - put her ankles together before wrapping the cord round them and pulling it tight.


Once I had her ankles secured, I took them to the side and tied them to the front leg of the chair, while my mentor used more cords to secure her waist to the chair back.  He then gently removed her jewellery, handing the items to me and putting them in the sack, before he tied a lilac chiffon scarf between her lips to make sure she stayed quiet, and then we went about our business.


As I said a true gentleman – he taught me so much which I still apply to this day…








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