The Family Cat
You would be right in saying, over my career, there have been occasions when I have paid visits and I have had to make sure a family cannot raise the alarm. It is not something I like to do, unlike some others, but when it has had to happen, I always take the same courteous approach I would with anyone I had to restrain.
You want to hear some of those stories? All right then – I remember the first time. I was still apprenticed, so this would be around 1973 or 1974. I was in Clapham, and had got into a nice terraced house, having a look round when the door opened, and two young women came in.
One was in her early twenties, wearing a psychedelic print pink halter neck mini dress with a matching band round her beehive, and knee length pink go-go boots. The younger girl with her could not have been more than thirteen, and was wearing a purple mini dress with a dots and flower print, as well as white Dr Marten boots with a dyed upper.
Well, they were both surprised to see me, so I got the chance to speak first, apologising both for the fact I was robbing their house, and also that I had to make sure they could not raise the alarm for a while. The young girl looked at me through her glasses, and asked how I was going to do that – which was when I produced the ball of twine and roll of sticking plaster I tended to carry with me at that time, and told them both to sit on the couch, with their hands in prayer in front of them.
Well, they both did that, the older girl (who I presumed was her sister) watching as I tied the younger girl’s wrists together with the twine, then pulled them down as I tied the twine around her legs above her knees, and finally around her ankles, cutting it off with my penknife when I was done. As she wriggled round, I made sure big sis was just as secure, before I pressed a strip of sticking plaster over each of their mouths, and then turned the radio on as I made my exit…
The thing is, the younger generation need to be treated properly if they are not going to end up hurting themselves. As you know, I always try to show due respect at all times anyway, but when it is a mum and her daughter, it helps to put them a bit more at ease.
This was in about 1983, and I was in the Dudley area of Birmingham, birthplace of one Lenny Henry and with a large Afro-Caribbean community. It was a Sunday afternoon, and I had managed to find my way across the back lawn of a semi-detached house, ease the patio doors open, and was searching the front room for valuables when a young girl said “mummy, there’s a strange man in the house.”
I walked over and knelt down, putting my hand on her shoulder as I asked her what her name was. “Shirley,” she said as she put her finger to her lips. She was about nine, and wearing a white sleeveless dress that came down to her knees. It had coloured dots on it, and a des sash round her waist as well as a red lace trim, and little red bows on the shoulders. Her hair was in two bunches, with white ribbons, and she had white socks and shoes on her feet.
“What do you mean, Shirley,” an older woman said, but as she came in and saw me with my hand on her daughter’s shoulder she stopped and put her hands to her mouth. Her dress was the same colour and with the same spots, but the red trim was over her shoulders, and I could see the bands at her back. It was also only down to her knees, and she was wearing white sandals with heels.
I looked at her, smiled and said everything would be all right, but I had to make sure that she and Shirley could not raise the alarm, so she should stay quiet and do as I say. As she nodded, she told Shirley the man was going to do something to make sure they could not move – or speak – but it would be something they would do together.
Shirley looked at me, and asked if I was a robber – I nodded, and said I was a nice one, not like the mean ones she saw on the television. That seemed to make her happy, as I suggested we all went into the dining room, so that they could look out over the garden.
As we walked through, I told Shirley’s mother to put two chairs in front of the patio doors, and then to sit in one of them, with her hands on her head. As she did so, I showed Shirley a large roll of silver tape, and told her I was going to use this to make sure she stayed in the chair. She asked how, so I told her to sit next to her mother, and then lean forward with her hands behind her.
The chair backs had spaces between the slats wide enough to let me take Shirley’s hands and arms through, and I told her to sit up nice and straight against the chair back. When she had done that, I crossed and taped her wrists together, and then taped them to the chair back, before I wound some more tape round the young girl’s waist and the chair back as well. She giggled as I did that, and looked at her mum, saying she could not move her arms.
I said her mum would be the same, as I took her arms round the chair back and taped her wrists together, then to the back, and wound the tape round her stomach as well as her upper arms and body. As she wriggled round, the tape crinkled but held firm, as I knelt in front of Shirley, put her feet together, and wound the tape tightly round her ankles, and then folded her skirt back before I taped her legs together below her knees.
Folding the skirt back, I asked if she was all right, and she nodded as I taped her mother’s ankles and legs together. Shirley’s feet were hanging over the edge of the seat, and as she swung them up and down I took her mother’s ankles to the front leg and taped them there as well.
She told Shirley they could look out for animals under her dad came home. I said that would be a good idea as well, but I needed to put some of the tape over her mouth as well. She looked at me and nodded, and I taped her lips over, and then her mothers, before leaving them to enjoy the view while I finished robbing the house. A quick check to make sure they were fine, and then I left them to their nature time…
I know someone like the Games Players make it more of a game for the kids, and there has been one occasion when that was the lead the mother decided would be the best way forward for me as well. This was a few years later – probably about 1987 – and I had been commissioned to break into a house in Alnwick and obtain a rare book – anything else was my concern.
I had come up the night before and stayed in a local hotel, so as I walked down the street, dressed casually, I looked like just another visitor to the area. With a small rucksack on my back, I looked in some of the shop windows, and even popped into one or two antique shops, buying some things and asking them to keep them until I called back later.
As a result, it was about lunchtime as I walked up the garden path – a very well kept garden at that – and looked at the front door. It was a simple Yale lock, and a few moments later I slipped inside, closing the door quietly behind myself, and as a precaution pulled a stocking down over my head. I was fairly sure nobody was home, but you never can tell.
And on this occasion, I certainly could not tell – because when I walked into the front room, someone was in. Well, two someones – a seven year old girl, with long blonde hair, wearing a Regency style long sleeved dress in white with a black top, and her mother. The older woman was wearing a knee length black dress with a purple fern, and white socks – the little girl was barefoot.
They both looked at me, as I smiled and said hello – then told them that I was the burglar of the day, and that they didn’t need to be afraid that I was going to hurt them. That seemed to calm them a little, as the mother asked what I was going to do – and how would I make sure they stayed quiet.
Well, I had a few ideas on that of course, but then she surprised me. Looking at the young girls, she said – and I remember what she said to this day – “Elsie – when I was your age, a man broke into our house and tied me and your grandmother up. I think this man is going to do that as well – but then, he did it so I felt safe and protected. Will you let me do the same with you?”
“Okay mummy,” the little girl said as she looked at me, and then her mother looked up. “Let me get myself and Elsie into position, and then you can begin.”
I nodded – anything to make things a little easier for her and for me, after all. So she knelt on the floor, looked at Elsie, and said “come over here, and give Mummy a big hug. I’m going to hug you all the time he is here – and after as well.”
The little girl walked over and stood in front of her mother, putting her arms round her as she hugged Elsie, and then said to me “start by tying my wrists together, behind her back, and then tie hers behind mine.”
I nodded as I took my rucksack off, removed a length of cord, and tied her wrists together behind Elsie’s back, the little girl giggling as she said “I love it when you hug me Mummy.”
“I love your hugs too,” she replied as I walked behind her and tied a length of rope between the young girl’s wrists, so that she was in place as well. I then took a longer length, and tied it round both of them at their waists, holding them together.
“Now, Elsie,” she said as she kissed her daughter’s forehead, “the man is going to tie some rope round my upper arms, and he will do the same to you.” Nodding, I carefully passed some rope around her arms, below her chest, so that Elsie’s head which was resting on her mother’s chest was out of the binding, and pulled her arms into her sides. Walking round, I did the same to the young girl, the band sitting above her mother’s wrists as I did so.
“We’re going to hug for a long time Mummy,” Elsie said with a smile as I tied her ankles together, making sure it did not hurt her, and then tied her legs together below her knees. I then secured her mother’s ankles and legs as well, before I said to her “out of interest, did they keep you and your mother quiet?”
“Yes – they used two scarves. Go up the stairs, first door on the right – I promise, we will be quiet until you come back.”
I took her at her word, and went up the stairs, returning with two headscarves. One was a plain black one, which I folded into a triangle, rolled up, and as her mum said to open her mouth I pulled it between Elsie’s lips, tying the band round her head as she bit down on it. The other one was a brown and white checked scarf, which I rolled up, tied a knot in the middle, and then gagged Elsie’s mother with. Turning on the radio, I left them hugging and trying to talk to each other while I obtained the book, and a few other things as well.
I made sure the police were told about them once I was far enough away…
Normally, if I knew a family lived in a house I visited, I tried to time visits for when nobody would be there – and between 3 and 4 tends to be a good time, when the school run is in full flow. In 1995, I was doing just that in St Albans – I had scouted out a house with a fine collection of porcelain items, and I figured I would have plenty of time to be in and out before the family came home.
I had, however, failed to check the liturgical calendar, and if I had I would have realised I had picked 22nd June – St Albans Feast Day. So I was busy loading items into a bag when I heard the front door open – and I had to hide behind the door as they came in.
There were two young girls – one was nine and the other seven. The nine year old was dressed as a medieval nun – her blonde hair was under a white heads veering, and she was wearing a brown dress with a white top, a white cloak, a brown scarf over the head covering – and grey leggings with pink fur lined boots. A strange attire indeed.
The younger girl was wearing a black cardigan over a white blouse, a long black skirt, and she had a pair of pink short boots on. Behind her came their mother, wearing a grey cardigan over a blue dress with white polka dots, and black leather boots.
Well, she saw the bag on the floor with the porcelain inside, and turned round – to see me standing with my hands on the shoulders of the two girls, and telling her to keep calm and quiet.
The older girl asked what was going on, and I told her the truth – I was robbing her, and now all three of them would have to be kept quiet and hidden away, as if they had been taken hostage by medieval villains.
Now, I expected them to be scared – after all, I was a stranger in their house – but instead, their mum told them both to go to the toilet and come back. While they were out, she asked if I going to take the porcelain, and when I said I was she smiled. Turned out she hated the stuff – and she would get her girls to do what I wanted in that case, if I set things up first.
When they came back, I had tied their mother’s wrists together behind her back, and she was sitting on the couch facing the television. She told them I was going to tie their wrists as well, and then the ankles of all three of them as they sat down, and they would watch a Bob the Builder marathon. They seemed happy about that, as I crossed and bound the wrists of each girl behind their backs, and then helped them to sit next to their mother before I secure their ankles together, one by one.
To keep them quiet, I used strips of medical tape, several to make sure they really were silent, before I left them to their singing, and me to take my gains…
Of course, now I am semi-retired, but there have been a couple of occasions recently where customers of mine have heard I know how to set some special events up, and asked me to do special mother-daughter events. One of those was for a wedding – the daughter of a friend was getting married for the second time, and she asked if I could arrange for her and her daughter to be captured princesses that her fiancé could rescue for the wedding.
Well, I first checked to make sure everyone was happy with that idea, and once they were, I said I would be at the house a couple of hours before the event. When I got there, I was wearing the black jumper and trousers, and I had a roll of white tape in my hand as I went into the house – the door had been left unlocked for that purpose.
I looked in the front room, and saw her eleven year old daughter sitting reading a book. She had short light brown hair, and was wearing a princess dress, with yellow and pink panels in the upper body, and a pink lace capped sleeves and collar. The skirt of the dress was also in pink silk with a lace overdress, and she was barefoot – by prior arrangement.
I slipped into the room and put my hand over her mouth, asking her fi she knew who I was, and why I was there. Well, she nodded and giggled, as I told her to stay quiet, and put her hands behind her back. Taking my hand away, I waited as she did what I asked, then crossed her wrists and taped them together.
I then went in front of her, smiling as I knelt down and taped her ankles, side by side, and also her legs below her knees. I wasn’t going to secure her arms – that would ruin the dress, but I did tear a long strip of the white tape off and cover her mouth with it, watching as she smiled underneath.
That was when I heard her mother come in, saying she looked as if she was ready. She was a brunette, and was wearing a long yellow silk gown with an embroidered front, and puffed short sleeves pulled down from her shoulders. She smiled and said thanks for doing this, then turned and put her hands behind her back, looking over her shoulder as I taped her wrists together. As I did this, the young girl giggled and tried to talk, as I asked her mother to sit next to her, and I taped her ankles, as well as her legs below her knees.
I then covered her mouth with the tape, and watched as they tried to talk to each other, and pretended to struggle. Looking at my watch after a few minutes, I wished them a wonderful day, and left – walking down the street as I saw the car pull up with her fiancé inside…
They were nice enough to send me some cake and a photo as well.
There is one other story that is fresh in my mind, because it was last week. One of my regular customers lives with her partner and their two daughters, and they were having a Fifties day at their school to which parents were invited. Now, she knows a little of my past, and asked if I would do a special surprise, and take all four of them as Fifties hostages when they got back…
That’s why I had a key to their house, and was waiting inside as they pulled up in their car and got out. Cynthia – my friend – was out first, with a pink satin bomber jacket over a white top, a long grey poodle skirt, the poodle in white, and white heels. Her dark hair was pulled back, a white chiffon scarf keeping her ponytail in place.
Her partner got out on the other side. Caroline was wearing a white short sleeved top and a pink poodle skirt, hers with two dice on the front, as well as black and white bowling shoes and white bobbysox, and a pink scarf tied in a bow round her hair.
As she walked to the door, the two girls got out of the back. Connie, Caroline’s daughter, was wearing a dark blue top with a white collar, a long light blue silk skirt, and white shoes and socks. Her light blonde hair was in a ponytail, and a dark pink scarf was tied round her neck.
Finally, there was Tina – she had a white top with a shiny pink satin collar, a matching short poodle skirt and scarf round her neck, and white socks with shoes in the same style as Caroline.
Anyway – all four were talking excitedly as they came in – and then the two girls stopped as I hand gagged them, their mothers looking at me as Caroline said “Christine, is this your doing?”
“It is,” Christine said quietly, “it looks as if an escaped prisoner has broken into our houses – and we need to do as he says.”
The girls laughed into my hands, as I told Caroline to close the drapes over the windows, and said to Christine to sit quietly on the couch, hands where I could see them. As she did so, I whispered to the two girls to pretend they were scared, then let them go as they ran to hug their mothers.
I had a canvas bag with me, and was wearing a black and white striped jumper, black trousers and shoes, and a black domino mask over my eyes. Smiling, I opened the bag, and handed Christine and Caroline a length of soft white rope. They asked what it was for – and I told them to tie their daughter’s wrists behind their backs.
I knew they had played games like this before, so as I watched the two girls stood in front of their mothers, talking to each other as their arms were secured. Smiling, I then handed them each a second length of rope, and told them to tie the ankles of the two girls together.
Both of them stood up and knelt on the floor, as they said the bad man was making them do this, and secured the ankles of Tina and Connie so they could not move their ankles apart. I could see they were excited, and I got their mothers to fold their skirts back and tie their legs together below their knees as well.
There was, however, one more thing I wanted them to do, as I told them to remove the scarves from their daughters, and use them to keep them quiet. The two girls nodded, and soon Connie was sporting a blue cleave gag, and Tina a pink one.
Looking at Caroline, I then handed her some rope, and told her to tie her partner up. Christine nodded as she put her hands behind her back, Tina giggling as she watched Caroline bind her wrists tightly together behind her back, and then help her to sit down next to Tina while she bound Christine’s ankles, then folded her skirt back and tied he legs as well.
As she stood up, she walked behind Christine, removed the chiffon scarf from her hair, and then pushed it into her partner’s mouth. Why not a cleave gag? Because I had a pair of clean stockings, and I told Caroline to use one of those instead.
“SSsfhnnshnnthtghrls,” Christine said as she turned and looked at the two girls, both of them nodding as I secured Caroline, and cleave gagged her in the same way as Christine while they sat side by side on the couch. Smiling, I then out on the Cliff Richard marathon I had been requested to bring, all four having fun as they twisted on the couch…
Be assured, I released them once some food I ordered had arrived – but I did tie them up and gag them in their beds. But that’s another story – more tea?