The Cat Drops In
Well, hello again. I haven't seen you around for a while -- I was beginning to think I had put you off with my tales. It's good to see that you were able to drop in again - pull up a chair while I make us some tea.
I've been thinking of you over the last few weeks, especially with all the new students in town. I know I've said it before, but I love the way they dress now as a "homage" to the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties, as if it was a new idea to them. They just don't realise that fashion goes around in cycles, and I've seen most of them before.
In fact, I saw a few of them while I was doing my old job. Why don't I tell you about some of them while we have a cup of tea?
As you know, when I visited homes I always tried to avoid the situation of there being someone home, but sometimes even the best of observations does not guarantee that. On one particular occasion, however, I stumbled across someone for whom the job of securing had been half completed.
It was a large house on the outskirts of a large town in the Midlands, but I knew the owners had a very fine collection of diamonds -- the pictures of them had been scattered over the papers recently. I chose a Sunday when I knew the family would be out of the house, and made my entrance carefully by a secluded side door.
So you can imagine my surprise on walking into the living room and finding a young girl in her twenties sitting in an old wooden chair. I was dressed in my usual garb -- dark sweater and trousers, with a woollen hat -- and I had a black bag in my hand, but it took a while for her to find her voice.
That might have been because of her predicament. She was wearing short sleeved brown velvet top and short skirt, light tan tights with white heels, but that wasn't the unusual thing about her predicament. The unusual thing was the fact that she was hunched over in the chair, tying her ankles together with a length of white rope, and not making too bad a job of it either. Her legs had already been bound together with rope above her knees, so imagine her surprise when she straightened up and saw me standing there, arms crossed and watching the show.
She stared at me, open mouthed, but before she could scream I asked her to stay calm and told her I would not harm her. She had long brown hair and an open, honest face, so she simply asked if I was a burglar, to which I replied in the affirmative. That was when she told me her tale.
She was the nanny to the two children of the family, but needed to raise some cash in a hurry, so the mistress of the house (who also needed money to settle a "private debt") had persuaded her to tie herself up and then she would stage a fake robbery. There was a pile of lengths of rope on her lap, as well as a white cloth, so it was going to look good.
As a professional, however, I could not let it look too amateurish, so I said that I would complete the job for her -- as well as make it a real robbery, which would get her off the hook. Nodding in agreement, she shuffled her chair forward and put her arms down behind the wooden back.
As I had plenty of time, and she seemed like a nice girl, I did an extra special job of securing her -- far more elaborate than my usual job. After binding her wrists together, I wrapped some rope around her waist to hold her against the chair back. Leaving her alone for a few minutes, I found a length of washing line and wound that around her arms, chest and shoulders firmly securing her to the chair and making it look like the professional job I always did. As I tied the last knot off, she wriggled round and smiled at me, satisfied that she was going nowhere.
She watched as I emptied the safe of the contents, talking to me about the children and how much she liked working for the couple. In the end, however, she knew that the time would come when I would have to silence her, and so it did. She looked up at me as I wrapped the cloth into and over her mouth, and then kissed her lightly on the forehead before leaving her to await the return of her employers.
The first time someone walked into a house when I was robbing it was actually in the late sixties, when I was just starting out as a solo artist. I was searching through a flat in the South of London (having first paid due respect to the Kray boys (you did not work on that patch without doing that) when I heard a key turning in the door and hurriedly hid behind the living room door, having first turned off the torch I was using.
The woman who walked in was in her early thirties, dressed in a brown tweed short coat and a long silk scarf wrapped around her head and neck in a style like that made popular by Audrey Hepburn. She only had time to take her coat off when I placed my own gloved hand over her mouth and told her to stay very quiet.
She was wearing a white cotton scarf around her neck, so I told her to take that scarf off and use it to blindfold herself. After she did that, so that her eyes were covered, she stood still while I looked at her. She was wearing a light grey cardigan and dark grey skirt, with black stocking and shoes and cloth gloves over her hands.
She asked in a London accent what my intentions were, so I reassured her that I was only after her money and jewels, so if she behaved herself she would be in no danger. She nodded on hearing that, so I took her by the arm and asked her if she had any rope in the flat. Telling me to go into the kitchen, I took her in with me before she told me to look under the kitchen sink. There were several lengths of rope coiled there, so I asked why she had them.
That's when she told me her husband was into "Artful Restraint" as she put it. Now remember, back then even books like Lady Chatterley's Lover were sold under the counter, so this sort of activity was not publicly talked about. Of course everyone knew it happened, but it was never talked about.
I asked if this meant she had been involved in these activities herself, and she nodded in response. So I felt no problem in taking and uncoiling the ropes, taking the blindfolded woman back into the living room and inviting her to sit in a wooden chair with arm rests.
She sat still as I secured her wrists together behind her back, before tying her ankles and legs together. A longer length of rope was used by me to secure her to the chair back, and I left her there while I found another white scarf and tied it over her mouth. It wasn't the most effective of gags, but I had her word that she would not call out -- and the fact I had pulled the old telephone away from the wall to make sure she could not raise the alarm that way.
Strangely enough, I came across the same woman some years later when I was raiding another South London flat. It does happen from time to time that you come across someone more than once, but on this occasion I was the one who had the advantage -- remember she had not seen me the last time.
I did not recognise her at first -- I was searching through a desk when I heard this London voice call out "Who's there?", then say "Oh God, not again," as the light went on and she saw me standing there. Her hair was dark as I remembered what I had seen of it, although it had been permed, and she was wearing a cream sleeveless nightgown.
"You have the advantage of me, but please do not scream," I said as I walked round the desk and towards her. She backed away slightly, but I took gentle hold of her arm and led her back into her bedroom.
"Forgive me, but I must make sure you cannot raise the alarm," I said as I took a length of cord from my pocket -- I had got into the habit by this time of taking a few pre-cut lengths of rope with me just in case. Pulling her hands behind her back, I quickly crossed her wrists and bound them together, making sure the knot was well out of reach of her long fingers.
"You're good," she said as she tested the ropes, and I thanked her for the compliment. "Have you been tied up often?" I asked, and she nodded before saying "Not for some time, and not as firmly, but yes"
"Please," I said as I pulled a padded chair from her dressing table, "Sit down facing the chair back, and I'll make sure you cannot raise the alarm."
It only took me a few minutes and two short lengths of cord to secure her ankles to the front legs of the chair, followed by selecting a pair of clean handkerchiefs and a long white scarf. She opened her mouth wide as I pushed the small cloths in, and then secured the scarf around her mouth and jaw to keep them in place.
She looked over her shoulder at me as I left the room, and although she was grunting I could have sworn I saw a twinkle of a smile in her eyes as I turned the light off. It was almost as if she was enjoying the secured way she had been left. Strange what makes some people happy?
Yeah, I know -- finding people in their pyjamas is something that happened more often than I care to think off. There were also times, however, when someone more elegantly dressed would drop in when I was busy.
It was the early eighties when I encountered the Duchess. I had dropped into the Mayfair flat by use of the back door, and waited until she had left for an evening out before I started to make my way into her rooms and rummage through her belongings.
I was so engrossed in my collecting that I did not realise I was been watched until I heard the slight cough. Turning round quickly, I saw her standing there with her big hair and her dark blue sleeveless silk gown gathered at the waist by a fabric belt.
Well, this was one occasion when I was had bang to rights -- but I also guessed that this was an occasion when a direct approach would pay dividends. So I smiled and asked if I could help her in some way.
She scowled at me, before informing me that I was in the presence of the Duchess of Sussex, and if anything she should be the one that was asking what I was doing there. Well, she had me bang to rights, so as always I took the direct approach and said I was there to steal her valuables.
That was when she smiled in return, and asked if she knew who she was. Well, of course I did, and I told her. Not only did I know she was the Duchess of Sussex, or whatever she claimed to be, I also knew it was a lie on two counts. First, there was no Duchy of Sussex. Secondly, I knew her dad -- Bert Sussex, the best thief on the south coast.
She had the good grace to smile at that one. Suzie Sussex had gathered a reputation as a female cat thief, and I felt honoured to be in her presence, but it did create a slight professional issue -- how can a thief steal from a thief?
She walked into the kitchen, and re-appeared with a bottle of wine and two glasses. We sat down and talked about her dad, and some old times. In the end, however, I needed to get something and she needed to maintain her professional appearance -- or at least the illusion that she was landed gentry.
In her professional line, Suzie was known to prefer the use of cuffs to rope, so I suggested she got two pairs and went to the toilet. On her return, I used one pair to cuff her hands behind her back and another to secure her ankles together. Taking some of my own rope, I then tied her legs together above her knees, and her arms to her side before sitting her against a wall. Finally, I tied a thin black scarf into her mouth. The least effective gag I knew of, but at least it was an attempt at one and I knew Suzie would keep quiet. Honour amongst thieves and all that.
Talking of which -- do you remember some time ago I told you about that TV star I surprised at home? Yeah -- the one who was the nice housewife on television and the leather lover at home. Well, did I ever tell you about her sister?
She was a singer in a band in the early seventies -- had a couple of minor hits, and appeared on Top Of The Pops, but never a real big hitter. She was a real looker though -- about five ten, with long blonde hair that came down to her chest. At any rate, when I paid a visit to her sister I found her address in a book, so I decided to try and see what I could find at her house.
I made my way in through the kitchen window, and was searching the bedroom when I heard her let herself in by the front door. I watched through the crack in the door as she climbed the stairs. She was taking off a brown fur coat to reveal a tiger print mini dress, dark stockings and tight brown leather boots. Walking into the room, she turned on the light and threw the fur onto the bed, before turning round and screaming as she saw me standing there dressed in black.
Well, I regret to say I was less than gentle -- pushing her onto the bed, I covered her mouth with a gloved hand and snarled rather than whispered to her to shut up. A bit rough, but the window of the room opened onto the main street and the window was open. There was a brown flannel on the table within reach, so I grabbed that, rolled it into a thick pad and stuffed it into her mouth, telling her to keep it there and not try to spit it out.
Rolling her over, I took some cord from my pocket and lashed her wrists together. As I did this, I told her that I was the man who had visited her sister some time before, and if she had heard the story of that night she would know that she had nothing to fear from me. As I helped her to stand up, I could see her eyes had widened while she looked at me, and then nodded to show she understood
I walked her over to a box trunk that was next to the window. Cutting the cord that moved the curtains down, I used it to tie her arms together behind her back and then around her chest to hold them in place. Sitting her down, I asked her if she wanted her boots taken off, and she grunted her approval.
Securing her ankles and legs together with more cord from my pocket, I took a stocking from her drawer and used it to secure the cloth in place in her mouth, she sat there, looking down on her bonds and twisting round while I quickly searched her room and took what I could find before beating a very hasty retreat out of there.
For all the risks and near misses, those were good times. I had a reminder of how good they were last week, actually, when I visited my niece and found her in a bit of a quandary.
She works on a television show, and there was a script for an upcoming episode where she is the victim of a sneak thief. Now, she knew that I had, as she put it, a "colourful past", and wondered if I could help her to get into the role.
When I arrived, she was wearing a green peasant top with cap sleeves and a pair of knee length denim jeans. She told me that her character was going to be taken by surprise, bound hand and foot and gagged, but she wanted to know what it felt like, so I told her I could oblige.
She had placed some lengths of white rope on a side table, and asked what I wanted her to do. Telling her to turn round, I took one of the lengths and doubled it over before crossing her wrists behind her back and using the cord to bind them together.
As she twisted her wrists round, she commented on how secure and yet how comfortable it felt. I took some pride in that -- I still had it in me to be gentle yet firm with the ladies, even if this was my niece. She sat down on the edge of her bed asked what would happen next, so I asked her if she had a scarf or something like that.
Indicating towards the chest of drawers, she told me to look in one of them, and I found a green bandana with a black pattern printed on it. It took me a minute to quickly roll the scarf into a band and tie a knot in the middle, then push the knot gently into her mouth and tie the ends together behind her neck. I asked her if she was all right, and she turned and looked at me before grunting "Ys".
Using another length of rope, I tied her ankles together before helping her to lie on her side and bringing her legs up so that they were on the mattress. I suggested leaving her for a few minutes, and she grunted her agreement as I closed the door behind her. She stayed there for half an hour, while I ordered some takeaway food and then came in to release her.
She thanked me for the experience, and I believe the show is on next Monday. Perhaps you can watch it and let me know how convincing she is -- I might be a little busy that night. A trip out of town that I've been planning for some time, and I may be a little tied up with business that night...