Like Mother, Like Daughter
“Now remember, so long as you do as we tell you then no-one needs to be hurt.”
The house was in a well-to-do suburb of a Northern city, the sort of place which middle-class people had bought in the early 80’s to live and raise a family in, and then had then seen the value rise far more than they had ever expected. It stood a little way back from the main road, with a neat landscaped garden in front and a row of small bushes providing some additional privacy from the pedestrians as they passed. On this particular Saturday, if someone has chanced to glance towards the house they would have seen the blinds drawn in the main room downstairs, presumably to keep the bright summer sunlight out of the eyes of whoever was currently there. They would not have realised that the real purpose was to keep those outside from looking in and discovering what was really happening……….
They had been watching the house for a few days, studying the occupants and their daily pattern. They knew there were three people resident there – two adults and a young girl that presumably was their daughter. The father owned one of the larger stores in the town – not a department store like John Lewis or Debenhams, but one that catered to the furnishing needs of the local community. On this particular weekend, they knew from a contact within the firm that he was away on business. It had cost them a small sum for that information, but in the scheme they had concocted they saw that as a reasonable investment. After all, in his position he must have acquired a fair amount of expensive items, and they would not be too difficult to fence elsewhere.
In addition, they knew that the mother and daughter regularly went shopping on a Saturday, and tended not to return until the later afternoon. Discreet visits to the area over the previous few days had shown that there was a quiet access road that ran along the rear of the street the house stood on, and that it would not be too difficult to get access by that road to the house. It seemed a simple job – get in, get anything they could carry and sell later, and get out. Being naturally cautious, however, they had planned for the possibility of their being disturbed while at work………….
On this particular Saturday morning, the two men watched as a red Skoda Fabia with two women inside left the driveway of the house, and turn in the direction of the road to the town centre. As the car drove into the distance, they stepped out of the van that was parked a little way down the road, and hoisted a pair of small rucksacks onto their backs. Both were dressed casually, with black leather jackets, jeans and boots. They walked in the opposite direction to the way the car had gone, and turned into the rear access road. Within a few minutes, they had reached the rear of the house they had been watching. Although there was a high fence around the rear, they had noticed a few loose planks in their previous visits. With great care, they moved those planks out enough to allow one of the men to clamber through and unlock the gate from the other side. Replacing the planks so as to hide their way in, the other man moved through to join his companion, and they both made their way to the kitchen door at the rear of the house.
The taller of the two men took a lighter and a screwdriver from his backpack, and heated the blade of the screwdriver. He then used the heated blade to force the lock on the rear door of the house, and both men quietly slipped inside. Closing the door behind them, the taller man went to cool the screwdriver at the sink, while the smaller went to disable the alarm system. This was the way they always tended to work when starting a job – one doing the physical work, the other taking care of any electronic and other alarm issues. As Tall dried the blade, Small came back in.
“Simple alarm system – managed to disable it without any problems. They don’t even seem to have a feedback loop to the local police station – the system must be an old one!”
“Fair enough – you start looking upstairs, and I’ll check the main rooms for anything.”
Small nodded, and started to head up the staircase to the bedrooms. Tall made his way into the main front room, and started to discreetly search the cupboards and bookcases.
It was while he was doing this that he heard the sound of a car turning into the driveway. Tall stopped for a moment and listened intently. Car doors were heard to open, and there followed the sound of footsteps approaching the front door.
“Damn,” he thought, “we’ll need to spend a little longer here than we thought”. With that, he reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a balaclava mask and a short knife……….
“I know it’s a pain that we’ve had to cancel the shopping trip, but that accident means by the time we get there, it will be time to come back.” The older women put her key into the door and opened the lock. She was in her late 40’s, with short bobbed blonde hair. Her daughter was about 17, and looked very much like her mother with the exception that she wore her blonde hair long.
“I know – but I was so looking forward to seeing Joan and Sue again. At least they understood when we called why we couldn’t make it.”
“Tell you what – I’ll go and put the kettle on, and we’ll have a cup of coffee while we decide what to do with the rest of today.”
The two women entered the house, the younger one closing the door behind them. As the mother went into the kitchen, the daughter headed into the living room to put on the radio that was there. As she entered the room, however, she was suddenly grabbed around the upper body, and a gloved hand was slapped over her mouth.
“Don’t say a word – I have a knife here and believe me, I won’t be afraid to use it. Now, when I take my hand away I want you to be perfectly quiet and not to move. Nod if you understand.”
Terrified, the young girl nodded her head. Removing his hand, Tall put the blade of the knife against her back.
“Did you say something….” The mother entered the room, and saw her daughter being held by a tall man in a black leather jacket and jeans, and with a balaclava mask over his head. She raised her hands to her mouth, as much to stifle a scream on her own part as in horror.
Tall spoke. “Don’t make any loud noises or sudden movements. This is a robbery, and we had hoped you would not return until after we had left. Mr Small, would you join us for a moment or two, please?”
Turning round, the mother saw a smaller gentleman entering the room, dressed identically and with a small pistol in his hand. She found her voice.
“Wh…. Who are you?”
“I am Mr Tall, and my companion here is Mr Small. As I say, we are robbers, and we don’t want to hurt you in any way. The fact that you have unexpectedly returned means we may have to – prevent you from getting in our way, but so long as you do exactly what we say we’ll all get along just fine. Do you both understand?”
Both women nodded.
“Good. Would it be impolite to ask your names?”
The mother spoke. “My name is Grace, and my daughter’s name is Clare.”
“Well, Clare, why don’t you go and stand next to your mother. Mr Small will watch you as well, so please do not try to do anything heroic.”
Clare moved quickly over and hugged Grace.
“First, would you please give Mr Small your handbags?”
Both women handed their bags to the smaller gentleman, who removed from them a pair of mobile phones. He switched them both off, and then placed the phones and bags on a small table in the room.
“Thank you, Mr Small. Would you please now go and make sure the main telephone is disconnected? In the meantime, ladies, please take off your jackets and place them on the chair beside you.”
“Do as he says, Clare.” Grace undid the buttons on her beige overcoat, and slipped it off her shoulders. Clare unzipped the red leather jacket she was wearing and placed it on the chair, followed by her mother’s coat.
Mr Tall noticed that, in the case of this particular mother and daughter, the identical looks went further than just the hair and facial build. Both women were virtually identically dressed. Clare was wearing a white sweatshirt, blue jeans and knee length zipped black leather boots. Her mother was wearing a white Argyle sweater with a patterned scarf around the neck, jeans and black leather boots with cuffs at the top.
“Now remember, so long as you do as we tell you then no-one needs to be hurt. Grace, would you please close the window blinds, without raising the alarm, or else Clare here will not be happy?”
Grace went to the side of the window and closed the Venetian blinds.
“Now, please would you both sit down next to each other on the couch there?”
Both women went to the long couch and sat down at one end.
“Kindly put your feet up on the footstool in front of you, and then put your hands behind your head with the fingers interlocked.”
As they did this, they watched as Mr Small took one of the rucksacks that they had brought in, and began to bring out lengths of rope. Clare shuddered.
“You don’t have to tie us up – we won’t cause any trouble.”
Mr Tall laughed. “My dear girl, I did say that we would have to prevent you from interrupting us while we work. I do promise you, however, that I will make you and your mother as comfortable as possible, and that we will detain you no longer than necessary. Now, if you do not mind, please cross your ankles.”
“Clare, just do as he says. Let’s try to get through this in one piece.”
Clare reluctantly crossed her ankles. “Thank you,” said Mr Tall. “Mr Small, a length of cord please.”
Mr Small passed him a length of white cord, which Mr Tall used to bind Clare’s ankles together. Making a loop in the rope, he passed the cord several times around her ankles and then cinched the rope tight. Taking a second length of rope from Me Small, Mr Tall then proceeded to tie her thighs together above her knees, cinching the rope again to ensure it was secure.
“There – please keep your hands behind your head until you are told to move them. Mr Small, thank you for your help for now, but could you please return to searching the upstairs bedrooms?”
“Clare, are you all right?”,Grace asked.
“Yes, Mum – it feels a little strange, but it’s not too painful.”
“Thank you for the compliment,” Mr Tall replied. “Now, Grace, if you could do the same as your daughter please?”
Grace crossed her ankles, and Mr Tall proceeded to tie her ankles and legs in the same way as Clare. “Tell me,” Grace asked, “Why are you tying our legs first? When we were robbed before………”
“We’ve been robbed before? When?” Clare asked.
“Some years ago dear – you were at school at the time. When we robbed then, they tied my hands first and then my feet. Why are you doing it this way round?”
“Simple – the way you are seated, you can’t use your hands, and I know you will not place your daughter in any danger. This way I can be sure you will not try to run away, and my colleague can get back to the job we are doing.” With that, Mr Tall finished cinching the rope around Grace’s legs, and stood back to check the work.
“Now, however, I am afraid I do have to make sure your hands are secured. Clare, we will take care of you first. Please put your hands together in front of you as if you are praying.”
Clare brought her hands round from behind her head, and did as Mr Tall asked. He quickly bound them tightly together, ensuring the ropes were cinched, and then tied them down with a short length to the rope around her legs, giving her some room to move but not enough to free herself. As an added precaution, he then took a long length of rope and used it to tie her upper body, effectively immobilising the arms.
“There,” Mr Tall said, “I trust that is not too uncomfortable.”
Clare wriggled a bit, but had to admit she was unable to move far.
Mr Small entered the room carrying a second rucksack. She went to the handbags the women had deposited earlier, and started to take money from them.
“Mr Small, you will find a small safe behind that portrait on the wall. Grace, I realise it is an imposition, but you could please give Mr Small the combination, otherwise…….” And he looked over at Clare with a glint of menace in his eye.
“All right, I’ll give him it.” Grace gave Mr Small the combination, and he went to work on the safe. “Thank you, Grace, now would you please turn towards your daughter and place your hands behind your back?”
Doing as she was asked, Grace felt her wrists been lashed together and cinched behind her back. She then saw a long length of rope pass over her upper body, and passed several times above and below her breasts. These were then cinched with a further length passing over her shoulders and around her neck.
“Thank you, Grace, you may now sit back.”
Both women were trying to move, but the ropes around their body were holding firm. As they struggled, Mr Small closed the safe door, and began to gather up the loose ropes from the floor.
“Mum,” Clare said, “What happened the last time we were robbed?”
“I’ll tell you about it another time, dear. It was certainly more terrifying than this occasion, but I learnt then to do what was asked and nothing bad would happen.”
Mr Tall took the bags from Mr Small, and then asked “Mr Small, I wonder if you could return to the upstairs bedroom and find something suitable to silence these lovely young ladies with?”
Both women looked at Mr Small in horror. “You don’t have to gag us,” Grace said, “we won’t call out. I promise.”
“Nevertheless, Grace, I cannot take that risk. It is more than my liberty is worth, but I assure you it is only for a little while.”
Mr Small returned with two small chiffon squares and two larger scarves. Handing one of each to Mr Tall, he went behind Clare’s head.
“Please, Clare, open your mouth and allow us to silence you for a little while.”
Clare looked at her mother, who nodded. She opened her mouth, and the chiffon square was balled up and placed inside. The larger scarf was then rolled into a thin band and tied into her mouth to keep the gag in place.
“Now, Grace, we will alert the police to your predicament in one hour. When they come, you can tell them The Gentlemen Robbers called here today.”
“I suppose I should thank you for only tying us up and not hurting us?”
“Your thanks are accepted. Now, open wide.”
The small scarf was placed in Grace’s mouth, and then the larger scarf was rolled into a band and a knot tied in the middle. This was then placed in Grace’s mouth, and tied tightly behind her head. The ropes on both women were then checked, and the two men headed for the door.
“Ladies, we bid you a fond adieu. May we never meet again. “
The two men left through the kitchen door, headed out the back gate and made their way to their van, removing the masks as they went. Hearing their departure, both Grace and Clare tried to free themselves, but it proved too difficult to reach the knots until, exactly an hour later as promised, the police arrived and freed them. As for the Gentlemen Robbers, their career was only just beginning to gain the notoriety it deserved…………