by John Pilling
The news ran round the complex like wildfire prompting expressions of disbelief and disgust.
“That’s the tenth one.”
“What the hell are they playing at?”
“In my day… ”
“Turning us into a bloody laughing stock.”
“Only ever cash.”
“Hmmm… clever that.”
“Maybe we could…”
Later that day, seemingly at random, serious people began to drift towards the community room.
* * * *
It had all started when Jude had noticed a postman override the access security to a block of pensioners flats by pressing a black button marked “tradesmen.” Curious, he’d waited a few minutes till the postman left then pressed the button himself and found himself able to wander unchallenged through the building. Two days later, dressed in overalls and armed with a toolbox and a sincere smile, he was knocking on the door of flat number one to “reset the heating controls.”
It was all so easy, most of the old folk were so pleased at the idea of a bit of company that they barely glanced at his fake ID before inviting him in, silly old fools. Nearly all of them offered him a cup of tea or coffee leaving him free to have a quick rummage round whilst they made it… then, five minutes chat whilst they drank it and…
“Well, no peace for the wicked.” And away to the next one. He’d actually left one old girl searching her purse for a tenner, by then safely in his pocket, to pay him.
After that first success, he’d got things more organised. Posing as the worried son of an ageing parent he’d found it easy to obtain details of retirement blocks around the city and started to work through them systematically.
Back in his flat, Jude carefully locked the door and drew the curtains over the living room window. Not that there was likely to be anyone looking in halfway up a high rise block, but Jude was a cautious man …a trait that had paid substantial dividends in his career.
Moving to the table, he up ended the toolbox chortling happily at the resultant cascade of notes and coins. It had only been the one flat this morning but it was number three, his lucky number, and looked like his best haul yet. That was a real stroke of luck spotting the article in the local paper about a new block of luxury retirement flats being opened.
True he’d been a bit taken aback when he’d let himself in and found a caretaker sitting reading a paper behind a desk. Still, he’d kept his nerve, and after he’d shown him his ID and mentioned heating control checks the old boy had been very helpful …even telling him that the occupants of flat three, the only one so far occupied, were away and lending him the master key so he could let himself in… unbelievable.
Shaking his head at the gullibility of some people, he sat down and started on the pleasurable task of sorting the money. He never took anything other than cash, cash was untraceable and a large amount in his possession easily explained away as savings or a win on the dogs or whatever. The dangers of trying to fence jewellery and such, or trying to use credit cards, even being caught in possession were definitely not for him.
Smiling, he stacked coins into neat little pound heaps, sorted the five and ten pound notes separately and added the twenty pound notes to the wad he had found in a locked cash box. Some security he thought, took me twenty seconds with a screwdriver to prise it open.
Finally finished, he counted up the various amounts in front of him, whistling to himself at the total, this job was paying off in spades. Leaning back in his chair, happily contemplating a lovely long expensive holiday, he was startled by a heavy knock on the door of the flat. Getting up he went to answer it.
* * * *
DI Hodge pressed “record.”
“Interview commenced at sixteen hundred hours. Present, suspect Mr Jude Anselm, DI David Hodge and detective sergeant Ian Williams…yes Mr Anselm?”
“I object to being called a suspect, I haven’t done anything wrong, you have no right to arrest me.”
“You haven’t been arrested Mr Anselm, you’re merely helping us with our enquiries.”
“Then I shall leave.”
“Before you do, I would like to show you some film… suspect is being shown a cctv film dated this day …timed at oh nine fifteen hours.”
Perspiration slowly beading his forehead, Jude watched with growing horror as a record of his visit to the retirement flats that morning unrolled in front of him. Pin sharp images showed him emptying wallets, searching drawers, even prising open the cash box.
“We also have a recording of your conversation with the caretaker.” Inspector Hodge said quietly. “I take it you do not deny you are the man in that film Mr Anselm?”
“I can’t, can I?” He said miserably. “But how…I don’t understand?”
“They were waiting for you Mr Anselm, they knew all about your visits to pensioners and decided to do something about it. They set up the cameras and arranged the article in the paper. They knew you’d come.”
“Who are they?”
“The residents of the flats Mr Anselm, the complex is owned by the Police Benevolent Society…they’re all retired detectives.”