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  • Abhignan Kotih

THE (ALMOST) PERFECT BURGLARY

Updated: Mar 18, 2021




“So let me get this straight, Giroud- you are saying that you know who he is, but still haven’t caught him, although you had 24 hours?”

Monsieur Werner, the Sûreté is doing everything in its power…”

“NO!” banging his fist on the table, Mr Werner shouted. “This is unacceptable! My own secretary, Benjamin St. James, runs away with a billion euros worth of jewels from the International Precious Treasures Association’s annual exhibition from right under our noses, and you tell me that you still can’t find him?”

Oui, monsieur.”

The mugshot showed a young man, with a long beard, tinted spectacles, untidy hair. There is some soot on his cheek. Just then, the door of the station burst open, and a police officer came in, dragging a scrawny, dirty looking man behind him, struggling to free himself from his captor.

“Monsieur Giroud, this man, Thomas le Tissier, was found trying to break into the IPTA building by the perimeter police. He was carrying a crowbar, a skeleton key and a torch, plus other odds and ends. I’d say a case of breaking and entering and attempted burglary. Could be about 6 months of imprisonment, considering he didn’t actually get to enter, right?”

“Oui Haute, good job. And as for the prisoner…. Well, making a name as a jailbird are we, Tissier? Just two months ago he was caught and locked up for 3 weeks, for an attempted pickpocketing. And once before, as well. Notorious, indeed. Lock him up. We’ll take him to the pen after we fill the paperwork.”

After the man was taken away, Giroud turned to Mr Werner.

“Sorry for the holdup, monsieur Werner. I have just one more favour to ask of you. Can you please recount the details of the crime?”

Sighing, the old man began-

“As you know, sir, the exhibition of the Precious Treasures was set to begin yesterday 10 a.m. When I made a late-night visit to the museum, I saw him! Benjamin, shoving priceless jewels into a black duffel bag! He heard me gasp and ran away. I tried to chase him but he was too fast. So, all I could do was shout.” The man ran a hand over his tired face, “Hearing my call, two security guards came to my aid. I quickly explained the situation to them. One of them barked the orders to the guard at the entrance to seal the gate. We were outsmarted. He replied that a man had already exited the building. He even had the gall to stare at me with those sharp blue eyes of his, looking as though I was at fault. As you know, we contacted you and you blocked all the trains, roads, ports, airports in all of Paris.”

“Yes, as you describe it, we have done a lot. All we have to do now is steadily eliminate all hiding places, and corner him like a rabbit when whoop! We pounce. But, monsieur, can you please tell me what made you employ this evil man as your secretary?”

“Well, sir, I am an old man, but a very hardworking one. I have never believed in keeping a secretary. But unfortunately, the strain of these times on my mind and body was beginning to show, and so, 3 months ago, my nephew, Toni Werner, got me a list of potential secretaries and asked me to choose one. Benjamin St. James had by far the best references, lord, he had a recommendation from the British Home secretary himself! So I chose him. But I guess his references were forged?”

Oui. But may I speak to your nephew?”

“No, you can’t.”

“Pardon?”

“You see, he is currently in a vacation home of his, as he calls it. Though it is nothing more than a small cabin with a blacksmith shop near it. He likes to hammer some swords there every now and then, you know. He will be back on Christmas morning.”

“Thank you for your cooperation. I will inform you if there is any new development. We will find your man.”

The police worked in a frenzy for the next few weeks, but all leads led to a dead end. Hugo Giroud sat back on his chair, thinking.

‘Where could the man be hiding? He knows he can’t sell the jewels, and his face is wanted all over the world… Where?’

It must be far and inconspicuous. There is no way he could carry a bag of jewels and run to his house. The only secluded places in this town were north and that is too far for him to travel. Maybe he is still trapped, Giroud thinks.

Suddenly, he sat bolt upright. Giroud knew the answer.

The next day, Giroud and Werner drove up to the Bastille, passing several fallen snowmen.

“Have you caught him?” asked an excited monsieur Werner.

Oui.”

They both stepped into the building and into the cell of Thomas le Tissier. Mr Giroud began-

“Let me present to you, Thomas le Tissier!”

“Is this a joke, Giroud? We know he isn’t Benjamin!”

“Hold on sir! Haute?”

Haute comes forth and puts on him a pair of tinted spectacles and a fake beard. And hey presto-

“BENJAMIN?!”

Before Giroud has a chance to gloat, Werner grabs him by the collar and screams, “Where are my jewels, you ungr- Ungh!” He grunts as Giroud pulls him away and mutters, “Wait for it.”

A grin spreads across his face slowly as a guard with striking blue eyes turns the corner and stops at Tissier’s cell. He has long hair that reaches his shoulder and thick stubble along his jaw. His eyes widen when he sees Giroud and he tries to turn but the policeman catches his coat and rips off the wig. He presents the man to Werner who is blubbering in shock by now and says, “May I introduce to you, Monsieur Toni Werner! An accomplice of your assistant who so graciously offered his cabin as a hiding place.”

“How?” Toni asks with gritted teeth.

Giroud explains, “You were the connection, after all. Not to mention, the soot on Benjamin’s mugshot and Tissier’s face. I heard you’re a fan of weaponry. I must say, it was a great idea to lock up Tissier here. He would have been a suspect, sooner or later, given his record. Your blue eyes confirmed my suspicion. Merry Christmas. ”


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