Saturday, January 26, 2013

Title:  Wound up
By Adele Polomski

Appearing in February 4, 2013 issue.
For sale date: 1/25/13

Tag line:  The thieves had been real pros.  So why had they taken the time to knock over the grandfather clock?

The police: Chief Nancy Taylor, Deputy Rex Hauser
The gist:  Someone broke into an antique store and stole several pieces, the most valuable in the store.  A grandfather clock got knocked over and the hands stopped at 10:10.

Crime scene:  An antique gallery.
Clues:  The security system was down for scheduled maintenance.  The manager hired their usual backup security guard.  The grandfather clock had been knocked over during the robbery and stopped working at 10:10. The manager noted that he wound the clock himself every evening and it had been working.  He thought the thieves were professionals.  There were no fingerprints on the clock.  Mimi, the assistant manager, has worked there for one month and claims to have left at 6:00.   She prepared a detailed list of stolen items for the police.  Mimi has a degree in art history and believed four of the stolen paintings had been forgeries and had told the manger, who told her they would bring in an expert to check them out.  The manager told the police that the stolen paintings had all been authenticated and Mimi was wrong.

Mimi claims to have been home alone at 10:10.  The manager, Poole, said he had a late dinner at 9:00, then joined friends for drinks, then came home at midnight.  The guard said he arrived at 7:00 and before Poole left he instructed the guard to walk the perimeter of the building every hour, same instructions as last time.  When he wasn’t doing his surveillance, the guard sat in his van out front.  He does not have a key to the building. The theft was discovered in the morning when the manager and the security guard entered the building and saw the clock knocked over.  A back window had a broken lock.
Suspects:  Louis Poole, manager.  Mimi Cox, manager’s assistant. Matt Donnelly, security guard.  Or random thieves.

Red herrings:  The security guard looked wide awake for a guy who hadn’t slept all night.    Mimi doesn’t have an alibi.

Solution:  Poole, the manager, stole the paintings.  After Mimi left and before the security guard arrived he adjusted the hands of the clock to 10:10 to secure his alibi.  He wiped the clock clean of any fingerprints and pushed the clock over to stop the time and divert suspicion from himself.  He then broke the window lock and loaded up his car.  He staged the robbery to remove forgeries he had swapped for authentic paintings.
My two cents:   Why didn’t the guard, who walked around the building every hour, not see the broken window lock?  If you could only see it from the inside, that’s a clue missed by the cops. How do you break a window lock from the outside without it being seen? How big was this window that paintings were supposedly removed from?  If the crooks came in through the window, they probably exited through a back door with the goods.  Was the door locked in the morning?  Was there a back door?  Were the paintings small? These things were never addressed.

There was no mention of dusting for prints at the entry point, the window.
Just how long is ‘scheduled maintenance’?  What kind of security system has scheduled maintenance that leaves their customers without security on their valuable property so that you have to hire a guard?  Not in this day and age.

For me the main clue was that Mimi told Poole she thought the paintings were forgeries and he told her he would bring in an expert, but he told the police she didn’t know what she was talking about.  He already knew she was right, which prompted him to get those forgeries out of the gallery through a fake burglary.  Knocking over a large grandfather clock and then cleaning off all fingerprints was just dumb on his part. But who says crooks are smart?  lol 

This story is portrayed as a robbery, but it is actually a burglary.


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