‘Aww, not again!’ Colin let out a few curses.
‘What’s the matter?’ Terri called out from the next room.
‘Damned cable’s out again! That’s the third time this week!’
Terri came into the living room, where Colin was glaring at the silent TV. ‘Maybe we should have somebody come out,’ she suggested.
Colin nodded. ‘The quicker, the better.’
‘OK. I’ll call it in.’
Jeff couldn’t believe his luck. He’d been called out to The Hideaway, one of the best developments in town. Gated, nice cars, big houses, the whole thing. He’d only been there twice before, and both times, he’d found it easy to help himself to a few things. He never took much – nothing anyone would really notice at first. A watch, a small camera, things like that. Things people would think they just misplaced. And these people could afford the loss.
He pulled up to the large wrought-iron gate and punched in the access code. The gate opened, and Jeff drove through. The house he was looking for was at the end of one of the development’s small streets. He parked and got out, gathering his tool kit and a soft bag for carrying whatever he ended up taking. At the large, carved front door, he pushed the bell and listened as the sound reverberated. Soon he heard footsteps clicking towards the door. The woman who opened it wore expensive-looking jeans and a cashmere top. Jeff was no expert on clothes, especially not when it came to women’s clothes, but hers looked top-of-the-line to him. The woman took a look at him, and then at her telephone, comparing him to the photo the cable company had sent. Seeing that he was the right guy, she stepped aside and gestured him in.
‘Come on in,’ she smiled.
Jeff followed his customer toward a large living room, where she indicated the flat-screen TV on the wall. ‘The cable’s gone out three times this week. Colin – my husband – and I really need a solution.’
‘It could just be the wiring, or it could be something else. Let me get to work, and we’ll see what we can do.’ Jeff put his tool kit and bag down, and walked purposefully to the TV, waiting for the woman to leave the room. For a while he could feel her watching him, could almost smell her perfume. He got right to work on the cable box and wires. It didn’t take long to figure out what was wrong. The wires weren’t attached correctly, and they were a little frayed, too. He glanced up; she was still there. ‘I’m going to check this wire’ – he pointed to one of the cables – ‘It looks like it may need to be replaced.’
‘OK, I’ll be in my office down the hall. Just call if you need anything.’
‘Will do.’ Yes! She was going away. Now Jeff could see what these people had that was worth taking. First, though, he’d better fix the wiring, or they’d complain that their problem wasn’t resolved.
For the next twenty minutes, Jeff checked and replaced wires. Nobody came in the room, so he decided to take a chance. There wasn’t anything small and valuable in this room. That was OK; there were other rooms. He left the living room and looked up and down the hall. He couldn’t see anyone, so he slipped up the staircase and stopped at what looked like the master bedroom. It had a wall-mounted flat screen TV, too. He made as if to check that TV, looking around him as he did. Still nobody. Then he noticed a vanity table in one corner of the room. On it was what looked like a very expensive watch. Taking another quick look behind him, Jeff stepped over to the table, scooped up the watch, and had it in his bag within seconds. Bingo!
Jeff finished what he needed to do in the bedroom. Then, he went back into the hall to go downstairs. Across the way was what looked like another bedroom – maybe a guest bedroom? He peeked in – no, there was nothing of value there. It must be a guest bedroom. Well, that was alright. He wasn’t greedy, and besides, there were other houses. He turned to go downstairs when there she was, right beside him.
‘Lost your way?’ She didn’t look as though she was joking around.
‘Just wanted to check the TVs up here – make sure your cable’s back.’ He barely got the words out. Please God, she hadn’t seen him take the watch.
‘How stupid do you think I am? I know you took something from the other bedroom.’
Jeff’s throat was dry. He swallowed, licked his lips, and murmured, ‘Take something?’
‘Yes. A watch. My Rolex. I have it right here.’ She held up her telephone and he saw a video of himself taking the watch. ‘You think we don’t have security here? You’re not as bright as I thought you were.’
Jeff had no idea what to say now. He opened his mouth but closed it when the woman spoke again. ‘But you’re still pretty good. Most people don’t have the security we do. You could be useful.’
‘How?’ he managed.
‘It’s simple. You go out on calls, you find things, you bring them here, I don’t tell your company.’ Jeff thought about it for a minute. He wasn’t going to be able to talk his way out of this one. But the thought of not keeping anything he took was too much. Then he had an idea. ‘OK,’ he sighed. ‘You got me, I guess.’
‘That’s a good boy. Now, finish up and get out of here. And if you don’t think I can find out where you go and when, think again.’
Jeff nodded and said nothing else as he did final checks and gathered his tools. It was OK. It would be easy to find an excuse to go back. And this time, he’d have better tools with him.