Slick Jones, as his friends called him, was out for a score that cold and damp March night. He was always careful to never go into the same neighborhood twice. Well, never a second time after cleaning out a house.
He had a specialty he'd picked up on the Internet: rare oddities. You know, things that looked innocuous but were very valuable. Perhaps more valuable than the owner would suspect.
"Ever heard of a Ming Vase?" he'd asked his friends.
"Sure!" they'd say.
"How about a Blue Kat?" he'd asked them next and only gotten stares and shrugged shoulders.
"I got one a month ago and I was able to unload it to a buyer halfway around the world for ten grand. It was worth three times that, but ... Hey! ... money is money and Ten Big Ones isn't to be sniffed at!"
So he found himself perusing a nice upper class development and a pair of brick gateposts caught his eye. "Gotta be something in there!" he thought to himself.
Pulling up a few driveways down, he grabbed his night vision goggles, his infrared flashlight and scampered back toward his find. He laughed as he got to the front of the property. They had a fancy eight foot high wrought iron fence along the drive but as it went back around the property it was only a little over four feet high.
Thinking it might just be a holding fence, the kind attack dogs are trained not to go over UNLESS they are after an intruder, he took out his dog whistle and blew it several times. Nothing.
Well, nothing but a couple of barks from some house, perhaps a block away. He blew it again, just to be sure. Not a sound, even from inside the house.
"No dogs here," he thought to himself as he turned on his night vision and scanned the area looking for ANY sign of guard dogs or even just a family pet.
So he hopped over the fence. Wary, Slick knelt down and blew his whistle again staying alert. He'd learned his lesson a few years ago. Some dogs are trained to NOT bark at the whistle because that is their command control.
He'd had to run fast that night and got away with only a torn pant leg. It could have been worse. Guard dogs can very vicious. Lesson learned and care taken.
Down on his knees, Slick continued to scan for any sign of security cameras or motion detectors. None. Not even the cheap kind everyone puts up that are built into floodlight housings.
It was two in the morning and not a sound or light was coming from the house. Tonight he was not going to take anything. This was his reconnaissance visit.
"Test the waters and see what kind of fish are worth catching," he'd told his friends describing what he did when checking a property for "goodies."
Slick laughed to himself as the theme from the Pink Panther slid through his head. 'Dum-Da-Dum' he found he was humming softly to himself. He knew he wasn't a Cat Burglar. Diamonds weren't his forte.
"But," he laughed to himself as the tune died, "I have stolen a KAT!"
Focusing on the various articles scattered about the lawn and using a bush here and there for cover, he slowly left the safety of the fence and moved toward the rear of the house.
"Nice patio," he mouthed and then smiled as he caught sight of the double patio door. They were about the easiest to bypass and silently get into a house. This one had the usual metal bar across the middle, holding the sliding part closed.
"That will be so EASY to navigate around," he whispered softly to himself. Then he shined his light into the space beyond. His eyes lit up!
This place was a treasure trove. The family room, as it is usually called in houses like this, was obviously not set up for children. Or a family either.
There was a huge wall mounted flat panel TV with about every kind of home theater gear mounted in the custom cabinet below. "This place just dripped money," he thought to himself.
As was his custom, Slick ONLY took one piece. Never more and he never returned to the same place twice. Rarely was there ever any mention in the papers or newscasts of his exploits. Because he only took one piece, it might be a long time before the theft was even noticed!
"Don't be greedy," he always told himself. "And, only take what you can carry." That philosophy had worked well for him.
So as he scanned the wealth of the items inside the patio door, he was calculating what object seemed the one for him to go after.
For Slick, it was 'In-And-Out' in less than 30 seconds. Harder to find, hear or catch that way. His '30 Second Rule!'
Rarely had he ever gone to an upper floor. The other rule was quick and direct access. If there was a deck and solid stairway he MIGHT consider a second story job. Even then, it had to be no more than a 30 second trip from entry to back on the ground and a full tilt run to safety.
Not that he'd even ever been chased. Well, except for that trained guard dog. Slick just kept discounting that one as combat training.
The room as he scanned it had several mahogany looking bookcases lining the walls. Each filled with easily identifiable items. "Pay Dirt!" ran through his mind.
Then he thought that for this type of job, he'd really like to have a night vision video camera. There was so much here that to take one piece without studying the inventory closely would make it very hard to choose.
Then he saw what his 'catch' would be. Smiling to himself, he looked hard and was sure it was a companion piece to the Blue Kat he had scored just a few weeks ago. It was larger than the other one and figured it was the 'Momma Kat' to the smaller one he had shipped off to that buyer in India.
"This one I'll sell for twice as much," Slick thought to himself as he checked the edges of the patio door to make sure when he returned in a week or so that he'd have the correct tools for a quick and silent entry.
He also knew that sometimes valuables were rigged with detection devices, so he picked out another piece as 'Second' choice.
His eyes fell on a small, perhaps no more than 10 by 10, framed oil painting. If he was right, it might even be a Vermeer.
The painting had a place of prominence and had it's own wall light. Slick wished the light above the painting had been lit. He could see enough of it to know it was very much in Johannes Vermeer's style. Old Dutch.
Even in the infrared light, he could see the colors must be vibrant. If it was an original then it would net him perhaps a hundred or two big ones.
"Don't be greedy," he told himself. "The KAT is enough."
Scampering away, Slick leaped over the fence and crouched. He wanted to make sure there was nothing and no one following him. Also, it was a test. A quick movement like that would set off any type of motion detection device that might automatically alert a Central Station Monitoring facility to his surreptitious visit.
After a few moments watching the house and the yard for any sign of an alarm, he went back to the road and got into his car. He sat there for five minutes or so and then drove off, feeling secure that the mark was un-secure!
Slick waited his customary two weeks and returned to his chosen neighborhood. He had just the right tools to force the fancy house door. It was overcast like the night he visited there before.