We do get some weird calls from time to time in our line of work – they vary from the mildly odd to the very strange to the out and out flipping ridiculous. Not many of them amount to anything serious, and in fact most of them don’t even relate to anything remotely police remit related …. but we still deal with them, because that’s just what we do.
To get a couple of really odd calls a week would be above average, but to get two in the same day is just madness …. but that’s what happened a few days ago. This is the story of the first call …..
We’d come on lates at 15.00 hours (that’s 3pm in old English !) and the afternoon had been fairly unproductive from the point of view of getting our own work done. As is the norm, there are many shoppers who can’t grasp the concept of putting your purchases in the basket and actually showing them to the person at the checkout before leaving the store so we have to plod along and remind them, normally with the aid of an £80 ticket or a free trip in the back of one of our exclusively decorated motor carriages to our luxurious hotel.
There are also those who clearly panic so much when the afternoon repeat of Jeremy Kyle ends that all they can do is beat seven bells out of each other which normally results in us plodding along and offering them a free trip in the back of one of our exclusively decorated motor carriages to our luxurious hotel.
And then there are those who still believe the best thing to do after spending most of the day in the nearest cheap booze providing establishment is to jump into their knackered old car and attempt to drive home / over any passing pedestrian / along the central reservation for three miles making an awful scraping sound audible to everyone in the surrounding postcode zones but not, apparently, inside the said vehicle, which normally results in us plodding along and offering them a free trip in the back of one of our exclusively decorated motor carriages to our luxurious hotel.
So, therefore, it makes a pleasant change to get a call of the something different variety, although this one did start out as a perfectly normal, if that’s the right word, break and entry in progress …..
“Control to any unit near Red Admiral Close (who thinks these names up ???) can respond to a grade one burglary in progress please, informant has returned home from work and can hear people still inside the property ….” That’ll do it – there’s not a lot that will get a load of paperwork swamped bobbies back out of the station quicker than a burglary, especially one where the offenders are still on scene. Everyone was on the way – all three of us !!! The Control Room even found us a dog handler – and they weren’t 30 miles away at HQ !! This wasn’t going to be a case of floating like the butterfly we were heading towards (Red Admiral – get it ???), more like a sting like a bee … or five bee’s …. and a land shark … with teeth bigger than a lot of bee stings ….
In our best attempt at a silent approach – well as best you can in a load of aged old clattering diesel panda’s we soon descended on the quiet tranquillity of Red Admiral Close, which in fairness is in one of the better areas of Bigtown, where there front lawns are visited on at least a weekly basis by a lawn mower and edge trimmer, rather than a knackered old sofa and a couple of dozen empty White Lightning cans.
The address in question was also fairly easy to pick out amongst the manicured gardens and rust-free cars neatly parked; it was the one with the rather pleasant lady outside, frantically waving her arms to grab our attention and telling us how glad she was to see us and thanking us for getting there so quickly !!! – no I haven’t lost my mind and been carried off to a parallel universe, this really is how it went !!!
The lady explained she had just got home from work (I thought about needing to sit down at that point before I went into shock) and that her husband was working away and wouldn’t be home till the weekend (doubly, no trebly need to sit down in a dark corner; married, both working and respectable – we never get to visit people like this normally !!), but on letting herself into the house she could hear banging noises from upstairs and things clattering round in one of the bedrooms – clearly she had disturbed burglars in her house.
Luckily for her, the equally as respectable and equally as working next door neighbour had arrived home at about the same time and was now watching the back of the house in case the evil offenders tried to make their escape that way – this was going to be an easy catch for us – offenders on site and the scene secured and contained even before we arrived – this never happens
The house itself looked completely secure from the front, so to my mind, Billy Burglar must have broken in round the back, which made a fair amount of sense. Two of the other officers who’d arrived quickly went round to the back of the house and clambered over the fence into the rear garden, cutting off any escape route that way. “Chaos from Dave” I heard on the radio “Back looks secure ground floor but there is a small window slightly open upstairs”. Ah hah ! clearly that was how they’d got in.
Once we were satisfied all angles were covered, and with the home-owners key in hand, we made our way to the front door and inside. Well, when we say ‘we’ I actually mean I quickly turned the key in the lock, pushed the door open and dived out the way as Rage the rampant police dog was stood feet behind me and our afternoons entertainment was primarily going to consist of watching the said land shark have an early tea, preferably on one or more house-breakers soft bits ….
Steve, the dog handler entered ahead of the rest of us, not really having much choice with many kilo’s of slobbering, drooling, dinner hunting fur pulling him through the door. He’d only been in the property a matter of seconds when he called up on his radio “Confirm sounds of persons on the first floor, can other officers come and secure the ground floor”. If the mutt from hell was heading upstairs, trust me, I was more than happy to be downstairs with the others, checking room by room and making sure the exit points were secure.
It sounded like someone was chucking stuff around in the bedroom above us. “Maybe it’s a poltergeist” quipped Dave in a half hearted attempt to contain his excitement about what was to follow for the unfortunate soul’s who had decided to help themselves to this families hard earned possessions. Before we knew it Rage was at the top of the stairs and launching himself teeth first into the bedroom full of noise-making, property-stealing miscreants.
The barking, growling and general sounds of dog on the attack echoed down the staircase to where we were stood – they noise made us jump so heaven help whoever was in the room concerned. Strangely however, we didn’t hear Steve shouting in his normal dulcet tones “Get the f*@k on the floor you little b@$^a&ds”, more of a roaring laughter followed by “Lads get up here quick” …..”
We ran up the stairs pronto, for a moment forgetting Rage was ahead of us, but on turning the corner at the top of the stairs to see Steve straining to hold onto his dog which was snarling, chomping, slobbering from the mouth and pulling hard, trying to get free and deal with the ‘offenders’ in front of him, we soon remembered. And then we saw ….. the sight that befell us inside the bedroom reduced all of us to tears as well …. tears of absolute laughter !!
Certainly there was disorder in the bedroom; things had been knocked over, and the contents of the dressing table were now spread across most of the room. We stood and stared at the two burglars, who were literally bouncing off the walls in a mad frenzy, trying to escape the jaws of doom conveniently affixed to the front of the evil hairball Steve was still trying to control.
There was no point any of us trying to issue our quarry with instructions or commands in the English language – it was abundantly clear from sight that this approach was not going to be successful in capturing the hardened criminals. Steve announced he was going to remove the police dog from the room and get it back downstairs in an attempt to diffuse the situation and calm the offenders down. None of us had a particular problem with this as we suddenly didn’t consider the threat level to be as it was before.
After all, rather than being faced with Billy Burglar and his mate from down the road, what we faced in this room was something completely different; something that was going to take a heck of a lot of explaining on the job update; and something that undoubtedly we were going to have trouble containing. What had entered the house through that open first floor window, and was now running amok around the first floor of the property, knocking things over and making a general din and nuisance, was not two of Bigtown’s finest light fingered pilferers but a pair of very unhappy grey squirrels who appeared to us to be trying to beat the living daylights out of each other !!
Having secured Rage in the back of the dog van, Steve quickly updated the lady of the house, who was still stood outside, convinced the local pond-life were helping themselves to all her worldly goods, what had really happened and that we were trying to catch the little blighters, but by all accounts the poor woman was even more freaked out about having small furry mammals destroying her boudoir than if it had have been a couple of proper burglars. Steve did however do his best to try and point out that a couple of woodland dwelling, nut eating, small furry animals were still going to be far cleaner and less bug-riffy than most of our local delinquents, but despite that being a very accurate observation by Steve, I don’t think she entirely believed him – in fact she insisted on waiting outside the front door until we had rounded up and removed the offending creatures.
And that in itself brings a whole new challenge – certainly one that I must have fallen asleep during whilst at Police Training College all those years ago. I remember something about if someone throws a stone at a cat and it misses and breaks a window … but transferred malice didn’t seem to apply here …. I also remember being waffled on at about all the different ways in which a dog wasn’t really out of control according to the law but again, the only canine around was now fast akip in the bag of Steve’s dog van, probably dreaming about the early tea he had just been defrauded out of.
So it was left to four of us, and two small furry animals about 8 inches long, in a bedroom that really wasn’t much bigger. I mean, how hard could it be ??? Well nigh on impossible I can tell you !!! Have you ever tried catching a deranged tree-rat at the best of times ?? and we had two of them to round up. It really was like something from the Keystone Cops as we tried every trick we could think of to corner our adversaries and get them into the only decent size container we could find – the poor occupants laundry basket (we promise were didn’t pay any attention to the quite large quantity of miniscule lacy garments left strewn all over the bathroom floor as Big Pete had just upturned the basket’s contents as he grabbed it).
On top of that, the poor householder had white bedroom furniture and a nice lacy white duvet on the bed – and we were four blokes, dressed in black, covered in PPE, with large, not very clean soled boots on – good game, good game !! Dave, ever trying to be helpful, at this point offered to nip outside and ‘grab some acorns to coax them our way’. “Dave” I said. “Where are you going to get some acorns from round here ?”. “Well there’s bound to be some lying around” he replied “there always is when I take kids for a walk down the park”. This was not the time for a deep informative discussion about the pre-requisites for the existence of acorns but needless to say, there was a great lack of oak trees nearby !!
Eventually though, and far more by luck than judgement, we managed to corner the feisty little blighters enough for Big Pete, who was with us, to throw his XXL fleece over the pair of critters and bring them to a halt. We were not entirely sure if they had just decided to give up having had their fun, or were so dumbfounded by the poor manufacturing quality of the garment that had just been thrust upon them that they had gone into severe shock but either way, this allowed us that valuable few seconds to bundle them into the laundry basket and get them secured.
After doing a quick ‘bloke type’ tidy up of the bedroom we triumphantly carried our conquests down the stairs and out into the street, raised high above our heads, to the mighty roar and cheers of the awaiting public, bedazzled by our bravery and fortitude. Okay that’s not how it happened. The minute Pete carried the laundry basket through the front door, with Chip and Dale (what else were we going to name them ???) rattling off the insides of the box, the poor lady who’s house we had all helped decimate, launched into an ear-piercing bout of screaming which was almost indecipherable, but we sort of understood to mean something like ‘please keep those marvellously cute and attractive creatures of mother nature away from my over-sensitive self’ (although most of her words contained only one syllable and were not typical of the variant on the Queen’s English you would normally have heard in this fine part of suburbia).
Our next challenge would be what to do with our new found friends ?? Our first consideration was that seeing as how we’d all spent so much quality time together, it would have been an awful shame to just turf them out into the wilds of nowhere so we tried to hatch a plan whereby we could adopt them as the station pets. Sometimes bobbies can be very inventive and within seconds we’d worked out that the hardly ever used storeroom next to the Inspectors office could quickly be converted into a five star squirrel apartment block, and if we nabbed a few broken branches from the side of the road on the way in, we could sort of create a bit of an adventure playground for them.
Dave (or rather his kids) would be charged with the task with the very important task of picking up all the acorns they could find on their walks in the park to keep our new house guests in they manner to which they are accustomed, and all we had to do was convince the skipper that they weren’t wild, non-native vermin but in fact very rare, outer Hebridean, fur tailed, stretch hamsters, and we had adopted them as part of an international conservation breeding project. The Sarge didn’t believe us however: “Get the £#*k rid of them before you lot get back to the nick” we his exact words and so, as distraught as we now were, we stopped of at North Road Park and released our new friends back into the wild. It was for the best you know. Well that’s what we kept telling each other. But you could tell we weren’t happy. The rest of the shift was a sombre one – every one of us couldn’t get their cute little faces out of our minds …… well at least for two minutes until the next Grade One came in !!
Back to reality – another domestic in the flats at Primrose Gardens ! Off we go again – woo wooing and nee nahing across town. Give me another squirrel job any day !!