The impossible happened this morning.
Big Pete and I, the grand total of 100% of the Eastern Sector of Chaostown response officers (there were another 3 on Western but they did have the town centre to cover as well), had arrived at the station and kitted up ready for earlies by 06.45 hours (6.45am to anyone who speaks plain English) and already booted the night shift out the door when the radio blared into life.
Why …. just why does this ALWAYS happen to us ????
“Any early turn for an Immediate Response, possible break in progress, 7 Church Lane. Neighbours can hear banging and the owners are on holiday, any units please” came the call from the Control Room.
Pete and I ‘would’ have been a couple of minutes maximum from this job had our nick not been closed six months ago as part of the nation-wide ‘cost saving / efficiency / austerity (delete as appropriate) measures’ hitting the police service. As it was we were headed for a 10-15 minute dash across to the other side of town, just feeling lucky it wasn’t rush hour, the roads were still quiet and the risk of hitting something or worse, someone, whilst on route was therefore greatly reduced.
We were convinced that by the time we got there, any intruders, if there really were any, would be long gone. The chances were far greater, as they normally are, that the noise was something completely innocent, normally a member of the houses occupants extended family checking the house over, or even them themselves, returning home early from wherever they had been.
“Mike 4-2” came the voice over the radio “message from the Inspector, silent approach to the property and once you’ve assessed, let us know if you need further resources”.
“Well, how about you bloody well send some extra bodies anyway then at least they’ll be in the same postcode if something does kick off” shouted Pete loudly …. at me … not down the radio, the handset mike in the car hadn’t worked in millennia anyway. “and who does he thing he’s preaching to bloody silent approach, who does he thing we are, Keystone bloomin’ cops, how long we been doing this job now ….”
And on, and on, and on he went …. Clearly Pete had either not had a good set of rest days, or Mrs P had brought him a jar of decaf coffee by mistake !
We arrived just round the corner from the target premises safely, thank goodness. Leaving the car where it was we were going to walk the last bit in. Hopefully, given that the world was now arising around us, there had been enough background noise so that any Billy Burglars there were hadn’t heard and been scared off by the dulcet tones of a screaming but knackered diesel engine approaching the estate.
We got to the house with ease. For a change, the properties round here actually had numbers on the doors. Dear reader, unless you’ve been there, you can never imagine the frustration ourselves and the ambulance crews have trying to find a house in a street of anonymity. Those folk at Trumpton don’t know how lucky they are trying to find where their job is. At least they generally get a clue, or at the very least smoke signals, to tell them where they are going.
Quickly we surrounded the house …. all two of us. I watched the front whilst Pete scrambled his way round the back. One of the side walls was conveniently inescapable by the fact it was attached to the other half of the pair of semi’s we were now outside, which left only one external side to be conscious of. But with a bit of shuffling and side-stepping even Michael Jackson would have been proud of, we could just about manage to keep tabs on everywhere.
There was certainly no one around but Big Pete did quickly discover some tell-tale jemmy or big screwdriver marks (sorry ‘blunt instrument marks’, we’re not qualified to suggest what the offending item might be you see). If we wrote screwdriver in a statement and it went to court, the defence solicitor could say “but officer, I put it to you, my client never had a screwdriver on him; crowbar, flattened piece of pipe, dirty great penknife and hand-held rocket launcher* yes, but screwdriver no. I suggest you are in fact dishonest, lying, making it all up. You honour I move that this case be dismissed, the police officer is clearly fabricating evidence”. It’s just how it is. Create that doubt. However you get there doesn’t really matter.
Having ensured the house was safe and secure, we both went round to the neighbour who had been kind enough to alert us in the first place. Pete started talking before I could even get in through their front door. “Sorry my love” he began “missed the little buggers. We’d have had ‘em if we were still in the local nick but this is what we get every day now, see …”
“Yes very good Pete” I interjected, before he turned the whole conversation into a prophecy of impending doom and gloom “anyway Mrs Williams, someone has clearly tried to get in next door, we’ll go and have a scoot round the area, see who’s about”. Having established our caller had not witnessed anything and obtained the contact details of the owners of the attacked house we were about to leave to go and have a wander around the streets ‘just in case’ when we all clearly heard the sound of splintering wood and breaking glass
“The f***kers can’t have come back surely” said Pete “we’re still here”
“But they won’t know that will they” I replied quickly apologising for Pete’s language at the same time “we’re in this house and the car’s down the road. If they didn’t see us come in here they’ll think we’ve long gone”
The noise was coming from the back of the house. After quickly calling up on the radio for any other available officers to head our way, enjoy five seconds of humour by asking for a dog unit and helicopter to attend and asking the occupants of the house we were now in to keep an eye out the back in case the bad guys did another runner, Pete and I let ourselves out of the front door and as quietly as we could, made our way back round to the back of the house being attacked … for a second time in minutes.
Even as we crept around the side of the house, the gate now clearly open where it had not been before. “We did shut that gate didn’t we Chaos” whispered Pete, in his not very quiet whispering voice. I nodded, trying my best to be as quiet as the proverbial church mouse and not scare away whoever was round the back before we got there this time.
As the back porch door came into view, well blow me ! It was open and inside the porch area itself, huddled round the actual rear door into the property were two lads hoodies up, gloves on, banging away at the back door with a large screwdriver and mini crowbar; the thudding noise as matey boy number one repeatedly banged the crowbar into the now increasing gap between door and frame, trying with all his might to get enough purchase to try and force the door open whilst his chum did his best with screwdriver in hand to prise out the beading around an adjacent window.
Well, we’d have to give them 10 marks for effort and concentration I suppose, for they were so engrossed with the job at hand they didn’t notice two stealth mode ninja turtles (Me and Pete that is, just in case you weren’t sure) sneaking up on them. By the time they realised we were there, I was virtually at the rear porch and Pete was but a step behind me.
The first lad took one look at us and just had time to dart out of the porch before I got there, running straight for the rear of the garden. I really thought he was going to do a ‘Hot Fuzz’ and try to run through the fence but at the last second, he made a leap for the nearby dog kennel roof, managing to grab the top of the fence panel next to it and try to haul himself up and over.
I was on him like a leech…. well as well as a thirteen stone leech in size 12 boots with heck knows what weight of kit and contraptions wrapped around me could be.
Pete had already trapped Billy burglar number two in the porch of the house itself, and the lad had obviously resigned himself to his fate and given up, notwithstanding Pete was about twice his size and if he’d made the slightest move to resist or put up a fight, he’d probably have left through a window rather than the open doorway.
I locked my arms around my lads waist and started to pull him back towards my side of the fence and generally towards me. I heard the cracking and splitting of the wood in the fence panel as I did so, but in my tunnel vision focused attempt to make sure my prey didn’t escape and have to face the ridicule from Pete and anyone else we bumped into at the nick for the next twenty years, I completely failed to see the claw hammer in matey boy’s hand that was currently swinging it’s way towards the side of my head.
In fact, I still didn’t see the hammer when it struck me, luckily, due to chance and the fluke of my position as much as anything, on the top of my right shoulder rather than my soft, delicate, catwalk ready head.
I felt it though. Bloomin’ heck did I feel it. Let me tell you, having some adrenaline pumped up prat clout you full pelt with the inch round end of a hammer head does sting a tad, even through the high quality, ballistic resistant fleece and uniform shirt we are provided with (you didn’t really believe that last bit did you – my loo paper is thicker than a police issue fleece material !)
Spurred on by the encouragement my new friend had provided me with to assist him down from his lofty height (in the same way a racehorse is spurred on when the jockey repeatedly hits him with a whip to make him go faster), I pulled harder with all my might on the half a body I had a damn good grip on and bingo – he flew off the fence like a 100kg ball launched from a cannon.
My clear concern that my now attached miscreant might harm himself as his projectile body hurtled towards terra firma was thankfully negated after it quickly became clear that it wasn’t the grass covering the garden that had broken his fall directly, rather a couple of very large piles of Fido’s finest territory marking mess which the owner of the attacked property probably hadn’t had time to clear off before they set off for their holiday. I mean after all, dog poo it may be, but I don’t expect the houseowner was expecting some degenerate house breaker to be making efforts to smear themselves in it before anyone had a chance to bag and bin.
The secondary upside of this for me (did I mention the first was the merry amusement Billy burglar number one’s misfortune had cast upon me) was that my man had clearly had enough and showed no signs of wanting to put up a struggle. This was probably a shame for him from an escapology point of view because to be fair, I didn’t really fancy having to lay hands on him if he did want to start squirming about.
Even with him pinned to the floor and me shouting at him to ‘get his hands behind his back’ so they could be ‘cuffed, i didn’t really fancy the job of actually applying the steel bracelets. even his hands were brown … although I suppose that could have been the result of being one of the great unwashed of Chaostown rather than a direct result of his current predicament – he certainly smelt like it – the dog excrement was about the best scent wafting from him at that point.
Cuffed and stood to his feet I marched my man back over to where Pete was sat, along with his new friend and detainee, both of whom had formed some form of friendship by now, or at least a common bond revolving round taking the mickey out of Poo-man and Cop.
“I’ve already asked for a van” Pete said to me, between the muffled giggles. “And it’s all on his phone too” said matey boy number two, nodding his head in Pete’s direction.
Great I thought … that’s sorted the decoration of my works tray for the next month or so. It’s an unwritten law in the Chaos Constabulary you know, and maybe in your local force, that one of the worst work ‘offences’ you can commit is to remove ANY picture or comment your colleagues put on your tray. It will cost you cakes for a month at the very least !
With the arrival of the van I quickly deposited my chap in the rear cage and took several gulps of good, clean, fresh air to clear my nostrils and sinuses. The lad with Pete quipped up “Do I have to go in the back with him, I don’t want to get that shit on me as well”.
Pete bless him, for probably the first time in his life, took pity, and agreed his lad could sit in the rear seating area of the van and Pete would sit with him ‘as long as he behaved’.
I followed the van, driving our panda back to the custody block, which of course is no longer at the nick where we deployed from, but now at a central location a good 20 miles away. All the way there I couldn’t help but smile to myself at the thought of the delightful scent that Pete and the poor lad driving the van had submitted themselves to for quite a length of time.
Once booked in, my man was sent off to the shower room to get himself sorted and found some clean clothes to put on, although he even grumbled about them – apparently green overalls are not the thing to be seen in; even in the confines of a police custody suite.
Both the lads, unsurprisingly, were ‘well known’. very well known. So well know in fact that Pete’s lad had only left the pleasures of our en0suite hotel the day before, having been charged and bailed for another house break. Me thinks he might be staying a bit longer this time.
As was Mr Stinky Man … wanted for a number of theft and burglary offences across three police force areas. All in all, a bloody good start to the day as it turned out.
Pete and I then left, to head back over to our nick, and try to persuade the dicky-tec’s in CID we had a job they might want to be dealing with. But that’s another story in itself …….
* OK maybe not.