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Martin Dixon

Martin Dixon
Author

The Recreational Bandits

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SYNOPSIS

Jimmy, Joe and Bobby have had a good long run, robbing the unsuspecting elite families of London, England. But when Kate, Jimmy’s girlfriend, begins to worry, the three friends decide to retire from their recreational thievery. Money was never the goal anyway.

  But just as they decide to call it quits, London is plagued with the presence of two Americans who have a particular target in mind – Jimmy’s team. When Bobby is kidnapped by the Americans, they learn what they’re really after – their expertise. Planning one last theft to retrieve the Americans’ stolen diamond, the three give it their best. But will it really be the end of it?

FIRST CHAPTER

Crossing the field pushing stealthily through the long grass the fox suddenly stopped disturbed by an almost inaudible click. A sound that was out of place in his natural arena. Then another and that was enough. He turned to take a wide detour before returning to his normal routine.

  It was a dark night, one of those nights when cloud cover obliterated a weak crescent moon. At two in the morning the imposing house was silent. The tall gables added a gothic feel. It was the perfect time. More clicks. Coming from deep in the foliage where a two metre high deer fence marked the boundary. Three men emerged with their smooth soled, soft slip-on shoes leaving deep footprints in the loose earth of the flower bed. Then stopped and crouched. Looking and listening. After a couple of minutes the leader, a tall well built man, gave a low wave forward and they moved in unison. Well practised and professional. With a stooping run, keeping low, they quickly crossed the expanse of lawn.

  Their dark grey boiler suits perfectly blended them into the grey background. Black cotton hoods with mouth and eye slits hid their features. Their hands covered with tight-fitting, thick grade latex gloves. Suspended between two of them was a large black canvas bag. Pausing for a few moments against the darkness of the wall at the front of the house they checked again for even the smallest sign they had been detected. Satisfied, they carefully put down the bag and one man started to quietly unpack the contents. The two others moved silently and swiftly around the house crossing a small flower bed, trampling the tightly packed plants, to a large dining room window.

Removing a deglazing knife from a pouch on his belt the first man slid it along the grooves of the window mouldings and they popped out with little noise. Working a Stanley knife around the seal and carefully placing suction cups the glass was removed.

  Careful planning and the layout was familiar - four downstairs rooms and six bedrooms. An extremely upmarket house located down a long tree lined lane. Quite isolated; the nearest neighbours maybe a quarter of a mile away. Close enough to hear the alarm but far enough to provide ample warning of discovery. A motion sensor alarm system with remote monitoring provided security. Zoned to allow upstairs and down to be set independently. At night the downstairs was likely to be armed. Trip it and the monitoring station called. In the absence of a response the police were contacted and would arrive about forty minutes later. The quickest response time for the location.

The one with the sawn-off shotgun entered first with the gun ready and pointing forward. As the alarm was tripped he rushed upstairs closely followed by the other. Into the main bedroom. Empty. Then checked the others. Empty. The alarm sounded for only a few seconds. The phone rang. Their stopwatch was set.

  Outside the alarm box was quite high up the wall located under the eaves but not beyond reach of the padded lightweight sectional ladder that had been quickly assembled. The third man efficiently removed the siren cover and foam preventer. Disturbing the box caused the alarm to sound. Cutting the wires it quickly stopped. All done in less than three minutes. If the neighbours heard they would most likely think it was just another false alarm. With his task complete the third man climbed down the ladder but left it in place. Moving quickly along the wall he momentarily waited by the window checking for distant movement, then slipped through the gaping hole.

The house was empty making an easier job although maybe some high value items might be missing. The one with the sawn-off lowered the weapon knowing it would not be needed. He pushed it securely into a clip fixed to the side of a black sports bag. They worked in silence to a predetermined sequence. One upstairs in the main bedroom. A lavish room. A wide dressing table beneath the window with five drawers. The centre one, above the knee hole, a jewellery drawer. Two chests of drawers and bedside tables. All drawer contents were quickly emptied onto the floor. Bolted to the floor in a main bedroom cupboard the safe was no problem. It was key operated and quick to open. Two were downstairs in the study and main sitting room. The same procedure. Empty the drawers. Pull out cupboard contents.

Jewellery, gold and precious items were what they were after. No electricals and no pictures. They searched all the usual hiding places. Opened all the books on the book shelves. Looked behind the rows then shook down the books. Checking for cash hidden between the pages casually dropping them to litter the floor. Gold, silver and platinum loaded from the safe with big value notes. Small packets of cut and uncut diamonds as expected. The bonds and traceables were left.

  Ten minutes and the first finished. Moving to the window he acted as lookout. No movement from the neighbours. All was dark and quiet. Twenty minutes and they were done. The rooms rifled. Each with a large, black sling over the shoulder sports bag. Out through the window. The doors were security locked and not worth the effort. Leave the ladder. There were no clues there. Around the house keeping to the shadows and quickly over the lawn. Through the deep flower bed to the hole cut in the wire fence. Across the field to the transport hiding in the trees. Fire up the black 4x4 stolen earlier and away. After five miles they turned into a deserted lane and then a wooded area at least a mile from the main road. No CCTV out there. Boiler suits and masks were taken off and spread over the car’s seats. The contents of a large petrol can thrown over and into the 4x4. Then transferred to a dark grey Ford Focus with clip-on false plates just in case and away leaving the 4x4 burning. It would be found but unless someone saw the flames maybe not for a few days. Driving casually not to raise suspicion with blue flashing lights in the distance heading in the direction of the house. They headed towards London two hours away.

Stripping off his clothes Jimmy Mathews threw them straight into the washer. Then disappeared into the shower. His place was just off Fulham Palace Road somewhere around the back towards the river. An old renovated Regency three storey town house with the modern interior luxurious and spacious. It was now five thirty in the morning and he was into the bedroom with Kate stirring. He knew she was awake and wondering but not wanting to ask.

  “Everything’s pukka dolls,” he softly said, slipping beneath the covers feeling the warmth lingering there.

  She was warm, sleepy and cosy. Her blonde hair ruffled, nicely fluffed up with yesterday’s perfume still lingering. She reached for him knowing what the exhilaration of a night’s work does for him. She was ready, the anticipation of his return she found erotic. This time though he detected a slight difference. She was keen but slightly distracted.

  Afterwards he slept but only until eleven. That was all he needed to recharge. Then up and showered and dressed in an expensive tailored grey suit. A modern number with small narrow lapels and no pocket flaps. Short jacket. His number two cut needed no work, just a quick rub over of the dark brown stubble. Looking in the mirror at his good-looking face he smiled a cheeky one and was ready for the day.

  Kate was up already and in the kitchen preparing. She had been up since before eight, showered and ready for a long day. Her long blond hair retaining the same fluffiness. Tall and slim and having one of those faces that was neither pretty nor ugly the sort of face that stood out in a crowd. Some might call it striking. There was that look that said I'm a confident lady. There was a style about her. The pale blue shift dress suggesting a throwback to the 1960’s and with the low heel leather sling backs she looked smart. The marketing job was right up her street giving her a creative outlet and a means to get about. Straight from work tonight was dinner with her parents so she was already dressed ready to go.

  Their kitchen was a large space with a mix of contemporary and retro styles. Metal framed chairs and a large distressed leather sofa against one wall.

  Coming into the kitchen Jimmy put his arms around Kate’s waist from behind and kissed her neck. “Morning,” he said with a smile. The cheeky smile that was his trademark.

  She looked at him, her eyes narrowing a bit with one of those questioning looks with lips pursed but only slightly, “all went OK then?” She already knew the answer but asked anyway. She always did.

  “Like clockwork. No trouble, no hassle they were all out. We were in and out in less than twenty minutes.”

  She looked at him hard, holding his eyes for a few moments wondering if she should be saying this but then decided, “I’ve been thinking Jimmy. I’m worried. This all makes me so nervous. Why'd you still do it? It can’t be for the money.” She had a kind of critical tone almost like she was telling him off but trying to be nice.

  Having suspected for some time he was not caught by surprise, “As it happens, I’ve been thinking as well,” he said as though he had been expecting the conversation. Which he had of course. They were close; went back to schooldays and he was sensitive to her worries.

  “What if you hurt someone? What if you all get caught?” She had a serious look and he could see in her light blue eyes just the faintest touch of moisture. This made her emotional and that bothered him.

  “You’re right. We’ve had a good run, maybe we should pack it up.”

  “I don’t want to spoil your fun but isn’t it all getting a bit serious now.”

  “I know. It is. I’ll talk it over with Joe and Bobby.” And he smiled one of those genuine reassuring smiles that said it all. It said I will get this sorted. A don’t worry sort of smile and he meant it.

  The conversation was left there. She knew when to stop. She did not mind; she just did not want to lose him. No, that was not right. She used to not mind but she did now and wanted him to stop.

Was it breakfast or maybe lunch? Brunch then. Light as usual, fresh fruit, wholemeal toast. Acacia honey was his favourite. Hot and yup very black coffee. Strong, leaving that kind of dry taste. A real hit of caffeine with that hot coffee smell. Jimmy was now off to the city needing to visit his office. His job, dealing bitcoins. He was well into block chain technology whatever that was. He would tell you. He was enthused, liked to talk about it with that rambling sort of talk people who are enthusiastically committed have. “The Crypto world, the future is what it’s about.” That was what he would tell you. Going to Cambridge he achieved a double first in mathematics and of course was very bright and sharp. A feet firmly down London sort of fella with all the trimmings.

  As he was walking out of the door Kate said, “don’t forget we’re meeting mum and dad later.”

 “No problem. I’m seeing Joe and Bobby at five thirty at Joe’s warehouse then I’ll be going straight there. I won’t be late.

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