“I don’t know” said WPC Sandra Slang, “It just seems a little quiet compared to previous years. OK, we seem to be only working in black and white, but at least we have all the Brussel Sprouts and no-one seems to be stealing…”
She didn’t finish her sentence because the police station was filled with the sound of an alarm.
“Blast!” cried Sandra “I jinxed it, didn’t I?”
Across the town, the manager of the Heartlake Bank was just standing, staring at the bank’s vault. Or rather, staring at the half-empty contents of the bank’s vault.
“I don’t understand” he said. “I opened the bank at 9 o’clock as I always do, and apart from Granny Smith depositing her collection of pennies nobody has come into – or left – the bank. And yet, in the space of twenty three minutes, half of the cash has now left the bank vault!”
“Can you confirm what has been stolen?” asked WPC Sandra.
“Yes, I can – the thieves have stolen half the bank’s cash, which amounts to about 250,000. They left the gold bars, and indeed anything that will be easily traceable.”
“So they’ve only taken cash then?”
“Yes – but fortunately they were all new, so the numbers run in order. That means that if they try to spend them we’ll be able to catch them in the act!”
“That’s great” said Sandra. “If you can give me those numbers, I’ll tell all the shop keepers, especially the jewellers and the posh shops; I reckon the thieves will try and spend the money on expensive things.”
In a small, run down house on the edge of Heartlake, Steven sat in his room surrounded by cash. He had drawn a hole with his pen, and reached through into the bank and helped himself. He had learned that once he destroyed his drawing of a hole the other end would immediately disappear – he had also lost a model train when he found this out too.
He loaded several large packets of bills onto his sled and headed out into the street.
His first stop was the supermarket, where he bought plenty of food that he could stock all the shelves back at home. He made sure that it was also useful items, such as rice and beans, rather than just chocolates and sweets (although he bought some of those too). He also bought a sled and a couple of toys from the local toyshop – a toy ride-on firetruck, a radio controlled helicopter and a toy race car as well as a few board games (and a new model train); but rather than take most of these home he walked down to the local orphanage, where he left the toys and a couple of packets of money before heading back to town. On his return, he stopped by the charity bench, where the local church were making hot tea and chocolate for anyone, raising money for worthy causes. He bought a hot chocolate and when no-one was looking stuffed some more money packets into the collection bucket.
I was standing by the charity stand when I saw Steven. I thought it was more than a little unusual – he seemed somehow suspicious. I pulled out my pocket computer from my jacket as I felt it vibrate; apparently I was close to one of the two people I was asked to look into. I decided that I needed to follow him.
Steven returned to his house. I looked through the window and saw that he was putting some packets of money into his rucksack. When he left his house once more, I followed him – and watched as he secretly left packets of money by homeless people, or in collection buckets. Given the way he was dressed I was very surprised that he had so much money to give; but I know from the Naughty and Nice lists the way people dress isn’t always an indicator of anything.
But something caught my attention and made me turn round. A policewoman was shouting “STOP THIEF!!” and pointed at Steven. I turned back, to see that Steven had pulled out a very large piece of paper and was trying to draw something… a hole! He was drawing a hole… he was the Doodlefig!
Unfortunately, I realised that he wasn’t going to escape because of two reasons. Firstly, his pen was running out of ink and he was having to go over the same piece of paper time and time again; it was also starting to tear as it got wet in the cold, snowy air. He decided a change of plan was in order – perhaps he could escape by creating a fire! He got out another piece of paper and pulled out two more pens. I could see what he was trying to draw, but because everything was in a shade of grey the flames didn’t come to life… and soon WPC Sandra had Steven in handcuffs.
Back at the police station, Sandra was questioning Steven on what he had done. She told him that nearly all the money had been recovered – the toy shop had felt something was amiss when he had bought all these toys as they had never had someone almost buy the complete shop stock before and all the money looked new. As she had been leaving the toy shop she heard a squeal from the charity stand and had gone over, to find that more of the money had been put into the bucket. It hadn’t taken her long to realise that the money was being distributed around those less fortunate – and it was by chance that she had seen Steven put a packet of money by the side of Homeless Joe that she made the connection.
Because of my connection with the town, I had been allowed to listen to the interview from behind the mirrored glass; so I had heard Steven’s confession. He wanted everyone to have a wonderful Christmas, and finding that he had suddenly got these magical powers he wanted to help everyone. However, as he wasn’t rich, he knew he had to do something and he reckoned that the Heartlake Bank was probably insured anyway. I had a dilemma. Steven had obviously been bad – he had stolen money – but it was for the benefit of those who were unfortunate, which was a very nice thing. Which list should I put him on? I had an idea. I spoke with WPC Sandra – it took a little persuading for her to realise that SH5 – and Santa Claus – were real; but I explained how Steven could help the town and she agreed that he could be useful.
“But he’s not to leave town” she added.
“Don’t worry, we know where everyone is… sort of” I replied.
I entered the interview room. Steven looked very scared and confused.
“Who are you?” he asked “I was asked to wait here… I’ve been bad, haven’t I?”
I told him what I thought – and that he really needed to help me catch Cameo. I pointed out that he could still be in trouble for taking the money from the bank; but that the decision would be made by WPC Sandra.
“So you’re not out of the woods yet… even though I need you to help us get into them.”
Sandra had contacted the bank manager and arranged to go over to the bank. She sat down opposite the manager in his office and explained that she had found most of the money. She explained what Steven had done and where he had put the money. “There are still a few bills floating around” she said. “The problem is that they have been given to needy people, so they might not surface just yet. What I can do is arrange to return the recovered money by the end of the day.”
The Bank Manager sat back in his chair. “Obviously, we can’t just let this go – but also I am aware that Faceblock and the news websites are all running the story of what has happened in the town; the Heartlake press has been particularly efficient. I’ve had to speak to my manager, and the bank’s press office – and they have mixed opinions too; the Bank want all the money back because they see it as theirs, the Bank’s press office and some of the senior partners want to keep a good news story alive and show the bank has a heart. We have a plan. I’m going to – quietly – go to the orphanage and tell them that they can keep the toys – we’ll pay the money to the toy shop. That one will be a ‘secret santa’. As for the other people, we will arrange for them to receive some money. Certainly not what they had been given originally, but something to help them at this time. I will then speak with Heartlake press to make sure that the good news is mentioned.”
“That’s all very good” said Sandra, “but what about Steven? Once the money is handed back out to the people it will be very difficult to proceed with a trial in this town; Steven will be seen as the initiator of a Christmas goodwill gesture!”
The Bank manager flexed his fingers. “That certainly is a problem.” He picked up his calculator and tapped away at the keypad. He then turned the calculator to Sandra. “That is the amount that we will have given away – lost – from all this. How can Steven help me get that back?”
Sandra smiled “I’m sure he could draw it for you… actually, perhaps that’s the answer – and again, everyone can benefit. I know that the orphanage and the hospital could do with a lick of paint, perhaps we get Steven to do the painting for free – and again from the Bank’s perspective, you can spin that you are giving to the community; I’m sure you can come up with the right words and we can coach Steven.”
“That sounds like an excellent idea.”
Sandra returned to the police station and told Steven. He looked very relieved and wanted to start instantly… but Sandra said that they still needed to buy the paint – and reminded him that he still had to help me.
So this week we had:
Outdoor bench with mug
Policewoman on Skis
Police sled with colour blocks
Toy Fire Truck
Toy Race Car
See you next week!