The silent alarm had gone off. Marge and her daughter Maggie prepared to lock themselves into the safe room following plans laid out years before. As they closed the door, which could only be opened from inside or by a trusted few, the not so silent alarm went off letting the intruder or intruders know they needed to leave. When the silent alarm was first activated several cameras had started scanning for movement while others remained focused on key value points; the picture covering the wall safe, the new Tesla S in the garage, the gun collection in Steve’s den all had focused cameras with a scanning camera across from them. The thief would be not only recorded but the digital information was already being sent to an off site server just in case something happened to the computers in the house. Marge and Maggie settled into soft comfortable chairs and started one of Maggie’s favorite DVD’s. They waited for the all-clear notice the police or private protection agency would key into the pad on the door of the safe room. Marge retrieved a box of Maggie’s preferred cookies from a cabinet and poured a couple glasses of milk. The milk was fresh and cold from a small refrigerator under the cabinet. Fresh cold milk had been available in the small refrigerator for every day of the last three years but this was the first time a glass of the liquid had been poured.
The system had been easy to fool. Most of the work had been done while still sitting in the car. Everything disabled in just a few strokes on the keyboard. It was quite a convenience to have the front door unlock itself. The greatest risk had been the people inside but the infrared had shown the girl and her mother in the upstairs bedroom. There had been a temptation to look through the lens of the bedroom camera and see what they were doing but the movement of the camera might have warned them. With cloth covers on shoes, gloved hands, in complete silence, small almost priceless items were placed into a bag. The safe was a challenge but also produced an acceptable reward, there was no reason to keep that much cash on hand, cash should be working for people – encouraging the economy. The heavy walnut door with thick brass hardware hung open just a few inches so there would be no question as to the entry point. With the new found wealth in it’s trunk the unwashed white Toyota Corolla started with just a flick of the key. As the car moved away the house’s surveillance system was activated and the silent alarm informed the police, the security company, the mother and the child that the front door was open.
Security men waited in their cars for the police to give the all clear. They had seen the flashing lights on the road, four black and white cars spilling onto the driveway, the security men held back, letting the cops take the point. The police were better trained and better equipped. The police, with vests on and guns drawn entered the house, groups of two, touching nothing observing everything. The first task was to clear the house, make sure no one still posed a threat to the occupants.
“There,” Andy, the sergeant in charge pointed in a direction and two men dressed in black cautiously made their way into the maze of rooms to the left. Another, “there,” and two peeled off towards the right. Previously instructed two had already circled the house from the outside, checking the bushes and gates but staying clear of surfaces that might offer footprints or other such clues. Andy and his partner Sal filmed rooms as they were cleared to preserve the scene. Two sets of stairs led to the upper floor, four men climbed each set cautious at the moment their heads would be exposed to the second floor. Almost a full hour passed before the all clear could be given. The men in black informed the security men, still sitting in their cars, that they could take over the scene. The policemen took their places in their still running, still warm cruisers and started the paper work, the new guy was sent to the local Star Bucks to get the necessary coffee. It could not be confirmed until the homeowner could be interviewed but it appeared no one had entered the home, nothing had been disturbed or removed. The final conclusion would be, almost without a chance of error, that the door had not been set properly and had simply opened just enough to set off the alarms.
The most senior of the security men, a five foot seven, slightly overweight man with light wavy brown hair turning a bit gray above the ears pushed his rimless glasses up on his nose and carefully punched in the code to the safe room. He went over his greeting in his head. It is most important not to embarrass a client after a false alarm he reminded himself, especially a client like this one.
The DVD had finished; Maggie had climbed onto Marge’s lap and fallen asleep. There was little worry that things were being taken care of outside the safe room. Marge’s laptop had received a notification that the police and security people had arrived at the house. There was nothing for her to do but wait and not share any fear or concern with Maggie. They had both enjoyed the last hour in their “hide out”. It was almost as much fun as building a blanket house in Maggie’s bedroom and reading by flashlight. In the back of her mind Marge wondered if things had been damaged and if the people breaking into her perfect home had been caught, but these thoughts took up little space. Maggie was the most important thing in her life and Maggie was safe here in her arms. She looked at the small, five-year-old girl in her lap. Maggie smiled as she dreamed, showing no fear, accepting the fact that her mother could protect her in any situation. The red light above the safe house door turned to green. Marge held Maggie with one arm, checked her hair in the mirror above the sink, stood up and pushed the lever on the door. The door opened out, a security guard waited a few feet back.
“And?” Marge said to the obviously concerned man.
“It appears to have been a fault in the system, Ma’am,” the guard started. “We are checking. The front door was found open, however nothing seems to have been disturbed. We would, of course, like for you to check for anything missing or out of place.”
“Are you telling me I failed to latch the door properly?” Marge asked with enough of a smile to let him know he wasn’t in trouble.
“That is a possibility ma’am,” the guard had more to say but Marge interrupted him.
“Could you call me Marge, or at least Mrs. Adams?” At the sound of her mother’s voice Maggie woke up and blinked at the man her mother was speaking to.
“There seems to have been a fault in the system, Mrs. Adams the complete system went down for several minutes and when it reset the door alarm was tripped. I’m sorry for the trouble this has put you through.”
“Oh, it was no trouble, we actually enjoyed ourselves,” Marge gave Maggie a hug and put her down. Maggie ran up the stairs to her bedroom singing a song from the DVD they had watched. And then Marge added, in a more business like tone, “you and your men will find the fault and repair it?”
The security man immediately nodded a yes and said, “we will not leave until we are entirely convinced you and your family are protected, Mrs. Adams.”
“Has Mr. Adams been informed?” Maggie asked. It was the first time she had considered her husband’s side in this.
“He has been in communication with us from the first and is up-to-date. I believe he is quite concerned.”
“But still in his office?” Maggie added and instantly felt guilty at bringing the security guard into her personal problems. “I’m sorry,” she said to the security guard, “I guess that was a little more stressful than I thought.” She left the man to do his job and walked toward the stairs to finish what was left of the evening with her daughter.
“You will double check, that things have not been disturbed?” the security man said to her back as she walked away.
She turned in a slow circle giving the room a quick look and giving the guard a glance she said, “everything is fine.” Marge started to climb the curve of carpeted stairs her left hand tripping from highly polished turned oak baluster to highly polished turned oak baluster.
“It’s time for your bed, little girl,” Marge said to her five year old and the process started, changing into soft flannel PJ’s with cartoon animals, brushing teeth and, with mother’s help, brushing thin, blonde hair that almost reached Maggie’s shoulders now. Her baby was growing so fast, Marge grinned to herself and thought, “everyone says they grow up too fast,” but she was enjoying every moment of Maggie’s growing up.
“Sleep good,” she said as she turned out the light and closed the door almost all the way.
Marge, for the first time tonight, allowed herself to think about what had happened. She remembered double-checking the locked front door. She remembered setting the dead bolt. The door had not opened on its own. She found a pad of papers and a pen in her desk drawer and began to wander the house looking for out of place or missing things. She found a few small items missing. A circle of polished gloss black shelving announced the spot where a gold mouse with diamond eyes and ruby chips for toenails had sat. The rest of the shelf held other objects just as valuable, all covered with a light coat of dust. Marge made note of the missing mouse on the tablet and made a mental note to let her housekeeper know shelves need dusting too. She found several items missing, all were things of value but it was just a show. A robber worth his salt would have taken much more. Or, her salt Marge added in order to be politically correct. She knew what the robber had taken, she knew what the real purpose had been but she was afraid to confirm it. She took her time walking into Randy’s office. From across the room she could see the smudge in the dust at the edge of the hinged picture that covered the safe, her housekeeper wasn’t allowed in here. The safe was closed and properly locked. Marge punched in the code and looked inside. Piles of banded, uncirculated hundreds filled the shelves, easily traced it would have been helpful if the money had been taken but it was all still there. She moved it aside and looked for the one sheet of paper she knew was gone. Not finding the document she took everything out of the safe and put things back one at a time. There was no doubt, the robbery had nothing to do with a bag filled with small items. The sheet of paper was gone.