The Heartless Christmas Robber
A story from my life, about working over Christmas and why we should help out where we can.
24th December, Christmas Eve. Out last minute shopping with the kids without their Mum, trying to get her some surprise presents (always hard!).
I love going out with my kids — watching them seeing things new for the first time, putting my youngest on my shoulder when she gets tired. It is a wonderful feeling being a Dad. With the shopping done, we have time for a well deserved visit to McDonalds before we go home and for me to be on call out duty.
Then the calls start coming in — 2pm is my first call of the day. It is a job requiring gaining entry to a property as they have lost the keys.
This is quite normal after offices and factories finish at lunch time where the Christmas drinks starts to flow. Arriving at Dove Close, asking the standard questions, “did you fully lock the door when you left to go to work this morning?” “Is there a key in the inside of door?” Then checking there are no windows open.
This job was a simple in and out, no problems with the door or the owner! So, back on road, I think to myself, “cuppa with my mum would go down a treat!” I decide to head for her house. Half an hour later, finishing off my tea and ginger biscuits, my mum’s telephone begins ringing.
“It’s for you,” she says, handing me the phone.
Now I should point out that this was back when mobile phones where still a futuristic dream!This meant always telephoning from the last call out job to let my controller (Moira, my wife!) know that I was back on road.
This proved to be my second call out of the day. Unusually, it was a child locked in toilet that was obviously very upset. They were asking me how long it was going to take me to get there. “Redwing Drive?” I thought to myself.
“10 minutes away,” I reply.
I know I am four streets away so I say goodbye to my mum.
“See you boxing day!” I call to her as I leave.
Arriving at Redwing Drive, I manage to get Wendy (the child trapped in the toilet) to open the window so I can get into room. Soon I have her out into her relieved Mum’s arms, having a cuddle!
Now, I know what you’re thinking — you might have had a little chuckle about being locked in the toilet. But it is very common, one day you might find it happening to you. Especially if you live in an older property where you door lock consists of a single spring catch!
As I am all done here, I ring in to control and find that I am needed at one of the local park pavilions which has been vandalised so off I set.
On arrival, I find some very upset youth workers as Father Christmas is flying in on his sleigh in two hours to visit the children at their Christmas Eve party. I do a quick survey noting that this job requires two men. I phone Jim, my back up technician. I reassure the youth workers that we will make the building safe for them to still have their party.
Now, I have been doing my job for numerous years but there is one thing I still cannot comprehend. Why do some people find it necessary to smash windows and doors on properties that belong to community? The cost of repairs always comes out of the same fund that could be getting new and better activities in the building.
Jim arrives and we get to work removing dangerous hanging glass from the windows and doors then temporary board them so that the children’s party can start. We are just finishing up when the first party goers begin to arrive. We graciously accept tea and cake from the youth workers and tell them all is safe.
After calling in to control I am told all is quiet so can return home to the excitement of my family getting ready for Father Christmas coming!
7pm call comes in as a broken window at Sailor Boy public house. 9pm call to local factory re break in. Return home after securing factory to spend time with my lovely wife.
It is 11pm Christmas Eve, Father Christmas has just finished his rounds for my lovely children. Now, time for Mrs Christmas and myself to enjoy a night cap before we crash out.
Some time later, I am lying in the sun soaked, Turkish beach with an ice cold drink at my side. “Can somebody please stop that bell from ringing?” Oh.. heck, it is the telephone at the side of my bed waking me up from a lovely dream.
As I answer the telephone my eye glance over to the clock. This is a habit I have because all calls are timed and logged.
“Ergh!” I groan as the clock glares half past two back at me. It is a police call requiring me to attend a break in on a family home. I am then informed it is fifteen miles away in a small village. So, I give Jim a call as the police controller has given me more information about the call out and we will need two men.
I slip quietly out of our bedroom and get dressed downstairs to not wake anyone else. I look out of the window to find outside has a very heavy frost. I wrap up warm putting on my coat and gloves.
By the time I pick Jim up the heater has started to warm up the van and I feel a cold blast as he opens the door sending a shiver down my spine.
“Brrr, hi mate. Where we off to then?” He asks.
We were heading to a small town some 15 miles away called Clarkson. Driving the whole way with caution (as there were areas of black ice), we arrive and are met by a female Police Officer. She gives us a quick briefing, “The b — — d has no heart! They’ve removed the patio door to the lounge and removed all of the presents from around the Christmas tree. The family are inside and understandably very upset.”
After meeting the family and warming up with a hot drink we get down to our work. The first thing that is very clear is that this patio door had been removed by someone in the trade. We are just finishing refitting the door with some new security fittings which will stop the removal of the door again, when the Police Officer comes over to ask if we will
attend another call 5 miles away in a hamlet. Another bloody patio door! So, we trudge back to the van and head towards the Hamlet.
By now, the weather has taken a turn for the worst and the snow is settling. We find the address, park up and are putting on our waterproofs when a head police sergeant appears around the van door. “Sorry to call you out on a night like this but the property needs to be secured. I will stay with you until you finish to lock up.”
His deep voice booms, his breath visible in the cold air. “Are the owners away for Christmas?” I enquire. “No,” He replied I hear a hint of sadness in his voice. “They have been taken to hospital with breathing problems after challenging the intruder. Both are in their 80s.”
We follow the sergeant around to the back of the property. As soon as we see the door we know it must be the same intruder as before. The door has been removed exactly the same way. I call over to the police sergeant mentioning for him to have a look. “Have you got a Scene of Crimes Officer (SOCO) coming to have a look?” I asked him. “They are not coming until day light as they are busy in Clarkson. Why?” He replied intrigued.
“Have all the presents from under the tree been taken?”
He nodded. “Can you put on their file that this is the same motive as the Clarkson break in? In my view you should be looking for a person with knowledge in the fitting of this type of patio door.” I explained showing him the patio door. We refit the door with extra security.
By this point, the snow has settled and measures about two inches. The police sergeant’s car is stuck in the midst of it. We help the police sergeant to get his car moving, stop at the telephone box to call control. Luckily, there are no calls waiting so we can finally head for home.
The drive back home is beautiful, it borders on Christmas card picturesque but extremely slippery.
I climb back into bed (there’s nothing better then a lovely warm bed when you have been in the cold.) I look at the clock as I turn over — 6:30am. I groan, roll over and go back to sleep.
A small voice drifts into my sleep. “Daddy! Daddy! Wake up! Wake up! Father Christmas has been. Come and look what we have got!”
I look at the clock — 7am. Well you cannot not go and look when your children wake you up that excited. 7am on Christmas morning is not too bad.
I sit on the floor surrounded by my children looking and listening to their joyous shrieks as they open their presents. This brings me back to the call outs a couple of hours ago, thinking of those children’s faces when they come down stairs to find all their presents gone. Where can you get replacement presents on Christmas Day? I wondered. My wife, Moira had now joined us. I was insistent, “I must make a telephone call.” “At this time of morning on Christmas Day? To who?” She asked. “Yes I must” I said to myself lost in thought.
Now I should put you in the picture here. For the last couple of years I had been helping our local Rotary Club at Christmas time by towing a large trailer made up to look like Father Christmas’ sleigh around to where it was required. I think you might understand my train of thought now…
I am making tea when my lovely wife rests her head on my shoulder, “Ok, what have you been up to?” She asks, knowing that look on my face. I grin and tell her about the call outs and the poor children.
“I have spoken to Graham and he is ringing around to make up a Santa sack which will be delivered within the hour to the two addresses that I have given him!” “Oh! Michael!” She exclaimed, hugging me tight.
I later discover the thief was caught and jailed. I received a lovely letter informing me and thanking me for the information I had given them at the scene.