Women chattering in my lounge room woke me. Annoyed I went to check and found several women discussing which of my gear they liked. Not that I had much just the usual appliances scattered around the blue and white ‘Jetsons’ decor were a TV, lounge suite, microwave, etc. “Hey!” I yelled, “What the hell are you doing in my apartment? Get out.”
A larger woman said, “Settle down girlie, stay calm and nobody gets hurt, there is some nice stuff which you can buy more of, the boys will soon be here, and then you can go back to your beauty sleep,” laughing.
I was hardly delighted but was stunned into silence as they went back to their bargaining, seeing that they weren't going to do anything physical with me I took the opportunity to search for my gun which I usually kept down the side of the lounge chair.
“Already looked, nothing's there,” Bossy taunted.
So I retreated to the bedroom, the front door opening and greetings announced that the ‘boys’ had arrived; bringing the crowd to at least ten plus several kids milling around. Then I remembered that the gun was in the drawer, ‘Damn only a six shot need more artillery,’ I mused, 'well, at least, they won’t try anything physical if I have this.'
With the gun in hand, I retreated to the far side of the room; I dialled Triple Zero. Annoyingly I was put onto a machine to record my complaint. ‘What do I pay taxes for?’
I reported, “This is Emily Holberton address unit 5, 23 Zachery Street Newtown, I have a house invasion in progress six women, several children and four men have entered and are cleaning me out, send someone to arrest them.”
Frustrated I grabbed my shoulder bag with ID and other documents, next slipped into some ‘scungies’ and runners. I then unlocked the back door, stepped out and locking it after, reversing the procedure that I had used early that morning, This before venturing out into the town centre to see if I could find some police.
I looked a sight as I passed a store window as this showed, I still wore the party dress from the night before; timely that dishevelled was the fashion at the moment, so at least my long wild hair fitted. I wandered up the shop fronts trying to remember where I had seen the firearms shop. The passers-by kept their distance, with my determined look I wouldn't mess with me either. The shops were all lit up for the day’s trading with neon lights competing with the bright sun; this was not helping my comfort as the sunnies were in the lounge room.
After wandering from one end to the other and not seeing the shop, I retraced my steps and spotting a uniformed man laden with guns, belts and pouches. I hailed him and asked for help; he said, "I am only a security man," and from a competing company, “Sorry no can help, but good luck.”
“Oh, thanks,” I answered sarcastically. Well, the security officer did have a gun and uniform, who only had to stand behind me and look official.
As I was pondering my next move, a familiar voice asked, “Need help?” It was Bill from work. He was sitting in his car. “Need a lift?”
“Some randoms are robbing my house, and I need to find some police to help, but they are pretty thin on the ground. If you were to swing past my home and we can see if they have left.”
Bill drove back down the road and turned into the lane which ran past my unit; as we did, two police constables carried Bob my boyfriend between them followed by a plain clothed detective. Bailing out of the car I stated, “I am Emily Holberton of 23 Zachery Street; that is not one of the criminals, what are you doing to him?”
“Detective Sergeant David Smalls, We had a report that there was a home invasion, and we found him in there, as he didn't have a good enough excuse, we have asked him to come with us,” The detective reported, “And I hope you have a licence for that?” He asked having noticed the pistol handle poking up in the bag while I searched for some ID.
I pulled the licence out and showed him, “I work for a security firm, and since I was a little outnumbered, I stuck it in my bag to even things up, besides not a good idea to leave it behind to fall into the wrong hands.”
“This time, I didn't see it but don’t wander down the street with it in future. Okay, release Mr Fergusen, We will return and get some statements. The forensic boys are recording fingerprints.”
"It seems that everything not nailed down is gone, I will make a list," I said as I walked in to survey the carnage.
“I don’t suppose you have a security camera anywhere?” Detective Smalls asked hopefully.
“Oh yes it slipped my mind, I have hidden the recorder in the laundry. I will need to show you, can’t run it now as the TV has gone,” I advised, guiding them out and opened the hidden panel covering the machine. “Hang on I will give you the cassette.” Tripping the door and ejecting the cartridge which I then handed over.
“I didn’t see any cameras,” Smalls said.
“Bob can point them out as he fitted them,” I said, “They cover entrances and are set off with motion sensors; if they had been obvious they would have joined the swag.”
I entered the bedroom to see how much was missing, and everything except the bed was gone, linen, clothes and jewellery, not that I had much of the latter. The shoulder bag I had taken had all my cards, cash and licences. I had noticed before that they had left the dirty laundry; I suppose they had enough of their own, so it was lucky I had been a bit slack and my washing day was today.
“Bob, Okay putting up with me for a couple of days; until I get some more stuff and clean up?” I asked.
“Of course, I always have the spare room ready in case of visitors,” Bob answered.
Then to Detective Smalls, "This is my mobile number and Bob's address in case you need to contact me," I provided on a piece of paper.
As he was leaving, Detective Smalls said, “I will call and ask you to come down to the station later to sign statements and perhaps identify suspects.”
Gathering up what was left I joined Bob in his car to stay at his place not far away. When we arrived, I first put my laundry in the washing machine so that I would have something suitable to wear. Asking why he had visited, he had ringed and when a child answered then dropped the phone when told off by a strange woman's voice. Subsequently, Bob went over to check things and had just entered through the open front door when the police turned up.
The next morning Detective Smalls rang and made an appointment to complete the interview, Ten o'clock was suitable for both of us. I arrived at the station then conducted to the interview room where Detective Smalls was waiting. “Sit down first here is the statement, please read it and if you are happy with it sign and date. Then I have a series of photos of those who match your descriptions,” Detective Smalls offered.
I read the statement and signed, then studied the photos. The faces jumped out which I announced as I spotted each. I hadn't seen any of the men before skipping out, so the male photos weren't any help. “I only heard the men and decided that discretion is the better part of valour and bolted out the back,” I said, “But I am sure of those women, I haven’t seen them in the neighbourhood before.”
“Good that matches the video, so your memory is accurate, so now we will view that and identify the rest,” Smalls concurred.
So he started the player and pointed to the screen the first shot was me entering the back door through the laundry stripping off my shoes, pantyhose and knickers then kicking them into the corner, 'oops better change that habit'. The next shot was the pet door swinging in to allow a small child to squeeze through and unlock the front door. “Ah that’s how they got in; I thought I might have left the door unlocked. Since I don’t have a pet, I should have sealed that,” I said a little hot from embarrassment at the two gaffs.
“Here are the rest of the crowd entering and spreading out,” Smalls narrated, “There you are, sensible to step back out again. Nice clear shots of the rest of the crew I will have no trouble of arresting them. The courts take a dim view towards people who use their kids for committing any crime.”
“For now my advice is to fix that flap, and fit locks or barriers to all access points including the bathroom window as those are the other common entry using small children,” Smalls advised, “Remember to do this before you replace the furnishings. Otherwise, a revisit could happen to harvest the new stuff. That is all for now; this gang has been operating all over the city for too long. With this evidence, we should be able to remove them from the streets,” Detective Smalls concluded.
I was happy about that, as that bossy Sheila had got up my nose. So after thanking him, I went home to rebuild my life.
A new career
Feeling at a loose end, I was perusing the paper the next morning, when I noticed that they were looking for recruits for the state police.
As I was currently 'resting' between acting parts, I was dependent on part-time work as a security guard, I thought, 'Just the ticket, still annoyed with that invasion, perhaps I can do my bit to protect someone else.' So I rang the phone number, asked for the requirements and then asked for them to send the paperwork to my address. While I waited, I organised the repair of the door and fitting of the latest security locks on all the entry points.
In the works was my application for the insurance for my stolen gear. Once the check arrived, I started the work, leaving the actual purchase of furniture until after fitting the locks. By the time the repairs to these two projects in motion, the forms from the police had arrived.
Reading through I soon found that I met all the physical and education requirements so sat down and filled all the necessary boxes then posted it off. After receiving an acceptance letter and all the rigmarole such as the medicals completed, I rang my agent and let him know that I was unavailable for stunts or parts.
The academy was full on, live in and involved physical and classroom instruction from morning to night, luckily I was fit because of my 'day job' as a stunt woman and extra in crime shows. This training filled the next few months in and eventually I was standing on the parade ground newly promoted to a probationary constable. Well if I thought that being a recruit was all hurry up, wait and until told what to do. No change, my first assignments were traffic light duty then the token female for domestic disputes, what fun neither job put me high in the popularity stakes with the civvies. Days seemed to go interminably until one -day I received a call to come into Detective Small's office.
"How about doing some undercover work for me?" He asked, "I need a young woman to fill a role in a drug investigation. I expect no dramas."
"Beats traffic control, what does it need?" I asked.
"You will accompany another constable in plain clothes around a park looking like a couple. There have been reports of a group harassing them, trying to sell drugs," Smalls explained.
So decked out in my office girl outfit, I arrived at the designated park and located my partner, spotting a familiar face, 'Oh Jenny from the school intake. Now, I know the scenario.'
Walking up to her, I greeted her with a grin; I said, "Hi Jenny guess we are to be more than friends." From her face, I could see the task had sunk in, and it is good that we both had a sense of humour.
"Oh goodie, wish they had told me, I have been keeping my bib and brace overalls for just this job," Jenny laughed, "So we just wander around and drape ourselves decoratively now and then?"
"Sounds like my brief," I concurred, "Don't think cuddling is required. We cruise around and wait for the dealers, then alert the backup guys."
"Yes, I have my radio checked out and yours?" Jenny confirmed.
"Mine's fit and humming," I said, "So shall we promenade?"
The pair of us then wandered keeping a subtle eye out for likely criminals, watching the other couples it was obvious why we were together as pairs of girls seem to be the norm. Nothing happened for a time until there was a small disturbance at one end and I gave Jenny the heads up to drift that way. As we slowly moved over the cause became apparent there were a couple of women with children with them, approaching each couple and talking with some shaking their heads while others nodded, in the latter case the kids would exchange something discretely.
"Damn!" I said recognising one of them, "That's my old nemesis. Can't go closer or she will recognise me."
Then over the radio, I reported, "Heads up those women are wanted for burglary."
Then whispered to Jenny, "Those Bitches are the ones who robbed me last year."
"There come the troops," I recognised Smalls and a couple of his offsiders, unfortunately in an arc on the opposite side to us.
"Jenny, they are herding the wildlife our way, grab a kid they have the dope. Their Mums will probably object to that so be ready." Sure enough, as soon as the guys were spotted the kids took off in our direction. As these ran past, both Jenny and I grabbed one each by tripping them then grabbing their backpacks. "So sorry are you all right?" Then whispered, "Police. You're nicked." Then as the women caught up and Bossy swung a fist at me, I ducked then returned the favour setting her on her bum.
"Police Officer, assaulting one gets extra porridge," I had the satisfaction of saying.
"What are you talking about, you assaulted me and what for?" Bossy demanded, "Shit it's you."
"Thanks for confirming my identification, girlie," I grinned applying a wrist grip to keep her down, she was starting to struggle loose before she could Detective Smalls had come up and restrained my captives.
"Guess who? My old friend Bossy," I reported to Smalls, "You will find the goods in the backpacks."
"Good work, we have been after this group for a long time," Detective Smalls congratulated, "I'll keep you in mind for other jobs."
"Certainly made my day, it's why I joined," I said.
Well, that started the day but back to reality and the station where the change back to uniform and filling in the report took the rest of the day.
The next day Bossy et al. were arraigned before the magistrate and had their case adjourned and released on bail. As it was only a preliminary case, the reports were enough to warrant the case proceeding, so I wasn't required to give evidence.
After a time doing the daily routine jobs like making coffee for the serjeant and filing paperwork, Detective Smalls gave me a call. "Would you like another job?"
"On my way, what is it?" I asked trying not to sound too desperate.
"Slow down it's tomorrow, and I need to arrange it with your station first. I need a uniform patrol in an area to fly the flag while my boys roam around the fringes," Smalls explained, "It is in the home suburb of your old friend. If she misbehaves, it revokes her bail conditions. There has been activity bearing the modus operandi of her gang in the area."
"Lovely, it will make her day if I nail her again. I will need to be on my guard perhaps I can wear a wig?" I asked.
"OK with me and I don't think your boss would object," Smalls agreed, "So tomorrow at Ten am at the Hawthorn railway station there will be rest of your crew waiting with an experienced Senior Constable with orders to keep everyone out of strife."
So later the next day after making my favourite serjeant his morning coffee; I departed all booted and spurred to my assigned job waiting at the rail station. Jenny was one of the crew, who introduced Senior Downs and Constable Bryant.
"All here now, so the job is to work our way up the main streets on the lookout for shoplifters and handbag snatchers, smile and look helpful to the shoppers," Downs instructed.
As we wandered, Bryant asked out of curiosity, "I have seen you around for years, why are you still a probationary?'
"That was probably a TV show where I was playing a senior constable," I said.
"Interesting, I suppose the reality is nothing like the screen?" He asked.
"It is very close, most of the time I stand around for the call to do something while I make coffee for the director," I laughed, "Then it is like directing traffic, stand still on the spot and hope you don't get run over. A week's work then ends up being a minute on the scene, blink and you've missed it."
"Well we are just showing the flag today and if all is to plan no dramas," Bryant said.
"The reason for the wig is that an old 'friend' lives in the area and may take exception to my presence," I explained, "Of course, I forgot that my disguise is from my other work, and someone could recognise me."
"Never mind, just smile, and they won't remember you. If I recall your part you were always snarling," Bryant laughed.
"Oy I'll have you know that was supposed to be sinister smiling," I said returning the humour.
The team cruised down the shop fronts greeting little old ladies and shop owners who were the only ones keen to see us as this was a rougher side of town where police patrols were bad news for the unemployed layabouts. A Kid recognised me from the TV show and asked for my autograph, which I provided despite thinking that it was a bit late in the evening and wrong type of show for a child. Then I recognised the child as one of Bossy's kids, but no drama as my stage name is Emma Burton even though my name plate reads Holberton.
As we moved on, "Senior, to let you know that was one of the gang we are here for," I warned, "Proper Fagin outfit so check your gear if they come close." The kid had run off; I suppose to gloat over the autograph, but I had used my stage name, 'Bossy' might still connect the two things and try something. As we continued our patrol I noticed that we had company starting to follow our progress, I wasn't concerned as that is what the purpose of this exercise. The shadowing group was building up, and I decided that Senior Downs needed to be aware of our situation, "Senior, we have company," I advised.
"I noticed," He responded.
A crowd of layabouts converged on the team and started harassing, they seemed to be concentrating on me, or perhaps I am just paranoid, "Move along and go about your business," Senior Downs ordered. That had no effect, so Downs spoke over his radio for backup, there was a larger team was standing by and would be there in minutes,
"Move along, this is a police direction," Downs repeated.
The shoving began in earnest, so Downs moved the team to an open area and drew his capsicum spray as did the rest of us. "Stand back, or we deploy capsicum," Downs warned which had the desired effect as they stepped back. While this happened, two police vans approached from each direction with several constables spreading out and starting to move the groups on as they realised the extra police were there. The mob quickly disbursed before causing enough disturbance to need arrests.
The serjeant approached Senior Downs and said, "Ah, the cockroaches headed back to the shadows, I have let Dave Smalls know the ruse worked, and they think they have drawn all the mobile teams."
"Okay, we will pretend that it worked. We chase the mob down the rat holes for a bit," Downs replied. Then as we checked the shops and local homes for likely suspects, Downs confided, "Usually, the Fagin gang tries to get all the mobile officers engaged chasing the stirrers while they knock something over a suburb away. The object is if a triple 0 is sent, no police are available to answer.
"Yes, I should know that routine, I was a victim once and was annoyed that there was no response except for a machine," I commented.
"Dave has another patrol car with the normal two and his team of Detectives standing by for a call. Combined with additional emergency operators to handle the phone traffic. All the shopkeepers and shoppers ring to report the fracas that we attracted," Downs explained, "So we are just going through the motions of chasing the stirrers."
"Pity I would prefer to do the nabbing, but if this works, it is all for a good cause," I commented.
The team investigated each bolt hole, but as none of the mob had hung around, so eventually Senior Downs called a halt and resumed the assigned patrol with the additional teams returning to their duties. Downs announced that the exercise had finished, and we were back at the start point to end the day. Just a little disappointing in that we had no feedback to let us know whether it was successful. Still better than cuppa girl or point duty, perhaps Smalls would be kind enough to give some information.
Senior Downs listened on his radio for a second then announced, "Mission successful several suspects detained and on the way to the station helping with inquiries."
"Any luck and I can rub it in when I knock off, see you around," I farewelled. Moving through the station entrance on my way to the change I just happened to pass the holding cells, Okay perhaps a little off the track and was delighted to see the Fagin crew despondently waiting their turn for processing.
"Why Glenda what a surprise meeting you here, are they looking after you properly?" I asked to rub it in, "Sorry can't stay and chat I have to water the garden at home, Bye."