It was another one of those odd crimes. The Diamond Exchange in High Guilds had been burgled, but there was no sign of entry. The door bolt was found firmly in place, and the burglary was discovered by someone who was already locked inside.
At about eight in the morning, a constable from the Third was flagged down by a frantic diamond merchant. Normally at this hour, the exchange would be preparing to open. But not today. The gem merchant was just standing in the doorway, holding a piece of scarlet cloth in one hand, and an empty box in the other. A bewildered expression was fixed upon his face.
“Officer! Officer! Please help!” he called, as the watchman approached. “We have been robbed.”
“What’s the trouble?” The Roseman asked, taking out his notebook.
“The Star of Illun is missing. I came out of my chamber above the courtyard and went into the workshop, and the vault was open. I looked and the wrapping cloth was just dangling from the gem cabinet,” he said, holding up the red cloth.
“Had you heard anything in the night?” the Rosie asked.
“Nothing out of the usual,” the agitated merchant replied.
“Are you sure everything had been locked?”
At this the man’s expression turned to anger. “I locked the jewel cabinet in the vault myself, and then Murray and I locked the vault together about seven yesterday evening. So yes, it was locked.”
“Sorry sir, I just need to ask for the record,” the watchman said in a conciliatory tone. “And where is Mr. Murray?”
“I escorted him and Tibbs to the main door at about seven fifteen as usual and locked the door after they left. And as for procedure, they gave the door a good pull from their side to double check.”
“What did you do next? If I might ask, sir?” the constable continued.
“I went upstairs to my chamber, had some sardines and read till about ten. Then I went to bed,” the diamond dealer explained.
“And when exactly did you find the safe open?”
“About ten to eight. I came downstairs to unlock the door for Tibbs, and saw that the vault was open,” he responded.
“And Mr. Tibbs?” the constable began.
“I don’t know? He wasn’t there, this morning.”
“And you say the door was locked?” the Rosie prompted.
“Yes, yes. I had to pull the bolt in order get out to find you,” the merchant snapped.
“Thank you for your account, sir. We will get on this right away.”
The similarity to the other recent stone heists soon led to the case being handed over to the Moorland Team. By early afternoon members of the Discovery Branch were setting up their equipment in the exchange.
Two things stood out in this case, however. The first was, that unlike the other “Moorland” heists, only one item had been taken. The second difference was that the item taken was of significant value. This was a matter of perturbation for Lifson. Something just wasn’t right about it.
“Why take treasure this time, when they have only taken cheap stones before?” he asked Magononni.
“No way to tell,” the head of Discovery replied. “We have some odd readings, too.”
“Odd?” Lifson inquired.
“Yes, there is nothing on the scanners,” Magononni said, with a shake of his head. “There’s never – ‘nothing.’ I have had Trixner check it twice with two different devices, but it’s still the same.”
“Do you think the Tibbs fellow has anything to do with it?” Cruikshank asked, as he joined them.
“I sent Binman over to his place, and he said he found him passed out drunk,” Lifson said.
“That might explain why he didn’t show up to work,” Magononni reflected.
“Seems, a little too convenient for my taste,” Lifson responded.
“What about Murray?” Cruikshank asked.
“He showed up for work at ten, just as usual, and he did seem to be genuinely surprised by it all,” Lifson explained.
“So how do we proceed with this?” Lifter questioned. “Is it part of our case, or not?”
“Damned if I know,” the superintendent replied. “It might be a folly, but I guess we need to keep it for now.”
“Yes sir,” Lifson said, “It’s your call.”
7. Attractancy (n)) the capacity of, especially of a pheromone, to attract)