The Last Game? (Part 5)
(Continued from Part 4)
|Image from WikiMedia Commons|
“Right on time.” Dobbs greets him in a voice just above a whisper.
“Any problems?” If all has gone according to plan, Dobbs has made it possible for Felix to enter the Athenaeum without detection.
“No, everything is ready. Like I told you, we don’t want to shut the system down completely. That would be an alarm in and of itself. But every security system has a ‘standby’ setting, sort of a back door, for emergencies, you know? It doesn’t signal an interruption until it’s been off for more than ten minutes.”
Felix pulls on gloves as he listens to Dobbs describe what he’s done.
“Here, take this. I’ve got it on a lanyard, so just hang it around your neck. Don’t want you fumbling in a pocket and maybe dropping it.”
With gloved hands, he passes a small black box to Felix, who drops it over his head. It looks sort of like a garage door opener.
“I routed everything to a relay on the building-side of the back-up power. As far as the computer knows, the alarm is never off. Now, look at the remote. See those three buttons that look like a traffic light? The top button, the red one, shuts everything down. At that point, you’ve got ten minutes to get inside.
“But before you open the door, press the yellow middle button. That starts the loops on the video. As far as the monitoring system goes, it’ll all look normal. And that’s what the guards see at their station. Just remember that the guards make a physical check every 30 minutes during their rounds. You’ve got to be quick,”
Felix nods. He has every intention of being quick.
“When you get inside, press the bottom green button. That will rearm the perimeter alarms, but the alarms in the Tower of London exhibit hall will stay off. Capice?” Dobbs looks at Felix, eyebrows raised, and gets a nod in return.
“Then when you’re done,’ he continues, “it’s the same sequence again. Red to shut it down. Yellow to return the video to live. Green to reset. But that time, press the green button twice, so it gets the Tower of London hall too.”
“Sounds awesome, Malcolm. I don’t know how you do it.” Felix is really impressed.
“Piece of cake, my boy, piece of cake. Computers. Everything is computers these days. Never even had to be in the building. I just hacked into their system. It’s all there. Oh, sure, they tried to obscure things with misdirection and some bogus labeling. As if.”
“Any footprints they can find?”
“Nah. At 4AM, everything I did goes poof in the night. There’ll be no trace left on the system. I’ve already dismantled the computer I used – which was in Trenton, by the way -- and junked the parts. It’s all good. And don’t forget. As soon as you’re away from here, gloves on, take the remote off the lanyard, and grind it under your foot. Scatter the pieces far away from each other.”
“Thanks, Malcolm. You’re a genius,”
“Yeah, I know. Now go. Get in and get out. Quickly.”
Dobbs turns to go, pauses, and adds, “Oh, one more thing. Here.” He hands Felix an ear bud. “With this, you’ll be able to hear any chatter on the guard frequency, as well as any telephone calls. You should have no surprises.
“Good luck, son. You’re on your own now.” And then he’s gone.
Oh, yeah, that he is. But there is no one Felix trusts more than himself. He draws a deep breath. It’s hard to believe he’s about to steal the crown jewels of England. He’s been training for this all his life.
Felix pulls a penlight headlamp from his bag. He centers the lamp on his forehead, then wraps the fastening strap around his forehead, and presses the Velcro closure firmly. A touch to the finger pad at his temple and the light springs to life, and Felix follows its beam to the doors.
And here’s where the value of all his research comes in. At the personnel door next to the large bay doors where exhibits move in and out of the museum, Felix opens the case holding his picks and turns his attention to the locks. When he’s ready to work, he presses the red button on the remote dangling from his neck, and checks his watch. Ten minutes.
With an eye on the point in the alley where Dobbs has rounded the turn to the street, Felix makes short work of the first lock, working by touch only. Practice makes perfect, he thinks. One of the services Dobbs was able to provide was a copy of all the building specs for the museum, which was rebuilt in its present location only ten years earlier. Heaven only knows what computer he broke into to get them.
Using the name of the security firm’s management team, he called the manufacturer of the locks used on the rear personnel door. He asked for, and got, one of each of the three locks there. Though they are all good products, unbreakable and very secure, there is nothing exotic about them. Felix is good with the picks, and has rarely been beaten by a door lock. These are a bit more challenging, but he has been able to practice, opening them over and over. For good measure, he’s also taught himself how to relock them. It’s his intention that no one will know anyone has broken into the Athenaeum, let alone how they got in.
He dispatches the second lock, and then attacks the third. It doesn’t surrender as quickly as the first two, but Felix has it unlocked with two minutes to spare. Before opening the door, he presses the yellow button to thwart the video camera that is sure to be directed at the door, as well as the others all over the museum, and then he’s in, relocking the door behind him.
Inside, he pauses to get his bearings, and the moves quickly toward the the stairs and Tower of London exhibit. He has studied the floor plans of the Athenaeum carefully. He knows exactly where the Tower of London exhibit is from a brochure he picked up in the lobby of the Marriott in Times Square, and he knows how to get there. And thanks to Dobbs, he knows where the guard key stations are located. Even better, as a guard checks in at each station, the system transmits a signal to the main guard station as well as logging it into the main security database. His ear bud will notify him each time that happens with a tone unique to the particular key station. Felix will be able to track the guard’s progress through the building by the tones he hears in his ear.
Following the layout he’s committed to memory, Felix is at the door to the exhibit hall in minutes. The hall is large, and divided into sections featuring various displays. The crown jewels are the real stars of the show, and Felix knows they are in their own room at the back of the hall. He wends his way through displays of royal armor and artifacts from the fusilier museum toward the rear gallery. When his penlight beam catches the gleam of a tiger’s eye and he turns to see the enormous beast, mouth pulled back in a snarl showing its truly lethal-looking teeth, Felix jumps. Realizing he’s been surprised by a stuffed animal, albeit a large, frightening one, he smiles at himself and wills his heartbeat to slow to its normal 62 beats a minute.
And then he’s at the door of the “jewel house.” He comes to a stop in the doorway. This is it, what he’s dreamed of for much of his professional career as a jewel thief. As he slowly swings his head and its attached beam left to right, the penlight is answered by the winks of gems determined to outshine it. They are mounted in crowns, on swords, scepters and orbs. Tiaras of all sizes sparkle with diamonds. And in the middle of it all, there an actual throne, covered in diamonds, rubies, emeralds, sapphires and heaven only knows what else. Magnificent, it takes his breath away. Even though this is small sampling of the nearly 25,000-piece collection of jewels worn by British royalty, what is here is still unbelievable. Felix is mesmerized.
Concluded in Part 6