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Authors: Nick Oldham

Tags: #thriller, #crime, #police procedural, #bristish detective

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BOOK: The Last Big Job
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Oh hell,’ Danny moaned. ‘So it is all true.’ She dived out of
the car, radioing for back-up.

Danny hauled the youth off Rupert’s back, stumbled and found
herself flat on her back with the lad on top of her about to
head-butt the bridge of her nose. She smacked him hard on the side
of his head, sending him sprawling across the pavement.

Out of the corner of her eye she was conscious of Rupert and
his opponent thrashing hell out of one another. Danny’s attention
returned quickly to the youth she had belted. He had already
staggered to his feet and was bearing down on her again, intent on
delivering a mighty kick to her body.

She was up in a flash, but he was on her and once more she
found herself on the ground fighting wildly.

Six other youths staggered noisily out of the Cathedral
grounds at that point. All were drunk, carrying cider bottles. The
moment they saw the scene in front of them, they joined in. Any
opportunity to have a dig at a cop was not to be missed.

Moments later, two police vans screeched on to the scene
disgorging the two ‘Strike Force’ teams: six bobbies with very
hairy backsides, heavy boots and ugly dispositions.

Six arrests were made from the melee and, fighting all the way
to the station, the youths were bundled - and battered where
necessary - into cells. The documentation and processing would come
several hours later when they had all sobered up.

Danny’s tights looked as though her cat had been using them
for scratching practice. Her skirt was ripped down one seam, her
white shirt had lost several buttons and her white, functional bra
and generous cleavage was on view for everyone to see.

She was severely pissed off by the whole episode - not least
because that night, of all nights, she did not have a spare shirt
or skirt in her locker. Rounding on Rupert who had been trailing at
her heels like a puppy, she hissed. ‘Just tell me this - what the
hell did you say to those lads?’


I . . . er . . .’He hesitated.


All they were doing was peeing,’ she remonstrated.


Erm . . . I think it might have been something like, “Only
dogs piss in the street”,’ Rupert admitted quietly.

Danny’s face sank in disbelief. She took a beat to prevent
herself from blurting out something she might regret. ‘I think you
need to work on your interpersonal skills, don’t you?’ Then she
turned away from him with the word ‘Wanker’ playing on her
lips.


Danny,’ someone called from the Comms Room. It was one of the
PCs who worked in there who was constantly hassling her for a date.
‘Can you deal with this one?’ He waved a message pad in the air.
Danny opened her arms and invited him to look at the state of her.
Lust clouded briefly across his face when he saw her bra and what
was in it. She picked up the expression and quickly pulled her
shirt together. The PC gulped, returned to normal and said, ‘I
know, I know. I’m sorry - but there’s just no one else to
go.’

Her shoulders drooped. ‘What is it?’I she asked with
resignation.


Report of a riot up on Fishmoor.’


Ugh, that’s all I need.’

She pushed her way out of the Custody Office door which led to
the car park and ran to her car, Rupert close behind, fired up by
the prospect of a riot. As she manoeuvred out of the station yard
the radio operator informed her that two further calls in quick
succession backed up the first one. Fishmoor looked like it was
kicking off.

Danny hit the rocker switch for the rather pathetic blue light
which rotated dimly on the roof of her Metro, screwed the car in
its lower gears and tried to coax maximum performance from a
vehicle well past its sell-by date. Six minutes after leaving the
police station she was on the Fishmoor council estate. She
careered, almost on two wheels, into Fishmoor Drive to find. . .
nothing. The streets were deserted.

She radioed her findings to Comms and cancelled other patrols
who had since been deployed. A quick sweep of the estate confirmed
it was a hoax. Fishmoor was as quiet as she had ever seen it. The
Comms operator gave her the addresses of the people who had called
in, and Danny and Rupert drove by their houses; each one was in
total darkness. However there wasn’t much time to dwell on it as a
genuine call came in: a punter had just had a beer glass screwed
into his face in one of the town centre clubs. Big trouble was
brewing.

Danny gunned the small car back into town.

 

 

Crane and his team entered the rear of the building next to
the target premises. He knew it was not alarmed and the entry,
therefore, was done with little finesse. It was the office of an
insurance broker’s with nothing of interest or value kept there,
hence the lack of protection.

The three men moved swiftly through the rear kitchen and into
the front office. They went straight to the window, unrolled a
large sheet of thick black polythene from their equipment bag and
covered the glass quickly and smoothly in a well-rehearsed
manoeuvre, running masking tape around the edges to ensure no light
passed through the polythene.

Only when Crane was satisfied that the temporary blind had
been correctly fixed, did he allow himself and the others to switch
on their torches.

So far, so good. It was 12.30 a.m. Crane allowed himself a
smile of satisfaction. He turned and looked at the dividing wall
which separated the insurance broker’s from the Halifax Building
Society office next door.

His target.

This was when the heavy work began.

A few moments later Crane and his men waltzed four heavy
filing cabinets away from the wall to reveal an empty fireplace,
the chimney of which had been boarded and blocked up many years
ago.

Crane knew that set into the corresponding fireplace on the
other side of the wall was a safe which - so he was led to believe
- contained
£60,000
.

All he had to do was get through the wall, open the safe,
steal the cash, escape. Easy. It was what he did for a
living.

 

 

At the first opportunity, Danny raced to her flat, which was
less than a quarter of a mile from Blackburn police station, to get
a change of uniform. She emerged cleaned and pressed as a message
came over the radio asking all patrols to make for the Army
Recruiting Office in the town centre. A report from an anonymous
passer-by had been received to the effect that what appeared to be
a bomb was on the front doorstep of the premises. Patrols were
asked to take the job seriously. The Provisional IRA were very
active and this could be the real thing.

By the time Danny arrived with Rupert in tow, the night patrol
Inspector had sealed the scene and cordoned off a 200-metre area
away from the premises - as per minimum guidelines - and called out
the Army Bomb Disposal squad. The latter were en route from their
base in Liverpool, at least three-quarters of an hour
away.

Which meant that a large number of police officers were going
to be tied up for a long time doing absolutely rock-all other than
preventing the drunk and the curious from breaching the
cordon.

Danny and Rupert were designated a point.


What if it isn’t a bomb?’ Rupert was saying. ‘What if it’s
just another hoax?’


We can’t take the chance,’ Danny said.


I’ve a bloody good mind to march up to it and see for
myself.’

Danny’s blood literally froze in her veins. ‘You will do no
such thing,’ she said as icily as she felt. If it hadn’t completely
dawned on her before, it did now: Rupert Davison was a liability.
She never ever wanted to work with him again.

Rupert spun away from Danny and had a moment’s
rumination.

Then, without warning, he ducked under the cordon tape and
marched towards the Army Careers Office, oblivious to Danny’s
shrieks.

 

 

There was no quiet way to get through into next door, not when
using a hammer and chisel to dislodge the brickwork. The only
saving grace for Crane and his team was that the row of shops was
set far away from any residential property and on a road, which
though busy with traffic, was not one many people walked down after
midnight.

The men took it in turns, working hard for very short
periods.

The first brick took about ten minutes to dislodge; others
soon began to follow. After twenty minutes they had removed one
layer of bricks and had an opening large enough for a man to crawl
through.

There were more layers to come.

Crane was sweating profusely under his mask. He leaned back
and took a swig from a bottle of mineral water. He checked his
watch and smiled grimly.

The fireworks were about to begin.

 

 


You are the most dangerous, idiotic, irresponsible individual
I have ever worked with. You put yourself in danger and what is
more, you put other people in danger - your colleagues, the
public.’ Danny was seething, could not remember a time in her short
life when she had been more angry. ‘I’m surprised the Inspector
didn’t put you on paper there and then,’ she said, using colloquial
parlance to describe the process of disciplining an officer. ‘I
thought the poor man was going to have a heart attack!’


I don’t know what everyone’s so het up about,’ Rupert
murmured. ‘I saved a lot of time and effort doing what I did. I
mean, it was obvious it wasn’t a bomb. Just a pathetic attempt to
make people think it was. A lunchbox with a few wires sticking out
of it and a couple of batteries strapped to it. I ask
you!’

Danny slammed the brakes on and screeched to a
stop.


Rupert, you arsehole. The IRA makes bombs to look like that
on purpose so that idiots like you will think it’s not a bomb, walk
up to it, shake it and boom! You’re blown to bits.’

The young officer shook his head, unwilling to admit a
mistake. ‘The fact is, it wasn’t a bomb. It was a hoax - the second
of the night, I might add.’


Mmm,’ Danny muttered dubiously. She selected first gear with
difficulty - the synchromesh had all but evaporated - and moved
off. At least Rupert was right about one thing: there had been two
well-executed hoaxes that night. Most hoaxes were perpetrated by
stupid kids: tonight’s bore the mark of the adult. Danny was
already beginning to wonder if there was a link. If another hoax
came in, the possibility had to be seriously considered and
investigated.

It had gone past 1 a.m. Danny and Rupert should have been in
for their refreshments at one, so she was meandering slowly back to
the station, not really anticipating with relish the tuna paste
sandwiches that awaited her there. She was starving and would
devour them, but she knew they would give her serious indigestion
for the rest of the night.

The entrance to the police station car park on Northgate,
Blackburn, was a throwback to days gone by when vehicles were
narrow and tall and few in number. Though Danny was only driving a
Metro, she was slow and cautious as she drove under the stone
archway, down the cobbled incline, past the Custody Office door on
her right, then up the asphalt slope into the car park
proper.

As she peered round for a space, she thought she saw a dark
shape flit between two police cars over in one corner of the car
park. But she couldn’t be sure, her tired eyes might be playing
tricks. Anything was possible on this, her fifth out of seven
straight night shifts. She was aiming her car for a tight spot
between her own private car - a battered Renault 12 - and someone
else’s private car, when the first explosion came and she found
herself thrown across Rupert’s knees.

Right in the corner of the car park, a police Montego had
erupted in a ball of flame. A black mushroom cloud of dense smoke
rose away into the clear night sky.


Fuck!’Danny grimaced, trying to shake some sense into her
dazed head. But before she could get a grip, the next car along
exploded too. It was a Ford Granada traffic car.

Still dazed, Danny got out of the Metro, stunned by what she
had experienced. Then her training clicked in.


Two police cars exploded in the rear yard.’ she said calmly
down her radio to Comms - who must have gathered something had
happened as they were only a matter of yards away on the ground
floor of the station. ‘Fire Brigade, please,’ she went on coolly.
Then: ‘I think the offender could still be here. I saw a dark shape
dodge between two cars when I pulled in. I need some assistance -
and a dog, please.’ She swivelled round to Rupert who was standing
catatonic behind her and bellowed: ‘Go up to the entrance and keep
it covered. Make sure no one leaves.’ Then, when he just stood
there, swaying slightly, she yelled, ‘Go on! We can catch this
bastard.’

Just then the third vehicle along exploded, propelling Danny
and Rupert across the car park with the force of the
blast.

 

 

Scrabbling the debris and bricks away from their hands, they
finally broke through into the Building Society, to reveal the back
of the safe. It was four feet high, three feet across. Crane knew
it was secured to the floor by massive bolts and there was no time
to try to free it. It was far too heavy for three men. Six would
have struggled.

BOOK: The Last Big Job
2.69Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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