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 [F] Mystery Net Community  / Writing Mysteries  / Mysteries By Members  / Solve-it-Yourself and Puzzle Mysteries  /

Richard Ciciarelli - 04:44am Nov 9, 1998 PST
Guest User

"This is the store surveillance camera's tape," Charles Lichworth told Police Inspector Hodge. "Watch carefully. You won't believe what you see."

Hodge stared at the television screen. It was a black and white picture of Lichworth's jewelry store, counters filled with necklaces, bracelets, watches, and rings. In the upper left hand corner of the screen a small message read MON OCT 26. In the upper right, a digital clock clicked off the time: AM 1:59:56, AM 1:59:57, AM 1:59:58, AM 1:59:59, AM 2:00:00, AM 2:00:01.

In that last second, an amazing thing happened: all the jewelry in the store counters vanished.

"There," Lichworth yelled, pointing to the screen. "You see? In one second my store was robbed by an invisible thief."

"Impossible," Inspector Hodge grunted. "Let's see the tapes from the other security cameras."

They all showed the same thing -- from different angles, perhaps, but nonetheless the same thing. In one second, the Lichworth Jewelry Store was robbed by an unseen thief.

Hodge pondered a moment and then grinned.

"This is simple," he said. "Someone turned off the cameras, robbed the store, and then turned them on again."

"Impossible," Lichworth shook his head. "The cameras are controlled by a computer located across town at the Baker Security Company. We can't turn them on or off here."

"Then someone tampered with the tapes," Hodge said.

"Again impossible," Lichworth said. "One of the cameras would have picked that up while the thief was tampering with the others. No, Inspector, I'm afraid my store was robbed by an invisible thief."

"That may be," Hodge said, "but I'm only used to questioning visible suspects. Since the burglar alarm never went off, I have to suspect anyone who knows you security code. Who would that be?"

"Well, besides me, Shellie Johnson, Louis Freeman, and Sharon Prooder, but you can't suspect them."

"Why not? I'd like to speak to them, please," Hodge said as he scribbled the names into a notebook.

Shellie Johnson was a perky blonde with horn rimmed glasses.

"I'm the one who purchased this security system," she told Hodge. "And I chose it because it can't be bypassed. Everything is totally automatic and controlled by an outside agency."

"The Baker Security Company?"

"Yes. They're a very reputable firm -- beyond reproach," Johnson pushed her glasses back on her nose.

"What would happen if the power to this building was shut off?" Hodge asked.

"To the system? It would shut down for a while. Then the backup system would kick in."

"Could that have happened here?"

"If it did, when the cameras came back on, you'd see a jump in the time recorder since the time is determined at Baker's company."

"And that didn't happen," Hodge grunted.

Louis Freeman looked like a jeweler. Short, balding, and with thick glasses from years of close-up work, he smiled, revealing tobacco-stained teeth.

"Whoever did this has my respect," he told Hodge. "All this high-tech stuff scares me to death. Anybody who is smarter than these machines deserves all the jewels he can steal."

"You don't seem very upset," Hodge said.

"Well, Lichworth's stuff is overpriced, and he works us to death. Besides, everything here is insured, so he won't lose out."

Sharon Prooder proved to be a petite woman with a vast knowledge of jewelry. After describing in detail every piece of stolen merchandise, she said, "But I don't see how it was possible. Our security system is supposed to be the best in the country."

"Well, someone beat the system," Hodge said. "Thanks for the description of the stolen goods. This will help us a lot."

"That's okay," Prooder said. "I know every piece of merchandise we offer and its value. To tell you the truth, a lot of our stuff is marked up a little too high, but Mr. Lichworth insists on that."

After his talk with the employees, Hodge returned to Charles Lichworth.

"Well?" Lichworth asked. "Did you learn anything?"

"A little," Hodge said. "Maybe enough to give me an idea who robbed your store and how the thief did it."


Richard Ciciarelli - 04:50am Nov 9, 1998 PST(#1 of 9)
Guest User


Hodge realized that October 26 is the date when all clocks are set back an hour as Daylight Savings Times ends., Since the security system at Lichworth's was totally controlled by a computer, he reasoned that at 2:00 am the whole system shut down for an hour and then came back on, effectively resetting the clocks. That would explain why the security tape clocks showed no time discrepency.

It was during that hour that the security system wasn't working that the store was robbed. When the cameras came on again, it only SEEMED as though the robery took a second.

The only person in Lichworth's who would know enough about the system to know this was Shellie Johnson, the woman who purchased the system. The others didn't seem to know anything about the system.

The stolen jewels were found in Johnson's home and she was remanded into custody.

Spooky Lady - 04:32am Dec 18, 1998 PST(#2 of 9)
I have a cold.

I think this is the best one of your stories. I totally missed the daylight saving time clue. I knew the answer was in the bit about the time and date etc, but didn't know why.

Didn't have a clue about who had done it. Had to look at the solution (I confess!!).

Good work, Richard.

Jacinda R - 12:12am Sep 4, 1999 PST(#3 of 9)
((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((Every single MP player...especially those in MNCruise and Island Wedding...I love you all!))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))

I suspected it was Shellie, but had no evidence. Good one.

Puma - 04:16am Dec 30, 2000 PST(#4 of 9)
There are 10 kinds of people in the world. Those who understand binary and those who don't.

I have to disagree. The story delivered an interesing crime, and had my interest, but the "solution" is unbearable.

The idea that a computer-controlled security system would shut down for an hour to reset the time is utterly ridiculous. It's completely inconceivable.

Matrix Jacobi - 03:43pm May 17, 2001 PST(#5 of 9)
Every morning, we are given 24 golden hours. Even if you had all the money in the world, you couldn't buy another one. They are one of the few things in this world that are truly free. Spend them wisely.

I have to agree with Puma. Most computers will adjust for DST at predetermined hours (usually midnight, but it can vary with the company preferences). If the clocks were regulated by an outside company, then Shellie would not have known precisely when to shut off the power, so it would appear to only take the second (unless the controlling company was in a different time zone, set two hours back - which seems unlikely).

Heather Luvs Cows - 12:25pm Aug 6, 2001 PST(#6 of 9)

Not all people know about computers and how they work. The daylight savangs time thing was really good. It could happen. And remember, this is just a fiction story, anything could happen. Use your imaginations.


RPC - 01:23pm Jan 13, 2002 PST(#7 of 9)

It's a challenging one, Richard, but I think you're the only person who could have come up with a mystery like that!


Diana Wolf - 05:39pm Jan 16, 2004 PST(#8 of 9)

Couldn't an accomplice at Baker Security have reprogrammed the computer to begin the camera work at the 'new' 2:00a.m.? It is concievable. Unless, some idiot at Baker hired an individual who would be technologically inept at such a mundane task. I don't think so. Richard, you've written an excellent story, obviously one with 'food for thought'. Isn't this the aim for all writers? Let us never allow ourselves to ignore the 'why' of the reasons for writing. We thirst/hunger to create emtional responses from the reader. I thank you. It tasted delicious.

cooljon31 - 11:12am Jun 24, 2007 PST(#9 of 9)

wow i didnt think of daylight savings time i suspected shellie from the start because i figured if she bought the camaras then she cudve messed with the camaras ahead of time before they were setup....well i wasnt too far off and nice story

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 [F] Mystery Net Community  / Writing Mysteries  / Mysteries By Members  / Solve-it-Yourself and Puzzle Mysteries  / THE INVISIBLE THIEF

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