The Grim Reaper might not have figured in Pat’s thoughts as he’d sat nursing his pint but a few of the Reaper’s friends had come to the pub that night. One had come in the guise of Marty Siddle, who’d appeared next to Pat at the bar. Marty was the fellow who had regaled Pat with his stories of deactivating security systems the last time Pat had been holidaying within the prison system.
Marty, who had been out for about a year, had told Pat that he’d been making ends meet by helping some associates gain access to warehouses, so they could direct selected pieces of merchandise into that pipeline Pat had serviced in his youth. Pat had told him the tale of his life since they had last seen each other. Marty had commiserated with him and bought him a drink.
Over their pints, the discussion had turned to an opportunity for Pat to make some quick money. Marty had explained that he had a pressing order to service, but with a critical member of the team seriously ill, at what had to be an incredibly inconvenient moment, he was looking for someone who could drive a truck and keep his mouth shut. Knowing Pat had both required attributes, Marty had asked him if he was interested in a night’s work that would net him five grand.
To a man who had earned less than that in a month when he’d had a job, and who faced the prospect of not earning anything like that for several months to come, that had been, as they say, an offer too good to refuse. You had to hand it to Marty, he’d listened and he’d taken advantage of what he had learned.
Like all true professionals, Pat and Marty had inflated images of their capabilities and suffered from a type of amnesia, peculiar to practitioners of their art, that allowed them to forget that they had met in a prison and not at a convention. Their other problem had been that they believed their own bullshit, which is not a problem restricted to my clients.
The ensuing incident was referred to in the press as the bottle shop job.
If you’re like most people, you probably read that phrase and thought of a couple of desperate types holding up some hapless attendant at knifepoint, and taking the cash from his till. This was not one of those events.
To start with, the bottle shop was a Dan Murphy’s outlet. Now if you’re not from my town, let me explain that this is not a small building on main street or a drive-through bottle shop attached to a pub.
This is a warehouse full of booze, which arrives in trucks and leaves in the trunks of cars. This is a place where people buy their grog by the carton. This is a place with a sophisticated security system, and CCTV cameras that watch the staff and the customers so that bottles do not leave without some form of payment transaction, and where most payments are electronic, so holding up the place for cash had never been the plan.
The plan had been to deactivate the security system in the wee small hours and to make off with a truckload of spirits, still packed in their cartons.
They almost pulled it off.
On the day of the job, Marty had deactivated the security system and Pat had backed the truck into the loading bay. They’d closed the door and filled the truck with the cartons of whisky, brandy and rum required to satisfy their customer’s order without incident. It was only when they had opened the door to leave that they’d discovered something had not gone to plan. There had been a patrol car parked in their exit and two armed policemen waiting for them to open the door.
They’d overlooked one small detail in all their careful planning. Their chosen Dan Murphy’s outlet might have been a warehouse but it was situated in suburbia.
That meant it had neighbours, and some people, particularly those like insomniac Mario Scala, who resided in the street opposite the back entrance of the warehouse, noticed things out of the ordinary in the wee small hours when you expected them to be asleep.
I hope you’ve enjoyed The bottle shop job.