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It all started when my fathers office was burgled for the fourth time, He was an accountant and the local fraternity assumed he was a turf accountant and had money stacked to the ceiling. This particular burglar had climbed a soil pipe up four floors at the back of the building and gone in headfirst through a toilet window. After taking the back of the ancient tiny safe which contained the petty cash and stamp tins he had left empty handed but dropped a bunch of "sketeton" keys, which the Police wern't interested in and my father brought home for me.
I was at an engineering school and took a great interest in how locks worked, finding several old ones to take to pieces and find out how they worked.
Basically the rotation of the key, pushed out the tongue that went into the slot on the door jamb, but was prevented from doing this by bits that got in the way at the sides of the key called wards, also the bolt had a bar that had to pass through slots in levers that were lifted against springs by the key. A skeleton key was one that was cut away at the sides to miss any wards and also lifted the levers enough to push the bolt through.
I quickly made a skeleton key that would open any door in the school and sold several copies to friends. Great fun was had by locking classes in their rooms; we even locked the "mens" and put a notice on the door saying, "use the Ladies" etc. I also discovered how to make a tool that would pick a padlock and great fun was had by going along the outside corridor where the college students chained their bikes, removing all the padlocks and going back putting a different padlock on each bike
Later an uncle bought an explosion proof safe and showed us how it worked, the safe had a wheel on the front that wound bolts into slots in the top, front and sides, and was stopped from doing this by as simple a lock as you would find in a house door locking into a slot in the wheel inside the safe door. The way to "blow a safe" was to pack the lock via the keyhole with explosive and blow the lock apart which would fall down inside the door, and allow the outside wheel to be turned. The anti explosion device was another door hinged on the inside of the main door that would jam when the main door was pulled to open it
I discussed this with my two closest friends, "ginger" Thompson and "farty" or "windy"Mc Fee, we always told him he had e genetic fault handed down from non trews wearing forebears in that he could break wind to order.
We used this attribute to great advantage, always sending him into a pub first to clear a space by the bar, and to clear a table we wanted in a restaurant. We always stood in the front row at a football match thanks to his efforts, although he assured us it was effortless.
We decided that the best solution was to make a piece of clock spring with one end folded over under heat to form a hook that could be slipped in to the gap between the doors and the side to catch the rough end on the inside door and then pull both doors open with it.
We then decided that we ought to try this out. I had a brother who worked at a local quarry who could get us some plastic explosive and a detonator, and farty reckoned he could make the spring. There was a warehouse on an industrial estate that had a large payroll and we thought that would be our best safe to go for so we delegated ginger to take out the girl who worked in the office called Tina to find out about alarms and when the safe held the main payroll. Ginger objected because he said the girl was as flat chested as a tombstone, but eventually agreed under pressure, and in fact got quite enthusiastic as Tombstone Tina was not adverse to wandering hands which we all noted for future reference.
There was an alarm triggered by infra red, and we thought that if we put a sealed can of hot water through the letter box each evening this would trigger the alarm, and eventually the police would tell the company to disconnect the system from the telephone that called them out. The problem with this was that of finding a flat thin can that could also be retrieved. We eventually resorted to a rubber hot water bottle and crept into the yard at night, lowered this thing through the letter box until the bells started ringing and then retrieved it and ran away far enough to watch the police car arrive, and then the key holder to turn the alarm off. We did this on and off for a couple of weeks until we got a report from Ginger that the Police had been in contact and told them to remove the alarm from the telephone system.
We found that the front door opened inwards, held by a Yale lock and a mortise, and cut a piece of plastic to slip the Yale tongue of the lock out of it's socket, whereas one of my skeleton keys opened the mortise
I persuaded my brother to get me some plastic explosive and a detonator, the explosive reminded us of plasticine whereas the detonator was a glass tube that had to be kept in a cotton wool filled box
We found that the years bonus was in the pay packets for the next Friday, so on the Thursday night, armed with an expanding sealant gun to bung up the alarm box bell on the outside we sallied forth to blow our first safe.
Farty stood on Ginger's shoulders to squirt foam into the bell box and I opened the front door. The office had a 4ft tall safe in one corner and I pushed in plastic explosive in the key hole and carefully pushed in the detonator, having connected the leads from it to a length of flex with a 13amp plug on the end which my brother had assured me would blow as he could not get hold of a proper detonation plunger box.
I plugged the plug into a nearby socket and while the others hid, flicked the switch on with a broom handle.
The resulting explosion blew out two windows into the yard and every paper of the desks and Farty in the corner said "Christ" and let go one of his Christmas specials, which joined the clouds of white smoke that drifted up to the ceiling and set of the smoke alarm. Ginger grabbed a stool and after nearly braining farty succeeded in knocking the thing completely off the ceiling, where we pounced on it and removed its batteries to shut it up.
We tried the safe door and sure enough it opened about half an inch, but Farty produced his bit of clock spring, slid it into the gap with the door pushed tighter shut, and by sliding it back succeeded in snagging the inside door on the jagged ,folded end to the spring, and by pulling on the spring was able to swing both doors open, and there before us was trays of fat brown pay packets
We were just congratulating ourselves when a voice from the doorway that came from a Police Sergeant said; "did you really think that we wouldn't think it unusual to get so many false calls a week before a big wage payoff"
He came further into the room and said "what did you blow it with a mix of dynamite and horse shit"? so we explained about Fartys attribute, which he demonstrated. Ginger bolted out the door and was brought back by a bear of a Policeman, and so we trooped out to the police van in the yard