ROBBERS  9' Detectives solves five robberies worldwide

The phone rang while Michaela was sleeping but she went back to
sleep as soon as the phone stopped ringing.

"Michaela wake up. Michaela?" Her mother said softly as she
rubbed her shoulder, "You have an important phone call."

"Hello." said Michaela hoarsely into the phone.

"Michaela? Is this the world's greatest detective?" asked a man
with a foreign accent.

"Yes. Who's this?" she asked.

"My name is inspector Chao with the Bangkok police department."
he replied.

Michaela thought she might be still dreaming. "Bangkok? Bangkok
Thailand?" she asked.

"Yes." he replied.

"But that's on the other side of the world!" she said.

"I... I'm sorry if I woke you. It's mid-afternoon here." he

"How can I help you?" she asked.

He replied, "Some robbers broke into Asia's largest jewelry
company and stole all the sapphires, emeralds and rubies. It
looks like they stole almost a billion dollars worth. They tell
me that you solved similar robberies in the United States. Can
you help us?"

"I don't know. You're on the other side of the world. I would
miss a lot of school." she replied.

"This is really important. A billion dollars is a lot of money.
I tell you what," he said, "I've already emailed you the photos
of the crime scene. Maybe that will get you started."

"Okay," she replied, "I'll see what I can do."

Michaela hung up the phone and went to her computer and looked
at the pictures. They showed a huge hole drilled through the
concrete wall of the basement of the building and a huge hole
drilled through the side of the vault. She immediately picked up
the phone and called the local police department.

"Inspector Bracken." he answered.

"Hi, this is Michaela. I..."

"Michaela! I was just going to call you! Did you hear about the
robbery?" he asked.

"Why, yes. But... why would the Bangkok police call you?" she

"Bangkok police?" he asked. What do the Bangkok police have to
do with this robbery?"

Michaela thought for a moment, then said, "The Bangkok police
just asked me to help them with a robbery of sapphires, emerald
and rubies. Are you saying there's been a robbery here too?"

"Yes." he replied, "They used a tunnel boring machine to drill
through the basement of the federal reserve bank and the main
vault. They got away with over a billion dollars worth of gold
bars and cash."

Michaela explained, "Both of these robberies sound like the work
of Lucifer Snidely."

"That's what I thought too." replied the policeman, "But I just
checked. He's still in prison."

Michaela thought for a moment, then said, "I don't know how he
did it, but Lucifer Snidely planned both of these robberies. Do
you have any idea where they took the loot?"

"Not a clue." he replied, "That's why I was hoping YOU could
tell us where they went."

"I'll be right there." she said.

Michaela went downtown to the Federal Reserve Bank and inspected
the crime scene carefully.

"This is definitely the work of Lucifer Snidely," she explained,
"The machines and computers needed to break in and get away cost
millions of dollars. Lucifer Snidely is one of the richest men
in the world. No other thief could afford to buy everything they
needed to pull it off."

That day, three other police departments from around the world
reported big, big robberies. In the Antwerp Belgium robbery a
billion dollars worth of diamonds were stolen after the world's
largest helicopter tore the roof off the building and lifted the
entire vault completely out of the building and hauled it away.

On wall street in New York, someone tunnelled from the
underground railroad tunnel into the Stock Exchange and stole a
billion dollars worth of bearer bonds.

In London England, someone tunnelled into the tower of London
from the Thames River and stole all of the crown jewels, again
worth over a billion dollars. Again, the thieves used the
world's largest helicopter to pull the entire vault out of the
side of the building.

"In all cases," explained Inspector Bracken, "there was a
private jet plane waiting at a nearby air strip to fly the loot
out of the country. But all of the robbers wore masks and noone
knows who they are or where they went. Any ideas?"

While she was talking to the policeman on the phone, she was
looking at pictures of all the crime scenes.

"The robbers left behind about twenty million dollars worth of
boring machines and tools and two helicopters." she explained,
"Don't you think someone would have receipts or records of all
those purchases?"

Sure enough, when the policeman checked the bank records of
Lucifer Snidely, he found about twenty million dollars in cash
payments to equipment companies, all of them in Lucifer
Snidely's home town.

Michaela exclaimed, "He didn't do the robberies, but he was
definitely involved!"

The police had the people from the equipment companies help
police artists make drawings of the men who purchased the tools
and equipment. After a few days they tracked down these men and
arrested them. But none of the men had any of the loot. And they
weren't talking.

When they were arrested, the men had to empty their pockets and
put what they had into plastic bags.

Michaela asked, "May I see what was in their pockets?"

The policeman replied, "Why bother? All they had was wallets and
keys and loose change."

Michaela explained, "It's worth a try."

Sure enough, Michaela found five clues in all five plastic bags:
they all had the same key ring, key chain and key fob. But when
Michaela examined each of the key fobs she noticed that they
were all slightly different.

The fobs were all made of solid steel square bars. They all had
a hole drilled near one end. And the hole was shaped to a
hexagon, like a wooden pencil. But all of the fobs were a
different length. They were all between a half inch and one inch

"What do you think they're for?" asked the policeman.

I don't know." replied Michaela. "But it looks like all of these
could fit on the same hexagon-shaped rod. I'll bet Lucifer
Snidely has the rod that fits into all of these key fobs. You
should have some policeman watch the prison and follow him when
he escapes."

"Will do!" said the policemen.

"But don't arrest him until he leads you to where he's hiding
the loot!" warned Michaela.

Sure enough, late that night, Lucifer Snidely escaped from
prison. Michaela and the police followed him to an abandoned
bank building.

As soon as he went inside the building, the police moved in and
arrested him.

"Search him and see if he's carrying the steel rod." said

Lucifer Snidely sneered, "You little brat! How did you know
about the steel rod?! And what did you do with my men?!"

The policeman answered, "All five of your henchmen are in jail."

Sure enough, when they searched Snidely's pockets, they found an
Allan wrench, a hexagonal-shaped steel rod with one end bent as
a handle. Michaela took the wrench and slipped one of the key
fobs onto the end.

"See?! It fits!" exclaimed Michaela.

So, she slipped all the other key fobs onto the end of the Allan
wrench and held it up for all to see.

"It makes a key for a lock!" she exclaimed, "I'll bet it opens
the lock on this bank vault."

"Well, try it!" exclaimed the policeman.

"It's not that easy," replied Michaela, "These fobs have to be
arranged in the right order for it to fit this lock."

The policeman turned to Lucifer Snidely and demanded, "Tell us
how the key fobs are arranged!"

"Never!" replied Snidely, "Figure it out yourself!"

"Then take him to jail!" demanded the policeman.

And off he went to jail, leaving Michaela to figure out the
order of the fobs on the key. She examined the key and pondered
for a while.

The policeman suggested, "Maybe the fobs go on in the order the
robberies took place."

"No." replied Michaela. "Two of the robberies happened at
exactly the same time."

"Then, maybe they're alphabetical by the names of the
countries?" he asked.

Michaela reviewed the countries:

Thialand USA England Belgium USA

"No," replied Michaela, "There are two in the USA."

"Then, how about alphabetical by the names of the cities?" he

Michaela reviewed the cities.

Bangkok Antwerp London New York Los Angeles

"No," replied Michaela, "There are two cities beginning with
'L'. How about the last names of the robbers?"

Sure enough, the robber's last names were all different.
Michaela arranged the key fobs in order of their last names and
inserted the key into the lock of the bank vault.

It opened! And about five billion dollars worth of jewels, gold
and other valuables were returned to their proper owners, thanks
to Michaela, the world's greatest detective.

2013 Bob Snook. Conditions for use:
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