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Rated: E · Fiction · Crime/Gangster · #2263812
Episode IV: Part II - The Case of the Conniving Gun Moll
Part II





“Police and the FBI have linked several recent bank robberies matching this gang’s MO,” the representative from the Federal Reserve began. “Speaking on behalf of my colleagues, we believe they’re one and the same. This is our conclusion based on witness descriptions, the police and FBI investigation to date, and corroborating surveillance video.”

Morgan and Richardson bobbed their heads in agreement.

His arms folded in front of him and sitting on the front corner of Delia’s desk, Matt quietly listened, acknowledging with the occasional nod as each bank official took turns adding additional details about the hold-ups. Ten minutes and several rounds later, the bank officials grew quiet.

Matt stood, took in a deep breath and exhaled. “You’ve all been very thorough,” he declared. “So my question to the three of you is: What is it you want me from me?”

Exchanging glances with each other, the banking officials shuffled anxiously in their seats, casting their attention in Matt’s direction. “Very simple,” the New Corporate Bank Vice President answered, speaking for his two colleagues. “We would like to add your expertise to that of the FBI and local authorities, and put an end to these serial robberies before a customer or employee is hurt — or worse, killed.”

“So far, we’ve been very fortunate,” Richardson chimed in.

Ambling around the agency lobby in pensive thought, Matt suddenly stopped. “Considering I have a working relationship with the FBI and MPD,” he began, “I’d say we’re off to a good start.” Matt wheeled in the direction of the seated bank executives. “Next, would be a viewing of each bank’s surveillance video captured during a robbery in progress by this purported, ‘gang of five.’”

Metzler stood. “We’re a step ahead of you, Mr. Duggan. Our IT people put together a combined surveillance video of our branches robbed within the last 60 days by what we believe is the same gang. Is there somewhere here we can review this?”

Matt nodded. “My office."

***

“I’d like to propose a toast … to you -- and to us,” the dark and handsome man in a tuxedo quietly announced. Standing, he lifted his champagne glass in the direction of the elegantly dressed woman sitting across from him at the dining table they shared. “Here’s to living fast, loving hard … and never dying young; to absent friends, and to ourselves, as no one is likely to concern themselves with our welfare -- now or ever.”

A combined smile and blush suffused her cheeks, a response to the flattering proposal just received. She stood, responding to his toast by extending her bubbling glass in his direction. She clinked her flute with his, then raised the sparkling bubbly to her lips, draining it with a noticeable swanky laugh. He paused, taking note of her chuckle, unable to determine if it was a happy acknowledgment -- or cynical mock.

“Enjoying the evening?” he asked in a dubious tone.

With her eyes focused on his, she replied, “you know how to make a woman happy -- does that answer your question?”

“This is the finest french restaurant in the city,” he bragged. “I made sure of it before I called for reservations. Nothing’s too good for the woman I love,” he boastfully added.

Beaming, she walked around the table, meeting her boyfriend where he stood. She deftly removed the champagne flute out of his hand, setting both gently on the rosette tablecloth covered dining room table. She put her arms around him, and through the mufflement of her embrace, she quietly whispered, “when are we leaving for Hawaii?”

***

“You’re right, Mr. Metzler, it’s the same gang, same MO — all three robberies,” Matt opined after reviewing the video. “They exhibit a distinctive pattern of operation and behavior. I agree they're the same party committing these robberies. I'm confident the FBI and local PD would also agree."

“And why is my bank given the honor of being the number one branch in the crosshairs of these thugs?” an infuriated Morgan joined in. “They’ve hit us three times now. Only one other bank has fallen victim to this, ‘gang-of-five’ that I’m aware of.”

Matt turned and gazed at his assistant. “You want to respond to that?”

Displaying her usual sunny smile, Delia stood and flipped the light switch on. “Be happy to,” she said, walking to the office window and opening the mini blinds.

“Before Delia begins — who wants coffee?” Matt asked.

All three visitors nodded, simultaneously mumbling in the affirmative. Rising from their chairs and returning from the kitchen with their coffee, Delia began: “Barring these thugs have engaged in willful criminal behavior, it’s also an unfortunate fact that New Corporate Bank meets most of the criteria for why some banks are robbed more than others — an increased number of branches in urban areas; more bank outlets and extended hours; more min-branches, such as those found in grocery stores and big box retailers, and in commercial districts along major transportation corridors, etc…

The three banking officials exchanged glances. “We don’t disagree, Ms. Perez," Metzler ruefully replied, speaking on behalf of his colleagues. “It’s an accurate reminder of what we already know. I believe Mr. Morgan was simply voicing his frustration.”

“Understood,” Matt chimed in, standing next to Delia. He visually panned over the three bank officials. “Any questions?”

After a pause, Richardson stood. “What do you propose?”

“I can tell you this,” Matt began. “There’s one thing you can count on — bank robbers are predictable; they normally employ the same MO in successive robberies. It’s often this repetition — the same number of people, the use of particular robbery methods or same disguise that leads to their apprehension. The id or arrest of a single member can lead to the apprehension of the entire gang; any physical evidence they leave behind, names mentioned during the robbery, a description of the getaway vehicle, etc…

The banking officials nodded in quiet acknowledgement.

“Based on what we currently know, the wheels are turning regarding an investigative protocol,” Matt continued. “First thing I’d like to do is talk with the employees who were on duty the day of those robberies.”

“We’ll make the arrangements,” Metzler affirmed.

“Good. Also, I’d like to hold onto the copy of the surveillance video we just viewed.”

Metzler nodded. “As long as you need it.”

“What about the FBI and local police involvement?” Morgan asked.

“I’ll take care of that,” Matt replied. “Any more questions?”

Exchanging glances, the three banking officials stood. Each sporting a grin, they shook hands and quietly thanked Matt and Delia before walking in single file out of the agency.

Delia’s radiant smile returned. “So, what are the ‘other avenues’ you were referring to?” she asked, a curious look appearing.

Lifting a cup of coffee to his lips, Matt paused. “Let’s play the video again, Delia — this time on your laptop.”

“Why on my laptop?” she asked.

“Because your computer was upgraded with the advanced enhance and zoom AI software,” Matt Matt reminded her. “It can pan, enhance, and sharpen individual frames. Let’s view the video again.”

Delia smiled. “You’re right, I completely forgot,” she confessed, a moment of total recall occurring. “A geek squad guy dropped by and loaded the software. He then showed me how to use it." Sensing Matt noticed something on the surveillance video disc previously reviewed, she exited his office and walked back to her desk. Inserting the disc into her laptop’s DVD drive, she selected the pan and zoom effect feature.

“It’s ready, Matt."

“Forward the video until you get to the most recent robbery,” Matt said.

Delia pressed the fast forward button on the remote, the video advancing in response. Arriving at the last robbery on the video, she stopped. “Okay, we’re there.”

“Hit the play button,” Matt said.

They both stood, reviewing the video again as the holdup played out inside the New Corporate branch.

“Pause the video,” Matt blurted.

Delia turned and stared at Matt. “Okay, it’s paused — now what?”

“We’re on the right frame. That gang member’s left arm is extended. Do you notice anything?”

Focusing on the image, Delia muttered, “yeah, now that you mention it, I do see what appears to be a ….. could it be a bracelet of some kind? I didn’t notice it previously.”

“Could be,” Matt declared. “I thought I caught a vague glimpse of something around that perp’s wrist.”

“And you did that without your PI magnifying glass,” Delia kidded, adding, “you’ve got a pretty sharp eye, Mr. Private eye,” playfully jostling Matt with her elbow.

Matt chuckled. “Continue what you’re doing. Let’s see if there’s anything unusual — anything that stands out.”

Panning and enhancing the image of the gang member’s wrist to its highest setting and resolution, Delia stopped, moving closer to the monitor. “Ay, caramba!” she suddenly shouted, stepping back. “I was right. It’s a bracelet — it’s a damn bracelet. Rendering an incredulous look, she turned and locked eyes with Matt.

“Okay, it’s a bracelet,” Matt agreed. “What’s all the excitement?”

Delia snickered. “That perp’s a female.”


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