An Alarming Jewel Heist

“Maybe now you’ll stop bugging me,” Zach Alban said as Sherman walked into his friend’s shop. “See? I got that alarm system you recommended, wired straight to the police station.”

“It’s about time,” Sherman replied. Alban Jewelers had just expanded its business and finally had some jewels worth stealing.

“Mr. Alban, I’m leaving now.” Ricky Mayfield had finished clearing out the window displays, placing the felts of precious stones into their locked drawers for the night. The door buzzed as the young assistant raced out to catch his bus.

Melanie, Alban’s second in command, was putting on her jacket and looking at the newly installed alarm panel. “Are you sure you don’t want to give me the code, Zach? That way you won’t always have to be here to open and close.”

“Not right now. Maybe in a few days when I get more used to it.”

“Whatever,” Melanie said. A rumbling from the street announced the arrival of her boyfriend’s motorcycle. “See you tomorrow.” And she was quickly out the door, hopping onto the back of a Harley-Davidson.

Zach led the way into the back office, eager to show his friend the entire system. “Once I set the code, any broken window or open door will trigger the alarm. Twenty seconds, that’s all the time I have to disarm it. Sam, why don’t you go home, too?”

Sam Wells switched off the computer and wished his boss a good night. Seconds later they heard the front door buzz, signaling the last employee’s departure. “Want to help me close up?” Zach asked Sherman. “I don’t want to make a mistake. After your first false alarm, they start charging you a fine.”

Sherman and Zach followed the instructions to the letter, then went down the block to Gil’s Tavern. When they left an hour later, Sherman noticed a police patrol car parked in front of Alban Jewelers.

“Break-in and burglary,” an officer informed the devastated store owner. “The back alley window was smashed. We responded within two minutes. But the alley was empty and the crooks were already gone.”

Sherman was surprised by the thoroughness of the burglary. The jewel drawers had been chiseled open and stripped of their contents. The display cases had also been broken into and ransacked, glass shards littering the hardwood floor.

“So much for my brand new alarm system,” Zach said almost accusingly.

“Not so fast,” Sherman said. “If it weren’t for the alarm system I wouldn’t know who the burglar is.”

WHO ROBBED THE SHOP?

HOW DID SHERMAN KNOW?

“The alarm didn’t catch anyone.” Zach still sounded angry.

“Yes, it did. Tell me, Zach. How long do you think the thief took to clean you out?”

Zach glanced around the showroom. “A minimum of five minutes, probably ten.”

“And yet, when the police got here two minutes after the alarm, the burglar was already gone.”

“Yeah.” Zach scratched his head. “That’s impossible.”

“Not if the burglar was already inside. After we left, he came out of hiding and took what he wanted. He set off the alarm when he left the shop, not when he arrived.”

“You say he. It was a man?”

“It was Sam Wells. He was the only person we didn’t actually see exiting the shop. He must have hidden in a closet or behind a counter until after we left. It had to be him. No one else could have come in while we were still here, not without setting off the door buzzer.”