The thin steel blade slipped easily into the minute gap between the window and its frame. The blade was not made for cutting, but for this express purpose, a special tool, for a special job. The tight fitting leather gloves he wore, protecting his hands against the possibility of accidental encounters from unseen sharp objects.

Both the front and back doors were high security efforts and so, without a key, entry by that route was nearly impossible. This was a job he had done many times. He was quite content with entering other people’s houses but it was important in his line of work, that he should not leave unnecessary marks around the place to indicate his presence. It was important for him to maintain a certain; reputation. In and out without leaving a mark.

He deftly manipulated the blade against the lock which secured the small cellar window. He had guessed immediately he saw the size of the window in the light of his head-torch that it would be just big enough for him to squeeze through. After only a few seconds, the catch gave way to his pressure and the window opened. Putting the blade safely in its pouch, he eased himself through the gap and lowered himself onto the small table below. Even without looking, he knew it was there, the best success in these cases was always to find out as much about the premises as possible before even trying to gain access. He turned to secure the window; his exit would not be by that route.

Slipping on his overshoes, to avoid covering the floors with his own dirty footprints, he made his way by torchlight to the cellar steps. He was already aware that the power had been shut off, so there was no point in trying the light switches; in any case the torch light was adequate. Reaching the top of the steps, he checked the door to his left. It had been left slightly ajar and he was able to confirm it was the kitchen. It was better to make immediate confirmation that the information he had been given was accurate. Even though familiar with their own homes, people were known to mix up left from right. Looking for his target on the wrong side, under torchlight, would not make his job any easier. The next door, down the hall on the left, was closed but he was now confident that would be the lounge. To his right the door would lead to the bathroom.

Nothing in those rooms was of interest to him. He knew his target was at the end of the hall. The small box was inset into the wall, behind a picture of a couple in their sixties. He had only met the Browns, once but his easy conversational style had garnered enough information to lead to this point.

His torch was focussed on the keypad as he presses the four digits, they were both born in the same year; 1-9-5-0. There was a satisfying sound from the bolt inside the box and the door swung open. From the small selection of similar items in the security box, he selected the one that he knew was, at that moment, the most valuable. A large, intricately cut key.

He slid the key into the lock on the front door and turned it. The security bolts moved aside and he opened the door.

“There you go Mr and Mrs Brown; you might want to leave a key with your neighbours next time you go away on holiday. Just in Case!”