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The two main characters in our story could not be more different. Stanley Simon was a quiet, rather spindly, nerdy sort of fellow. He enjoyed a modest life with his wife and daughter. You would hardly expect that Stanley is a detective with the San Diego Police Department.

Our other guy, Parker Langston, enjoys a rich life that likely any male might secretly envy. Handsome and personable, he identified himself as an independent art and antiquities dealer. His obvious success was reflected in his pricey home and red Ferrari. He considered other prime possessions to include his beloved dog Titan, the purebred Rottweiler, and his stunningly beautiful girlfriend Lenore.

Frankly, Stanley is not all that interesting. Competent as a detective, he remains an outlier with his fellow officers. They joke about his obsession with speculative high tech and scientific analysis aids for solving crimes. They are content with the tried and true regular police techniques. Stanley’s family listened tolerantly to the same lectures at the dinner table. They loved their mild mannered and thoughtful Dad, who had chosen incongruously to be a crime fighter.

Parker had an obsession as well – the need for perfection in his life. This was evident by how he maintained his home in pristine condition; insisted upon instantly resolving disputed facts on Google; or, (most annoyingly to Lenore) by his admonishing her to rigorously retain ideal body measurements of 36, 24 and 36 inches. He was demanding, sometimes arrogant, but otherwise treated her well. His insistence upon perfection was exemplified in his mind as never losing or missing the mark, which could be by the tiniest of margins – such as losing a horse race by a mere head; or a marathon runner after twenty-six plus miles missing first place by just two seconds; or, to the dismay of an assassin, his bullet missing the target’s heart by only an inch; or for a collector, a perfect Faberge’ egg becoming cracked.

This focus upon perfect and winning performance was Parker’s formula for his successes. He was the best of his profession, with no failures on his record. For you see, he was a great Thief, though that term would really demean his expertise and criminal accomplishments. He had even managed to somehow avoid ever having had his fingerprints taken. Parker was a kind of genius at stealing only the most precious or priceless objects. His present assignment was to abscond with the Titian masterpiece “Pieta” headlining the Renaissance exhibit at the city’s Buckley Art Museum. $250,000 would be the payment for fulfillment. This Masterpiece was coveted by an unscrupulous wealthy private collector. The arrangement was made via the Dark Web to maintain the anonymity of both Parker and the client.

Parker had been visiting and observing the Museum for a month. He had learned everything about the security system, the guards and their patterns, and the attachment of the painting to its display position. He identified how best to accomplish unobserved entry and escape. As usual, nothing was left to chance. He decided to execute the heist on Sunday at 4:00 p.m.

Detective Simon during this period was dealing with the usual routine crimes of breaking and entering, car theft and the like. Fellow cops responded with the usual yawns and guffaws to his recent insistence that criminal profiling was an invaluable tool for police work.

Sunday came and Parker made final preparations. He wasn’t nervous but rather exhilarated. Dressed in snug dark clothing, he carried only his usual disposable latex gloves and the small tools needed for the job. Before leaving, he kissed Lenore and hugged Titan – an established pattern unrelated to superstition. His planning was flawless. He didn’t need luck.

The caper was pulled off exactly as planned. Parker left the scene with the painting in hand. He trashed the gloves. He was convinced that nothing else had touched any surface within the Museum. A week later the painting was delivered by an intermediary to the client. The agreed payment was wired to Parker’s offshore account. Life was good…really good for him. Feeling magnanimous, he gifted Lenore with a beautiful diamond and sapphire necklace. ‘A dazzler for you my Beauty”. He took great pleasure reading the news about the theft of the art, describing it as the “work of a master criminal”.

***

Enter Stanley. Well, more accurately, he was just a member of the Department’s Robbery Squad headed by Captain Shiver to investigate the crime. The scene at the Museum was exhaustively examined for clues, and its personnel interrogated. It became clear that this was not an inside job, but rather the work of a single criminal. It seemed likely that this was the same person who had committed other high value robberies in recent years.

There were only two items found that might conceivably be linked to the burglar: One, a pair of common latex gloves retrieved from a nearby trash can; and second, a single coarse hair stuck to a wall. It was the Squad’s experience that prints could not be extracted from such gloves, even if they had been worn by the culprit. The hair was clearly recognized as not being from a person. These objects were therefore deemed to be of no evidentiary value. After engaging in the standard investigative procedures, Captain Shiver concluded that nothing more could be done. The case was closed with the usual hope that the criminal might somehow reveal himself or be outed by someone.

So, the investigation had run its course with no interruption or contribution by Detective Simon. However, after it ended, he took the initiative of reexamining the sparse evidence. He pondered: If one assumed that the hair and the gloves did come from the burglar, what might a more-in-depth analysis possibly reveal? Others on the Robbery Squad had concluded that solving this crime was impossible. Stanley in his persistent analytical way believed this might not be so.

***

Parker Langston was arrested one sunny Saturday morning by none other than Detective Stanley Simon. Captain Shiver had granted him the honor of making the arrest for cracking the case. Parker at first insisted upon his innocence, but the evidence later persuaded him to plead guilty. By providing information as to the identity of his wealthy client, and confessing to other robberies, a somewhat reduced sentence was promised. He made a special request for Detective Simon to visit him in jail.

I appreciate your seeing me Detective. Facing many years in prison, I would go mad wondering how you were able to solve the case. The whole caper had felt flawless. I could not have been more careful.”

Parker, if it’s any consolation to you, I believe you came this close (demonstrating one inch with his fingers) to the commission of a perfect crime. The perpetrator had meticulously planned this theft. In my effort to profile him, it seemed highly likely that he would seek the same kind of perfection in his private life. I thought it reasonable to believe that his parents would also have been compulsively organized and careful. I conceived the culprit to probably be a mid-thirtyish well-educated white male, perhaps residing in California. That profile proved to be close to the mark and helpful. However, here’s the surprise key and irony to your capture (after a pause for emphasis) - the Rottweiler gave you up! Yes, a single hair from the dog stuck on your clothing was retrieved from the Museum floor.”

I’ll be damned. Yeah, come to think of it, I did hug Titan before leaving for the caper. But there are millions of dogs around. How did that help you?”

I had that hair identified first as one from a canine. Then a DNA test further identified the breed as a Rottweiler, but even more importantly as a purebred - a quite treasured and valuable animal. As particular as I believed the burglar to be, it seemed likely that he would have required registration papers from a trustworthy breeder for authentication before purchase. With the grudging assistance of the American Rottweiler and Kennel Clubs, I was able to come up with a list of some twenty owners of these purebreds in California.

God Damn, I’m impressed with your tenacity. But that was just speculation - not the whole answer.”

The rest you can attribute to my incessant research into the newest tools for crime solving. You felt comfortable wearing the latex gloves believing that they could leave no clue to your identity. However, I had read about a process of retrieving fingerprints from inside the gloves. Something about lifting the prints with black BVDA gellifters. The crime lab took it from there.”

Well shit, that’s something I should have known. Still though, you didn’t have fingerprints off of me. And I had no prints in the public record.”

That was a dilemma. We could hardly interrogate and obtain fingerprints from all of the purebred Rottweiler owner suspects based upon a dog hair of evidence. So, I took another long shot from something I’d read about. Back in 1982 a Bill was passed which authorized, with parent’s consent, the fingerprinting of small children. The prints would be retained by the FBI for use in the event of a kidnapping. The Bill was controversial and enjoyed a brief popularity. It sounded though like something that extra careful parents might have done. Pulling some strings, I sent a copy of the glove prints to the FBI together with the names of those certain suspects who would have been in the intended age range in this period. It was a miracle that yours were on file and proved to be a match to prints in the glove. So that’s how you were caught.”

I’m in awe of your detective work. You’d have made a wonderful criminal. I’m grateful, Detective, that you explained all this to me. (Pausing to reflect) You know, if it isn’t somehow improper, I’d like to gift my dog Titan to you and family. I know he’d be well cared for and it would seem somehow fitting. When I finally do get out of prison, perhaps you’d allow me to visit him.”

That would be a most welcome gift. I will try to arrange for this.”

A final question. What happened to my girlfriend Lenore? She knew nothing about my crimes.”

I questioned her myself. We were satisfied that she was innocent. You might be interested to know her final remarks to me. Paraphrasing, they were: ‘Sorry about what happened to Parker. We had some lovely times together, but I won’t miss his obsession with perfection. Now I can finally enjoy desserts and let these measurements slip a bit. I do thank him for the dazzle, though.’ I can guess what she meant by that but will let it be.”

Before parting, Stanley and Parker shook hands as a sign of mutual respect.

Bio

The author is a retired attorney. His writing accomplishments and credits have been primarily in the legal field. As an attorney/businessman, all writing required was necessarily factual, formal, and dull. It has been rewarding for him to now write much more imaginative fiction. In the short period of his creative writing, he has had a number of stories published or chosen as winners or honorable mentions in competitions and contests.

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