Rating: Green cortina
Word count: 1,150
Notes: Originally posted to 1973flashfic as part of the Redemption challenge, with thanks to my beta jinxed100
A pawnbroker’s had been broken into overnight and the owner had been severely beaten in the process. The members of CID were surveying the shop and sifting through the damage looking for evidence. At least, DI Sam Tyler was sifting through carefully, whilst DCI Gene Hunt was tossing articles aside in an apparently aimless fashion.
“How are we supposed to find things if you throw everything around?” grumbled Sam.
“Just doing what the scumbags did. They were clearly looking for something. If it had been an opportunist burglar he’d have grabbed all the small stuff and scarpered.”
“And you think by copying them you’re going to find it, whatever it is, when they didn’t?”
“Okay, clever clogs. So tell me, what has your careful investigation revealed?”
“Not much as yet.”
“But I do know they were definitely looking for something in particular. They’ve gone through this stuff a lot more carefully than you did.”
“So, do you want to spend your morning on your hands and knees or can we get plod to bag things up whilst we go back to the station?”
Sam reluctantly agreed that finding something that was missing was going to be extremely difficult, especially since he didn’t even know what it was that was missing, so he went back to the station with Gene.
Once back in CID Gene started handing out orders. “Chris, get down to the hospital and see what you can get out of the pawnbroker. I’m not hopeful, chances are he knows who it was and is going to keep stum, but he might let something slip. Ray, see what you can find out from the local lowlife. Flash Knickers, go and talk to the neighbours, find out if he’d had any customers apart from his regulars. And Dorothy, I have the perfect job for you.” Gene produced a large ledger. “We need a list of all those who put stuff in hock in the last week. Once we’ve eliminated the ‘in on Monday out on Friday’ brigade, we can start to look at those who are left.”
“Why just the last week?”
“Nothing was touched in the back room, which was where he keeps his long term pledges. So whoever it was had brought it in recently.”
Sam worked his way back through the ledger. A quick glance into the earlier pages enabled him to cross out what Gene had referred to as the ‘in on Monday out on Friday’ brigade. He also removed the lady who had brought in a fur coat because he remembered seeing it hanging up. That left five names, one of which stood out in particular.
Sam bided his time; it wasn’t until the early afternoon that he found the person he was after.
“Can I have a word, Ray?”
Ray started and looked guilty. Sam indicated that they go outside and the two men walked round the side of the station. Ray nervously lit a cigarette.
“You know what this is about, sergeant?”
Ray nodded miserably.
“Would you like to explain?”
“I needed some work done on me motor and wanted some quick cash. And before you say anything I had nothing to do with what happened last night.”
Sam smiled. “I didn’t think you did. I know how much he lent you. Were they valuable?”
“No, not really. My mum’s rings weren’t worth a lot and my dad’s medals weren’t anything special. Meant more to me than they were worth.”
Ray turned away and Sam saw him swallow hard.
“I’ve checked and there are two rings and some medals in the items we brought back. So long as you redeem them in the proper way I can see no reason why you can’t have them back.”
Ray looked confused.
“You have to pay the pawnbroker what you agreed; not help yourself from Lost and Found.”
Ray nodded. “I felt bad enough pawning my mother’s rings. She’d be horrified if she thought I was going back on my deal. The old man would have thought it funny and then clouted me.”
Having eliminated one of the five names, not that Sam had suspected Ray anyway; he went back to considering the list. None of the other names meant a great deal to him. He knew of a fence named Harry Smith, but there could be any number of similarly named gentlemen living in the streets around the pawnbrokers. When he had gone to look for Ray’s medals he had found a watch that he thought was probably pawned by M Derrick, which would mean that he too was innocent, unless of course he had failed to find it in the break in.
Annie came into CID and Sam showed her the list with the four names on. She looked at it and said “I think we can rule out Mr and Mrs McNiece. The necklace was a present from his mother. Neither of them liked it, which was why they’d put it in hock. They’re trying to think of how to tell her and avoid going even further down in her estimation.”
Gene wandered over to them. “What have you got for me?”
“Once we discard the pawnbroker’s regulars, and the two where we still have the items that were pledged, plus the McNieces who appear genuine, we’re left with just two possibilities: J Masters, silver necklace and Harry Smith, three rings, all silver.”
Just then Geoff called out. “Guv, we’ve just had word from plod. Harry Smith, the fence, has been found floating in the canal, head bashed in.”
Gene looked at Sam. “Who came first, Masters or Smith?”
“So how about Joey Masters goes to leave the necklace for safekeeping at the pawnbrokers and discovers Harry Smith has done the same with some rings.”
“Could the pawnbroker have recognised something from the Denton Road jeweller’s raid?” Annie asked. “There were pictures in the paper of some of the articles that were stolen.”
“Good question, Cartwright. I wouldn’t put it past him to hint to Masters that he wasn’t the first to bring in something dodgy that week.”
“But why ransack the shop?” Sam asked.
“Presumably they didn’t know how much the pawnbroker had and didn’t want to risk leaving anything that could be linked back to the jeweller’s raid.”
“And then once they found the rings they knew Harry Smith was involved,” Annie added. “Do you think they meant to kill him?”
Sam considered the question. “No, I think it’s more likely that someone hit him a bit too hard, panicked and dumped the body in the canal. The pawnbroker was lucky that he just took a beating. I wonder how much he did know.”
“I’ll send Skelton to have another word with him,” Gene replied. “And plod can pick up Joey Masters. But now it’s beer o’clock. Tyler, you can finish the paperwork tomorrow; it’s time you bought me a drink.”