Can you solve this mini-mystery?



By Richard Ciciarelli



My partner Larry and I had been assigned the night shift that week. We checked in at midnight on Friday and less than a half hour later the phone rang.

“This is Jack Bennett,” the caller said. “I’m the curator of the city museum.”

“What can I do for you, Mr. Bennett?” I asked.

“I was on my way home from a party and I swung by the museum. I noticed the delivery door at the rear of the building was ajar and the wires of our alarm had been cut. Someone may be inside.”

“We’ll be right there.”

I hung up and told Larry the situation.

“Museum?” He asked. “Strange place for a break-in. I don’t even think I’ve ever been there. Why would anyone want to break in?”

“We’re about to find out.”

At twelve-forty we pulled into a lot behind the museum. Jack Bennett’s silver sedan was there. He climbed out as we approached.

“I didn’t dare go in,” he said.

“That was smart. Follow us. Stay behind and make as little noise as possible.”

The three of us slipped through the open back door, Larry and I waving our flashlights back and forth in the pitch-dark building.

The whole place was as quiet as a tomb, our muffled footsteps echoing in the darkness.

As I flashed the beam from my light to the left, Bennett tapped me on the shoulder.

“There,” he whispered. “That door to the antiquities room. It should be closed.”

My flashlight revealed an open large double door.

“I don’t hear anyone,” I said. “I think we’re safe talking out loud.”

We made our way across the floor and through the double doors. I flashed my light around while Larry pulled aside a wall tapestry to our left and flipped the light switch.

It took a few seconds for our eyes to become accustomed to the brightness, and once they were, we saw the damage.

Several glass cases in the middle of the room were smashed. Whatever had been in those cases was now missing. Only purple velvet with some irregular indentations remained.

“The Egyptian artifacts!” Bennett exclaimed. “They’re gone.”

“What kind of artifacts?” I asked.

“Solid gold rings and amulets,” Bennett answered. “Scarabs and miniature tablets inscribed with hieroglyphics.”

“Who would steal that stuff?” Larry asked.

“You’d be surprised,” Bennett said. “There are private collectors out there who would pay a fortune for things like these. And they wouldn’t ask any questions about how the seller got them.”

“But surely they couldn’t put ads in the newspaper or on an internet auction site,” I said.

“No, but there are places on the dark web where buyers and sellers can go to make illegal transactions.”

I pulled out my cell phone.

“I’ll call the station and report this. The entire museum will have to be closed tomorrow while our forensics people dust for fingerprints and go through their entire regimen of tasks. I don’t hold much hope, though. I’m betting our thief wore gloves.”

Saturday morning found me at the station early, looking through our files on all the people in our city who had been previously arrested for burglary.

“Any luck?” our captain asked.

“I have a couple of names I’d like to check,” I said, “but none of these guys ever dealt in Egyptian antiquities.”

“There’s a first time for everything,” the captain said. “You never know what someone will do for money.”

I don’t know why, but that remark sparked an idea.

“Captain, I’d like you to call a judge to get a search warrant. I think I know where we can find those stolen artifacts.”



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Copyright 2020 Richard Ciciarelli. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of the author is prohibited. OMDB! and OMDB! logos are trademarks of Over My Dead Body!

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