Archive for February, 2011

after the hold-up

February 20, 2011
I’m starting to feel like a crime expert. I was collected by a detective this afternoon to go in and make a statement. Most interesting thing was talking to him on the way in and out – I learnt about twenty years worth in twenty minutes.

First thing I asked was whether the hold-up at Keiraville post office yesterday was related to the one at Brownsville the day before. Yes, he said, they were working on that assumption. I guess we were lucky we didn’t get the physical violence the robbers dealt out at Brownsville. The Wollongong detectives are a bit worried these guys are an ongoing threat.

So here are some things I learnt. If you want to do armed hold-ups, never have a girlfriend. Half the time, robberies are solved when a relationship goes sour and the girlfriend gets her revenge by spilling the beans. In fact, the long-term successful hold-up merchants work alone, and never talk about their successes to anyone.
The danger time for armed robbers is between the car and the shop they’re targeting. They can control what happens in the shop, but when people see them outside in hoods and balaclavas … well, anyone with a mobile can call the cops. I don’t know if that’s what happened at the Keiraville post office – I mean, people outside saw them and realized, but I don’t know if they used their mobiles. The cop car certainly arrived v smartly. Other poss would be that, when the phone rang and the post office guy was told to answer, maybe his words ‘Cant talk, sorry, I’m dealing with some customers’ rang alarm bells.
Since 95% of alarm calls are false, the security people and the cops – if the cops are contacted – tend to assume there’s nothing wrong.
Here’s a hoax call anecdote – that is, the cops thought it was a hoax until they got there. It was a case in Wariila, where a local murderer took the body of his victim to bury just off New Lake Entrance Rd, where there are trees on one side, but the other side looks out on the backs of a whole street of houses. So here is this guy burying a body in broad daylight, in plain view of all the neighbors looking out from their back windows. I don’t know what he said when the cops turned up – maybe something like, ‘You weren’t supposed to notice.’


author vs double-barrelled shotgun

February 16, 2011

It’s true – half an hour ago, I was caught up in the middle of an armed hold-up! I finished the US copyedit of LIBERATOR ahead of time, and went to a local post office to send it off. A tiny, quiet little post office in a tiny, quiet shopping area. I went to the counter and was given the international form thingy that has to be stuck on the front – and I’d just started filling it out. The only other people in the shop –  it’s so small, it could hardly hold a dozen customers at once – were an old couple.

So suddenly these two guys burst in, wearing hoodies, face masks and gloves, and one of them toting a sawn-off double-barreled shotgun. About 20-25 years old, I’d have guess from their voices, though one of them, who stood guard over me and the old couple, hardly spoke. The one with the shotgun jumped up on the counter, shouting like a character in a gangster movie – threatening, cursing and trying to sound as violent as possible.

The ugliest moment was when shotgun guy accused the post office guy of pressing the alarm button – which he had. The elderly lady was breathing and gasping and shaking, on the verge of a panic attack. I put my arm round her and said we’d be OK. It turned out she had a heart condition – luckily she had an inhaler spray with her that she used the moment they were gone.

They made the post office guy open the till, and shotgun jumped down and scooped up what was there. Then back on the counter, ordering the post office guy to lie on the ground (not us). There was something more they wanted, maybe access to a safe, but they decided not to hang around any longer. The post office guy told the cops afterwards that they’d got away with $1000-2000.

Anyway, they rushed out and took off in an off-white car that had been parked in the drive next to the post office. We got the number plate, for what that’ll be worth. The post office guy rang the cops who turned up pretty smartly, viewd the CCTV footage and took down our details.

Funny thing was, it didn’t seem particularly scary at the time – maybe because the shotgun was almost always trained on the post office guy, with just a flourish or two towards us. And the elderly lady did enough panicking for us all – I was more worried about her state than anything.

And now the key question you must be wondering – did they get away with the copyedited MS of LIBERATOR? No, they didn’t even realise the treasure right underneath their noses! They just rushed out with the money – and I had to go to a different post office to send off my parcel.