The diamond ‘Noor’ is stolen despite elite protection & sophisticated safeguards.
Can South African SCB solve the crime?
Previous Story: Dumbest Kid?
“Pa,” said Hosh. “I’m submitting a story for my College magazine. Can you read and check it please?”
“Sure,” said Rosh, turning his chair around to face his son.
Hosh handed him six sheets of paper. They were neatly typed.
Rosh moved the papers on his desk aside to make room, while Hosh wheeled in his chair to sit beside his dad. Rosh started reading …
"Hello everyone. I’m Mr. Patel - your Head of Security today,” Patel boomed good-naturedly at the jewel guards.
He was wearing casual attire, and didn’t look Head of anything at all. One kind of expects a Head of Security to look imposing.
He had jet black hair, a simple smile, caramel skin and was delicately built. He wore black sun glasses, a thin gold chain around his neck, a lite blue polo shirt, blue jeans and trainers.
“Head of Security?” gasped a jewel guard.
“I’m covering for Mr. Khan, who won't be able to make it here today,” replied Patel amiably.
“We know nothing about this!” another grumbled.
“Didn't you get Mr. Khan’s memo?” Patel looked surprised.
The jewel guard smirked, and whispered something under his breath to the other guard. Both chuckled.
Patel felt uncomfortable. He rang Durban Head Office, and fortunately the issue was sorted out quickly. The guards groaned, almost sorry at losing the opportunity to play around with him a bit more.
“A uniform would have helped,” one fired a closing salvo at Patel. “No girls to impress here!”
“Something wrong with my clothes?” Patel hissed, feeling his temper rise. "Or my sun glasses?”
It looked kind of comical, a tiny earthling breathing fire at two behemoths. But they said nothing.
'My sun glasses are very useful actually' he thought, staring them down. 'Not only do they protect my eyes from harmful ultra-violet rays, no one can see them when I don’t want them to. Professional reasons you oafs will never understand.'
The guards turned away finally, and walked inside. Patel followed them in.
“Which of you will brief me?" he asked, leaning on the solid glass Reception Counter. "About the stone we are protecting. Its security arrangements.”
One guard coughed, and decided to make peace. They were all here to do a job, and it never paid to annoy your boss.
“Myself, Mr. Luttu,” he introduced himself. Then he pointed at his mate. “Him, Mr. Pringle.”
“Nice to meet you, Luttu,” Patel dropped the 'Mr.', but offered a handshake. The guard took it and smiled. They shook hands, clearing the air.
“Diamond name Noor,” Luttu said. “Very expensive. Well cut. Very big. You know much about diamonds?”
“A bit,” said Patel sincerely. "Love 'em, but another quick lesson can't hurt."
He knew 'Noor' meant 'Light' in Urdu. Idly, he thought of the largest diamond, the 3,106 carat "Cullinan Diamond" found in South Africa in 1905.
From that had been cut the 'First Star of Africa,' which now adorned the Royal Scepter - one of the British crown jewels, now on display at the Tower of London.
Luttu turned on the virtual monitor above the Reception Counter, and played a short film for him.
Patel tapped incessantly on the solid glass, absorbing Luttu's briefing, after he had finished watching the video file. He hadn't needed it. He had already done his homework, but it never hurt to assess the people he was working with.
“Fingering no good,” remarked Luttu comically, nearing the end of his patchy report. "That glass bullet-proof."
“Yea,” smiled Patel, warming up to the man, and stopped his drumming of the glass on the table.
“Skip the security camera bits, I know about them. Take me to the CCC (Computer Command Centre).”
Noor had been kept in a large room in the Castle, and the human guards were mostly for show. Cameras maintained their vigil inside and out, as they were mounted in well-chosen places. The big ones were explicitly visible, while the really tiny ones were properly camouflaged.
Luttu nodded, stopped his description of the security arrangements, and led Patel in.
“Inside," he warned, "sensors connected to Infra-red light and alarm. Lasers, if alarm goes. Laser will blind man, if see direct into light. Also, big electric shock, if Noor glass cover break. Lift jewel, doors lock. No can get out. SCB (Special Crime Brigade) come.”
"Excellent,” said Patel, mentally ticking off points and making observations as he walked. "No thief should escape then. I'll go over and check the electrical circuit boards in the control and refrigeration rooms now. I'll see you later.”
Luttu handed Patel his walkie-talkie.
“Take this,” he offered. “I share with Mr. Pringle. Mr. Khan’s talky in his locker, locked. Sorry, can't give.”
His walkie-talkie was a standard make. Unlike a cellphone, there were no numbers to dial. Just press and hold a button to speak. Release to hear, auto adjust frequency. Patel thanked him, and spoke into it telling Pringle where he would be, if needed.
Pringle grunted acknowledgement on the other end. Luttu left him alone, and walked back to take his position with Pringle.
Patel visited the refrigeration room, and checked the electrical circuitry. He spent quite some time there. Before he had finished, the serene quiet of the Castle was suddenly broken by alarms jangling.
“Mr. Patel!" Luttu’s panicked voice blurted out of the walkie-talkie. "Get out of Castle. Quik. Fire!”
“Ok," Patel barked back. "Get Sir Zubin to safety! I‘m coming out.”
A crowd soon gathered outside on the Castle grounds. Many were coughing. Sir Zubin had been brought out safely, and was being cared for by Castle nurses.
Fire Fighters quickly put out the fire, but thick, black smoke still belched out from the section where electrical circuitry had been housed. SCB were already on the scene, busily combing the premises for clues. Local police and detectives in plain clothes milled about, patiently waiting their turn.
Soon, the chief SCB detective came to report to Sir Zubin.
“Is the diamond safe?” Sir Zubin was beside himself with worry. "Where was the fire from?"
“Sir,” the chief detective reported grimly. "The diamond is gone!"
“What!” Sir Zubin began to lose color fast. "How?"
“Fire was caused by a short circuit in the electrical circuit boards,” answered the chief detective. "The short circuit also tripped the CCC fuse. Back-up generator had already been shut down earlier today, for pre-scheduled maintenance, so there was no electricity."
“Crap!” fumed Zubin. “State-of-the art systems. Impenetrable fortress. Best private security firm in South Africa. Invincible SCB. And hordes of sensors, alarms, lasers, cameras, Infra-red, unbreakable glass and cutting edge technology...”
“All electrical stuff needs electricity," the chief detective said resignedly. "So they were ineffective. The fire alarm made the guards leave their stations."
“Crap!” raged Zubin, still grappling with the impossibility of the crime. "You were the elite. The creme-de-la-creme. Is that all you got so far? No other clues? What about Noor’s own alarm?"
"Muffled in the fire alarm noise," the chief detective replied calmly. "But how the thief escaped the Infra-red sensors is still a mystery. We are investigating. Will keep you posted”.
"What about this thief?" Phlegm spat out of his contorted face, as Zubin tried to speak. "Anything on him? Her? Is it more than one? Got to be. How did they get away with this? Despite all these sophisticated security arrangements?"
“Smoke and panic," offered the chief detective. "No one saw them escaping, at least no one's reported anything yet. It was immaculately planned. Perfectly executed."
"The only clue we have so far, inexplicable water around Noor’s glass chamber. We don’t know how it got there. Are there any other private security arrangements for Noor, that we don't know about?"
Zubin stared hard at the detective, but shook his head.
"Inside job then," the chief detective shrugged. "By the way, we found this walkie-talkie near the crime scene.”
“That’s ours,” snapped Zubin. “Crap! Where does that leave us? Where is my Head of Security? Why haven’t I seen him yet?”
"Let me see if I can track him down for you," the chief detective said politely, and walked away.
He was glad to be moving away from Zubin. He wanted to get on with his job. It was going to be a long night, and he hated debriefing and reassuring clients straight after incidents. But someone had to do it.
He shrugged again and dialed a preset number on his cell phone. When the call was answered at the other end, he spoke into the mouthpiece, “It's me. Noor’s gone!”
He talked into the phone for a few more minutes, then disconnected his call.
(Author Note: It is interesting that post publication of this story, the world's second biggest diamond, found in November 2015, was named 'Lesedi La Rona', which means 'Our Light' in Setswana, the national language of Botswana, the southern African nation where the 1,111 carat stone was found. Discovery of this biggest diamond found in over a 100 years, sent Lucara (LUCRF)'s - the Canadian company which owned it - shares soaring.)
Next Story: The Diamond Heist 2