The Note Book (Part 1)
Pete Docherty had nestled his small blue Citroen van very discreetly
between two parked articulated trailers on a dead end road at the top
end of the industrial estate. Safely out of sight of any passing vehicles, he
made his way stiffly through carefully chosen shadow up onto the
disused railway track which passed the rear of Unit 11B, listening
carefully for any unfamiliar sounds. A chill wind slapped a cable
against its hollow flagpole in an adjacent unit as he slid painfully
down the grass banking to the rear perimeter fence. From the deep
thigh pocket of his dark cargo trousers he took a pair of disposable
gloves and hardened steel wire cutters and within five minutes had
gained entry to the compound. Now out of sight, and in the absence of
any CCTV, he was free to test himself against the lock on the rear
door. It took just six minutes of skilful manipulation with his lock
pick set to overcome the mechanism and slide quietly into the
building, closing the door behind him onto complete darkness.
He stood absolutely still, allowing his sharpened senses to slowly calm
his anxiety. He heard the building breathing, the gentle creaking of
metal roof structure and the occasional slap of the front roller
shutter door being nudged against its runners by the strengthening
wind; nothing untoward. His nose told him of oil and cardboard and of
something unfamiliar, something he had never come across before, an
unusual vinegary smell. Satisfied that he was alone, he took out his
small maglite and switched it on. In front of him lay an open work
space containing two rows of work tables on which were a number of
brown cardboard boxes and beyond that what appeared to be offices,
flat roofed and built of breeze block with two doors and small
windows facing the work area. This didn't look promising at all.
Docherty walked carefully across the concrete floor and aimed his torch beam
into one of the boxes. It was empty apart from some white powdery
residue in the bottom. He checked one or two others and found exactly
the same. On one of the tables was a flat chrome metal digital
weighing scale which he immediately recognised as similar to the one
his wife Meg had in the kitchen. Nothing of any value here. Against
the wall were a number of storage racks, none of which supported
anything that looked remotely valuable or interesting.
The first door he tried in the breeze block wall turned out to be a small
room containing a toilet and wash basin which smelled strongly of
drains and neglect. Quickly closing the door he tried the next, which
was locked. This looked more promising, especially as it had been
fitted with a five lever lock which was unusual on an internal door
and even more unusual on an internal door in a breeze block
structure. Docherty's one ability was his knowledge of locks and how
to open them, a skill he had picked up over his twenty year career as
a burglar and guest of Her Majesty the Queen. It took three minutes
before he was inside and staring straight at a very large Victorian
cast iron safe dominating a room containing nothing other than a desk
with telephone and a black plastic chair. Docherty's heart raced as
he eased himself across the concrete floor and knelt painfully in
front of his challenger. The beam from his torch fell upon a large
brass plate on the door of the safe with wording which read 'Tann's
Excelsior 12 Corner Bent Safe'.
Docherty's watch told him it was 11.36pm and the brass plate told him he was in
for a very difficult time. This safe would have at least a six lever
lock, if not eight, and would not yield easily. He didn't carry
explosives or high speed drills, but he did have infinite patience.
Peter Docherty was of the old school, he hated violence, detested
drugs and the people who dealt them, but he loved a challenge. He
would give himself one hour and if unsuccessful, would leave and
perhaps return at a later date better informed on this lock and
better equipped to deal with it. He closed the office door, switched
on the overhead light, unrolled his lock pick implements and set to
At two minutes past midnight an area police patrol car driven by PC
Angie Bedford turned into the estate to make the usual cursory check
of the industrial complex. She had done this hundreds of times and
never once come across anything remotely promising. Tonight was
proving no exception as her slow drive through the complex was
offering nothing more than normality. Buildings were in darkness,
gates were locked and the roadways were completely clear of anything
suspicious or even unexpected.
Suddenly, her radio burst into life with a breathless commentary from a
colleague involved in the high speed pursuit of a stolen Audi several
miles away in Stanley, to the north of Wakefield. Angie smiled to
herself, pulled over to the kerb outside Unit 13A, took her flask
from the back seat, poured herself a hot coffee and settled in to
listen to the live commentary. It was PC Derek Watson and Derek
rarely ever caught anybody in a high speed chase. Here was the chance
of a quiet five minutes with refreshment and live entertainment and
with a bit of luck, possible involvement if his pursuit headed her
way. She sipped her coffee and listened as Derek, slowly but surely,
began to lose sight of his quarry, defeated yet again by some jack
the lad teenager. As Angie's chance of any involvement headed into
Leeds at eighty miles per hour she wound the window down, emptied the
dregs from her plastic cup and made ready to resume the night's
boredom. She heard the slap of a cable against its hollow flagpole as
she wound up her window against the chill night air.
Fifty yards away in the breeze block offices of Unit 11B, Docherty had
almost come to the end of his tether. He had nearly cracked the lock
several times, but never quite managed the last few levers.
Exasperation and the extreme discomfort of his injuries were gaining
the upper hand and he needed to rest for a minute. He dropped his
pick locks onto their canvas roll and slumped against the cold breeze
block wall, relaxing his bruised and aching body and stretching his
legs out along the equally cold concrete floor. It was 12.20am and
looking more and more like a fruitless journey. He rested for five
minutes until he could feel the cold beginning to bite and then made
ready for one final assault on the Excelsior. At 12.32am and on the
point of giving up, he triumphantly felt the final lever surrender to
his skills and he painfully pulled open the heavy cast iron door. To
his abject horror, the three internal shelves were completely empty,
the only possible reward for his efforts being inside the drawer
under the bottom shelf. It contained nothing more than a blue
notebook, well used in appearance, but of no value to Docherty
As Angie Bedford reached the end of the estate road network, and was
about to turn and double back, her keen eyes noticed that the two
parked trailers that had been left there for several nights, now
appeared to have some other vehicle wedged carefully between them.
She felt a tingling sensation down the back of her neck, stopped the
car, switched off the engine and taking her torch from the glove box,
went to investigate.
'451 to control.'
'Go ahead Angie.'
'Can I have a vehicle check please on a blue Citroen van, Alpha Bravo,
Zero Five, Oscar Charlie X-ray; location Ossett Industrial Estate?'
'Stand By please.'
Angie tried the locked doors on the van and shone her torch through the
rear window. It was completely empty.
'The vehicle is registered to a Peter Docherty of 27 Dacre Close,
Birstall. It doesn't show as stolen, but has a marker as known to
have been used in burglary.'
The tingling sensation returned down the back of Angie's neck as she
returned to her car.
'Then there's a strong likelihood that that's what's happening right now
somewhere on this estate. Can you send backup please?
'Stand by Angie'
Angie Bedford sat in her patrol car and gathered her thoughts. She had
already done a tour of the estate and seen nothing suspicious, so it
was likely that if Docherty was here, he was already inside a unit
somewhere. Driving round the estate again would be pointless and at
some stage in the near future the van's owner would return. She
decided to wait.
'Control to 451'
'465 is on his way to you, eta ten minutes.'
'Received, thank you'
Angie smiled to herself at the thought of poor Derek Watson, having lost
his stolen Audi, being diverted away from his embarrassment to the
other side of town for an assist. She started up the Escort and moved
away from the trailers to a more discrete observation point some one
hundred metres away. From just inside her chosen side road she could
watch the Citroen through the wire fencing of the corner unit
Pete Docherty was cold, aching from head to toe and bitterly disappointed
at his fruitless night's work. He knew that this unit belonged to
Makepiece and he knew that very few other people knew. This meant
that whatever went on here was something Makepiece wanted kept quiet.
If Makepiece wanted it kept quiet then whatever did go on here was
probably very dodgy and very likely to be extremely profitable. So
why had he found nothing but empty boxes, a strange smell of vinegar
and an empty safe? He rolled up his pick lock set, dropped it into
one of the long side pockets in his cargo trousers and switched off
the office light. He'd come here to steal anything of value from Jed
Makepiece and found nothing. It would be a long ride home to Birstall.
He was just about to close the office door when a thought struck him.
The notebook wouldn't be in the safe unless it was important to
someone. He went back in, took it from the drawer and slid it into
his hip pocket. He left the safe door wide open, left the office door
wide open, left the rear entrance door wide open, wriggled through
the fence and climbed painfully back up the railway banking. He would
take some solace at least, from Makepiece's anger at being so
uncomfortably and easily opened up.
As Docherty made his way back along the bank towards his van, his
heightened senses picked up the sound of a police siren some distance
away. He had been at this game for many years and didn't panic
easily. He continued his short journey through the feral vegetation
along the banking and was almost at the point where he would climb
down towards his carefully concealed van when, from his lofty
position, he saw the blue flashing light enter the estate in the far
distance. He immediately dropped to the ground.
'451 to control'
'Go ahead Angie'
'Can I have talk through please to 465?'
'Go ahead 451.'
'Derek for God's sake switch off the blues and twos. I'm trying to keep
silent watch here.'
'Sorry Angie, you should have warned me. Where are you?'
'At the far end of the estate, backed into the last side road before the
'OK, be with you anytime soon.'
'Switch everything off Derek, including your headlights. Docherty is probably
at it somewhere in here at this moment and we don't want to frighten
The second police Ford Escort appeared silently and reversed into the
side road alongside Angie. PC Derek Watson climbed out of his warm
seat into the chill night air, walked around Angie's car and leaned
down to speak to her as she wound down her window. In the distance a
wire slapped against its hollow metal pole in the chill wind.
'Who's Docherty?' enquired PC 465 Watson.
'There's a Citroen van parked across there between those two trailers and it
belongs to a well know blagger, Pete Docherty. My guess is that he's
at it somewhere in here and when he gets what he wants he'll return
to his van.'
'How the hell did you see that tucked away over there?'
'Eyes like a hawk Derek.'
'I'm impressed Angie. What's the plan then?'
'If you haven't already frightened him away, we keep watch here and
collar him when he shows up.'
'Sounds good to me. Got any coffee left?'
Peter Docherty watched from his vantage point as the police car arrived and
reversed into the side road alongside what appeared to be another
vehicle. His view was impaired by the substantial fencing around the
corner unit, but he'd seen enough to know that this was trouble. Had
his van been spotted when he'd parked it so carefully out of the way?
There was no other explanation. The police car had driven in with its
lights off and tucked itself away. It must be watching his van,
waiting for him to return. Docherty eased himself away from the edge
and fumbled in his cavernous cargo pocket for his mobile phone. He
scrolled through his contacts and pressed 'Home'.
'Meg it's me, he whispered,'I want you to do something for me if you
'You're in trouble again aren't you, I can tell. Where are you?'
'Never mind that just now. All you need to know is that I'm in a bit of a
tight spot and I need you to ring the cops and tell them that my
van's been nicked from outside the house.'
'I told you last time Peter that I wouldn't lie for you ever again,
especially to the police. What the hell are you up to this time?'
'Please Meg, it'll save me from a lot of trouble if you do this for me. Tell
them you don't know when it went as you've just come home and found
Meg could sense an unusual desperation in Pete's voice and she began to
feel unnerved herself.
'Peter what's going on?'
'Not now Meg, just do this for me please and I'll tell you all about it
when I get back.'
'When will that be Peter?'
'As soon as I can, I promise and if the cops call at the house looking
for me tell them you haven't seen me all day. Tell them I went out
this morning for a day's fishing with Smithy.'
He ended the call abruptly before Meg could respond, slid the phone back
into his pocket and began a careful descent down the other side of
the disused banking towards the housing estate which lay at that side
of the old goods line.
Suddenly, his aches and pains didn't quite seem so bad as the adrenalin kicked
in and his mind went into overdrive. At the bottom of the bank he was
confronted by a shabby home-made perimeter fence which would give him
access into a back garden and then hopefully out into the estate and
away from the scene. He slid through a well used gap, carefully
skirted the sleeping house and emerged into a quiet suburban street.
As he walked he took out his phone again, thumbed through the
directory and dialled 'Smithy'. It rang for some time before he heard
a loud fleshy cough. He knew that cough anywhere.
'Smithy it's Pete, I'm in the shit and I need your help mate.'
'It's one o'clock in the morning Peter, what the hell's going on?'
'I need you to get out of bed, get into your car and come over to Ossett
to pick me up, before the cops do.'
'Bloody hell Pete, what sort of trouble have you got yourself into now?'
'Not now Smithy, get yourself over to the White Horse on Flushdyke in
Ossett and I'll meet you in the car park. I can keep well out of
sight there 'till you arrive. Please mate, as quick as you can. If I
get stopped on foot and searched I'm back inside again.'
'I'm on my way Peter, about twenty minutes.'
'Thanks Smithy, I owe you one'
Docherty slid the phone back into his pocket, pulled up the collar on his
faded denim jacket against the chill wind and set off as innocently
as possible towards his intended pick up point. He glanced at his
wristwatch as he emerged from the housing estate onto Flushdyke, it
was 1.15am. How much longer the cops would sit watching his van was
anybody's guess, but the last thing he wanted was for them to emerge
from the trading estate having given up the chase and then spot him
calmly walking down the road. He lengthened his stride as he came
within sight of the White Horse pub. Twenty minutes max and he would
Angie Bedford and Derek Watson had finished off the coffee and were busy
dissecting the new Superintendent's personality and fitness for the
job when the radio suddenly burst into life.
'Control to 451 receiving?'
'You wont believe this Angie, but the blue Citroen van you did the check
on has just been reported stolen.'
'Bollocks, that means we've been spotted and he'll have disappeared, leaving us
sitting here like two wallies,' said Angie in as accusatory manner as
possible to Derek Watson. 'He must have heard your siren when you
arrived like the bloody cavalry. Thanks for that Derek, another
complete cock up tonight.'