I was about an hour into my late shift. Lates almost always include being on call until 0700 the next day.
It was a warm day, I only had my force issue t-shirt on and combat style trousers. I don't like my uniform. I think it looks scruffy. I'd much rather wear a short sleeve shirt and trousers. We'll see what happens with that.
I do need new boots though. I must look on the internet for those.
I digress. It was about three o'clock when I was just leaving the station to go to my first job. My colleague had left moments before me to go to a different division. I suspect he was on the same airwave channel as me though.
The first transmission came "Any unit for an emergency response to 123 Mytown Jewellers, panic button activated"
Now sometimes these things go off and people have no idea. I've been one of many who have piled into a public house on the outskirts of town, to be stared at by five or six shocked onlookers. The manager didn't realise he had a panic button, let alone that he'd activated it!
The second call came, seconds after the first.
"We've had a second call now, armed robbery in progress at 123 Mytown Jewellers, firearms seen"
You can almost feel the buzz., the adrenaline running through the officers fingers as they respond to the radio call.
The force helicopter, lets call her '99, was up on a different job but it wasn't as important as this one. The transmission came from her crew. You know it's them before they tell you, you can hear that they're in a helicopter. They wanted a piece.
I was on my way to a burglary just around the corner from our station. I got my kit together and got in the van. I knew I'd have time to do the burglary first.
My colleague made a sharp exit from the station car park. He knew I'd have heard the job come in. Secretly I wanted to go to it anyway.
As I left the station, I could hear '99 getting closer. She makes such a racket when she's low. I like seeing her though. There's something reassuring about her presence.
I eagerly listened to updates from responding officers. The four masked men had made off with a substantial amount of very expensive jewellery. The description of the car was given, along with an index. The index was incorrect. It was likely to be on false plates.
I arrived at the address of the burglary. It was only four streets from the Jewellers. '99 was above me now.
I knocked on the door. No answer. I knocked again. No answer. I shouted through the letter box. When I opened it, at 300 decibels came Michael Jackson's Billie Jean. This could take a minute.
I got in eventually. I left about twenty minutes later with fingerprint lifts.
I pre-empted the request for CSI from responding officers and called up.
"Control from CSI Guy, over"
"Go ahead CSI Guy"
"ETA for 123 Mytown Jewellers, four minutes, over"
"Appreciated CSI Guy, we were about to call you"
You've got to keep the control room happy. The bobbies amongst you will understand that one.
I drove down the road approaching a police van with lights flashing, blocking the road. It took me a minute to wait for the other road users to perform three point turns and go back the way they came.
I have a laminated A4 card for the dashboard which has the force crest and Crime Scene Investigation on it. It helps when I park up at scenes in odd places, then all the tape and police cars move and my van looks odd. I took it from the glovebox and put it on the dash.
I drove towards the female officer stood in the road, my window down and waved at her. She shook her head and arms frantically. "You can't come in here sir......oh, sorry, I thought, uh, sorry..."
Makes me laugh everytime.
I could see the Jewellers. The front door was a mess. Glass everywhere. A Sergeant and a PC (who I'd met before) were stood outside with a scene log.
I drove the short distance from the road block to the Jewellers. As I drove down the road, other shopkeepers were stood in their doorways watching, watching everything. I could feel them looking at me and my van. It wasn't clear who I was. Why was I allowed through the block?
I got my kit, camera and my 'spare kit' bag and made my way over to them.
The Sarge gave me the run down. The PC told me that he'd been first on scene, he got the owners out and no one had been near it since.
I love it when that happens.
The immediate area outside the Jewellers was taped off, using parked cars as points to tie the tape to.
I set my case down behind one of the cars, inside the cordon. I needed to take photos, but I didn't want any of my kit in the shots.
I walked back out of the cordon, I took a photo up and down the street looking back at the Jewellers. I took a photo square on to the shop front, ensuring I wasn't in the reflection of the glass. I took a close up shot of the door that had been forced and made my way inside.
I wore footwear protectors to ensure that I didn't contaminate any footwear impressions I would later recover. It helps to be wary of where you step, however, I had to step somewhere. We have stepping plates which allow us to move through a scene without our footwear touching the surface any offender's footwear may have. I didn't require them in this case, as long as I was careful.
The inside of the shop was pretty small. It was hot. I was glad I only had my t-shirt on. I could feel the heat warming me up rapidly. I saw a fan and a stand alone air conditioning unit. The problem was, they were already on.
It was nice to get inside, shut the door and listen. Listen to the silence. There was so much going on outside. People were gathering on the pavement opposite the Jewellers. Now they were watching me.
I took a minute just to stand and look around. It helps me massively to look and plan in my head how I will process the scene.
The glass cabinets had been smashed to pieces. There was broken glass everywhere. There were pieces of jewellery on the floor, mixed with glass. I'm not fond of jewellery. Probably because I don't understand it's value. Like flowers, I guess.
A whole pane of glass had come from the inner door when it was forced, and lay on the floor, complete but shattered. I powdered this, and it was covered in footwear impressions.
The footwear impressions are recovered using a black gelatin lifter. Its placed on top of the powdered (or unpowdered) impression and lifted and secured. It produces a replica of what can be seen on the treated surface.
Each footwear impression is recovered in turn, labelled and sealed into a tamper evident bag. All exhibits are written up and sealed at the scene.
It's not somewhere you'd normally find footwear impressions. Good find.
I recovered a bag left by the offenders. They had brought a number of bags with them, in order to carry the jewellery. The bag was probably purchased just for this job. It looked brand new.
I recovered a number of fingerprint lifts too.
When the offenders forced the door, they used a tool of some sort. The victims hadn't seen what this was. I was curious. The PC suggested the head of a sledge hammer, but I wasn't convinced. The shape seemed too clean and conforming. I took a gel lift of the impression it left.
I tidied up a little as I worked through the scene. I stacked jewellery I collected from the floor onto a unit. I placed larger pieces of glass into a pile also. I think it helps the victim clean up later if I make an effort as I go.
CID arrived. I was perched, powdering items on the floor. I could see them in the corner of my eye, I wanted to finish what I was doing before I got up and went back outside to talk to them.
I could do with stepping outside to get out of the heat.
I spoke to the DC. She was pleasant. I hadn't met her before. She explained what she knew, which was he same as the Sarge had told me. I told her what I had found so far. I went back inside a little cooler.
I was at the scene for around two hours. Once I had left, the cordon could be removed.
I still had the list of jobs I started the shift with. They still had to be completed. The robbery took up a fair stretch of my shift. I'd have to work my backside off to get the rest of the jobs done.
I did a couple more burglaries and then had to photograph the scene of an alledged rape.