This is part 13 of a 15-part series (click here to read the first blog in the series).
Rose positioned the seat-lid and sat on the toilet, without taking down her jeans. This was her favourite cubicle in the whole prison: it had a seat-lid, for a start… and was relatively out-of-the-way. She tore open the large, brown envelope and a magazine flopped onto her lap. Its glossy cover adorned with two beautiful, smiling faces. ‘Exclusive interview with the year’s hottest power couple.’ As she peered at their pictures Rose’s emotions blanked serenely. She’d seen them in the media plenty of times recently.
The last time she’d seen them in the flesh, had been the morning after the day of the robbery. Rose had spent the night chained up in the outside latrine, whilst X and Natalya slept in the four-poster. Soon after dawn, they dragged her inside, threw her in the bath-tub and turned the shower on. Her sand-papered skin was super-sensitive, so the warm water scalded and seared. They held her down and scrubbed – thoroughly cleaning her inside and out. Then she was told to put on a man-sized tracksuit and taken outside. They spread petrol around, set fire to the house (and Rose’s car), waved their cheery good-byes… and drove off.
She’d just stood there, watching the fire rage. After a few minutes, a car pulled into the long driveway. Rose was surprised to see her ex-husband stepping out of it. And Paul was surprised to see his ex-wife standing there – wearing his clothes and watching his neighbour’s house burn down. As they stared at each other, dumbfounded, the sound of sirens began to whir in the distance. Lots of sirens… less and less distant. That’s how the police found Rose and Paul – it didn’t look good! Especially given the investigating officers had recently watched the CCTV footage of Rose robbing the safe. An immediate search of Paul’s house uncovered: the robbery phones; Rose’s hand-written outline of the robbery plan; and ALL of the jewellery! These things also didn’t look good.
In the interview, Rose admitted taking the jewels, but exonerated Paul as an innocent scapegoat. She told the police about X and Natalya, claiming they’d forced her into complicity from the start. She showed them her sore, sand-papered skin as proof. The injuries didn’t look nearly-as-painful as they felt, yet it was clear, physical evidence that she’d been tortured. However, her story was undermined by a few other things the police found at Paul’s: the sand-paper stick that’d been used during the torture; a signed and dated apology note that Rose had recently written to her ‘Master’; and some old photos of the previously-married couple’s BDSM games, that Paul had kept saved in the cloud.
Another problem was that the police had already listened to Rose’s apparent voicemail to Paul, where she explicitly outlined her plan to blame everything on the ‘faking, Russian woman… and her fiancée’.
The police did investigate Natalya and X. The fact that the Russian was at the scene during the robbery was obviously suspicious. But she had a plausible explanation for that and her whole cover story checked out immaculately. The police couldn’t find a single, solid piece of evidence to link Natalya or X to the robbery… or even connect them to Rose. All the evidence one would’ve expected to exist, apparently didn’t.
X had never met Rose’s friends and the pair had barely ever been out in public together. At first, he’d surreptitiously avoided such occasions, but after they’d decided on the robbery, this evasion had become mutually-agreed policy. For the same reasons, there were no photos of X and Rose together. What she’d thought was X’s personal mobile was actually a burner phone (which the police found at Paul’s house, alongside the robbery phones). And the bastard must’ve kept his real phone turned off the whole time he was with Rose, because there was no historic location data tying them together.
Location data from Rose’s phone showed her signal had regularly bounced off the mast near X’s flat. But unfortunately, X’s flat was just around the corner from Paul’s (as it turned out, X had chosen which flat to rent, and which AirB+B to hire, based primarily on the locations of Paul’s two residential properties). Every lead she gave the police either yielded nothing… or turned around to further incriminate her. Ultimately, the investigating officers became frustrated and declared Rose’s excuses were ‘implausibly convenient’. Unbelievably frustrating to trail back to your cell with those ironic words chiming inside your head.
But it wasn’t until ten days after the jewellery heist that the shit really hit the fan. To understand what happened, you need to know a bit about how X’s penetration software worked. When Rose touched the penetration device on the security sensors, the software not only opened the locks, it also infiltrated the ‘Integrated Security System’ of which they were a part. Platinum Standard Security Solutions (PSSS) boasted about offering the world’s most sophisticated security software. They must’ve been good at selling it, because it was used across thousands of locations, all over the planet. Most of these places contained significantly more treasure than Rose’s jewellery shop. PSSS protected top-level deposit boxes, mega-casinos, banks, fortified storage facilities, etc. The little jewellers was probably the least important place connected to the PSSS network (which wasn’t a coincidence).
Anyway, when the jewellery robbery was detected, the security system automatically sent reset codes to every device on the network – thousands of them. This was supposed to be PSSS’s most sophisticated safety feature: the advanced capability their salespeople boasted about; and the main reason clients paid so much for the software. But it actually proved to be their biggest weakness, because it was this feature that X’s technology exploited. The penetration software got into the system and sent its own reset codes to the whole network. Secretly giving control of core security functions to the people who purchased the intelligence from X – people the media later described as ‘an international consortium of major organised crime groups’.
Rose saw it on the news the day it happened, same as the rest of humanity. It was the sort of news story that really grabs public attention – exactly the sort of thing everyone loves talking about, especially people in prison. But she had no idea it had anything to do with her. Who could possibly believe Rose’s little, jewellery robbery was actually the first stage of a much grander masterplan. A crime that would quickly be dubbed:
‘The Biggest Heist in the History of the World!’