The Criminal
Phew, They Can't Replace Us

The Criminal

The criminal, posing as a tourist, with an accomplice - so they look like a holidaying couple - books into a particular Airbnb in a wealthy and upmarket area.

They spend their week doing normal things, while also making an inventory of the valuables and the layout of the apartment.

On the morning they’re due to check out, they install a miniature, hidden camera in the ceiling, angled toward and focused on the hallway and front door.

The accomplice leaves, and the criminal, with a pre-packed bag containing other, folded bags, a blanket, a camping pillow, snack foods, water and a head torch, climbs into the loft and closes the hatch behind them. They wait. They play games on their phone in the dark, and fall asleep in their makeshift bed on the loft floor.

An hour later, a cleaner enters the apartment and cleans for three hours and then leaves.

The next morning, after breakfast in the dark, the criminal uses an app on their phone to monitor the hidden camera view. A couple of hours pass with no activity…and then the front door opens, and a healthy-looking family of five spill into the place, smiling and bumping their hard little suitcases through the hallway.

He waits in the pitch black loft for hours, barely moving. He has trained for this.

He listens to muffled sounds that come up through the ceiling, sounds that arrive further and further apart, until around midnight, when they cease completely. Everyone has gone to sleep.

The next morning, at 10.15am, his phone lights up with a notification; finally - the camera’s relayed blue-ish image shows them all leaving. The front door clicks shut. Out for a lovely day.

The criminal waits again, very still, for exactly forty minutes.

Then he quietly descends from the loft. Wearing two pairs of gloves - one over the other - he goes from room to room, filling his drawstring bags with small specific art pieces from around the apartment, and jewellery, cash, and electronic devices from the guest rooms.

The drawstring bags go into his own wheeled suitcase. In the hallway, he carefully removes the tiny camera. There is no trace of it left behind.

He stands still for a moment, looking at his reflection in a mirror on the wall. Then he leaves the suitcase by the front door and re-traces his steps to the room he guesses is occupied by the family’s eldest son. There, he peels off his outermost pair of gloves and stuffs them into the son’s holdall, right down to the bottom of it, under some clothes.

He collects his suitcase, and quietly pulls the front door shut behind him, walking out into the bright, beautiful day.

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