A young, fresh-faced police officer saluted briskly as Inspector Carter and Sergeant Graham strode up the steps leading to the main entrance of the Meyeer Oriental Museum.
“The ambulance has just left with the injured guard,” he reported. “He looks pretty bad to me – perhaps a fractured skull.”
Carter nodded briefly and led the way into the museum’s entrance hall. In the middle was an empty glass case, its top shattered into a thousand fragments.
Only two days before, the newspapers had given wide coverage to the museum’s latest acquisition – a rare, jade Chinese figurine. Now, it seemed that at least one local villain had found the temptation too great.
“I was passing by on a routine patrol just after midnight when I saw the main door open,” the constable told Carter. “I came inside and saw the guard lying on the floor just by the cabinet.”
He hesitated for a moment, blushing with faint embarrassment. “I think we may even have caught the man responsible,” he added. “He’s locked in a room down the corridor … made quite a bit of noise at first, but he’s quietened down now.”
There was no key in the door, and Carter beckoned to the constable. It took several hefty shoulder charges before the door burst open, and an angry middle-aged man emerged.