The problem with apartments in this city, she had come to find, was that no one cared about anyone else. Sure, they made the appropriate offers to help move in or walk the dog while you're away, but for all they know, you could be just another relative helping yourself to the couch. Except she wasn't.
The door had failed to latch, the way it did 7 times out of 10, but who was counting? She was, of course. She had to. Home theft sure beat working minimum wage.
She watched them for weeks, learning the comings and goings of the young couple. They had a tiny dog. They both worked, she left first, he did after. Weekends they went for day trips- probably visiting family or friends. They took the pup with them and that took care of the only alarm system they were likely to have.
Walking in was like satisfying an itch too long unscratched. She took it all in: the humble seating arrangements, the thrifted couch, the handmade throw. At first it looked like they didn't have much, but then there was the flatscreen, the computer system, the Bluray collection...they scrimped to spend on other things. Time to get to work.
She knew to start with the bottom dresser drawer and work your way up and don't waste your time closing anything. To grab all of the jewelry first, validate diamonds later. To always keep a handful of Jehovah's Witness pamphlets in your purse- so when you case a house you have an alibi. To check the Holy Trinity: the dresser, the entertainment, the portable electronics.
She unslung her duffel bag and zipped its mouth as wide as it would go. She eyed the TV and decided it was too cumbersome, but the game consoles were money in the bank, adapters and all.
Closer inspection of the shelves revealed nothing but gold leaf, the trendy accent color of LA home decorators. Amused, she turned, searching for...chevron. In the kitchen. Of course.
She never bothered with desktops since they were much more complicated than the eight minute average she allowed herself. In, grab, out, was her second rule. Leave the passwords and the PINs to the pros. But the iPod charging under the desk? Money in the bag.
A few steps to the bathroom (once again thanking the tiny floor plans of the city's elite one bedrooms) and the medicine cabinet was hers for the taking. She hummed softly under her breath as she swept the orange tubes into her bag. On a wire between will and what will be...
In the bedroom she caught her breath, then let it out in a long slow sigh. Crap.
There, on the dresser- the first place any respectable thief zooms in on- was a tiny pile: folded fabric, a black and white photograph, a bow.
She picked up the cardstock, careful to avoid smudging the glossy surface. The curve of his forehead, a tiny snub nose and perfectly shaped lips. The onesie underneath proclaimed "Studmuffin" with a tiny muffin cartoon flexing biceps.
Debating one moment more, she upended the duffel onto the bed; plastic thunking and pills clattering all over the perfectly folded duvet. She let herself out, taking care to check the door.
Her number one rule? Don't steal from kids.