I knew he was a wrong ‘un the moment he came into the shop, which is why I had my beady eye on him in the first place. I’ve got a nose for his sort. That’s why they took me out of that cheap security guard uniform and put me in plain clothes in the first place. Now you, I could tell you were a copper at fifty paces. Detective constable now, sergeant in a year or two and inspector by the time you’re forty.
The opposite of him.
I followed him past frozen foods and when he turned left instead of heading for the cheese, I knew where he was going. I kept going past refrigerated, turned left at the rack full of soya milk, followed the aisle along and there he was at the booze. Right where I knew he’d be.
No, I didn’t follow him there. He’d have seen me, wouldn’t he? Wrong ‘uns like him have eyes in the back of their head. When you’re up to no good in every waking hour, you get to know when you’re being watched.
I pretended I was browsing through the toothpaste while he was looking for the priciest bottles. All right, I’ll admit it wasn’t the best cover in the world. Not a lot of people waste time choosing between Colgate and Sensodyne, but that’s what’s next to the booze so I had to look like I was doing something while I kept line of sight.
So I can tell you that missing bottle went under his coat. In fact, let me think, yes, I saw him take it. His right hand, he used. The one closer to me. See, I remember the detail. That shows I saw it, and I know what I saw.
I followed him to the exit tills. Watched him pay for a Mars bar he picked up on the way. Cover, that was. He didn’t want to draw attention by walking in and out without buying anything. It might have worked if I wasn’t already on to him.
What d’you mean, he didn’t have no booze on him? Damn, he must have clocked me and got rid of it on the way out. Must have been when he went round the corner, through the cuddly toys.
I saw him take it, plain as I can see you cut yourself shaving yesterday. See, I don’t miss much. Your cut’s a day old. I can tell with one glance.
Sure, let’s have a look at the CCTV. You’ll see what I’m on about.
There he is. Look at him, he’s so crooked he can hardly walk down a straight aisle. Now he’s stopping at the booze like I said.
That woman? No, I don’t remember her. No reason I would. My job is the wrong ‘uns. She must be, what, seven months pregnant? She’s just passing the booze on her way up to the healthcare section where I am. She won’t be interested in booze in her condition, will she?
I wouldn’t have registered her when I was focused on Johnny Lightfingers there. I’m telling you, if you didn’t have it on him when you caught him then it’s buried in a pile of teddy bears. I only lost sight of him for a couple of seconds, but that’s as long as his sort needs.
Yeah, yeah, I’m watching closely. That’s my job, you don’t need to tell me how to do it. I’m watching that right hand of his, like I was when I was at the toothpaste.
OK, let’s rewind. You want me to watch the woman?
OK, you’re the copper but I don’t see…
OK, so she took a bottle. Must be for her husband. So she put it under coat. Big deal. She forgot to pick up a basket or a trolley, and walking must be hard work for her.
Is she wearing a pouch under there?
She’s not pregnant at all, the little…rewind a bit, will you, I want a proper look at her face.
Look at her walking up that aisle. Eyes flicking all over the place. Look up ‘shifty’ in the dictionary and you’ll find her picture.
She’s a wrong ‘un if ever I saw one.