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Adventures in Lockpicking/ Resisting the Vultures (warning: It's kinda long)

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#1 TVCasualty


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Posted 11 December 2016 - 05:47 PM

Something happened recently that hasn't happened in a long, long time. Someone made me angry (four people, actually, acting in concert but I had to directly deal with two in particular). Making me truly angry is actually very hard to do, though I may act pissed off occasionally when a situation calls for playing that role.


They fucked with me pretty hard with no provocation, and I offered up a whole lotta resistin'. They have no authority so there was no need for any rebellin', but I went ahead and posted this here since it seemed like the best place.


Anyway, it began ~5 hours after one of my closest friends died suddenly and unexpectedly this past October. The main reason for my infrequent visits here recently is due to the shit storm of stress and interpersonal insanity it spawned. Five hours after his death was when the vultures landed; he literally wasn't even cold yet, and that immediately started motivating my anger. He was more like an older "been there, done that" brother and mentor to me in some areas than just a friend. His house was a local oasis for me, where I'd go to relax and take my mind off of all the friction of daily life (or train/spar with each other in the various martial arts we study; he was pretty good and I learned some great knife-fighting techniques from him as well as some Tai-Chi and from me he learned some fun and effective ways to take guns away from people who get too close him with one and a few novel kicks from Jeet Kune Do). Typical close friend/brother stuff, more or less.


I'd been fixing up stuff around his house (plumbing, electrical issues, that sort of thing) and was going to build him a new deck in exchange for him letting me use ~100 sq. ft. of his garage to store a bunch of my stuff while I renovate a couple of rooms in my house. I would also house-sit for him when he was out of town, and had keys to his place and an open invitation to drop in any time whether he was home or not.


Early this past Summer I'd dropped by to hang out and noticed my name on a piece of paper with a list under it. On the list were his guns, martial arts weapons, and some related books. When I asked wtf that was about, he said it's what he wanted me to have if he happened to die. There were other pages of lists of stuff he wanted to bequeath to his various other friends, and we all had the same "wtf?" reaction but he didn't mention any health problems or that his death was actually impending. In retrospect he'd obviously known his time was short back then but kept it hidden from everyone for whatever reason. To this day I still don't know what it was that got him (more on that below), but it came on hard and fast; he went in to the hospital for shortness of breath and heart palpitations on a Thursday afternoon, was moved to the ICU on Friday, and died around 3am on Saturday. Fuck.


When he went to a Doctor's appointment early that Thursday complaining about shortness of breath, the Doc immediately admitted him to the hospital. I showed up Friday morning to feed his cats (one was his second ex wife's cat, and she was his current girlfriend since they were much better together not-married than married) and cleaned up his kitchen since he'd left assuming he'd be back in a couple of hours so there were lots of dirty dishes and such and I didn't want him to come home from the hospital (which I also assumed he would) to a stinky mess.


I got the call around 4:15am Saturday that he'd died. I was already up and around since I woke up earlier (my clock said it was 3:20am) but for some reason I just couldn't get back to sleep (I eventually found out that he was declared dead at exactly 3:20am, which I thought was kinda freaky and the same thing happened when my dad died). Later that morning I went back to his house to feed the cats and grab anything sketchy (his vaporizers, some pipes, a small stash of herb). But by 9am his estranged daughters had already shown up and "seized" the house and changed the locks. They were mainly concerned about keeping his girlfriend out (but wouldn't let me in, either), whom they utterly hated for no rational reason (probably inspired by their jealous mother, who is the epitome of a 'psycho ex'). My friend's girlfriend is an internationally-renowned ballet dancer and choreographer (mainly based in Europe) and his psycho ex wife is a failed wanna-be ballerina who never left the shitty city she grew up in so I can imagine where the jealousy came from.


Trouble is, seizing someone's house in that manner is illegal (nothing is legally allowed to be removed from a property in Probate except items owned by third parties, such as my stuff; the deceased's belongings are supposed to be inventoried and nothing more until the Estate closes) and his girlfriend also still had many personal belongings in the house -plus one cat- that she could no longer access (including a lot of intellectual property and various deeply sentimental items). And my friend had expressed to his oldest daughter that he wanted to disinherit his youngest, though both are mean and self-absorbed mega-bitches just like their mom. In the 10 years I knew him, I only ever saw his daughters twice and they were very unpleasant both times (I'm being generous).


I tried to be neutral and diplomatic and just get my own crap out, but they were not being accommodating and would only "allow" me access if it was scheduled ahead of time and police were present. They also assured me via email that "security cameras have been set up and the property is under 24/7 surveillance."


Well thanks for the profoundly-deep insult, but fuck that noise! And I had shit to do when they wanted me to schedule a time (!); they were basically being manipulative and making things difficult in order to assert control for the sake of control (as if a Judge won't eventually make that call).


Trouble is, my friend never got around to properly filing his Will (nor the papers to make me his medical proxy since he trusted me -and asked me- to fulfill his wishes to pull the plug under certain conditions, but he did not trust his daughters with that responsibility; I assured him that'd I'd not hesitate to pull the plug on him since that's what friends are for, right?). So there's no Will at all, and the vultures made all his notes disappear (among other things).


I went back and forth texting and emailing those insufferable, self-absorbed nutcases until a few days before Thanksgiving (and the correspondence was getting steadily less diplomatic). They finally said some shit that was one step too far, and I'd had enough. Time to go black-bag and shake things up! I hadn't done any black-bag ops in years, so it was fun to plan and taking action is certainly empowering.


My first attempt failed, though. I showed up at 6am on Thanksgiving Day but couldn't breach the normally easy to open garage door, even with my big pry bar (almost pried the entire track off the wall though but my intuition told me not to do that). Damn, oh well.


I went back home to work out Plan-B and watched some youtube videos to brush up on a skill I hadn't quite mastered yet: rake-picking a deadbolt. I found a video that finally explained a critical detail (namely exactly how much pressure to apply to the tension wrench) that I'd been missing, and after watching it it only took me 4 minutes to pop my own deadbolt. Game on! Well, first I went and had a big ol' Thanksgiving dinner at the house of a friend who hosts a "stragglers Thanksgiving" (as we call it) every year for those of us who live far from the rest of our families, or don't want to be anywhere near them or whatever.


So the day after Thanksgiving I showed up again, this time at 7am because I had to stop at Home Despot on the way to buy a couple of new deadbolts with the same finish as the ones they'd installed (polished bronze is, like, so hot right now!). I forgot that it was Black Freakin' Friday, lol. And the only things in the jam-packed store NOT on sale were the deadbolts I had to buy. Figures.


So after navigating Black Friday, I finally roll on up the driveway, give a friendly wave to the exterior security camera, and go around to the side door to the garage that's hidden by bushes from the neighbors' and the cameras' view. I popped that deadbolt in 7 minutes and was in the garage! (always BYO graphite; lube 'em before you pick 'em! Makes it a lot easier...).


First I unlocked the main garage door and opened it wide, then loaded a few of my things in my truck since I figured the police would show up eventually and I wanted to provide 'evidence' that I was only taking my own things, which is actually all I wanted to do. Well, almost all...


Once there were a few items in my truck I changed the lock on the side door to one of mine (it was a door that no one else ever used so the swap would be unlikely to be detected). Then I got to work on the door into the house. That one took me 20 minutes, but I got it! All thanks to one how-to video and a nice set of picks I bought at the Tracker School over a decade ago but hadn't practiced with much (I'd never popped a deadbolt before). There's a LOT more to that school than meets the eye, which is why I encourage people to check it out so often and that's all I'm gonna say about that. :ph34r:


Before I picked the second lock, I "cheated" and took half a valium since I didn't know if there was an alarm and wanted to be real calm when dealing with the police, who I expected to show up eventually. I also had to reach in the door and unscrew the security chain from the door trim. There was no alarm, and I was IN! Time to get to work...


My friend's girlfriend gave me a list of her personal items, and I was mainly grabbing those as I went through the house (since my stuff was in the garage) and stashed them among my things. When I turned the corner to the kitchen on my way to the stairs I saw the Nest cam the vultures had set up in the house (they alert the owner via cell when something trips the motion sensor). I walked right up to it and smiled and waved (about the only time you'll get me smiling for a camera, lol), then I turned the camera to face the ground and got to work upstairs.


Unfortunately, some of the most important things were missing, like ALL of her mail (it's a felony to steal people's mail and her lawyer is pursuing it) and a beautiful large Tibetan thangka that had been painted by one of the Dalai Lama's personal assistants/bodyguards specifically for her because she happened to be married to him (many years before I ever met her). During that time she'd talked with the Dalai Lama on many occasions and I still do a double-take whenever she casually says things like "Well, he [the Dalai Lama] once explained to me that that meant..." and so on.


She also used to hang out with Lou Reed but she quit using heroin 20 years ago (so did he, I think). I also met the last surviving Duke through her since she'd worked as her caretaker for a few years (from the family that started a university of the same name; she was in her late-70's but acted like she was 23 since she'd spent ~50 years laying in bed, literally. She was a real trip and fun to hang out with, but passed away not too long ago). And my friend's girlfriend is just plain good people (very soft-spoken, but a total badass) so I was all about helping her however I could.


I shudder to think about how high the Karmic bill that stealing and probably destroying a sacred object made by someone in the DL's inner circle will be when it comes time to pay up. Here's to hoping that Karma has an effective collection agency working for it...


Anyhow, I'd set up a remote driveway sensor when I first arrived and had the receiver with me so if anyone entered the driveway while I was in the house I'd be alerted. And while I was making a stack of his girlfriend's books and some papers, it went off. But by then I'd had free run of the place for almost 4 hours, much to my surprise (which I spent moving as fast as I possibly could). But my surprise got a little bigger when I stood up and looked out the window to see 5 local police SUV's in the street. 5?!? Hmm.


I ran downstairs as fast as I could, turning off the sensor and stashing it in the box of books I carried as I ran. I met them at the back door into the garage where they immediately began yelling "Put down the box and show us your hands!" I was a wee bit slow (the valium was working by then) so they got testy and more insistent; "SHOW US YOUR HANDS!"


That's when I noticed that four of them were pointing guns at me. I was smiling and saying "I think there's been a misunderstanding!" while showing them the hell out of my hands.


They immediately cuffed me and emptied my pockets, which included a box cutter (I had to open some boxes to see what was in 'em) and my carefully-prepared 'wallet.' I'd left my actual wallet at home and only brought my driver's license, a credit card, a library card (as propaganda letting them know I'm at least literate), about $30 in cash, and a rather influential local attorney's card that had his personal cell number scribbled on it (these were all held together by a rubber band). He's the kind of lawyer that everyone who's anyone in town knows about and fears to be on the wrong side of (he got an acquaintance of mine out of 4 different large trafficking busts in three different States over the course of two years involving driving 40-lb loads of weed from Cali. By "out of" I mean all charges were dismissed; no bullshit plea bargains for him!).


When the cops pulled my 'wallet' out of my pocket one went to run my info and another looked at the other stuff. They all got MUCH more polite after they saw that card, as was my intent. Details, details...


The valium worked its magic and I was probably the calmest, most rational and articulate person they'd had in cuffs possibly ever (I'm not a fan of being restrained, to put it mildly). And that was the first time in my life I'd ever been cuffed. I argued my case to them, painting a picture of such a complete legal clusterfuck (in a civil sense) that they wanted nothing to do with it, saying it was clearly a civil matter but that I probably shouldn't try to gain entry like that again. I assured them I would not and started playing my favorite mind games on 'em.


They were curious how I gained entry to the garage, so I explained that the garage door is a piece of crap sorely in need of replacement (which it obviously is) that doesn't lock properly so I just shook it a couple of times and I was able to lift it open, which is of course also why I was concerned about my stuff and wanting to get it outta there. That was sort of plausible.


Then they wanted to know how I got into the actual house, so I informed them of the misaligned strike plate that makes it seem like the door is locked, but often actually isn't. So I said I was able to simply push it open, and no one noticed the spot on the trim with the empty screw holes where the chain was supposed to be mounted (the rail the chain went into was still on the door; I screwed up that detail by not putting the chain back and no one commented about my screwdriver sitting at the bottom of the steps, which was another screwup on my part; the devil's in the details when trying to dodge a B&E charge!).


No one noticed that I'd also swapped the deadbolt on the door into the garage, which I figured the vultures wouldn't detect since they only ever locked it with the latch from the inside. Both of my locks are still mounted as of yesterday, so I actually have keys to the place again, lol...


And yesterday was when I got the last of my stuff out, which was a great relief and there was only one outburst of insane drama right at the end wherein I shattered one of the vultures with a few of my observations about her character and intentions. Good god she sure can screech-cry like a wounded banshee when she loses her composure, which I rather enjoyed though I imagine the neighbors didn't. I should've brought ear plugs.


So in one of the top-3 most conservative, Sieg Heil, Bible-thumpin' counties in the entire U.S. (literally), I (with hair almost to my waist) managed to have a bunch of cops roll up on what they were thinking was a burglary call with guns drawn, but ~45 minutes later I drove on home with a truck half-full of stuff I'd just removed from someone else's house that I broke into, didn't technically have permission to enter, and had changed some of the locks to (the stuff I took was all mine but I couldn't really prove it if I had to). Yup, I still got it, lol...


Still... Whew! Being uncuffed after ~10 minutes was definitely a relief. My Razor's Edge was extra-sharp that day, but I managed to have fun playing mind games on the cops (talked to one for 10 minutes about various species of woodpeckers after one started making a racket nearby; nothing seems to make cops want to leave a scene more than boring them to tears with arcane details of random subjects). Since the one female cop who showed up was the nicest and most polite/rational female police officer I've ever encountered, I also tried to sell her on a nice discounted bathroom renovation complete with marble tile, but she was happy with the one she had, lol (most female cops IME -as a male- are worse than the men to deal with in a dicey situation since they seem to expect a total lack of respect from male suspects, and to be fair they are often correct in that assumption). I'd also cleaned up (shave and shower) before I began my operation and wore much nicer clothes than I normally would for a moving job and I got the impression from her microexpressions and other cues that she kinda liked me (I do clean up okay, after all), or at least she would have been more engaging had I not been in handcuffs at the time, lol. The Sergeant present even thanked me for being so cooperative and reasonable and "making our job easier" as they let me go and joked with me about my boxcutter (he held it up before handing it back to me saying "don't bring a knife to a gun fight!" to which I replied "I didn't think I was bringing anything to any fight!" and we all had a nice laugh even as I was thinking but didn't say "I could've taken all of you out with my bare hands since your tactical approach was shit!" which was true; they all stood way too close to each other -and to me-, but I digress).


My proactive approach sure got the vultures' attention (and how!). I guess telling them in a follow-up email how amused I was by the fully-expected police drama and how I have nothing to lose so am not afraid of being on their cameras or spending the night in jail if I had to scared 'em, as was the plan. After I sent it they started working with me all of a sudden and arranged times that were convenient for me, and after 5 trips over three separate days I got it all with the last one being yesterday. Mission accomplished!


I left out a lot of the truly nasty and dysfunctional details; their interpersonal dynamics are much like those of the crazier families seen on The Jerry Springer Show, and they've even left literal scars on each other's arms from their sisterly scratch-fights as recently as last year (and the 'youngest' just turned 30 this month!). Still, they wouldn't tell me what the official cause of his death was or what happened to his body afterward (buried? Cremated? Dumped in some bushes somewhere?). They were even trying to starve his girlfriend's cat to death (telling her straight up that they were not going to feed or take care of it), but one of his neighbors is taking care of the cat (his girlfriend had mostly been working on projects in Germany and San Francisco during all this and her cat was still living at my friend's house; letting innocent creatures suffer and/or die for one's own petty selfishness is pretty fucking low).


So yeah, don't piss off the quiet types. We can get inside (your house, your head, your 'safe space,' or whatever) if we really want to; so sleep tight, ye assholes of the world! :bat:


Today is the most Slackful day I've had in months. Sorry I took yours away by making you read all this... :rolleyes:



"When society is orderly, you protect yourself with justice; when society is confused, you protect justice by yourself." (from The Tao of Politics, Lessons of the Masters of Huainan)

Edited by TVCasualty, 11 December 2016 - 06:06 PM.

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#2 CatsAndBats


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Posted 11 December 2016 - 06:08 PM

That was a good read, "microexpressions", B&E, cats, it had/s it all.

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#3 TVCasualty


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Posted 11 December 2016 - 06:28 PM

That was a good read, "microexpressions", B&E, cats, it had/s it all.


Even some weed! All it needs to be perfect is some beer and a scantily-clad babe. headbang

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#4 Sidestreet


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Posted 11 December 2016 - 08:57 PM

Helluva good read!  There's some lessons in there, too.  :biggrin:

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#5 Alder Logs

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Posted 11 December 2016 - 09:04 PM

How much for the movie rights?

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#6 ethnobotanist420


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Posted 12 December 2016 - 01:47 AM

I'm sorry for your loss, brother.

I'm happy everything ended up working out well for you and that you got to dish out a little justice... karma will sort the rest out ;)
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#7 fungi2bwith



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Posted 12 December 2016 - 03:26 AM

good read.....people are cops too....or is that the other way around???


This reminds me of a time I was going to break into someones house for 30,000$ in cash......didn't happen...but should have.....

Edited by fungi2bwith, 12 December 2016 - 03:33 AM.

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#8 Hash_Man


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Posted 12 December 2016 - 08:44 AM

Wow TV, well written empowering and captivating

Sorry about losing what sounded like a important part of your life.

P.S. kudos on the locksmithing I know not always a simple task.
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#9 Skywatcher


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Posted 12 December 2016 - 11:08 AM

As I expected, an epic read TV. My condolences that the basis for this was the loss of your good friend. I will say you have proved yourself the kind of friend your buddy deserved. I do believe in Karmic payback, but trust in that enough that I need not spend my own energy worrying about that. 


Thank you for sharing, 

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#10 Juthro


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Posted 12 December 2016 - 02:05 PM

Thanks for sharing another epic episode of 'Live TV' with us.

Sorry for the loss of your friend. May he rest in peace, wherever he lands.
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#11 whitethumb


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Posted 12 December 2016 - 03:54 PM

that was a good read. caught my eye because i have a lock picking kit that i play with from time to time. have over 10 locks.

very entertaining. i can't stand those daughters lol. they seem "entitled"
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#12 TVCasualty


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Posted 17 December 2016 - 12:28 PM

How much for the movie rights?


The crazy part is that this recent chain of events wouldn't even make the cut if I were making a highlight reel of movie-worthy things I've managed to pull off in my life without getting killed or imprisoned in the process, none of which I am the least bit ashamed of. That's because if any laws were broken they were only mala prohibita -type laws that I tend to ignore in most respects (with the exception of getting caught breaking them, of course). My conscience is clear as I've never created any 'victims' (e.g. the only house I've ever broken into was that of my deceased friend and it was only to recover my own and a friend's belongings; I've also never ripped anyone off or initiated any violence -ever-, and so on).


And while I'd have to say that I've mellowed considerably in recent years as far as any risky games I might play are concerned, "mellow" is completely subjective, and relative. Reb

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#13 shoomer



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Posted 23 February 2017 - 08:57 PM

A fine recounting of how appearances (yours) and assumptions (that family loves and respects one another) CAN be misleading.


I, too, have had a dear friend pass in recent times and am glad the responsibility he entrusted me with (as your friend did with you) had none of the ancillary silliness you had to deal with.

I sympathize with your loss and hope that your friend smiles upon you from his new perspective for what you have done (though the story does remind me that I should draft up a will myself).


Glory in the fine memories of your time with him until you "make the trip" yourself and be happy in the knowledge that your friend waits for you to create new ones with him in a new place as I believe death is more of a graduation than an end.


May peace and the resonance of karmic love be ever present companions to you both.

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