The Platform Lovers – Festina Lente?

Charles and Michelle’s home was in one of the most affluent areas of Glasgow.

Well greater Glasgow, the locals liked to think of themselves as separate and until not so long ago had enjoyed the village lifestyle.

But that had changed over the years and most of the residents were incomers who worked in Glasgow and benefitted from its large and diverse range of sporting facilities, concert halls, theatres and restaurants.

Milngavie,  famous as the start point of The West Highland Way that beautiful  100 mile through the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park,  Glencoe and finishing at the foot of Ben Nevis,  the Uk’s highest mountain,  had long lost its village status.

The small quaint pedestrians shopping street once a thriving hub of activity for the locals to meet and socialise was fast becoming a row of hairdressers, beauty salons and the ubiquitous charity shops taking advantage of their low council tax status as the bakers and butchers shops lost out to the increasing number of large supermarkets catering for the growing populace.

A few niche shops, the gifts shop and fine arts shop with its collection of original paintings battled for survival   offering services and products that the giants couldn’t provide.

But even the niche shops struggled as the world had moved on and gift and artwork were available from online retailers and  galleries at a fraction of the cost.

There was a growing resentment in the original residents of the town as its green belt was slowly swallowed by housing developments and Glasgow came ever closer.

A residents group had been formed to lobby the local council and there had been some success in slowing the developers.   But the well-meaning arguments of the pearl and twinset brigade were as feeble as Canute when pitted against the right handshake and a contract strategically placed and the tide of progress was inevitable.

Alex parked his van in the mono-blocked new development a few hundred yards down the main road from where Charles and Michelle’s individual detached home was situated.

He had already did a drive-by and made sure that the only car sitting on the driveway was Charles’s toy,   the Porsche 911 Carrera.   Charles would have his Range Rover at the office so that he could disappear on a “liaison” later.  Michelle took the kids to school then parked at the station and took the train into town.

He allowed himself a momentary smile as he remembered the line about the difference between Porsche’s and porcupines,   normally he would have ignored such attempts at humour,  usually fuelled by petty jealousy,    but in this case the prick really was on the inside.

He did a run through of his tasks and priorities then certain that everything was in hand,  then he allowed himself a few minutes to text Fiona about meeting later.

He could be anyone sitting in his parking spot,  there were lots of contractors fitting carpets and flooring as the new residents took ownership of their properties with all the latest design features.

Even the smallest house here was well out of reach of the average worker.    He’d checked the prices online the day before and decided that they weren’t worth the money.

The asking prices proved that location was everything when it came to house buying even although similar houses were available a mile down the road in Summerston for two-thirds of the price.

East Milngavie the sales consultants in the show-home called it even although technically the houses were situated on the Glasgow side of the  council boundaries.

A rose by any other name still smells as sweet  .. or fools and their money?

But economic recession or not,  someone had money to spend and most of the houses had been sold directly from plan.

The text came from Michelle just before 10 as expected,    The meeting with clients was going ahead as planned and Charles would be within her punching distance for the next 2 hours.

Alex opened the glove-box and opened a fresh set of surgical gloves from its pack.   These were excellent for retaining his touch for intricate work without leaving any trace evidence.  He pulled the tight latex material over his hands then pulled his light leather gloves over the top of them to hide the rather obvious  white latex.

He lifted the his bag from the back of the van and walked the short distance to the house.

As he made his approach he strode confidently,  no point in sneaking around, it only draws attention to yourself.

He already had the key Michelle had gave him in his hand as he approached the front door and let himself in quickly,  locked the door behind him then turned off the alarm with the 6 digit code,  predictably it was Charles’s birthday.

Would you have expected anything else?

Time was of the essence and he had a bit of work to do but with Michelle’s help he had already done as much preparation as possible to minimise his time on site.

“Festina lente” was the phrase that his intelligence instructors had used.   It was more important to be set up correctly than rush it and make a mistake that would cause a subsequent failure.

Don’t rush,  do it properly.

Alex kicked off his shoes and put them in his bag,  no point leaving an obvious pair of shoes at the door if anyone else did happen to visit, besides although the downstairs was floored there was no point leaving any dirty footprints on Michelle’s pristine carpets upstairs.

The first task on any illicit mission is to make sure that if the unexpected happens you can get out and away without being caught or apprehended an escape route is a must.

He went to the back of the house and unlocked the patio doors in the formal dining room, then went upstairs and unlocked the window overlooking the attached garage.   If the unexpected occurred then he’d use these as his escape routes,  then negotiate his way back to the car via the woodland at the back of the house.

Google Maps and Streetview were fantastic aids to the modern day burglar.

Alex sat at the top of the stairs and pulled the laptop from his bag,  he started it up and waited on it to boot.

When the laptop was ready,  he logged in then connected to Charles and Michelle’s home network using the SSID and password that Michelle had provided.

He started an internet browser and pointed the address at,  the standard router access page for Windows networks,  if this had been an Apple network he would have used

If I was you,  I might try these addresses at home and see what you can see.

Their internet provider was Sky and as usual their router had the standard user name and password .. sky and admin respectively .. Alex was always amazed by how few people ever changed their router passwords,  leaving their network vulnerable to anyone who could get access.

If their provider was BT,  then it was just as easy,  as although the changed the router admin password,  they very nicely always included it on a stamp on the underside of the device.

Charles was a sneaky bastard were women were concerned but he wasn’t really technically savvy .  If he had been,  then he would not only have changed the password but also made the access by MAC address only preventing any other unknown devices from connecting.

Alex looked up the IP address of the laptop on the connected devices page,  then set the IP as a fixed device,   preventing any other device accidentally connecting using the laptops IP address.

He then enabled remote access and used the port-forwarding facility to direct incoming https requests to the IP address and port of the monitoring software on the laptop.    The laptop and monitoring software would be on continuously and securely accessible from anywhere in the world if you knew the correct IP address and access details.

He then switched on the logging facility of the router and directed all internet requests to  be stored to a file location on the laptop.  This would provide a log of all internet access requests,   logging all web pages visited,  even those which had a secure connection and the actual content such as bank account details would be unreadable.  The visit to the page would be recorded.

As Alex had no access to Charles’s laptop and as Charles never used a desktop PC,  Alex couldn’t simply plug a standard key-logger into the back of the keyboard input and monitor his keyboard use for passwords and content.

But he had a solution to that.

Alex took the laptop downstairs into the den and set it up on the desk.  As expected,  there was nothing to see.  He appreciated Charles’s thoroughness the way a professional boxer respects a rival before delivering the knock-out blow.

Alex took the modified PIR from his bag,  then stood on a chair to replace the existing PIR which was part of the alarm system.

Both devices looked the same,  but that’s where the similarities stopped.  The difference was the new PIR featured the latest high definition 4k camera with inbuilt directional microphone and wireless network capabilities specifically configured to only link with Alex’s laptop.

As soon as Alex connected the alarm wire,   the PIR came to life,  blinking three times to indicate that it was fully operational.   Within seconds Alex could see himself on the laptops screen.   A few slight manipulations of the PIR and anything that Charles did sitting at his desk would be captured by the it’s camera and recorded on the laptop.

Alex then pulled his iPhone from his pocket,  this was connected to the telephone network and not the home network and was a good check that the system was fully functional and accessible from the internet.

He started Safari,   keyed in the external IP address of the router and the port number that the monitoring software on laptop was listening on,  logged in and he could see himself in to den.

Alex was finished in the den,  he cleared everything back into his bag and went upstairs to the hall.

Michelle had told him the pole to open the hatch was in a cupboard in the upstairs hall.  Fortunately the hatch was fitted with a drop-down ladder and he was in the loft in moments.

The loft was well lit and from his standing point he could see that it was typical,  mainly un-floored with the Christmas trees, toy boxes and other odds and ends placed across the beams.

Alex,  made his way to the back of the loft,  to the point above the spare bedroom were the wireless router was located.

He put on his leather gloves and pulled the fibreglass insulation back from the roofline.   He then placed the laptop on top of the external wall just inside the roofline.

The last task on his list was to run power to the laptop as with constant use it would not stay functional over an extended period of use.    But that was a simple matter of taking a spur that he had already prepared from the lighting system,  routing it’s cable underneath the fibre-glass.   Plugging the adaptor of the laptop into the socket of the spur and then covering the lot back over with the fibre-glass.

Ten minutes later he was pulling the loft hatch closed behind him.   2 minutes later he had checked that the front door was clear and closed his emergency exit points,  put on the alarm and locked the door behind him.

As he walked along the street back to the car,  he pulled his iPhone from his pocket and rechecked the link was working as expected.

He then texted Michelle to let her know that he was clear.


Better get some work done!!   🙂


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