My thief was pants!

Someone had taken a fancy to my drawers...

Published by: Polly Taylor
Published on: 1st November 2010

Knickers! I’d only gone and done it again. This was the third time I’d taken my washing off the line to discover I hadn’t washed enough pants for the week. In fact, there was only one pair here!
I could have sworn I’d pegged out a handful of drawers. That slinky, red thong, those lacy black ones… where had they gone?
‘I think I’m losing my marbles,’ I said to my boyfriend John, 54.
‘What do you mean?’ he asked, handing me a cuppa.
‘I keep losing things,’ I frowned. ‘Well, actually… mainly my pants!’
Seeing the confused look on his face, I explained that over the past couple of weeks, whenever I did a load of washing and pegged it on the line, the basket seemed a lot lighter when I took it back inside.
‘It’s only ever my knickers that seem to be missing!’ I laughed.
‘You’re getting forgetful in your old age,’ John teased. ‘You probably hadn’t washed them in the first place.’
Yet, over the next few months, it kept happening. Every time I went out to the clothesline, the pants I was certain I’d put on it were gone.
‘I’ve lost at least 10 pairs,’ I said to John, counting on my fingers the ones I knew were missing.
‘You hinting at me to buy you some new ones?’ he winked.
I really wasn’t – I just had absolutely no idea where they’d gone! And I’d started to notice something else as well.
Whenever I came outside, the back gate always seemed to be swinging open.
Now, I might have been a bit of a scatter brain when it came to the household chores but, if there was one thing I was an absolute stickler for, it was security.
Although I was a mum of four, I lived alone, and always, always made sure I locked the front door, and shut the back gate.
Then one day, leaving the house to go shopping, I spied something out of the corner of my eye. The gate was open again, swinging in the breeze. And on the ground beside it was a pair of my jeans that I’d pegged out on the line the evening before.
Something about the scene made me feel uneasy. It almost looked as if someone had been there, in my garden.
Surely they can’t have been…
It had been windy that night. The breeze must have blown the jeans off the line, and forced the gate open.
Still, that night laying in bed, I couldn’t help thinking something wasn’t right.
A rustling sound outside cut into my thoughts, then…what was that? Footsteps?
Running into the bathroom, I pressed my nose up against the window for a better view of the back garden.
Lurking in the shadows was the dark figure of a tall man.
‘Oh my God,’ I gasped.
Heart hammering, I watched as he crept towards the washing line and reached out for the bright pink thong hanging among the socks and t-shirts on the line.
In the blink of an eye, he pocketed it and disappeared out of the back gate.
So that’s where they’d been going! I couldn’t believe it!
This man, whoever he was, had been coming into my garden and stealing my knickers! And God only knew what he was doing with my pants once he had taken them home…
This whole thing had seemed funny at first, John joking I was losing my marbles, as well as my underwear. But things had taken a sinister turn and I wasn’t laughing any more.
The next day, I told John, and my sons Blair, 30, and Gavin, 22, what I’d seen.
‘Sick freak,’ John fumed. ‘Who knows what he’ll do next!’
‘Oh God!’ I said. ‘I hadn’t thought of that.’
But John was right.
What if this was just the beginning? What if this perv decided breaking into my garden wasn’t enough of a thrill?
I called the police.
‘We’ll stake out the house tomorrow night,’ the officer told me. ‘And catch him before this goes any further.’
So, as wrong as it felt to tempt this perv into my garden, I hung my washing on the line as normal, making sure my lacy undies were on show.
But even the police sitting outside my house couldn’t stop him – the next morning, the thongs were gone!
‘How’s he doing this?’ I whimpered to John. ‘It’s just like he’s invisible.’
For the next few weeks, I was an emotional wreck, struggling to sleep, jumping whenever I heard a noise outside.
Twice John saw a shadowy figure in the garden, but he was unable to catch him.
‘This has got to stop,’ John said to me. ‘If the police can’t catch him, we’ll catch him ourselves.’
‘How?’ I asked, my voice shaking.
He had a plan. Gavin and my brother Ian, 46, would hide in the shed at the bottom of the garden. My daughter Shari, 22, and her friend Irene would cover the living room windows, and John the kitchen.
As soon as we spotted the man, we’d pounce.
Part of me felt like I should have been laughing at this – me and my family crouching in the darkness, waiting to catch a knicker thief.
But I couldn’t. What if this creep wanted more than just my smalls? We had to catch him, before it was too late.
‘We’ll come at this from all angles,’ John reassured. ‘He won’t get away this time.’
The next night, I pegged out my smalls, trying to make them look as enticing as possible. Then everyone took up their positions and waited…
As for me, I curled up on the sofa, shaking like a leaf and praying for this to be over.
Ten o’clock came, 11pm, then midnight. There was no sign of my prowler.
‘He’ll be here,’ I said, handing out cups of tea to my lookouts. These days, barely a night went by without a pair of knickers disappearing.
Sure enough, it wasn’t long before a familiar rustling cut through the silence, and a shadowy figure appeared outside the kitchen.
‘Go!’ I called to John, who dashed out into the garden.
Gripping the thief by the arms, he struggled to control him.
‘Ian! Gavin!’ he yelled, and the shed doors flew open.
As the three men rugby tackled my pants pilferer to the ground, he landed on the grass with a grunt, a red, lacy thong hanging out of his pocket.
I had to see him, I had to know why he’d been putting me through all this.
‘You’ve been terrifying me,’ I sobbed, looking down at the young man laying on my grass.
‘I’m sorry,’ he said. ‘Please let me go…’ No chance! I called the police, and he was arrested.
William McKnight, 20, appeared at Ayr Sheriff Court and admitted he’d been sexually aroused by stealing my underwear. He’s been put on the sex offenders’ register and awaits sentencing.
It was such a relief to see my perv punished, and I’m so glad I played undie-cover cop. Otherwise, who knows if my midnight knicker nicker would ever have been nicked?
Linda Turnbull, 49, Ayr, Scotland