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The Galleria Romana Caper

Mystery teasers are little stories where you need to figure out what happened based on the given clues.


Puzzle ID:#24000
Fun:**** (3.11)
Difficulty:** (1.99)
Submitted By:irishthistleAus****
Corrected By:Winner4600




Private Eye Sam Horowitz sat in his dingy office, watching the paint peel off the walls. He hadn't had a customer all month, and soon he would be out of business if things didn't pick up. That was before she knocked on the door, and entered his office with a flourish. She was a classy dame, looked wealthy too. Her lips were painted bright red, and pearls were sewn on to her red satin dress. Slight of build, standing only five feet tall. As she entered his office, she exuded an aura of desperation.

"My name is Erika Von Doran, and I need your help Detective," she said as she sat down in the chair facing his desk. "My father owns the art gallery Galleria Romana, and yesterday we were robbed; all our priceless paintings have been stolen. I am so upset, I haven't slept since last night! The local police are stumped."

"Two Monet's, four Picasso's, and a Rodin sculpture were stolen. The guard was found taped to a chair at the scene; he claimed that the thieves knocked him out. The janitor was found unconscious on the floor in the office, he claims to remember nothing. Thank goodness we have insurance," sobbed Erika.

"Well," said Horowitz, thinking of the steak and lobsters he would eat when he was done with this case, "I can help, but my fees are high. I am in quite a demand lately. I will meet you and your father at the scene."

"Yes, detective, of course! My father will pay anything you ask; I will have him meet you there," exclaimed Erika. With that she swept out of his office, her blue eyes sparkling like sapphires with hope.

When he arrived at the Galleria, Erika and her father, a large stately man in a pinstriped suit who stood at least six feet tall, were already there. Horowitz saw as he walked in that the janitor and guard were there too.

"Welcome, Detective Horowitz!" Mr. Von Doran boomed as he strode over to Sam and shook his hand. His grip could have broken Horowitz's hand, he was obviously a man of great strength.

"Mr. Von Doran, hello. I will have a look around," said Horowitz, trying to subtly remove his hand from the bearish man's grasp.

"By all means, Mr. Horowitz. I have gathered the evidence and copies of the police reports for you to look at, and I have called back the staff that was here last night when the robbery occurred. Feel free to talk to them. I hope you can find who did this to our family."

Sam was led to scene of the crime. He noted that each painting and the sculpture had been protected in a case behind glass with a lock. The glass had been smashed, and shattered pieces covered the floor. He saw from the police reports that prints of the janitor were found on the cases of all the paintings, and also on what was left of the case that once contained the Rodin sculpture. On the wooden base the sculpture once sat on, there seemed to be crack in the wood, something white was poking out the slightest bit. Horowitz pulled it out with a pair of tweezers. It was a note, which read "Raucous Elephants Dream, Helping Everyone Realize Romana Is No Good".

Horowitz set the note aside, and went back to searching the base with tweezers in hand and his trusty magnifying glass pressed to his eye. Stuck in the crack where the note had been, was a shiny red cloth fiber. Horowitz moved on to the chair where the guard had been, fifty feet from the cases. He examined the pile of duct tape used to secure the guard, and noticed a strange greasy red stain on the torn end of the tape. As he moved on to the police evidence bag, he noticed that a piece of glass was stuck inside the collar of the Blue uniform the guard had been wearing. There was nothing odd about the janitor's green uniform, though.

Horowitz called to the Von Dorans, the guard and the janitor. When they were gathered around him he said, "Now, tell me exactly what happened last night."

The guard, a large man who towered over even Mr. Van Doran, said, "I was walking by the Picasso, and then some one hit me on the back of the head, and I woke up with the police here and the art was gone."

The janitor, a stout greasy little man, said, "I was in the supply closet, when someone put a rag over my mouth, and I lost consciousness."

Erika said, "I was at home when I got the call from Daddy, who said the museum had been robbed."

Mr. Von Doran said, "I was out to sushi with friends when the police called me."

Horowitz then showed them the note left at the base of the statue. "I think the thief is trying to tell us something," he said, "but clever as this thief is, I have determined who took your painting Mr. Van Doran, and the culprits are in this room!"


This teaser was written in the style of old "pulp" detective novels with a forensics twist.

The janitor cleaned every case in the museum daily, so his prints had reason to be there.

After finding the red fiber and the red smear, Horowitz knew Erika was one of the culprits. She was the only one wearing shiny red clothing, which she has been wearing since the robbery. When she leaned down to place the note in the base of the statue, a thread from her sleeve stuck in the crack. She also didn't think about leaving a red lipstick smear on the duct tape when she ripped a piece off with her teeth after she restrained the guard. However, Erika had to have an accomplice, the guard. The chair he was in was fifty feet away from the glass, yet there was glass on the inside of his collar. This means that he was free and near the glass when it was smashed. He was also much too tall for a five foot tall woman to hit on the head; he had sat in the chair while she secured him with the duct tape.

For the meaning of the note take the first letter of each word and put them in a row. They spell RED HERRING, which was a popular term in detective novels meaning a fake clue to lead you off the trail.

"It was Erika, and the guard." said Horowitz. "But why, Erika? Why come to my office and ask for my help, if you knew I'd catch you?"

"Alright, I admit it, it was me, and I am in love with a security guard," cried Erika. "If I could sell the art my beloved and I would be able to run away together and be happy. I came to your office Mr. Horowitz, because Daddy was about to hire a good Private Eye. I looked for a Private Eye who had no other business. I thought if I found an incompetent one I could cover my crime. I'm sorry Daddy!" Erika began to sob.

Sam Horowitz stood there watching her torn between feeling insulted and waiting for a moment to ask about his fee. Insult or no, steak and lobster sounded good tonight.


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