The impenetrable safe was recovered from the bottom of Lake Erie, door closed and lock unpicked, but with all contents missing. It had gone missing three days earlier, from the floor of a Chicago bank of some repute.
The police had received a phone call at five past midnight about the curious break-in. Nothing in the building had been disturbed, not even the unbalanced stacks of value papers on the counter. But where once stood the most uncrackable safe of the United States, now only a sea of white tiles and a huge void remained.
It would have been impossible for the thieves to carry the safe outside without demolishing half of the building or using big machinery, for when the bank came into being, the safe was installed first and the bank built around it. The vanishing safe was a conundrum, alright. But to find it at the bottom of the lake elevated the mystery to a whole new level.
The best detectives in the world could not crack the key to the enigma, nor could safety experts, mystics or TV viewers spurred on by huge rewards the bank promised in tacky commercials. For months the news dominated the headlines and it even inspired a tacky but wildly successful cash-in movie that proposed all kinds of improbable scenarios.
Meanwhile, in Venice, Italy, Carl Jurgen Sonnenfeld paid the bill of his afternoon espresso with a newly minted gold coin. Only he know how the safe disappeared, was emptied and ended up in Lake Erie.
He also knew that as long as the enigma was out there, nobody would observe that the safe contents were being spent in plain sight.
Correctly gauging the public’s appetite for impossible puzzles, the thief lived a long, unnoticed life.
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