'Tea?' smiled Mrs Wilson.
'Oh, yes please,' as an SOPC you need to enjoy a cup of tea and a garibaldi biscuit.
'Sorry about the teapot. My best on seems to have gone missing.'
'What can I do for you today?'
"Well the girls are a little bit worried at the moment and they wanted me to find out if you could help us.'
'Okay. And who are the girls?'
'Annie Jones, Ethel Walker and Elsie Summers.'
'And what seems to be the problem?' I got out my notebook and wrote down the names.
'Well we've all mislaid something recently, At first we all thought it was old age but then at one of our tea mornings we all got chatting and found that we have all mislaid the same thing.'
'What was that?'I smiled thinking that whatever had got lost was just some old women getting a bit forgetful.
'It’s our teapots. We have all lost our teapots.'
'Are you sure they have not been smashed by accident or put into a different cupboard?'
'I thought that when Annie said hers was missing. It was Wedgewood and she has got all those cats. They are always breaking something. But once Ethel and Elsie lost theirs I thought that maybe there was something in it. Elsie is a little bit of a kleptomaniac so there is no way she lost hers.'
'Elsie is a kleptomaniac?' I raised my eyebrows surprised by this admission. 'Do you mean she took them?'
'No.' Mrs Wilson was shocked I had asked such a question. 'I mean she's always tidying up and everything has its place.'
'Oh, I think you mean she has OCD.' I chuckled.
'I think I know what I mean.' said Mrs Wilson obviously upset that she thought I was laughing at her.'
'I am sorry I just wanted to get all the facts. Please go on.' I took a long sip of my tea and smiled.
'My teapot vanished. It was silver and had a milk jug and a sugar bowl that went with it and they have all gone.'
'When did you realise they had gone?'
'Myself and the girls have tea together every Monday and last week was my turn and the tea service was there then. Usually it would be four weeks until my turn again by this Monday Annie was ill so I said I'd do it again this week. When I went to the cupboard everything was gone.'
'Who else has been in the house between those two Mondays?' I needed to talk to my sergeant but I want to make sure I could get all the information first.
'Well apart from the girls just Jenny Hopkiss, my home help, and Paul Heather, the odd job man.' Mrs Wilson was starting to look worried.
'Don't worry Mrs Wilson. I am sure we will get this sorted pretty soon.'
I headed back to the station and filled my sergeant in on everything Mrs Wilson had said.
"Right the first thing we need to do is go and talk to the other ladies to check Mrs Wilsons' story and see if they have also been in contact with either Jenny Hopkiss or Paul Heather.
We headed off to see the ladies and both Annie Jones and Ethel Walker confirmed that Paul Heather did odd jobs for them and that they had both lost their teapots. It all seemed strange that they had not lost anything else. These teapots were Wedgewood or silver so worth something but not the usual things a sneak thief would take, especially not when all these ladies had some jewellery.
We just had Mrs Summers left to interview.
'Tea?' asked Mrs Summers.
I was just about to say no when the sergeant jumped in and said that we would love a cup of tea.
Mrs Summers returned a few minutes later with a beautiful silver service.
‘Thanks for the tea Mrs Summers,' smiled the sergeant. 'Where did you get such a beautiful tea service?'
Mrs Summers looked up and as soon as she saw his face the teacup she was holding slipped from her hand and fell to the floor.
'Are you going to arrest me?'
'I don't think so. Would you like to tell me what happened.'
'It's just I feel so bad. They all have such beautiful teapots and I have one that I bought from Whitards for £10. They are really sweet but sometimes they just make me feel like a poor relation.'
'I am sure they don't mean to,' smiled the sergeant as he poured Mrs Summers another cup of tea. 'Why don't you tell me all about it and once we had our tea we can see about returning all these teapots.'