The day my life took a bit of a Line of Duty turn - who knew our police were THIS good?
PUBLISHED: 13:30 20 May 2019 | UPDATED: 11:36 21 May 2019
Liz Nice is a huge Line of Duty fan. But she isn't so keen on a crime drama when it happens to be her own...
I love a good police drama. But you never expect your own life to go all Line of Duty.
Yet, on Friday, mine did.
In a rush as ever, I hurried home to Suffolk to get ready to take my children on a long-planned weekend away in the Isle of Wight.
I pulled up outside the back door, nipped in the house to grab our bags and then briefly telephoned the children's father, my ex partner, to check that he was still OK to look after the dogs. Then I hung up, conscious that I was due to pick up the children from school in ten minutes.
With the bags ready to load into my car boot, I went back outside.
I stood on my doorstep for about 30 seconds before I worked out what had happened.
To my utter astonishment, my car had gone.
I live in the middle of nowhere, so it would never have occurred to me to imagine that anyone would steal my car.
The dogs normally bark their heads off if anyone comes anywhere near the house and I have such a long driveway, I always imagined it would be impossible for anyone to be outside my home without me knowing.
However, the dogs had been in the backyard using the facilities and I'd been in the windowless hallway on the phone, so whoever it was had picked the perfect moment.
What to do?
I rushed back into the house, looked around for a man to help me, realised there wasn't one, so called 999.
'Which service do you require?"
"Er, police, please."
Was this really happening? Or was Chief Inspector Hastings going to show up in a minute?
"Someone's stolen my car," a hysterical voice shrieked.
I had started shaking all over. The hysterical voice, I realised, was me.
The lady on the telephone was fantastic. She managed to get me to calm down long enough to remember my car number plate, and assured me that the police were doing all they could to recover my vehicle. She kept me talking, conscious, I'm sure, that I was about to lose the plot.
"I'm supposed to be on the Isle of Wight ferry tonight!' I bleated, remembering that the tickets, my purse, phone, all my worldly goods basically, were in the car as well.
I rang my ex again, more hysteria, asking if he could now pick the children up from school because my car had just been stolen.
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"What?!" he said. "When?!"
However, once he'd got over the shock that it had clearly happened while we were chatting on the phone earlier, he too was very calming. Yes of course he would get the children.
"I'm such a muppet," I said. 'Who leaves their keys in the car?'
To his great credit, he answered, 'Well, I've done it!'
We won't any more!
Anyway, as soon as I ended the call with him, my landline rang again.
It was the lovely, kindly lady from 999.
"Good news," she said, "We've got your car back!"
Who was this? AC-12? "Already?!" I said.
Apparently, the police had a hunch that the culprit would be heading towards London and they had picked him up on the A11.
Barely an hour after the drama had unfolded, my car was being driven back in my driveway and a smiling and slightly bewildered policeman was being wildly hugged by me.
He confessed that such a greeting wasn't what he was normally used to.
But seriously - how good are Suffolk Police - specifically the Bury St Edmunds Roads Armed Policing Team (RAPT) - to get my car back so quickly, arrest the person who stole it, and bring it home to me so fast?
My mobile phone, which had been on charge in the car, was missing, presumably thrown away en route so that it could not be tracked.
It remains lost somewhere in Suffolk, despite extensive searches by my family - my brother said, 'I did my best AC-12 impression but no luck' - but everything else was found. My handbag, which had been on the front passenger seat, had been thrown out of the car window and was found by one of the police officers in my garden - I'm hugely grateful for that. Without my purse and ferry tickets, I would have been going nowhere.
However, once we had all calmed down and the children had also got over the shock
- "Who would steal your car, Mum?" - we decided we might as well go to the Isle of Wight after all.
My two sons and I caught the 8pm ferry (having only just made it).
Just another day in the life of Liz then which I hope will now go on as before without any more Line of Duty flourishes - much as I like watching them on the TV.
Thank you RAPT once again for your amazing work.
What quietly brilliant heroes you are.
AC-12 have nothing on the lot of you.