How to Steal a Lion

by Kirk Haggerty 
(Munich)

how-to-steal-a-lion

Here is an excerpt from my book set at the Oktoberfest "How to Steal a Lion", now available on Amazon Kindle.
Synopsis:
Cool assignment for a journalist: Steal a lion statue in the middle of the Oktoberfest for a million euros. Do you accept?

Daniel is a journalism student at the University in Munich and is desperate for work. Against his better judgment he accepts a job from a mysterious investor, Herr Wolff, to do a simple task to build trust. Afterwards, Herr Wolff asks him to undertake a sensational publicity stunt: steal the Dompteur lion from the top of its thirty seven meter tower during the Oktoberfest for a reward of one million euros.

For the next few days, Daniel and three friends prepare for the most unusual and difficult feat of their lives, and the most audacious the city has ever seen - snatch a one-ton, four-meter high mechanical beast and replace it with a rubber dummy. But why is Wolff willing to pay so much, and what happens if Daniel and his friends get caught?

For Daniel it's not just the money that motivates him. It's the opportunity to write the story of a lifetime regardless of the outcome.

A good college romp about friendship, teamwork and a second chance in life.


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Chapter 10: The Snatch

Ahmed kept a loose grip on the wheel as he guided the hulking crane truck through Goetheplatz in south-central Munich on Sunday morning at 6:40 AM. Daniel and Joseph sat next to Ahmed and with concerned faces noticed Mozartstrasse full of parked cars on both sides of the street. It looked narrow but Ahmed passed through without difficulty and entered Esperanto-Platz, the site of the entranceway. In late September, the sun would rise after 7:00 AM. All three men wore construction clothes, work boots, orange vests and hard hats.

The truck stopped and the men gazed at the 420,000 square meter Theresienwiesn in front of them. Daniel assumed that each man shared the same feeling of exhilaration, tension and anticipation, as he did. The world?s biggest beer bash looked like a ghost town in the grey morning light. The evening before, it had shined in full glory with rides, beer halls and towers; not to mention the aroma of grilled chickens, roasted almonds and popcorn at snack stands, or the screams of crowds on roller coasters, the carnival music, and the chaos of tens of thousands of visitors. But now, it was deathly quiet and not a single light showed.

From a distance, Daniel could see the Bavaria, a large 150-year-old bronze statue and a Greek temple-like structure in the background. He had suggested earlier they drive from Theresien Heights, behind the Bavaria, to reach the tent quicker. But the road from The Heights lay on a hill and, as Joseph pointed out, it would be too risky to navigate the crane truck.

A construction barricade blocked the entrance at Esperanto-Platz with a single police car parked nearby - with no one sitting inside. Daniel and Joseph climbed out of the truck and from opposite sides they lifted the barricade and moved it to one side. They hurriedly jumped back into the truck. Ahmed turned on the rotating yellow lights and shifted the truck in first gear. They were now in the Oktoberfest grounds.

Daniel looked out of the window. It seemed an odd feeling to see the shadowy grounds so early in the morning. The truck inched forward, almost as if in slow motion. The Dompteur tent stood at the centre of the Wiesn; Daniel could see the tower with the lion statue from a distance. He worried if they planned out everything right. Did he overlook anything?

Ahmed turned on his com link. "Max, are you in position?"
Max answered back in Ahmed's ear phone, "Affirmative. Waiting for you at the tent. Over."
While passing the giant Ferris wheel, a young police officer in a light green uniform ran toward them from a side building and flagged them down. 
Daniel became nervous. Great, here it comes, he thought. A part of him wanted to be in bed, far away from here.
"Max, we need your help, a cop is stopping us." Ahmed stopped the truck and poked his head out the window.

"Hey, was ist los?" the officer asked. "Did you move that barricade?"
"Guten Morgen," Ahmed replied, wishing the officer a good morning. "We got a phone call from the Dompteur tent last night that the lion on the tower broke and needs repair before the Wiesn opens." Daniel noticed the yellow lights reflecting off the officer's badge every second.

"Ja, sowas!" the officer said in the Bavarian dialect, meaning, well I'll be damned. "Nobody told me. You're here early."
Max, playing the part of a tent worker in plain clothes, ran up to the officer.
"Er hat recht." Max confirmed to the officer, meaning that the truck driver was right. "I work at the Dompteur tent and I've been waiting for the maintenance truck to show up. It's OK."
The officer pointed his finger above the truck. "What's that for?"
"What?" asked Ahmed.

"That thing near the hook that looks like a balloon basket."
"Oh that, we use it to rescue cats caught up in trees. How else do you think we get to the tower with a hook for repairs?"
The officer sighed. "Look, I've got to confirm this with the tent manager." He ran back to the empty car.

Meanwhile, Ahmed switched gears to continue driving. Daniel gave him an odd look. "He gave no order to wait, so we're moving on," Ahmed said. The truck moved forward to the Dompteur beer tent and the adjacent tower; they would deal with the officer if he returned later. Daniel noticed trash trucks at the site, getting rid of the garbage. A water tank truck hosed down a street nearby - the crane truck had become part of the maintenance scenery on the Wiesn.

The truck stopped about fifteen meters from the tower; Ahmed kept the motor running, just as rehearsed. Everyone knew exactly what needed to be done. Max joined up with his team and put on an extra hard hat and tool belt.

Ahmed climbed into the control cab in the mid-section of the truck and activated the hydraulic arm while the outriggers opened up. Joseph and Max swung the aerial basket foreword to a safe position and connected the hook to the basket. They took the torque wrench and climbed in.

Joseph, Max and Ahmed did a com check - signal was loud and clear. Daniel took out the inflatable lion package and gave it to Joseph. Max gave the thumbs up signal. Ahmed pulled a switch. The crane arm and basket began its lift off toward the tower.

As suspected by Team L, a security camera scanned the entire Oktoberfest area on a 24/7 basis, sweeping across every corner of the grounds. The men and the crane were caught on the security video footage. However, it wouldn't be reviewed until the first security guard arrived at the monitoring trailer at 8:00 AM, still a full hour away.


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